The Rookery was opened by Jim Kee in 1976 in the heart of downtown Macon. In its first 33 years it became iconic and paid homage to all of the greats that gave Macon it’s soulful past. In 2009 two friends decided to buy The Rookery knowing that the history was something that made it iconic. With a little remodeling and some small tweaks to the menu, The Rookery became the restaurant we have today.
After a little history lesson, let me tell you about my first experience at The Rookery. First of all I had heard nothing but “The Rookery has the best burger, “Make sure you get a burger”, “Try the burger first”, so how could I not?
Upon sitting down, I looked around and noticed that there were all types of people: families, students, married people, kids. We got to sit in one of the booths which I thought was a real treat, layers and layers of black sharpie covered the table, the walls, the ceiling and even the seats. I was reading all of the names and what people had written. There was even a name I recognized which is odd because I’m not even from here. It just had so much history; I mean you’re eating in a place where legends have eaten.
When it came time to order, the menu had so many things I wanted to try. I settled on the market sampler to start, which was an excellent choice. Pimento Cheese and Chicken Salad on crostini’s, both tricky southern favorites that were executed flawlessly, it was a great start to an amazing meal. The back page of the menu is all burgers, burgers with eggs, burgers with pimento cheese, burgers with mushrooms, all the burger toppings you could ever want! After much deliberation and on recommendation from my friends, I got the Johnny Jenkins Burger. I know what you’re going to say “Didn’t you have Pimento Cheese as an appetizer? ”. Well yes, I did. BUT Pimento Cheese with Bread and Butter Pickles on a burger is a whole new level of fantastic. The Johnny Jenkins Burger is hands down one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. However, since that first visit, I’ve had the Allman Burger which has become my new usual.
The burgers are just one aspect of their menu, which ranges from fish and chips to cheese plates to fried pickles. If you’re frequenting The Rookery in the warmer months then you absolutely have to try one of their milkshakes. My friend and I split a Pineapple Upside Down Shake, the only mistake there was that I should have gotten my own! So yummy- like dessert in a glass! Probably 1000 calories, but I didn’t care one bit.
If you find yourself there on Thursday, they have specials that are made from the items they picked up that day from the Mulberry Market. You can’t get any more local than that!
The Rookery was more than a dinner with friends, it was an experience. Any local will tell you, the Rookery should be at the top of your dining out list. The vibe and history of The Rookery is almost like being on a small tour of the town. It really makes you feel at home.