We're all about the experimental, the creative, the cutting-edge. But when it comes down to it, there is nothing quite like the experience of setting foot in a frozen-in-time restaurant that's been steadfastly doing its thing for decades. You know the places: where the atmosphere, the recipes, and often even the clientele haven't changed for a half-century, maybe more. Places where the people-watching is just as good as the food itself. In a city where it's tough for restaurants to stick it out for five years, the few and the proud doing their thing for multiple decades deserve a tip of the hat. From fried chicken shacks to "Goodfellas-worthy" Italian joints, here are just a few of our favorite places where the old-school vibe is firmly intact. (Ordered by ascending seniority, of course:)
Open Since: 1978
Known For: Real-deal risotto served up in a subterranean dining room
Why We Still Love It: There's just something rare and special about discovering award-winning fine dining in the basement of a mid-rise condo building.
Open Since: 1974
Known For: "the Godfather," a formidable platter of veal in three styles
Why We Still Love It: With white tablecloths, old-school wood paneling, and jacket-clad waiters who've been there for years (if not decades), the place hasn't changed a lick since its '70s inception.
Open Since: 1972
Known For: Old-school Creole dishes to the tune of live piano music on the weekends
Why We Still Love It: The food, y'all. There's a reason the city of New Orleans issued the original owner an "Honorary Citizen Certificate." (Check it out in the doorway if you don't believe us.)
Open Since: 1968
Known For: Old-school recipes from the Amalfi Coast, many named after family members
Why We Still Love It: While words like "traditional," "romantic," and "authentic" are always used (accurately) when talking about Nino's, one Yelp reviewer sums it up best: "Goodfellas-worthy." 'Nuff said.
Swan Coach House
Open Since: 1965
Known For: Ladies who lunch; high tea; infamous chicken salad
Why We Still Love It: It's fun to pretend to be a Southern matriarch whilst sipping our tea out of fine china. (Also, that chicken salad ain't no joke.)
The Busy Bee Cafe
Open Since: 1947
Known For: Serving up some of ATL's best fried chicken out of a tiny joint in the West End
Why We Still Love It: Atlanta magazine says it best: "In its honest simplicity, it embodies all the qualities that make Southern fried chicken timeless."
Open Since: 1929
Known For: Milkshakes, burgers, and various other forms of "food that pleases" (especially at the tail-end of a long night)
Why We Still Love It: Excellence in after-hours people-watching; an iconic neon sign that attracts hungry night-owls like moths to a flame
Open Since: 1927
Known For: Legendary fried chicken; equally celebrated coconut cream pie
Why We Still Love It: A steady stream of regulars who've been dining there since Franklin D. Roosevelt was in office
Open Since: 1922
Known For: Being Atlanta's oldest continually operating tavern
Why We Still Love It: A still-kicking late-night scene after all these years. Really, Atkins, you don't look a day over 70!