Hi, kids, and welcome (or welcome back) to Athens. If youâ€™re one of our three-quarter-time residents, you probably missed everything that happened in Athens food news over the summer, so consider this here your guide. Remember to check Flagpoleâ€™s website for regular updates on the same in addition to the biweekly print â€œGrub Notesâ€ column.
Summers here are usually a time when restaurants already struggling shut their doors, due to the decrease in business, or when new ventures seek to get off the ground, in order to have time to work out the kinks before crowds arrive in the fall. We had fewer of the former this year and a ton of the latter, which maybe bodes well for the local economy or maybe just demonstrates the willingness of dreamers to keep pursuing their visions against the odds. We said goodbye to the Iron Grill on Mitchell Bridge Road, the Marble Slab in Five Points, Falafel King on Baxter, El Patron and Whiplash CafÃ© on Broad Street, downtown’s Landsdowne Road Irish Pub and, saddest of all, Uncle Jerryâ€™s Biscuits and Burgers on Chase Street, a contributor to the food truck movement no more. On the bright side, the trailer that housed Uncle Jerryâ€™s and was for sale is no longer on the lot, so maybe weâ€™ll have a new mobile eatery at some point.
Lots of restaurants devoted to localism opened. Heirloom Cafe and Fresh Market, which aims to have a market soon and is doing breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch out of a renovated gas station at the corner of Chase and Boulevard, is into it. So is The Local Jam, which moved into the space formerly known as Five Points Deli on Lumpkin. It does deli hours (breakfast, lunch, brunch), sandwiches, macaroni and cheese skillets and a marvelous breakfast burrito. Little Cuckoo Chocolates got a retail location, in the Chase Street warehouses, near the entrance to Mercury A.I.R., out of which it also sells cute little sandwiches and a delicious, refreshing basil lemonade. Warning: itâ€™s cash and check only.
Some signature Athens restaurants branched out. Tedâ€™s Most Best, a pizza place on Washington Street downtown, across from Clocked!, comes to you from the folks behind The Grit. The Blind Pig opened its second location, in hopes of franchising, on Atlanta Highway, where McAlisterâ€™s Deli once was. The minds behind La Dolce Vita opened Etienne Brasserie, non-intimidating French food, right below their original restaurant, in the former Cotton Club at the corner of Jackson and Broad streets downtown. Ike and Jane opened a cart in the lobby of the Georgia Museum of Art that sells sandwiches, salads, coffee, doughnuts and more from 10 a.m. to
4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. And Ken Manring of White Tiger Gourmet opened a second eatery in the Georgia Theatre Restaurant that just got going. Its menu is tiny (BBQ, grilled tofu “chicken salad,” pimento cheese and chicken salad sandwiches, basically, plus a few sides), but it aims to serve food all day long, including when there arenâ€™t shows going on and late at night.
The yogurt bubble continued to expand, with Menchieâ€™s in Beechwood and a location on the Eastside, and Polarberry on Timothy Road opening. Plus, Peachwave (at Thomas and Clayton) and something called Athens Best Yogurt (at FTX on Baxter) are yet to come. Dari Delite, a Mexican restaurant that also does shakes and burgers, near Country Rock on Commerce Road, opened as well, and, along the same lines, Steak ‘n Shake is finally slated for the Athens area, somewhere on Atlanta Highway (Iâ€™m guessing in the former Thai of Athens spot).
Both Kabana (Jamaican and Indian food on Tallassee by Sr. Sol) and Viva Argentine Cuisine (Barnett Shoals and College Station in the Taco Stand strip) charmed me thoroughly. The former has added â€œkuntry breakfastâ€ from 6 a.m., with biscuits, omelets and breakfast plates starting at $4.99, and a big stage in its uncovered area; it continues to serve an amazingly delicious lamb saag, too, but seems to be struggling nonetheless. You owe it to yourself to be adventurous and investigate. Viva is less weird but incredibly sweet, cooking meat beautifully, being nice to everyone who comes in the door and selling mini cupcakes for dessert.
Honey Bâ€™s Deli opened on Prince at Satula, doing breakfast and a meat-and-three lunch set-up. Bubbaâ€™s BBQ, a combination BBQ shack and auction operation, began serving and selling out in Nicholson, just past Winterville. Acapulcoâ€™s Mexican Grill opened in Watkinsville. Some of these places were reviewed over the summer, but some needed time to get their feet under them, and you can expect to find out more details over the coming weeks.
The National decided to stop serving brunch but expand its â€œdinner and a movieâ€ deal with CinÃ© to Sunday nights as well as Monday and Tuesday. Doc Cheyâ€™s downtown closed, but not really, and is about ready to reopen under the same ownership as Changoâ€™s Asian Kitchen, with only slight differences. Butt Hutt Bar-B-Q added a location in Elberton and aims to move down Baxter into the former Sudz Laundry, giving it more space. White Tiger Gourmet is now open until 9 p.m. for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights, and Porterhouse Grill on Broad now offers lunch.
Hereâ€™s whatâ€™s on the horizon. The Volstead, a bar and restaurant, has been renovating on Clayton Street all summer and seems to be hiring at the moment, suggesting itâ€™ll open soon, as will Al’s Beef. The Broad Street bar formerly known as 283 was sold to some of the fine folks at Normal Bar, and will be called The Downtowner. Kumquat Mae, a bakery and cafÃ©, is shooting to be open near downtown Watkinsville soon. Athens Bagel Co. is redoing the tanning salon on Jackson Street downtown, while Ideal Bagel will soon occupy the old Ideal Amusement space on Broad. Five Points Bottle is opening a second growler store by its original location. La Puerta del Sol, the â€œnewâ€ project of Bruno Rubio of Cali â€˜N Titoâ€™s, seems to be getting going again on Cedar Shoals Drive. The downtown deck is close to opening, too, and will have several restaurant tenants, all franchises: Fuzzyâ€™s Taco Shop, Yoforia, Waffle House and Momma Goldbergâ€™s Deli. Sr. Sol is renovating El Patron to open a second location but wonâ€™t be done for a few months yet. The Big Easy CafÃ©, from Watkinsville, is doing the same thing at the former Jimmy Johnâ€™s between Dominoâ€™s and Wingster on Baxter. KEBA Spitfire Grill will have two new locations, one at Epps Bridge Road near Trader Joe’s and one in Watkinsville. So, venture beyond the dining halls and out of your comfort zone. Eat well.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.