That Athens, Georgia is a college town is largely reflected on the city’s culinary scene -while fine-dining restaurants are near to non-existent, gastropubs and inexpensive cafes abound. This is not, however, to Athens’ detriment – on the contrary, the city is ripe with fresh and exciting international cooking. Discover the best of Georgia dining in our guide to the top ten restaurants in Athens.
Beer lovers in Athens need look no further than Trappeze Pub. Here the impressive stock of beers counts over 200 bottled varieties with an additional 30 on tap, including a few of the world’s rarest brews. Spacious rooms, plenty of booths, large tables and outdoor seating welcome the crowds of Athens students who regularly frequent this venue. Trappeze also serves an array of typical and delicious pub fare, allowing patrons to enjoy a hearty meal together with a smooth lager or full bodied ale. Diners may also be interested in a cheese plate complete with exquisite slices of European cheeses.
Acclaimed restaurant 5&10 is run by award-winning chef Hugh Acheson, popular in America for participating in television cooking show Top Chef. Acheson has gained many accolades for his impressive ability to operate a creative fusion of Southern U.S. cooking with French and Italian flavors. The restaurant recently moved down the street from its original location, where it occupied a building which once operated as a five-and-dime store (hence the restaurant’s name). 5&10 now sports a more airy and spacious venue in a renovated house that is at once homey and sophisticated, the perfect match for Acheson’s brilliant and scrumptious preparations.
Following the success of 5&10, Hugh Acheson opened his second restaurant, The National, together with talented chef Peter Dale. Sporting a more casual atmosphere than 5&10, The National puts top quality ingredients sourced from the best local producers at the service of a quirky menu inspired by Southern European and Mediterranean gastronomies. Here, guests have a chance to taste appetizing delicacies such as the Middle-Eastern hummus or stuffed dates, the Italian pizzette or the Spanish patatas bravas, before proceeding to the main course. Like the food, the drink selection is influenced by the Old Continent, with the wine card listing a rich selection of French, Italian, Spanish, Greek and German bottles.
With two venues in Athens, Sr. Sol is widely regarded as the best Mexican food in town. The rich and tempting menu presents a wide variety of tantalizing tacos, burritos, nachos, quesadillas, fajitas and other Mexican bites, each with different fillings — including some vegetarian-friendly options. For those with less time to linger over their meals, or who wish to enjoy their food at home, Sr. Sol also offers a convenient take-away service.
East West Bistro comprises a dining room, a bar and an outside patio, as well as larger rooms ideal for special events and parties. This welcoming restaurant implements fresh and seasonal ingredients for tasty recipes that draw inspiration from Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. Menu highlights include a range of courses inspired by Hawaiian cooking, such as the Hawaiian hebi or the monchong with wild fruit salsa, and some of the best Pacific Salmon in town. East West Bistro has won the Wine Spectator Award every single year since its opening in 1995 for its unique selection of prestigious wines.
Last Resort Grill was built out of the ashes of a legendary music club that has brightened up Athens’ social scene since 1966. Today, the restaurant continues the club’s mission to keep the city well and lively, but does so with its tasty and eclectic dishes rather than with basses and guitars. Enjoy the fantastic shrimp quesadillas with roasted jalapeno sauce, the pecan crusted blue trout topped with dijon honey butter or the Last Resort’s praline, the restaurant’s signature dish.
Italian cuisine is arguably one of the best in the whole world, and La Dolce Vita does an excellent job at offering its guests an authentic taste of Italy’s renowned gastronomy. After all, Italian chef Stefano was raised in the foothills of the Alps – he knows exactly what he’s doing when he prepares the fresh, homemade pastas and focaccia bread served at his restaurant, the delicious melanzane alla parmigiana or the gnocchi alla sorrentina (gnocchi filled with ricotta and topped with buffalo mozzarella). La Dolce Vita’s signature dishes are, however, the delectable meatballs – they are prepared with a special recipe that has been secretly passed on from generation to generation in the chef’s family.
Mama’s Boy is consistently packed with a crowd of loyal customers, demonstrating one thing to be true; that the food served here is so delicious, and the atmosphere so delightful, that the good people of Athens are happy to come back time and time again. Voted many years in a row as the best place in the city for breakfast or brunch, the hearty portions of eggs and bacon, vegetables and potato hash or salmon cakes are simply exquisite — and great value for money. As an added bonus the main courses come complete with a Mama’s Boy signature, giant biscuit on the side.
From the exterior the corner building in which The Grit is housed looks like an old, abandoned warehouse with unpainted, grungy stone walls. However, these rugged looks are exactly what give this pub a cool, trendy feel that continues to draw in a steady stream of visitors. The Grit, one of Athens’ most popular culinary institutions, serves strictly vegetarian fare, though the healthy veggies are used in preparations so inviting and tasty that non-vegetarians tend to overlook the absence of their beloved meats. The menu includes a rich gamut of sandwiches, soups, salads, bagels, burritos, pastas, falafels and many other internationally inspired dishes.
Clocked! takes pride in serving ‘out of this world burgers and fries’, and in the case of this burger joint in Athens, this line is more than mere marketing blurb. Clocked!’s secret lies in the ingredients – only the freshest produce makes it to the kitchen, sourced from local and certified suppliers to guarantee the highest quality for the customer. The melt-in-the-mouth burgers are cooked-fresh-to-order, which may make for a slightly longer wait time, but goes all to the advantage of taste. Clocked! also gets points for its fun decor – the checkered floor, small plastic tables and red booths scream 1950s America.