In the heart of the Virginia Highlands lies a restaurant that is so much more than your average Atlanta eatery. Murphy’s is an institution, a local and visitor favorite and the perfect place for brunch, lunch, dinner, dessert and wine tasting.
Walking into Murphy’s is, at this point, like walking into my own kitchen. Having tried every dish on the menu and then some, Murphy’s is the definition of a home run. Without fail I take my parents to this beloved spot every time they come to visit me. They even have their go-to dishes, with my dad partial to the crab meat hash brunch special and my mom never missing a chance to order the classic Maine lobster Cobb salad. But we’ll get to the food in a moment.
I need to warn you that if you are going to Murphy’s on a weekend for brunch, there are no reservations. It’s first come, first serve, and trust me, if you aren’t there by at least 10am, then you are not getting seated for well over a half-hour — and that’s on a good day.
The average wait time for brunch is anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour and even though other places in Atlanta have the same wait-time situation, nowhere else is truly worth it. After four years of extensive brunching experience, I won’t wait for brunch anywhere but Murphy’s. If you want the ultimate Atlanta brunch experience, Murphy’s is the king.
Let’s start the food breakdown with brunch, the most important meal of any day, served only on Saturday and Sunday. Start with a delicious Bloody Mary or mimosa, and then order Murphy’s assorted pastry basket. It could feature anything from chocolate chip banana muffins to pumpkin scones, and the surprise is part of the fun.
Murphy’s offers many savory egg options for brunch. As I mentioned before, my dad likes to mix it up and order the crab meat hash, which was once a special and doesn’t regularly appear on the menu. Since Murphy’s is extremely accommodating, they’re usually willing to whip up my dad’s favorite. It is fresh crab over hash browns, perfectly poached eggs and a hollandaise that is never too heavy.
My personal favorite dish is the chilaquiles. The combination of chicken, tortillas, over-medium eggs, tomatillo sauce, avocado and sour cream is sure to cure any hangover. Another notable item from the brunch menu is the hazelnut crusted French toast with caramelized bananas, whipped cream and powdered sugar to top it off.
If you want something lighter, you can always go for the Waldorf chicken salad sandwich, which is served on a croissant and with a side of hash browns. You won’t leave brunch at Murphy’s with an empty or unsatisfied stomach.
If the food coma isn’t too difficult to get over, you can always come back to Murphy’s for lunch or dinner the same day and have an entirely different experience. If coming back on the same day is too much, the next day or weekend will suffice.
For appetizers, go with the Caesar salad with shaved onion rings and spicy croutons. You can actually add any protein to that to make it a main course, but I like to get the chicken tortilla soup as well.
If you’re coming in for dinner and want a heartier meal, the meatballs are my go-to. The flash fried calamari and grilled artichokes served with lemon aioli also deserve a shout out.
The stand out of the share plates and sides, however, is the truffle mac ‘n’ cheese. This comfort food is a good addition to any of the main courses, since it is considered a side portion, but many of my friends will order it as their entrée with no shame.
Murphy’s main courses are always changing, but there a few staples. The burger is always a crowd pleaser, and I add a fried egg and avocado on top to make it special. The spinach and sausage meatloaf is something I have ordered time and time again and have never been disappointed. Any variations of the trout or the salmon steak are consistently good. Right now, the salmon steak is being served with a wild rice risotto that I need to learn to make myself because it’s that just good.
Murphy’s has a solid special routine as well, with one special featured each night of the week. My picks would be the Wednesday night lamb shank with Israeli cous cous and the Sunday night pasta supper.
Dessert and wine both cannot be forgotten at Murphy’s. If you’re not too full by the end of your meal, and you shouldn’t be because I’m warning you now to save room, you must order the Tollhouse pie. This cookie pie is sometimes the sole reason I dine at Murphy’s. A secret recipe, the pie combines the best kinds of cookies, with chocolate chip filling and a thin Oreo crust. Some people like to share a slice, but I think it’s a cardinal sin to share this heavenly dessert.
Murphy’s boasts its own wine shop with over 350 different wines, including all the wines you can order by the glass so that you can always buy a bottle to bring home if you’ve enjoyed your selection. To try some of Murphy’s amazing wines, make a reservation for the weekly Tuesday wine tasting, which only costs $20.
Ultimately, Murphy’s is and will perpetually be a mainstay of Atlanta dining because it’s true to itself. It doesn’t try to be trendy or hip. It is a warm, cozy atmosphere that consistently turns out classic American fare. I come to Murphy’s for the things I always crave. The reason I love Murphy’s so much, and why you should too, is because they bring it back to basics — and I’m really okay with being basic when it tastes this good.
Location: 997 Virginia Avenue NE, Atlanta GA 30306
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11am-10pm Fri 11am-11pm Sat 8:30am-11pm Sun 8:30am-10pm