7 Culinary Hot Spots in Athens, GA

The Home of the Bulldogs is one crazy place to go to university—or start a band—with it’s killer music scene, ethereal campus, and active social calendar.

But more than just a place to party down on Saturday between the hedges, Athens, Georgia is a great foodie town, and it only takes a taste at these 7 culinary hot spots to understand why.

Ike & Jane

Never have you ever visited a bakery with such tempting doughnuts: lemon poppy seed, powdered sugar, pepper jelly filled, Boston cream, Nutella, red velvet, maple, powdered cinnamon, pistachio-topped, coffee, blueberry or peanut butter-cupped.  And that’s not even the craziest concoction. For the truly entrenched, Ike & Jane is home to the Elvis; a wonder of peanut butter, banana and bacon. Turn your nose up if you like, but this salty and sweet confection just sometimes hits the spot.

The full menu can be found here—I also recommend trying out Ike’s Favorite BLT—but if you want an A+ with anyone from day one, taken them a dozen donuts from Ike & Jane. It’s impossible to regret.

Five & Ten

Celebrity Hugh Acheson may not have been raised in the South—he makes his way to Athens by way of Ottawa, Canada—but his flagship restaurant 5&10 is a testament to just how good the regional delicacies can be. Maybe you’d like to try Frogmore Stew, a veritable smorgasboard of a seafood and sausage gumbo based in a tomato broth. Or maybe the Fat Back Double chop, with a side of chorizo, grilled corn and butter beans, is more your style? Whatever you decide, you can be sure of one thing: Acheson and his team have got tastebud winning combinations on lock.

But here’s a tip: you may want to make a reservation, because the locals (and everyone else) definitely already know how good it is.

Cali N Tito’s

This cash-only outdoor hotspot is one hell of a place to grab a sandwich. Far up on Lumpkin and close to 5 Points, this Latin American eatery serves up the kind of grub you don’t mind bringing your own beer for, and rather, you kind of prefer it. Lounging on a Friday afternoon outside on their patio area is definitely a college student heaven so don’t be surprised to see a passel of coeds taking it easy out front when you go grab on of Cali N Tito’s famous Cubans. Served with either veggies, chicken or steak, and delicious with a side of plantains, you can’t go wrong grabbing a bite on a lazy, sunny afternoon.

Last Resort Grill

You haven’t eaten a chicken sandwich until you’ve eaten The Blow Oskar’s Sister Sandwich at Last Resort Grill. Marinated in their homemade tomatilla chimichurri sauce and then served with melted monterey jack and topped with guac, it’s a slice right out of taste bud heaven. Or get their Chipotle Lime Pork Roll, or Chuck’s Carolina Crab Cakes, or Fried Green Tomato Sandwich or…what I’m really trying to say is it’s all delicious and it’s well worth the wait that sometimes wraps around the side of their excellently painted vegetable mural.

The Grill

There’s a lot of retro eateries around, but the Grill’s 24/7 feta cheese fries are the kind of thing you travel miles for. With it’s intense and impressive collection of vintage memorabilia hanging around on the walls and a vintage jukebox that still plays the good tunes, The Grill’s 24/7 kitchen means late night malted milkshake or an extra early morning grilled cheese. True, it’s no 5-star cafe but this eatery really hits the spot any time of the day, and lucky for you, that’s exactly when you can get it.

Etienne Brasserie

A taste of Paris in the Classic City, Etienne serves up an exemplary brunch and a sumptuous dinner perfect for special occasions—like scoring a 4.0 or visiting Athens for the first time—but the true find in this corner cafe off Broad street is their absinthe fountain. Devoid of the hallucinogen that made it such a popular spirit in the Belle Epoque, there’s no danger in having a glass of the licorice-flavored cocktail now and bonus, they serve it old school—complete with absinthe spoon, flaming sugar, and ice water fountain. Share the charcuterie board and an order of the escargot for an excellent start to an evening.

Trappeze Pub

Trappeze is another great place to grab a drink—their beer list is full of the microbrewery rock stars that make Athens so famous, as well as other regional hops—so go for the pint but stay for the Double Pig and a side of garlic aioli Belgian fries. An experience in braised pork, spiced bacon and pepper aioli on ciabatta, there’s nothing that goes better with a brew—that’s a promise.

Whether you’re headed to the Classic City for a weekend cheering on the Dawgs or you’ve got the 40-Watt and Georgia Theater shows on the brain, don’t forget to stop and satisfy your tastebuds, and certainly don’t miss out on trying these picks—they come taste-tested and highly recommended!

Have a favorite spot in Athens that I missed? Leave me a message in the comments, I love trying new things!

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