Seeking Athens, GA expense account meals
Traveling solo to Athens, GA, on a recruiting trip next week. Will be having dinner at Five & 10 - loved it last year. But what to do about breakfast and lunch? In reviewing past posts, there are few recommendations, except for the barbeque and meat-and-three joints (we have plenty of those at home). I love sushi, and the best sushi place in Charlotte, NC, has closed, so I was thinking about Utage. (Saw a post that they closed, but I called and they are open.) Had lunch at Last Resort last year and only liked the desserts. Where would you go if the company is picking up the tab?
Recent posts have you covered, really. A search will turn them up, as I guess you found. But here I go anyway...
Utage was sold to non-Japanese folks a while ago. Quality has slipped considerably as a result.
Cali & Tito's on Lumpkin has good tamales and tostones. I like their burritos pretty good. Fun, funky atmosphere. That would be my choice for lunch. Avoid the fish tacos and empanadas...
You can get a decent slice of pizza downtown at Transmetropolitan or Little Italy, the latter being the dingier of the two restaurants, but with slightly better pizza, IMO.
I'm running out of options for you here. You pretty much nailed it on the head with your comment about Last Resort. Athens has a lot of locally-owned restaurants, but most of them are mediocre-to-decent at best.
The Grit can be fun for lunch, but it will probably underwhelm you. It is an Athens landmark, though, and much-loved by many locals, for whatever reason. Their noodle bowls are pretty darn good sometimes.
Maybe Five Star Day Cafe for breakfast? Not the best I've ever had, but if you get there at peak breakfast hours the food will be pretty good. Honest food, nice portions. Pretty good for lunch as well. Folks love their meatloaf, and they have daily specials. I've had some darn decent lunches there.
Five & Ten is wonderful, though. I'd eat there every night if I were you, even if you're in ton for a week. The whole menu is usually top-notch . And they still do Sunday brunch, I believe.
Dax might chime in with some good breakfast and lunch ideas.
re: uptown jimmy
If you're coming from Charlotte, I'm not sure Athens is exactly going to be a culinary nirvana for you, particularly on the high end.
Never been to Five and Ten, but hear great things about it. Considering I'm on a limited budget in between jobs, I doubt that will change soon (unless I see a prix fixe that jumps out at me).
Resort and East West are over-rated by many, justly panned by others. They're not bad per se, but definitely not as good as their sometime long lines warrant.
I'd like to try Farm 255; the concept is great so I'd want to see the execution. http://farm255.com/
If you're hitting Five and Ten for dinner, maybe hit the downtown Harry Bissett's for lunch. I like the oyster sampler (bienville and rockefeller, 3 each) then maybe the steak - maybe ask for some of the marchand du vin on the side if you like wine sauces.
For what exactly is Charlotte NOT known (aside from sushi)? Maybe we can steer you better with a few suggestions that way.
In my very humble opinion, Athens suffers from the fact that so many local folk just do not expect better. That's okay, I'm not a food cop. People should eat what they want, within reason. And I do think I see a swing to the better coming, as the country in general becomes more engaged with food choices across the board.
But I do wish a lot of locals "townies" had just slightly higher standards. Sooooo many local restaurants are just not all that good, and the fact that many of them portray themselves as "upscale" is just sort of well, contemptible. Just my 2 cents. I really am not a snob, but after traveling a bit, and living in a big city for a while, I guess I permanently redjusted my palate. My recent visit to Charleston was revelatory; that place shames Athens when it comes to food, and for the life of me I can't figure out why that would be. Radically different places, to be sure, but still...
But even when it comes to burritos, Athens doesn't get it right. Something as simple as a Mission burrito, and we can't get it right! Part of the problem is the available work force, I know, and the fact that a small town can't generate the volume that allows, say, a big city burrito joint to always have really fresh, hot-off-the-griddle meats, but there's just a lot of mediocrity around here. So I cook a lot! Yay!
I ate at East West Saturday because the wait at Bissett's was too long.
Appetizer of calamari was reasonably well prepared, although with such huge crowds (there and at all of the semi-"nice" restaurants downtown), perhaps the fryer oil was a little over-used. Still, tasty, with decent marinara. I kind of prefer Rhode Island style calamari with the slices of banana peppers to add a little heat, but that's just a personal preference.
I wasn't too hungry so I had the crab cakes special. Cakes had too much filler, not a ton of crab, in my humble opinion. Then again, I could eat a crab cake of 90% crab, 10% filler and be super happy. Plus there was a garbanzo bean in the filler and maybe slivers of pecan (to be fair, the nuts were advertised on the menu now that I recall). But still, garbanzo beans? WTF? The horseradish cream sauce (I think?) was excellent, the fruity salsa (3 drinks deep, but I seem to recall that being what it was) was good and loved the strip of candied orange rind to finish.
Friend had salmon in rice paper with risotto. Risotto was a little on the bland side (friend agree) but he ate all of his salmon. Other friend got the sweet and sour pork with pasta, I think, I never tried it. Bill was decent with a few drinks - total was in the upper sixties I think.
Server, Becca, was awesome.
We ate at East West Bistro in late summer and were very impressed. Each and every item we ordered was beautifully plated, tasty, with appropriate temperature. Our service was the most impressive we have had in some time.