As the second oldest city in Georgia, Lawrenceville is certainly brimming with history and culture, but discerning foodies will also delight in the city’s vibrant dining scene. From seasonal Southern fare in a hip gastropub to Florida-style seafood and comfort food cafe classics, we round-up the best local eats in Lawrenceville.
Opened in 2011 on Lawrenceville’s historic town square, Local Republic is a hip gastropub serving a vibrant mix of Southern and international dishes crafted from seasonal, locally sourced produce. A cozy, buzzing dining room decorated with local art sets the scene in which to try dishes like shrimp and grits or duck breast with coconut rice cake and summer slaw. However it is Local Republic’s burgers – which scooped Best Burger in the 2014 Gwinnett Daily Post Reader’ Choice Awards – that are a definite must-try, with seven varieties that include the Patrick Swayze topped with provolone and ghost pepper salsa.
A true farm-to-table restaurant, The Georgia Pine is proud to craft its mouth-watering modern American, regionally inspired cuisine from local Georgian produce, which it serves alongside beers brewed exclusively in-state and seasonal craft cocktails. A stylishly understated interior (think muted grays and browns) illuminated by kitsch mason jar lights welcomes guests, while The Georgia Pine’s busy kitchen, overseen by chef Scott Smith, whips up dishes like the house-crafted sausage starter with Dijon and roasted baby bell peppers and the crispy trout main with ‘nasty good’ sauce, grilled okra and onions – perfect teamed with a beer from Atlanta-based brewery SweetWater or a refreshing seasonally inspired cocktail.
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Founded in 2011 by two native New Yorkers, The Peachtree Café brings the look and cuisine of a typical New York diner to the heart of downtown Lawrenceville. Open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week, The Peachtree Café’s welcoming, neighborly ambiance and comfy booths make it an ideal gathering place for a relaxed, homey meal with friends or family. The cafe’s breakfast menu offers a hearty kick start to any day with pancakes, crepes, omelets and waffles. Lunchtime diners are treated to dishes like the signature Peachtree Café burger – a cheddar cheese and jalapeno stuffed patty topped with grilled bacon and homemade peach salsa.
One of the city’s more lively dining options, McCray’s Tavern on the Square is a neighborhood bar and grill that serves classic American pub grub and over 40 beers on tap – the largest selection in the city. Located in downtown Lawrenceville, McCray’s features a rooftop patio perfect for al fresco dining on warm evenings and scenic views over the city. The cozy tavern is a vibrant, welcoming space where hearty dishes like country fried steak and slow-cooked baby back ribs are served alongside beers, cocktails and specialty scotch, bourbon and whiskey.
Oyster Bay Seafood Café’s owner Steve Green spent over 20 years living in Florida, and his kitsch little eatery in downtown Lawrenceville is certainly a testament to all things Floridian – an ideal dining destination for lovers of seafood. Decked out like a laid back, beach-side shack with seaside-themed murals, retro signage and nautical trinkets, the cafe is a befitting locale in which to feast on unique seafood dishes like Key West conch fritters with spicy remoulade, or a signature entrée of crabmeat-crusted salmon with artichoke and cream cheese. Go on Tuesdays and you’ll be treated to Oyster Bay Seafood Café’s 50 cent oyster special.
Cooking classic Italian dishes for hungry local diners for nearly 20 years, Dominick’s is a downtown Lawrenceville dining tradition that takes inspiration from the classic Italian restaurants of New York City. Voted Best Italian in the 2014 Gwinnett Daily Post Reader’s Choice Awards, Dominick’s welcomes guests with a stylish and spacious brick-walled dining room that buzzes with a warm, neighborly vibe. Talented chefs cook up mouth-watering dishes such as risotto bianco with tiger shrimp, green onions and grape tomatoes, and the house specialty stuffed, pork chops – a butterflied chop crammed with minced vegetables, cheese and Italian sausage served with penne pasta and creamy gorgonzola sauce.
For good old Southern-style home cooking, head on down to the Corner Stop Café – a cozy and quaint eatery in downtown Lawrenceville specializing in home comfort-food classics. Open for lunch every weekday and breakfast on Sunday mornings, the Corner Stop Café offers daily lunch specials such as Monday’s pot roast and Friday’s meatloaf with tomato gravy. In addition, the cafe also serves light salads, hearty sandwiches and Southern specialty dishes that include grilled tilapia dusted with Cajun spices and fried chicken tenders served with French fries and honey mustard.
The laid back, welcoming vibe at the Old Towne Tavern & Grille has made it a popular hangout for locals looking for casual and tasty eats, great drinks and live sports. A huge, u-shaped bar makes a perfect spot for catching up with friends over a few drinks – which range from domestic and imported beers to Californian wines and fancy signature cocktails. Comfy leather booths are ideal for sampling dishes from Old Towne Tavern & Grille’s classic American menu. Choose from hand-tossed artisan pizzas, juicy burgers and hearty sandwiches or go for a fancier dish such as the black peppercorn rubbed prime rib or grilled salmon with house-made dill and caper aioli.
For authentic Greek cuisine, there’s only one place local diners in the know head to – Athens Kouzzina. Conveniently located in the Sugarloaf Mills shopping center, Athens Kouzzina is an ideal stop-off after a day of retail therapy. Warm, friendly staff welcome diners into a traditionally Greek space with tiled floors and quaint checked tablecloths. A menu full of classic Greek recipes offer guests appetizers such as spanakopita and dolmades, while heartier entrees include options like souvlaki pork kebabs and pastitsio – a Greek take on lasagna. Athens Kouzzina also serves a concise wine list, featuring Greek and American selections.
A cozy, cute eatery on the outskirts of downtown Lawrenceville, Little Barn first opened its doors in 1993 and for the past 20-something years, has been proving its slogan – ‘cookin’ food better than your mama’ – is more than just big talk. Open for breakfast and lunch, Little Barn serves simple, home-style food that makes mouths water and bellies rumble, and some of its dishes have achieved an almost legendary reputation among local diners. Local favorites include chopped BBQ pork and desserts like peach cobbler and banana pudding.