Top 10 Best Brunch Restaurants In Athens, Georgia

Photo of Elaine Elliott
9 February 2017

With the establishment of the University of Georgia in 1785, the town of Athens slowly emerged alongside the oldest state-owned college in America. There are many local, farm-to-table restaurants to indulge in here – these are the best spots to grab brunch.

Donderos’ Kitchen | Photo by author

Donderos’ Kitchen

Tucked away in a beautiful house on Milledge Avenue, Donderos’ has remained one of Athens’ best-kept brunch secrets. This family-owned restaurant really does feel like home when guests walk into the many separate rooms full of tables, book shelves, and artwork. The house remains relatively quiet for guests who want to enjoy an intimate brunch, lunch, or study snack. Daily specials like the seasonal vegetables and grits are a must-try if they’re on the menu. Other options include skillet potato and egg scrambles, quiche, and breakfast burritos. Donderos’ also offers frozen desserts, entrées, and breakfasts platters for customers to take home.

The Grit | Photo by author

The Grit

Who said a classic Southern breakfast has to include sausage and bacon? The Grit is the best vegetarian restaurant in town. Centrally located next to the Bottleworks district, The Grit offers daily brunch, dinner, and baked goods to students, locals, and visitors. With acclaims from Travel & Leisure, Atlanta Magazine, and NPR, it’s hard for guests to disagree with how delectable the selection is here. The omelets are always made perfectly, the toast is thicker than the newspaper, the cheese grits ooze over warm crock bowls, and the Mexican-influenced platters are full of tasty beans and salsa. And with mimosas offered, there’s always a reason to celebrate food and friends at The Grit.

Mama’s Boy | Photo by author

Mama’s Boy

With what is most likely the largest cult following outside of any relation to the University of Georgia, Mama’s Boy has gained a notorious reputation for being an essential eating spot to an Athens visit. The blue and white Mama’s Boy sticker can be found all around town from a student’s laptop to a streetlamp. Be sure to grab your own and join the calling. Mama’s Boy is a BYOB establishment that serves the fluffiest biscuits in town, along with salmon cakes Benedict, potato hashes, pancake Tuesdays, and more. Guests should come in early to reserve a spot, because the wait is usually up to at least 30 minutes – for good reason.

The White Tiger | Photo by author

The White Tiger

Another Athens gem that takes pride in serving a diverse group of people in this college town. From the outside, The White Tiger looks like a rundown hole-in-the-wall, but maybe that’s why the locals love it so much. There’s nothing fancy here, just fresh food served on paper plates and picnic tables. Owner Ken Manring is a nationwide notable chef and Culinary Institute of America graduate. So, guests are guaranteed to be pleasantly surprised with how hearty, fresh, and delicious the food is. This quirky Athens restaurant keeps it simple and consistent with their infamous BBQ Benedict sandwich, “ridiculous stack” of pancakes, and Tiger Head biscuit sandwich. The establishment is best known for their Sunday brunches, smoked vinegar-based barbecue, fresh veggies and tofu, and BYOB policy.

The Last Resort | Photo by author

The Last Resort

One of Athens’ most sought-out restaurants offers the special treat of Sunday brunch once a week. The Last Resort is a representation of the Athens community through Southern flavor, local farm-sourced ingredients, and genuine service. Sunday brunch is a great time to visit when the menu is cheaper, but the ambiance is still elegant and friendly. The menu includes entrées like shrimp and grits, pork hash, corn cakes with beans and sunny side up eggs, omelets, crab Benedict, shrimp and salmon pasta, and fruit-topped pancakes. Since Last Resort is a popular restaurant located in the heart of downtown, it’s highly recommended to call ahead.

Heirloom Café | Photo by author

Heirloom Café

At Heirloom Café, visitors are always welcomed with farm fresh entrées from the surrounding area. Seasonal menus change frequently but always include numerous egg selections accompanied with meats, vegetables, Red Mule grits, and biscuits. Pancakes, grass-fed or veggie burgers, mimosas, granola, and quiche are other common items. Heirloom aims to support and serve the community in every which way, so percentage nights and special events are another common occurrence for the restaurant.

Big City Bread Café | Photo by author

Big City Bread Café

Locals love the cozy setting of Big City Bread both inside and outside of the restaurant. On a sunny day, the courtyard is the best place to have breakfast under the shady green elm trees. Big City Bread is known for offering a wide array of daily baked pastries, cakes, and breads to pair with a cup of coffee. The restaurant also serves breakfast daily, and a slightly altered brunch menu on Sunday. The menu is standard with items like biscuit sandwiches, eggs, quiche, French toast and omelets. With such a beautiful variety of hand-made baked goods, visitors rarely leave breakfast without a sweet treat as well.

Ideal Bagel Co. | Photo by author

Ideal Bagel Co.

Ideal Bagel offers authentic New York-style boiled bagels in its newly established restaurant in downtown Athens. The retro-themed atmosphere is a great place to pick up a quick bagel and coffee to-go, or sit down to work, study, or chat with friends. Ideal’s daily made bagels come with an assortment of spreads like whitefish, Nutella, sun-dried tomato, hummus, seasonal fruit, peanut butter, and more. Popular specialty bagels include the House Fish Bagel with lox, capers, and smoked salmon or Georgia trout, or The Southernmost with local sausage and grape jelly. Guests can also pick up fresh Luna Baking Co. breads, which is another bakery owned by Ideal Bagel Co.’s owner Matt Downes.

Ideal Bagel Co. 815 W Broad St, Athens, GA, USA +1 706 353 0005

Ike and Jane | Photo by author

Ike and Jane

Owned by Matt Downes, Ike and Jane is Athens’ best doughnut shop. The doughnuts are made, iced, and sprinkled with numerous mixtures. Some of the cake types include red velvet, blueberry, lemon poppy seed, and seasonal. Icings include caramel, peanut butter, maple, Nutella, and more. To finish it all off, coconut, almond, Fruity Pebbles, pistachios, and Oreo sprinkles are a few of many toppings. The doughnuts are made fresh everyday, and guests should come in early if they want options. Otherwise, the most popular doughnuts are typically sold out before noon. Even if the doughnuts are gone, Ike and Jane is worth the visit for fresh squeezed orange juice or lemonade, breakfast sandwiches, quiche, pastries, breakfast bars, and breads.

The Pine | Photo by author

The Pine

The Pine opened up in 2014 as a new competitor in the Athens brunch scene. The restaurant is a chic place to eat and drink with friends or enjoy the weekend Biscuit Brunch in the Five Points Milledge Avenue area. Boozy brunches are a must-try here with house-made Bloody Marys and mimosas, or The Pine Smoothie with vodka and Blenheim ginger ale. As for the food, biscuits with house-made sausage gravy, creative flatbread dishes, and cheesy bacon biscuits are all available each weekend.

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