HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: The Overlook on Baxter is named for its height but is easy, in fact, to look right past when going down the street. It has a few commercial businesses on the ground floor, including a space that has been a restaurant or coffee shop, but also the leasing office for Rent Athens. The most recent to move in is Mr. Mr. Cafe (494 Baxter St. 706-850-4385), which may take its own name from the hit single by the K-Pop group Girls Generation.
The room is clean and simple and very quiet, despite its location near UGA’s high-rise dorms. Wi-Fi would seem to encourage studying, as does the menu of coffee drinks, smoothies, bubble teas (taro, Thai tea, mango, strawberry, honeydew, green tea, coconut) and regular teas. There’s a nice patio out front, and you can get your caffeinated beverage made with soy milk if you prefer.
Best of all is the fact that Mr. Mr. also has sandwiches or, to be more precise, a sandwich. What exactly it is varies throughout the week, but it tends to be executed with a panini press and packaged with a bag of chips and a drink. It’s fast, it’s well priced, and it’s nicely executed. The young owners have bigger plans and hopes, but they’re rolling out additions slowly. Mr. Mr. is open Monday through Saturday, from fairly early to fairly late.
GRAB AND GO: Lunch seems to be one of the things that sustains Athens’ economy. Probably not quite to the same extent as the bar scene, but anyone who’s ever been caught in lunchtime traffic can attest to the number of folks out and about midday. If you think about all the people who commute into Athens to work, but don’t necessarily want to stick around and eat dinner here, it makes sense. Lots of people want a leisurely meal, an opportunity to get out of an office and make the most of every minute.
I am not one of those people. Often, I am hungry or tired or in a hurry, but I don’t want to resort to fast food. Even the five-minute wait at the speediest of restaurants can feel like an eternity. A pre-made sandwich is never going to be as good as one freshly assembled, but it can do the trick when you are crabby and need to jam some calories in your mouth.
Daily Groceries Co-op maintains several refrigerated cases full of ready-to-go salads and sandwiches, all of which are either vegetarian or vegan. The Original Sammie combines hummus, avocado, tomato, red onion and sprouts, and is full of texture and flavor. Both locations of Donderos’ Kitchen feature grab-and-go sandwiches, sesame noodles, salads and the like, plus snacks; the Milledge one has hot soups, too. Earth Fare’s cafe, refrigerated cases and hot bar have a wide selection of eats, starting at 7 a.m., when it now opens.
The Ike & Jane at the Georgia Museum of Art, open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m.–2 p.m., sells pre-made sandwiches (roast beef, peanut butter, hummus wrap, ham and gruyere, etc.) and nice salads alongside coffee and some sweets. The downtown Jittery Joe’s has pre-made sandwiches in its refrigerated case, both vegetarian (hummus, veggies) and not (turkey, for example), made on Luna bread.
UGA Food Services is more than just the dining halls. The snack bars spread around campus sell a decent pimento cheese sandwich that costs just a bit over $2. The Red Clay Cafe, on East Campus, has snazzier pre-made sandwiches near its entrance, in the coffee bar section.
OUT OF TOWN: If you happen to be in downtown Hartwell, whether boating, road-tripping, gawking at the dam, or giggling at various dam puns around town, Market 50 (50 N. Forest Ave., 706-376-9786) is a popular stop for lunch. More of a store than a restaurant, it sells bulk packaged nuts, dried fruits, candies, housemade cheese crackers, chocolates, butter, baked goods, jams/preserves, pickles and more, much of it Amish or Mennonite-produced.
Step up to the counter, grab a paper bag, and check off what you want on your sandwich: three different kinds of bologna, pastrami, corned beef, roasted chicken, pimento cheese, hot horseradish mustard, smoked cheddar, “green onion cheese,” lactose-free yogurt cheese, peppers, onions and much more. It’s a more efficient process than relaying each item to the sandwich maker, and the completed fat sandwich is ready either to take with you or to eat at one of the rustic tables in the other room.
You can grab potato salad or pasta salad to make it more of a meal, but both are far too sweet. The store also makes salads through a similar process of customization. It’s fun to browse the dry goods and the refrigerated cases that house some beautiful and enormous cakes while you wait for your food to be ready, and there are lots of free samples to nibble on. It’s open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
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