“Over easy” refers to preparing eggs such that the white is cooked while the yolk is just barely set to provide the perfect combination of textures. This column, much like its namesake, strives to provide the perfect balance of early morning sustenance and Atlanta culture.
Just a few miles from campus in the historic Grant Park neighborhood lies a favorite brunch spot among Emory students and Atlanta foodies alike. Ria’s Bluebird, open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, sits on the corner of Memorial Avenue and serves up a variety of breakfast and lunch items, like their famous buttermilk pancakes and the “brisket breakfast,” a toasted baguette topped with spicy, slow-roasted Angus beef and two poached eggs.
On the back patio, my friends and I were greeted array of brightly colored murals, including one of the late Ria herself. We ordered our coffees, and I looked over the menu. Although we all chose breakfast dishes, the lunch menu boasts a variety of salads and sandwiches including a brisket quesadilla, a tempeh reuben and a pepper turkey melt with caramelized onions, swiss and avocado.
My friends and I sampled a variety of dishes, per usual. We ordered the bluebird burrito — two eggs wrapped up with potatoes, white cheddar and black beans topped with salsa verde and sour cream — as well as the early bird special — a classic two eggs, meat and potatoes meal — and an order of their famous buttermilk pancakes.
The burrito was a deliciously cheesy combination masterfully paired with the salsa verde to bring a light kick to a breakfast staple. We chose a fruit cup for the side which was a refreshing complement to the hearty burrito.
I ordered my eggs over-medium and chose bacon, grits and a biscuit to round out the dish. The biscuit was surprisingly dense, much more consistent with a square of cornbread rather than what I typically expect of a biscuit. It was a soft, delicious few bites though. The grits were pretty standard, but my eggs were cooked perfectly.
When our pancakes arrived we felt overwhelmed. Customers can order toppings on the stack, and we had decided to try all of them. The stack arrived with a side of syrup and topped with pecans, caramelized bananas and chocolate chips. One bite into the dish, I understood all of the hype behind these fluffy but dense cakes: They were truly scrumptious. I’m going to tell my grandkids about these thick, melt-in-your-mouth pancakes. And although the toppings were a fun addition — I definitely could have just taken a side of caramelized bananas for the road — we did not need them. The pancakes themselves were the star of this show.
Ria Pell opened Ria’s Bluebird in 2000. Her vision was of an inclusive and community-building establishment that would feed the neighborhood she called home. Ria’s Bluebird has boomed since her death in 2013.
Seventeen years later, Ria’s Bluebird is still a place that offers a cup of coffee and a seat to everyone with a big appetite. It looks like one of the classic northeastern diners I’m used to patronizing at home in Pennsylvania. It has a metallic, flat roof and an entrance wall consisting entirely of glass paneling. Upon entry, the restaurant offers a much homier breakfast vibe. Wooden walls and tables contrast with a chic metal coffee bar all covered by its blue, industrial-looking ceiling.
Ria’s Bluebird is a great spot when you are craving a good cup of coffee and a rocking breakfast or lunch with friends. Affordable and fun, it makes a great weekend outing (although it is a smaller joint so beware of lines).
As we ate I looked around the patio and noticed a variety of clientele. From a group of women with laptops and pencil skirts having an informal meeting to families to a squad of young professionals catching up with each other, Ria’s Bluebird sticks to its founders’ vision of a welcoming, inclusive environment, dishing up good food and fun vibes.