Photo Credit: Savannah Cole
Hey, folks. Welcome back, or thanks for sticking around this summer. If you’re in the latter category, and you tend to pay attention to this column, you can save your energy and move on to something else, because this is your annual wrap-up of what has happened in Athens food since about May. If you’re new, this is your place to find out where to eat: what’s good, what’s not, what’s open, what’s closed, whether you should gas up your car and drive out to Winder or Crawford to get doughnuts. (You probably should.)
Flagpole.com is your best bet for newsier items, including what food events you might want to attend. And if you need a comprehensive guide to the restaurant scene in Athens, the 2018–2019 Flagpole Guide to Athens has that—not just a list of places that paid for a mention, but a straightforward account of every eatery in town. It is invaluable, if I do say so myself.
Copious tears were shed and hands wrung over the closing of the Five Points Waffle House, which had been open for 50 years and finds itself on some rather valuable real estate these days. It’s been at least rumored that that plot of land will house a parking deck, which would be logical. Also in Five Points, Jerry and Krista Slater’s The Expat opened in May, with sophisticated cocktails, dinner and brunch in the former Two Story Coffeehouse.
Also closing after a long time in business was Sonny’s BBQ, a franchise but one of long standing. It was immediately replaced by Malinda’s Country Kitchen and Catering, a meat-and-three (plus sandwiches) place from the same owners and workers, with Southern veggies, fried chicken, a salad bar, meatloaf and the like.
Frozen treats proliferated, as one might expect during our six months of summer. Hokulia Shave Ice, a franchise truck doing wonderfully light Hawaiian-style shaved ice and ice cream, opened one truck on College Station, then two more: one at the AT&T store on Epps Bridge Road and the most recent, at 696 Baxter St. Look for the bright umbrellas and listen for the chill music. La Michoacana… es Natural, in Hull and on the Eastside, added rollitos (rolled ice cream, made from scratch in front of you) to its already copious offerings and a truck that sets up at the J&J Flea Market on weekends with ice cream and paletas.
La Michoacana Ice Cream Parlor/Antojitos Mexicanos, another ice cream and paletas shop, under different ownership and with a frankly astonishing variety of flavors, opened at 3750 Old Jefferson Road, next to La Jalisco grocery. Lil’ Ice Cream Dude was everywhere with his truck this summer and is very close to opening Cool World, his brick-and-mortar location on the Eastside. He also wrote a kids’ book, The Coolest Birthday Ever, about his adventures in entrepreneurship.
In most welcome news, Bruno Rubio has decided to expand his empire further with a third Cali N Tito's, this one on Jefferson Road. Buvez opened on Barber Street with coffee, drinks, snacks, sandwiches and snoballs (with housemade syrup), to please every member of your family, and the Manila Express Filipino food truck added a regular stop there—on Wednesdays, but check Facebook or Instagram for confirmation—that includes halo halo, the Filipino shaved ice dessert that can also incorporate jackfruit, Pocky, cereal, boba, coconut Jell-O, Swedish Fish and more.
Photo Credit: Savannah Cole
Off the Vine Produce in Winterville is doing hot food cooked to order for breakfast and lunch and churning fresh ice cream on weekends, with regular specials. Across the street is Peach Pit Cafe, a barbecue restaurant notable for its delicious cake. Out in Crawford (and, yes, worth the drive) is Cafe Racer Coffee and Donuts, making great doughnuts, biscuits and very serious coffee in an itty-bitty building. In Watkinsville, Pub on Main replaced Pour, with a kid-friendly atmosphere and frosé. Taqueria Mundos replaced Las Monarcas in the ex-Huddle House on Danielsville Road, and its Mexican buffet on Sundays absolutely should not be missed. Peter Dale’s Maepole is also newly open on Chase Street, before the bypass, with a chef-driven, fast-casual, veggie-forward menu. The Falls opened in a dramatic space on Macon Highway, serving upscale surf, turf and more.
Taste of India is still open downtown for the moment, but it will be moving to the Ansonborough development on the Eastside this fall, ideally with little down time in between. Also downtown is Koa Bowls, on College Avenue, with poke and açai bowls, plus flavored cold-brew coffee and sashimi tacos. Not yet open but coming soon nearby are Burgerim (an Israeli burger franchise, in the former East West Bistro) and Wings Over Athens (more chicken), at Broad and Jackson, as well as the Chick-fil-A at Broad and College.
The giant Mark development, on Oconee Street, now has a Crazy Dough’s Pizza and shortly will have a Purpose Snackery (healthy snacks) and a Frutta Bowls (yup, more açai and the like). WNB Factory, an Atlanta-based franchise doing wings and burgers, is open on Williams Street, in the former Blind Pig, and Nothing Bundt Cakes, a franchise that, contrary to its name, actually does have bundt cakes, is open on Epps Bridge. Normaltown Brewing Co. should be open in the Tracy Street warehouses this fall, adding more craft beer to our scene. Half-Shepherd Market and Cheese Shop is taking the spot that was Lindsey’s Culinary Market in Normaltown, doing cheese and more. And D92 Korean BBQ is slated to take over the space on Baxter that was Chonell’s most recently. Whew.