Johnny V’s is a comfort food hidden gem

Comfort food is a whole other category of food that has its own rules and expectations. Comfort food is all about the family feel, the service, a low price and “hitting the spot” of a craving or getting a fix of home style cooking without the dishes. Johnny V’s has been around for forever, but just blipped onto my radar in the past couple of days, and now I wonder how I could have possibly missed this place for so long.

Johnny Vs Macon Banana Pudding
Johnny V’s banana pudding is so good, you’ll want to eat it first. Just like many of our grandmothers made and still make. Photo by Doug Deal.

I will invert this article and talk first about the dessert because I am not ashamed to admit that is how I ate my lunch. Banana pudding is one of my favorite desserts when made the way I make it, which is the way I remember it as a child; although it can be disappointing when served plain as banana “flavored” pudding. Johnny V’s’ version is exactly the bowl of delight I remembered growing up with “Nilla” wafers and over-ripened bananas that get lost and incorporated into the pudding nearly dissolve to become part of the whole. As I slowly scraped a little off the top, closed my eyes and took a bite, I recalled all the celebrations, picnics and parties of my childhood where this dish was the centerpiece no one could wait for. After a time, I felt lost in the 1980’s, and only the flat screen TV displaying noon-time weather betrayed the current year.

Johnny Vs Macon BLT
The Johnny V’s BLT is just like you’d make at home, served with diner-standard crinkle cut fries. All this served for a small price and no dishes to do. Photo by Doug Deal.

Then, I moved onto my entrée. I was seriously tempted by the gravy burger, because what comfort food lover doesn’t want to try a favorite covered in gravy at least once. However, I hadn’t had a BLT in a while, so I ordered that with the fries. The BLT was exactly how you would make it at home, with crisp toast, crispy bacon, ice burg lettuce, and mayo. Sometimes at home, I would add an egg and call it a BELT, and I bet the friendly folks there would take you up on it if you asked. The fries were standard dinner crinkle cut, which I always eat with a mixture of ketchup and hot sauce. In fact, I have been eating them that way for over 35 years, and it was likely at a family diner like Johnny V’s where I picked up the habit. Overall, the meal was delicious and filled a craving, as a BLT is not on many menus. The food may disappoint a food snob, but it is everything you want from a home style restaurant, and the price was next to nothing.

Johnny Vs Macon Interior
A friendly old style diner experience with a lot of regulars is what you’ll find at Johnny V’s. Photo by Doug Deal.

Any dining experience is made better with a friendly staff, and on this Johnny V’s may be top of the line in that regard. From the moment I walked in as a first timer, I was greeted with nothing but smiles and prompt service as well as responses from my questions. In short, I left stuffed, relaxed and happy. Come around lunch time any weekday, and you will see lots of people with the same thought as the drive-thru was out to the street and the inside did a brisk business. I have lived in Macon for twelve and a half years and regret that I have never run across the place, but it is well known to Macon old-timers, even if they do not know the 5854 Columbus Rd. location is still open.

Johnny Vs Macon Outside
Johnny V’s is unassuming and easy to miss unless you glance left after crossing Fulton Mill Rd heading West on Columbus Rd. Cars are often lined up at the drive-thru. Photo by Doug Deal.

They are open lunch and breakfast from 5 AM to 5 PM every day except Sunday, with breakfast served until noon. The breakfast menu includes anything you can imagine, and I have heard from regulars, they will improvise for you if you ask. In short, places like this restaurant are the reason I started writing about local things of interest. Ironically, I discovered them while visiting the printer I am going to use to bring that newspaper back. This coincidence only strengthens my resolve to highlight the good things of Middle Georgia.

In a world where McDonald’s and Waffle House have imitated the local family diner experience and corporatized it, places like Johnny V’s have disappeared. It is my hope that shining a light on these little oases of local character we can keep some of the charms of Macon alive longer.

Johnny Vs Macon menu
Johnny V’s has all sorts of delicious looking items at a great price. That gravy burger is next on our list. Photo by Doug Deal.

 

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