Friday, August 21, 2009

Athens' Eateries

I know it seems like I'm on an Athens kick here, but I can honestly say that Athens is one of my top (potentially number 1) food cities!  And during my 2 years there, I managed to try it all - the good and the bad - and as I was writing this list to one of Athens' newest freshman residents, I decided I should share.  

Here's a list of the top eateries in the Classic City - 

Best all-around 
- Last Resort - One of my top 5 favorite restaurants ever! The perfect place for a casual lunch on the patio, a dress up dinner with the girls, or a full on Sunday brunch. They work with local vendors, providing the freshest food! For lunch and dinner, the crab cakes always seem to win my affection, as well as the "famous" Last Resort's Praline (chicken breast stuffed with a medley of cheeses, topped with walnut honey sauce). Mmmmm. And everything on the brunch menu is to die for, as long as they are served with the creamy, southern grits! And I can't conclude until I mention the dessert display. Yummiest layer cakes and cheesecakes in the state!

- Best Lunch Place - Five Star Day - This spot is a little more casual, but with a great soul food selection. The picnic chicken salad is my personal favorite. But the meat loaf, fried chicken, and any of the vegetables are yummay!  

Close second who have to be the Great American Cookie Company. Also in downtown Athens, you can get a super cheap sandwich, drink, and cookie combo that satisfies even my appetite. Cashew chicken salad sandwichwins my vote.  

And while Five Points Deli was never my favorite, it certainly is popular with many people and is worth a mention.

- Best "Mexican" (technically Cuban) - Cali n' Titos - Menu's different (for instance, their steak tacos come with french fries all mixed in), but I love this place. The cuban sandwich can't be beat, and it's got an outdoor space that makes you feel like you're at the beach. Toes in the sand eating at a picnic table. Plus, it's a BYOB, so you can stock up and bring over whatever beverage suits your fancy.

Agua Linda, on Prince, is another great spot for more traditional Mexican!

- Best Bakery - Big City Bread - Perfect nice weather patio, yummy breakfast and lunch. On a cool, fall day I could spend hours sipping coffee and reading under the Chinese Elms and adorably strung cafe lights. They've also got fresh baked bread, cookies, and treats - vegan options as well. Many a great conversation has happened there, and I'm sure there are many more to come.

- Best Coffee Shop - Jittery Joes! This little coffee chain is only 
in Athens, GA, and as they put it - "our community thrives on individuality and we provide the fuel." 
Few fun facts about JJ - 
- The vanilla chai is my favorite wintertime drink - a.k.a. "Christmas in a cup"!!  
- The location at Five Points is the coolest, with soft lighting provided by antique lamps, large wooden tables (often shared) that make it feel more like a living room than a coffee shop, and walls lined with books to thumb through while you're waiting (or during a study break!).  
- Jittery Joes has its own cycling team.

Another favorite study spot was Walker's, located downtown. It's a bar at night, but a coffee shop during the day.  I loved the big booths and the flavored coffee!

- Best Expensive Treat - This category has a few favorites.  
Harry Bissets, downtown on Broad. Yummy, new orleans style food - which means oysters! It'll create a hole in your wallet, so you can save this for special occassions! Other great ones, also downtown, are East West and Depalmas Italian. Then in Five Points is Five and Ten. All bring their own flare and are perfect spots for special dinners, or even a drink.,,,  

- Best Sushi - Utage - I have to admit that Utage made the list because it was the only sushi restaurant to grace Athens while I was there. (Apparently there's a new one.) However, it deserves some credit because it certainly satisfied my sushi cravings and is located downtown.  


- Best Vegetarian (ever) - The Grit - I'll be honest, I love meat. So the idea of an all vegetarian restaurant doesn't make my heart skip a beat. However, this place is absolutely legit. I mean, so legit that I know plenty of men meat-eaters who love this place. Personally, the Grilled Cheese Smelt w/ spinach and tomato is my top pick. However the Veggie Plate never ceases to amaze (we're talking falafels, dal, tabouli!), and you can't forget the Mid-E (short for Middle Eastern platter) or the Dal Baby (cup of split pea dal, veggie samosa, brown rice, and a side of Indian curry dressing). Hello international :)

- Best southern meal - Mayflower - It's a meat and three veggies kind of deal with the most mom and pop servers you could ask for. Seriously, I'm pretty sure they at least have one waitress who goes by the name of "Flo." Decor is old school, and it's the perfect Sunday afternoon meal kind of place. The downtown location is hard to beat. 

- Best dessert gifts - Either a Cecilia Villaveces cake, which is what Last Resort 
serves by the slice. For whole cakes you can visit her shop on Milledge. Red Velvet is the best! But other favorites are the Caramel, Lemon, and Bailey's. My other favorite edible gift is a cookie bouquet from the Creative Cookie and Creamery off Epps Bridge Road. These iced shortbread cookies are the perfect dessert, and they can deliver these adorable bouquets on any occasion!,

- Best Church (ok, not an eatery, but it's hard to talk about Athens without mentioning it) - Athens Church - - They meet in the Classic Center, and it's a strategic partner of Northpoint. Worked for them for a year, and just an amazing group of people who want to "lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ." If you're there on a Sunday morning...check it out!

Now I've just got to find a chance to book a weekend in Athens. While I'm not a bulldawg at any level, that city has a piece of my heart.


marisa said...

i love this, molly! you made me want to go to athens this weekend!! :) the grit is my ULTIMATE favorite of all time.
only one i would add is "marti's at mid-day" -- on prince. it's my fav chicken salad ever.
and i love that we first met @ big city bread. SO FUN!!!

Bagwell's said...

I just found this and it made my mouth water and it made me miss you! I want to see you soon. I love the blog!

Ashley said...

when are we going?!

Kb_Mal said...

I never made it to Mayflower (sad) but I can vouch for about all the other restaurants you mentioned. Mmmm.

You're making me crave Five Star Day's collard greens, the Grit's breakfast (all the options are so good!) and Utage's sushi. Mmm mmm mmm.

Molly Hargather said...

i should have known that a food post would generate the most comments to date! marisa, betsy, and katy, i love you all more now just for the fact that you can relate and join me in salivating.

ash - we've got to get you there asap!