For those of us who grew up in the South, finding good Southern cooking in restaurants is not easy, even in the homeland. The homogenization and nationalization of American food is one of the unfortunate byproducts of fast-food chains.

But in Atlanta there is a restaurant that still serves fresh vegetables, fried chicken, hot bread, fresh desserts and Southern iced tea (already sweetened), all at resonable prices.

Mary Mac's, two blocks east of Peachtree Street on Ponce de Leon Avenue, is a gathering place for local politicians and media folks. But there are always those in the waiting line that stretches out the front door who heard about the restaurant from friends and are trying it for the first time.

Service is quick and efficient in the several large dining rooms. Diners fill out their own orders on the little green pads and give them to the waitress.

Many vegetables are available, including the best fried okra to be found anywhere, delicious sweet corn and fresh collards. Fried chicken, pork chops, catfish and steak can be ordered by those who are not tempted by a vegetables-only meal. The dessert menu includes rice pudding, baked custard, cobbler and fresh pie.

For many former Atlantans, a trip home would not be complete without a visit to Mary Mac's.