Ponce De Leon Avenue – simply known as Ponce to most locals – connects downtown Atlanta to the communities of Decatur, Clarkston and Stone Mountain, GA. But the Avenue does more than simply connect the city’s economic center to other suburbs. As the road snakes through Atlanta, Ponce has historically served as the dividing line between the city’s white north side and black south side. It’s a line so clear that streets actually change their names as they cross the Avenue.
While it might have been a very clear demarcation a few decades ago, as Atlanta has grown and progressed, the line has blurred. In no place is that blending more apparent than The Majestic Diner, which sits right at the intersection of Ponce and Highland, The Diner opened in 1929, and has served all walks of life for much of its history. While the establishment is lively at almost every hour, it really takes on a life of it’s own during the late night hours. So if you’re in Atlanta and you’ve had a few drinks, it’s a must-stop before heading home.
The Majestic has a long and storied history. It was part of the complex that became the city’s first strip mall – which also included a movie theater, grocery story and 24 hour drugstore – built just as Atlanta’s car culture was about to take hold. The mall was primed to become a destination for those with the means to drive there.
Stepping inside The Majestic is a bit like stepping back in time. Not a ton has changed in its decades of existence, but that’s part of the appeal — it isn’t trying too hard, it simply is what it is. During the day, a visit to The Majestic might find you encountering a few families, freelancers working in a corner booth, and people of all professions stopping by for a quick breakfast or lunch. But when nighttime falls, especially on the weekends, the crowds get noticeably more lively. And it isn’t uncommon to find a line of people waiting to get in, with a bouncer at the door for crowd control.
At it’s most pure, The Majestic is a simple quick service diner providing all the classics one expects when it comes to late night eating. While the menu is vast, what most people come for are the eggs, grits, hash browns, bacon, waffles, biscuits and greasy burgers that help sop up all of the drinks most people have consumed before entering. It’s food they’ve served since opening almost 100 years ago, and while the menu is similar to Atlanta’s other iconic institution, The Waffle House, The Majestic is an institution all it’s own.
Header image via Kevin Trotman/flickr