Atlanta, GA

Starting the New Year With a Georgia Institution, Smiles and A Side of Fries at The Varsity


Whether you had the good fortune to visit the original location in Athens, or now patronize the downtown Atlanta megasite or one of the other outposts of this Georgia institution, you likely appreciate the simplicity of the menu at The Varsity.
After an oversweet and festive food holiday season, kids and adults alike were all smiles to dogs, burgers and fries from The Varsity.Photo byDeanLand /

Amazingly, some places have overcomplicated the simplicity of dogs, burgers, fries and a drink. But the magic of The Varsity is that even with regional expansion, they've kept true to their recipe, delivered on their promise, and did it all in their traditional approach.

Each guest is still greeted with the catchphrase, "What'll ya have?" and the regulars know the coded lingo for the menu. Real and transplanted Georgians answer with things like, “Ring one, Heavy weight sideways,” (hot dog with extra chili, onions on the side, with a side order of onion rings.) or “walk a naked dog with a bag of rags,” (one plain hot dog to go, with a side of potato chips.) Worry not if you don’t know the lingo; the menu is printed in good, old-fashioned fast-food English.
Real and transplanted Georgians order "Heavy weight sideways,” and "walk a naked dog with a bag of rags." The normal menu is printed, too.Photo byDeanLand /

We kicked off our Georgia 2023 with one of our periodic trips to The Varsity in Kennesaw, tucked away alongside the expansive-but-shrinking Towne Center Mall. With a shuttered movie theatre next door and the declining mall traffic, we were a little worried that this location might not be around too much longer. But we were pleasantly surprised by an early Tuesday lunchtime crowd that meandered in before a busier lunchtime rush.

The simple taste buds of our three grandchildren made The Varsity a great choice. After an over-sweetened and festive food holiday period, simple, satisfying and safe sounded like the right choice for a post-New Year outing. Surprisingly, it was the adults who enjoyed the traditional hot dogs, chili, cheese and mustard. The kids chose double burgers, and we shared multiple sides of the home-cut fries served smoking-hot and a large box. Despite their sworn hungers ("I PROMISE I can finish a double!!!"), not a single one finished their burger or fries. That was OK, because we adults polished off the fries for them.

Now, am I saying that The Varsity has the best dogs, burgers and fries around? No. But if, like Jimmy Buffett, you find yourself in a nostalgic rage and want to kick right back and show your age, The Varsity is a perfect traditional stop at any time of year.

More From DeanLand on Newsbreak

If you enjoyed this article, see others on local, regional and other topics by DeanLand. Simply use the "follow" button, located before and after this article on your phone, or on the left side menu on your computer. You can also see extended posts on family-friendly activities by DeanLand at

And if you're a restaurant owner and want us to visit your establishment, drop us an email at

Comments / 2

Published by

I'm a trained journalist and retired global marketing executive. Living in Northwest Georgia, I write about about avocations including outdoors, travel, exploration, history and some of my community passions. I've traveled to 47 states and nearly as many countries. My South Louisiana-born French Cajun upbringing in food-rich Louisiana plus my extended restaurant-related career affirmed my status as an over-qualified eater. At my blog,, I offer a complete menu of our my own experiences, explorations and adventures, organized by geography and always sprinkled with some spicy, tasty tidbits and food notes.

Acworth, GA

More from DeanLand

Comments / 0