James Beard Publication of the Year 2017

A Political Truce Over Fried Chicken Biscuits

A Political Truce Over Fried Chicken Biscuits

Fried chicken biscuits in Atlanta

When it comes to my father and I, we frequently sit on opposite sides of the spectrum. He’s a gun rights conservative and I’m a bleeding heart liberal. He’s a little bit country, I’m a little bit rock and roll. He works outside doing manual labor and I sit inside, freelance writing in my pajamas. But one thing we can always agree on is fried chicken biscuits.

Hearty breakfasts like the fried chicken biscuit originated with farmers and laborers who needed to carb-load for long days in the field. Today, they still suit everyone from 9-5ers to the hangover-afflicted. All can appreciate the satisfying combination of textures and saltiness.

You’ll find this breakfast dish in fast food restaurants in the South and beyond, but there’s one biscuit that rises (pun intended) above the rest.

You’ll find it at Home Grown Restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. Home Grown’s exterior resembles my grandmother’s home, complete with a vegetable garden. The interior looks like a 1970s diner. Stickers for local breweries and companies cover the fridge and offbeat artwork lines the walls. You can even buy from Sew Thrifty, its small shop in the dining room.

Unlike its fast food counterparts, Home Grown’s chicken biscuit has crunchy and peppery fried chicken that is hammered thin, schnitzel style, still retaining the juiciness. The batter isn’t overly heavy or doughy. It’s then placed inside a pillowy biscuit and, if you’re feeling adventurous, topped in sausage gravy. Wash it down with refills of drip coffee. Even Bill Clinton and Clint Eastwood have been spotted here.

We try to go early, sometimes after he picks me up for the airport or on a Sunday outing. Otherwise, it’s next to impossible to find a table. So we order our respective meals, his with extra sausage gravy and mine with a side of home fries and coffee, from the tattooed waitress. By 2 p.m., they’ll be closed.

While here, we don’t talk politics or religion or sports. Nothing controversial. It’s our common ground, our demilitarized zone for breakfast. Sometimes we take in the changes to Reynoldstown, the neighborhood that Home Grown is in. The busy Memorial Avenue is now home to high-rise apartment complexes as much as abandoned and graffitied lots.

Home Grown is one place that people from both sides of the aisle, like my father and I, can come together for a classic Southern breakfast.

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