Buckhead Diner has a way of reminding people what a good dining experience is all about. The little things: asking your name as you enter, whether you have reservations or not, of then using that name in every conversation staff has with you. There is the uniform, with tie, that all staff wear. There is the constant graceful service that follows being seated. There is the manager, who makes sure your meal was right for you. There is the way, when you have food issues, the staff and chefs will work with you to get the whole meal just right. Metaphorically, Buckhead Diner is a fine vintage automobile, reminding people that yes indeed, some folks know how to put together a well oiled machine.
The other thing a reader needs to understand is that it’s easy to read glowing reviews of Buckhead Diner and think, “There is no way a mere diner can be that good.” I’ll suggest that, just as the green of the tropics, so green you might think the photos are retouched, that no, most reviews of Buckhead Diner are actually pretty sober affairs and the superlatives are in fact earned. This isn’t your neighborhood IHOP folks, this is about as close as anyone in Atlanta can get to a walk-in fine dining experience.
We’ll start with the milk shake my daughter received. It was so thick that if you dropped a quarter on it flat side, that the quarter would float and not sink. It was so good my daughter wasn’t able to drink most of it, as my wife started stealing bites of it routinely.
There was the fried chicken, sold only on Sundays and Wednesdays, that when my daughter took a bite, she could help but say, “OMG, so good!” And I’m sure the more cynical of my readers are saying, “Chicken? Give me a break!” But the deal is, Buckhead Diner marinates that chicken. It isn’t the packaged bird from Kroger rolled in panko, it’s something supercharged to another flavor level.
Are there things to complain about? Sure. For example, we had Buckhead Diner’s chili thai calamari, and though the calamari was good, and the mix of peppers, octopus, breading and sauce tasty, the sauce itself more resembled the sweet and sour sauce found in any generic American-Chinese restaurant, as opposed to a distinctively Thai style flavoring. My daughter wasn’t altogether fond of the cheese used on their mac and cheese. But you have to get down to this level of detail before you can begin to find fault with the food.
Other things of note. It’s easy to forget the bread they bring to the table, but the breadsticks and small jalapeno cornbreads are worth some time and trouble. My entree was a lamb shank, braised until it was fork tender, served with vegetables and a brown sauce. The serving was considerably smaller than the bowl it came in, but tasty and still tasting like lamb.
Serving sizes are ample and we didn’t have room to get to the desserts, which are highly thought of.
Some notes on pricing. I think burgers start around 12 and go up, dinner salads around 15. A main dish may start about 16, tend to be 18-22, and the most expensive thing I saw was a fine steak around 30 dollars. Given the quality and the almost anytime access, I think the food here is reasonably priced. But I would suggest that, for those who use plastic to pay for meals in this price range, to bring enough cash to tip the staff in cash. They’re worth it.
3073 Piedmont Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
Access from Snellville: Google Maps suggested an excellent route to this diner, one easily summarized. Take 78 into town until the N Druid Hills split and head down N Druid Hills. Turn left when you reach LaVista Road (there will be a Steak N Shake on the left). Take LaVista until it becomes Lindburgh and turn right when Lindburgh intersects Piedmont. 1.2 miles later on your right you will see Buckhead Diner. Don’t be surprised if you see Fogo De Chao first, as it’s a taller building and nearby.