I’d heard about Nick’s Food to Go for several years, likely starting with a rerun episode of “Georgia Eats” on PBS one night.
I’d even driven by it a couple of times this week (at the corner of Hill and MLK) in the morning on the way to work, trying to find my way around a backup onto the downtown connector from I-20.
Since I had someone coming to the house to do some work in the afternoon, I took a half-day vacation and thought this might be the perfect day to pick up something from Nick’s as I drove through town. When I pulled up, there were two guys in a Jeep Cherokee, with a ladder attached to the top, eating on their hood, parked next to an empty APD fire truck from “Animal House”. The truck was empty because all six guys were sitting in the “foyer” of Nick’s waiting on food. Foyer is such a generous word – more like a waiting room that would hold 10 people with a half door (like Mr. Ed talked over) looking into the kitchen.
The menu is on the wall and I had plenty of time to order as everyone else was waiting for their food and no one was in the window to the kitchen. I asked what to order and the fireman in the corner said, “if you like meat, go with the gyro.” A few minutes later, I grabbed the opportunity as Nick walked near the doorway. I stepped up and ordered a gyro (with no onions):
There was priest/reverend (she had on a collar) standing against the wall by the menu, and she told me that she was “a burger girl”, so I ordered one of those, too, as a combo with fries and a drink. Nick told me that it would be ten minutes for a burger, so I waited for a fireman to leave to take his spot against the wall.
The mistake here was believing that I can eat a gyro and drive. I was enjoying the taste when I realized there was a stream of tzatziki sauce pouring through a hole in the bottom of the foil, into my lap. The lamb was seasoned well and the tomatoes had been slightly grilled. The bread was just the right thickness, not so thin that it got soggy; not so thick that it was chewy. It was a little heavy on the lettuce, but that was the only complaint.
The burger was crisp and crusty – like it had been fried in a pan in its own grease, more so than on a griddle.
While I waited, I talked to the folks inside and realized that this is very much a neighborhood place, and these folks were regulars. I gather Nick is very much like Ms. Ann, in running his place with an iron fist. The reverend told me she had been forced to leave on a couple of occasions when he got wound up and started speaking “colorfully”.
I can see why Nick’s has been open for so long: good food, served with character at a fair price. This is the kind of place that needs to survive.