Photo Credit: Cafe Istanbul via Facebook.
It took a little while, and it wasn't met with much hoopla, but the Athens location of Cafe Istanbul is open, next to Utage on Clayton Street. It still isn't listed on the Atlanta-based restaurant's website, which does include the Decatur, Kennesaw and Alpharetta locations, but you can at least take a look at the menu there. It features meze, kebabs, zatar bread and wonderful Turkish pizza, topped with everything that will give you terrible breath but tastes amazing.
The Athens branch of Takorea (another small Atlanta-based chain, related to Hankook Taqueria) is also open, although it was closed for a couple of weeks over the holidays. Operating in the former location of Etienne, at the intersection of Broad and Jackson streets, it serves Korean/Mexican tacos, sliders, fries and more.
The Athens Ryan's closed over the holidays, as did Jefferson's The Savory Spoon—always a bright spot in its town—due to its landlord wanting to sell the building that housed it.
The silver lining, however, is that chef/owner Josh Aaron's food should soon be available a bit closer to home. He's on board with Akademia's planned brewpub, set to open this year in what was Musician's Warehouse, off Atlanta Highway, near the mall. You can taste both the beers and some of his food at a beer dinner scheduled for Jan. 24 at Heirloom Cafe (five courses for $40).