Timeless Food that Tastes Like Home

Lee's Family Restaurant

Lee’s Restaurant
Statesboro, Georgia 

In a little brick building on the side of West Jones Ave. in Statesboro, Georgia sits Lee’s Restaurant, a slice of soul food heaven off the beaten path and a point of pride for those seasoned Statesborians in-the-know. In the same location since 1967, the Lee family has been satisfying hungry palates with their down home, Southern cooking for centuries, serving up what they describe as “soul food made with a lot of love and care.”

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The line for lunch on a Saturday at Lee’s.

When you walk into Lee’s, you pass through the dining room to get to the buffet line. There, you wait your turn to place an order. There is no hostess stand or lobby area, but the employees greet you with kindhearted sincerity and genuine Southern hospitality. If you choose to dine in, you simply take your plate and find a seat.

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The dining room at Lee’s.

Blue and white checkered flooring and an eclectic mix of tables and chairs make up the open dining room. Ceiling fans, a mix of silk and live plants and a quaint fire-place add character to the atmosphere. The chairs may have a few rips in their cushions and the tablecloths may not match, but what the restaurant lacks in decor, they more than suffice for in flavor of food.

Hot sauce, pepper sauce and mustard condiments sit on each table, along with a handy roll of paper towels.

The buffet includes a wide variety of mouth-watering dishes, timeless food that to those of us blessed enough to be from the South, tastes like home. The sheer smell takes me back to my grandmother’s kitchen and transports me to Dinner on the Grounds during Homecoming at my Baptist church. There are pork chops, liver, neck bones, fried fish, stew beef, meat loaf, macaroni & cheese, rice and gravy, green beans with potatoes and ham-hock, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and fried okra. Dinner is served with your choice of roll or corn bread, sweet tea or lemonade. Here you won’t find a soft drink machine or even a vegan or vegetarian-friendly menu offering tofu and gluten-free options. What you see is what you get, and what you get is pure, Southern gold.

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Home cooking at Lee’s Restaurant in Statesboro, Georgia.

My meat and three with a dinner roll and sweet tea hit the spot. This is the kind of meal that is indigenous to a place, the kind you long for when traveling outside the boundaries of Dixie. It is a delicacy–a plate most Northerners envy and can only aspire to duplicate. It is a flavor and taste many cooks never quite master, one that requires no culinary education, but yet a deep-rooted connection to the foodways of a land. This is a meal that should never be taken for granted. The price for this plate was $6.92 including the tea. Priceless.

wpid-1108141329b.jpgLee’s Restaurant is open for lunch Tuesday – Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. I sure love the “Go Big Blue” shout out on their outdoor sign. Any business who supports my Georgia Southern Eagles and serves up fine food such as this, is a place I’ll return to again and again. With Google reviews like “Best southern cooking around!” and “Don’t let the decor fool you,” take a little detour and see for yourself. Lee’s Restaurant is Some Kinda Good!


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Thanks for stopping by! If you like this post, you may also be interested to read about a few of the other local restaurants and bakeries I’ve reviewed. As the Statesboro Herald food columnist and a Georgia Southern University alumna, the ‘Boro is a second home to me. Be sure to like Some Kinda Good on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter  and Instagram, to keep up with all my latest, local food discoveries.

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Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

wpid-1025141708.jpgThe Whistle Stop Cafe
Juliette, Georgia

After Ruth died and the railroad stopped runnin’, the cafe shut down and everybody just scattered to the winds. It was never more’n just a little knockabout place, but now that I look back on it, when that cafe closed, the heart of the town just stopped beatin’. It’s funny how a little place like this brought so many people together.” – Ninny Threadgoode, Fried Green Tomatoes 

Fried Green Tomatoes served with house-made, spicy thousand island dressing at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, Georgia..
Fried Green Tomatoes served with house-made radish sauce at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliette, Georgia.

On a beautiful fall day recently, my mom and boyfriend, Kurt, ventured to have lunch at the Whistle Stop Cafe, made famous by the 1991 movie “Fried Green Tomatoes,” a comedy-drama based on the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. Though the movie plot is set in 1920’s Alabama, the filming took place in Juliette, Georgia. It’s one of those films that every Southerner can relate to; every character in the movie is identifiable as one’s own family member. The cafe was everything I’d imagined it would be: country with a wide front porch complete with rocking chairs and large ferns, inviting in a way that reminds you of a simpler time and place, and authentic with a menu that proclaims Southern culture and cultivates deep-seated food memories in the hearts and minds of every diner.

Southern side dishes are written in colorful chalk, hanging on a wall next to the kitchen.
Southern side dishes are written in colorful chalk, hanging on a wall next to the kitchen.

We drank sweet iced tea served in Mason jars with big wedges of lemon and bit into the crunchy, highly anticipated Fried Green Tomato appetizer to the tune of Hank Williams  Jr.’s “Country State of Mind.” The hand sliced green tomatoes were battered and fried to perfection, and you could see flecks of black pepper in the coating. Served with made-from-scratch radish sauce, it tasted much like a spicy Thousand Island dressing, though the waitress was tight-lipped with the recipe. We placed our orders — Country Fried Steak with mashed potatoes and gravy and Brunswick stew for Kurt, Yard Bird Tenders with collard greens, grilled squash and zucchini for mama, and the Fried Green Tomato Burger featuring Swiss cheese, lettuce, onion, bacon and radish sauce, with sweet potato fries for me. What I loved most about the menu was how the Fried Green Tomato was elevated — featured in an appetizer, a salad, a sandwich and on a burger, the restaurant’s name is not in vain. Prices ranged around $9 an order to $22 for a full rack of Smoked Baby Back ribs.

For dessert, we split a slice of seven layer lemon cheesecake with vanilla bean ice cream. The cake was moist and light, with tangy sheets of lemon filling between each layer. Other dessert options included peach cobbler, pecan cobbler, apple dumpling and chocolate bread pudding.

The once general merchandising store-turned-cafe still contains an antique file system loaded with old yellow tickets from the past along with the meat block, cash register, meat scales, wood heater, safe and other items used from 1927 to 1972. Movie memorabilia and local history also adorn the walls. Folks sit on bar stools at the u-shaped counter top in the center of the restaurant, or in tables and booths. The floors squeak and ceiling fans keep the air flowing.

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The wait staff wear t-shirts that say, “Get Fried at the Whistle Stop Cafe,” and bustle about welcoming tourists and locals.

Our waitress's t-shirt.
Our waitress’s t-shirt.

If you’ve never seen the movie, watch it. If you’ve never read the book, read it. And if you’ve never eaten at the cafe, plan a trip. You’ll be glad you did.

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Me (left) and Kurt (right) on the porch of the Whistle Stop Cafe.

Good food and good company, that’s what it’s all about!

Get my recipe for Farm to Table Fried Green Tomatoes.

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