The Comerian: A great little bakery out in Comer, GA (about 20 miles away). The baker is a retired physics professor. There’s a nice state park nearby, an excellent cafe, and a lovely farm store nearby. Generally open on Saturday mornings. Order online before you go.
Independent Baking Co.: A very good bakery in Five Points. They have been having some problems with their croissants lately (too large and, hence, a bit undercooked in the center), but the bread is consistent and other pastry is strong. Babka appears to be regularly available on Thursdays, challah is available on Fridays. You can get a coffee and pastry and hang out in the space behind the nearby shoe store.
Dawg Gone Good BBQ: Good BBQ near campus/downtown.
Pulaski Heights BBQ: Solid BBQ near campus. Excellent side options (all the sides are vegetarian) and a nice sauce selection. Very good on catering.
Tamez BBQ: Excellent brisket. Although most of their sides are not great, I have enjoyed the cornbread and greens. Prices are high. They do good, although somewhat expensive, breakfast burritos in the morning.
White Tiger Gourmet: Adequate BBQ in Boulevard. Great outdoor space. Odd zoning. I need to try the burger.
BBQ Notes: It’s not Texas. I do not recommend Scott’s BBQ–except the hash–or The Barbeque Shack.
Big City Bread Cafe: This place has grown on me. It’s a simple menu, but the food is tasty, portions are generous and the outdoor space is nice. They do a great job with catering.
Cafe Racer: Donuts. Biscuits. Believe the hype.
Heirloom Cafe and Fresh Market: We like this farm-to-table restaurant for brunch, although I must admit I haven’t been in a while.
Tamez: Breakfast burritos. See above.
Breakfast notes: There are many other places that serve brunch in Athens. I am not entirely persuaded by Mama’s Boy, and I can’t deal with the weekend lines there. J Christopher’s is a cheerful (chain) place in Five Points.
Bubble Cafe: Boba and reasonable poke bowls right across from campus.
Clocked: Excellent burgers at a pleasant place with a good diner feel.
Kelly’s Jamaican Food: Good jerk chicken and pork. Large portions.
1000 Faces Coffee: The best coffee in Athens by far. The space isn’t great.
Buvez: Excellent (indoor and outdoor) space and location. They serve 1000 Faces coffee.
Comer Coffee: Lovely micro-roaster and cafe out in Comer.
Hendershots: Mixed feelings about this place. Good outdoor space in a nice location, but they haven’t quite solved the bar/cafe dialectic, and the indoor space is not comfortable.
Half-Shepherd Market and Cheese Shop: A great deli. Very good cheese and charcuterie.
Athentic: I might like this brew pub more than Creature Comforts. It is resolutely family friendly, and they allow you to bring in food from outside. The beer is nice too.
Creature Comforts Tasting Room: A superb brew pub.
Dinner Party: You can get a good drink sitting at the bar of this restaurant (or outside).
The Expat: The owner co-authored a book on Southern cocktails.
The Lark: Excellent wine in a lovely space.
The Old Pal: A very good bar in Normaltown. Perhaps the best cocktails in town.
Seabear Oyster Bar: Nice drinks and a very good oyster selection.
Sidecar: Lovely small bar with great drinks and snacks/small plates/burgers. Next to Home.Made. A gem.
Mannaweenta: It’s been a bit variable but the last time we went it was excellent.
Cali N Titos: Cuban/Mexican/fusion. Inexpensive and delicious. Our go-to place for a quick meal in Athens.
Punta Cana Latin Grill: Solid Dominican.
Viva!: Fun Argentinian.
Latin American notes: I was quite disappointed by Mifflin House (a Peruvian place) the one time I went.
Tacos Los Plebes: A taqueria on the eastside. My favorite until I found Juaritos.
Taqueria Juaritos: Excellent gas station taco stand. The gorditas are great. Superb salsa bar.
Mexican notes: Tlaloc El Mexicano is adequate but overrated. El Bajio is mediocre, and the TV was blaring the one time I was there.
I haven’t had great pizza in this town, but I am open to suggestions. I do enjoy Athens Pizza and Little Italy Pizzeria: both supply solid no-frills American-style pizza. Automatic Pizza seems like it should be good, but I just don’t like it that much. Ted’s Most Best is in a good location and has great outdoor space, but the pizza is just not that good.
Jinya: We’ve ordered from them a few times. I like the noodle texture, but the soup bases are mediocre at best.
The Expat: I love the feel of the place but my dining experience has been a bit mixed. The To Go menu during the pandemic was very good. And, as mentioned above, it’s a great place for a drink. I’ve only been once since they changed to an Italian menu–service was not especially good that night.
Five & Ten: New Southern. Excellent space. Cooking more variable than it should be.
Home.Made: Regional. Local. Good food. Didn’t used to love the space, but they have remodeled, turned part of the space into a separate bar (see above), and it is significantly improved.
The National: A nice, if unexciting, European-inflected restaurant downtown. It is generally considered one of Athens’ best and is the default restaurant for entertaining UGA visitors. Lunch is solid, but my recent dinners there have been disappointing.
Vegetarian and Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly
The Grit: Great space, great vibe, tons of history. I’ve been mixed about it, but recently ate a very good vegetarian gyro there. The sweet potato fries are excellent.
Maepole: Quick, reasonably-priced and tasty. They advertise as “healthy, wholesome, southern, gluten free and vegan friendly.”
Slutty Vegan: This Atlanta-based vegan chain just opened in Athens. It is: (a) loud, (b) relentless in its sexual innuendo, (c) extremely tasty (best vegan burger I have had by far), (d) not cheap ($20 for burger, fries and soda).