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Sep 23, 2007 08:54 AM

Atlanta to Athens - need advice...

Hi ATL Hounds>

I am planning a surprise birthday "kidnapping" and need your advice (you do not risk arrest for helping me out!). B-day boy and I fly into Atlanta on a Wednesday in November and drive to Athens to see a concert, spend the night there and return home the next day from ATL. We can arrive early and stay late if you can help me figure out fun stuff to do during the week in the area.

I am hoping you can provide some much-needed help for a fun lunch when we arrive, perhaps a great dinner (dressy or not) spot in the Athens area and then any tips for the next day. He loves Mexican food and real BBQ/fried chicken down home joints and I want to be all planned and organized so I can be an extra-effective kidnapper...

Please provide a street address and I can Google the directions. I am happy to drive anywhere around both cities if you know something special or out-of-the-way.

Thanks in Advance for making this birthday event great!


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  1. If you want down-home food & good fried chicken, I'd recommend Wilson's Soul Food (351 N Hull St, within 1 block of the 40 Watt if that's where you're headed), though lots of people swear by Weaver D's (1016 E Broad Street), whose "Automatic for the people" slogan inspired the R.E.M. album title. For nice dinners, the options are generally Last Resort (184 West Clayton Street), which is good (but don't get the praline chicken! a friend who worked there told me they microwave it) and Five and Ten (1653 S Lumpkin St), which is pretty amazing but really expensive. As for Mexican, the most popular spot is Agua Linda (1376 Prince Avenue), which has great margaritas and good food. If you were to ask my personal opinion, other good (and inexpensive) local spots are The Grit (199 Prince Avenue), an all-vegetarian spot that's pretty well-known or Thai of Athens (2033 W Broad Street), which has great food but is mostly worth going to for the campy decor and insanely friendly staff (PLUS they have an amazing birthday song that they play over the PA that will make you laugh until you cry). Those are the places my girlfriend and I end up going most often.

    10 Replies
    1. re: MaxM

      Thanks Max>

      Will check out the 40 Watt too. I got him bday tix to see the Pumpkins at the Classic Center to avoid the mud bowl mayhem of a double bill in a dirt field here in MIA with Kanye @ $150pp (don't ask). Seeing you live in Athens is a great help. We will be there 24 hours and I do hope to make him laugh til he cries. We need pre-show & post show advice and an idea for the next day (a Thursday) before returning to the airport and home. Any ideas are welcome near ATL or en route to Athens.


      1. re: advisor_Girl

        If you're looking to hang out post-show, the token 24-hour burger joint in Athens is the Grill (171 College Ave), which is greasy and expensive, but worth it if you get the fries with feta dressing. As for bars, most places in Athens are VERY fratty, so you're best off sticking to The Globe (199 N Lumpkin Street), which has a grad-student-y atmosphere and nice beers on tap (Paulaner, Hoegaarden, Warsteiner) or 283 (283 E Broad St) which is a bit hipster-y (for better or worse), but lots of fun. Oh, also, I realized earlier that I'm not sure whether Wilson's does dinner, since I've only ever been for lunch. I wouldn't count on it being open later.

        As for Atlanta, I'm from Decatur (east Atl.), so I'm partial to spots around there. My favorite Mexican joint is Los Loros (1248 Clairmont Rd, Decatur), which isn't really anything special in terms of menu choices but has a really friendly staff and awesome margaritas (better than Agua Linda's, though it's a tough call). Another great spot in the middle of downtown Decatur is the Brick Store Pub (125 E Court Sq, Decatur,, who have one of the biggest beer selections in the US (seriously!) and really awesome food that goes beyond pub grub. My last suggestion for the ATL area is the Havana Sandwich Shop (1905 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta), a hole-in-the-wall (whose walls are slathered in Zagat awards) where they have AMAZING cuban sandwiches.

        Oh, and I would be remiss not to mention that Terrapin, who make some of the best beer I've ever had, are based in Athens. If either of you is into beer, try some of their stuff.

      2. re: MaxM

        I've never been impressed with the Last Resort.

        Five and Ten is widely acclaimed as the best restaurant in town. It is only expensive by Athens standards, not Miami standards or even Atlanta standards.

        I like Harry Bissetts, which is downtown on Broad close to the Classic Center. A good, albeit not great, take on Cajun favorites.

        Mexico Linda is ok, good tacos (goat and fish). However, while one can find pretty good Latin food in Athens, I can not imagine it comparing to Miami's offerings.

        I'd skip Thai of Athens. Thai is not an Athens strong point.

        Last time I was at the Classic Center, they were serving Terrapin in the "Beer Garden."

        1. re: Dax

          I agree with the Harry Bissett's recommendation. The bisque there is great.

          1. re: MaxM

            D & M>

            There's Terrapin Beer!? Now I can get him the perfect present too! A Terrapin T-shirt. We are (OK please make the big L with your thumb and finger on your forehead) geeky turtle people. Have 5 different turtles - one giant red-ear that is 25 years old. I've attached a photo - but you just have to understand that you're either a turtle fan or not. Lloyd does tricks for shrimp (don't we all?).

            Ok - I've embarassed myself - are there many places in Athens likely to be opened post-show on a Wednesday? I'm pretty sure at this point we'll be in Athens Wednesday early evening through Thursday breakfast and then driving back towards Atlanta after that. Fries and feta cheese sound good! Is the Grill on College Ave a breakfast spot too?

            I hope not to get arrested bringing real BBQ home on the plane. Miami has a lot of Cuban Sandwiches but not a wealth of BBQ. I'll probably get flagged at the X-ray - huh?

            Thanks to you both for some more inspiring choices!


            1. re: advisor_Girl

              Terrapin the company is based out of Athens but contracts out bottling elsewhere until the new Athens brewery open soon.

              Barbecue - look here - Hilary and gashrink are right on:

              Jb's ribs are great, but not sure about his pulled pork.

              Most bars will be open post show (Classic Center has like a 11 PM curfew) but not as many good eateries. Grill is open 24 hours.

              1. re: advisor_Girl

                Good lord, avoid the Grill. You're better off at Clocked for food late-night after the show: it's not great, but it's cozy and clean and decent. It's down in the hipster/40 Watt end of the town, down by other more mellow hangouts like Flicker Bar and Manhattan Bar, both civilized chill-out spots for adults, before or after the show

                Love the Globe for a good afternoon bar experience, love Five and Ten for some of the best food in the region (expensive but worth it for a special time), and you can always get good pizza at Transmet. Maybe breakfast at Mama's Boy, on Lexington? I'd probably go to Big City for the outdoor cafe action and big biscuits, though. It's a few blocks from downtown.

                Athens isn't a great food town, but those choices should give you a few options. And btw, GA is not a BBQ state. Just accept it and move on to other states that do it right.

                Enjoy the show. I hear the Pumpkins are loud as heck. It's weird they're playing the Classic Center. We don't get too many huge acts around this town last few years....

                1. re: uptown jimmy

                  Clocked isn't open late-nite, and besides, over the past year and a half or so they have been progressively increasing their prices to ridiculous levels. Big City Bread is good for brunch, but I prefer Five Star Day, even if that's pedestrian of me.

                  1. re: MaxM

                    Clocked is open until 3am on thursday through saturday nights.

                    For late night eats, I recommend the grill (good burgers), and little italy (great greasy pizza, best italian sub I've ever had)

                    1. re: batdown

                      Huh, did not know that. Could have sworn I came by at 11 once and the kitchen was closed...guess it was earlier in the week. Or a hallucination.

                      Little Italy is indeed awesome, even if the guys who call out your number are kind of scary. The World Cup festivities there were awesome.

        2. I left Athens for Atlanta in the early 90's, so I'm not much good there. I do fondly remember The Grit, a vegetarian restaurant that earned kudos from lots of rock & roll types. I liked Wilson's and Weaver D's pretty equally for soul food.

          Atlanta recommendations for fried chicken are Mary Mac's on Ponce de Leon Ave. or Colonnade on Cheshire Bridge Road, although Colonnade is not open for lunch anymore.

          There is a wide variety of barbecue places in Atlanta, and everyone has their personal favorite. Just be aware, there is no Georgia-style barbecue. That being said, Daddy D'z on Memorial Drive is good, and the new Fox Bros. BBQ on Dekalb Avenue in Little 5 Points is getting some attention right now. They serve Texas-style smoked brisket, among other items.

          For Mexican, we love Taqueria Del Sol on Cheshire Bridge Road (there are 2 other locations as well). It's inexpensive and good.

          Most of these Atlanta spots have websites so you can look at menus & addresses. Have a fun trip!

          12 Replies
          1. re: potterybliss


            I read the Terrapin website yesterday to see about getting him a turtle shirt. They mention a brewery tour, but perhaps that's a "coming soon" post. No worries - we will not have time for serious tourism but now I want to plan a proper road trip through Georgia...

            I went to the Five and Ten website and saw the chef is Cuban and the menu is pretty ambitious. Looks like a real nice place! BTW Jimmy - I hesitate to think there is no good BBQ in Georgia because I always find good BBQ and great soul food or whatever fits into the "comfort food" category of things made with equal parts pork and love. I hope you're wrong. Thanks for the bar ideas too! And the mention of "big biscuits" got my attention big time.

            Pottery - A Georgia Boy at work told me about Mary Mac's too. He got all misty about it... If we go there I am going to have to bring him take-out. I really hope to hit a BBQ spot on the way home too. So many meals - so little time.

            You all have made this a great plan. I've got to try and keep my growing enthusiasm from making me shout, "Hey! I'm taking you to Athens for your birthday!" before November. I'm no good at covert ops, so I really appreciate your help getting "Operation Athens" off the ground.


            1. re: advisor_Girl

              I admit to not being real clear on your itinerary. Some places that may fit into your timetable and be sorta on the way are Taqueria Los Hermanos in Tucker and Spiced Right BBQ in Lilburn. Taqueria is a definite step up from most Buford Hwy taquerias (probably not the best way to describe the difference, but nothing else springs to mind). And Spiced Right is kinda old school and good. If the timing worked right, I'd go there. Otherwise, wait til you get into ATL and hit one of the places mentioned (and add Pig n Chik to that list).

              Have fun. The last time I saw the Pumpkins was in Raleigh in '94, I think. It was great. I still kick myself for missing the 2 shows they did at The (long gone and missed) Point for 200 folks or so while Siamese Dream was being recorded in ATL.

              1. re: advisor_Girl

                Hugh Acheson is not Cuban, is he? He doesn't seem very Cuban, and the food certainly isn't.

                As for the rest, you guys will have a good time. Athens has a limited number of really good food options, but a pre-show dinner at Five and Ten and breakfast at Big City or Mama's Boy would be great. And then there's the much-cheaper and very good dinner lunch/dinner spot Cali 'n Tito's on Lumpkin, pretty darn good pan-Latino food for fair prices.

                And I'm from N.C., so I am perhaps a bit pickier about BBQ than many around here... ; )

                1. re: uptown jimmy

                  Try the Smith Bros in Atlanta, you might chance your tune but they are more famous for their brisket and ribs than pulled.

                  1. re: uptown jimmy


                    On the 5&10 website there are a few pdfs of recipes. I found one for pork shoulder that says, "My father was born in Havana. My grandfather, Achie, was a sporting fellow who worked for a large Canadian bank that had holdings in Cuba..." So I am thinking he's Cuban. The recipe looks good too! Pork shoulder is a very popular Cuban dish here in Miami...



                    1. re: advisor_Girl

                      Not that it matters. He's still brilliant, Cuban or not. And so is Chuck. And so is the rest of their crew.

                      Please avoid East/West. Not good.

                      1. re: uptown jimmy

                        Hugh is actually Canadian. There used to be a bio on the 5&10 website, not sure if it's still there or not.

                        I'm just hoping he'll start serving poutine at some point.

                      2. re: advisor_Girl

                        As an fyi, advisor, Hugh has another restaurant in Athens too, the National.


                      3. re: uptown jimmy

                        Hugh is 100% Canadian. and his food is good.
                        Try his new place, "The National" in the Cine.

                        1. re: gashrink

                          Is it good? I am skeptical. We don't get out much, and when we can afford such a pricey meal we just go to Five & Ten. It never fails, and we don't go there often enough to get tired of it.

                          I had thought The National would be less expensive....

                          1. re: uptown jimmy

                            Entrees are $18 to $23 High for Athens but worth it for quality food.
                            Here is the web site with a pdf of the menu:
                            there is a thread of on here with reviews and I've posted my experience a couple of times. Food was excellent service amaturish. Much like 5 and 10 without the oysters.

                      4. re: advisor_Girl

                        The brewery tours are supposedly beginning the first week of October, so presumably they'll be open and brewing within a couple of weeks from now (since I doubt they'd give tours of a non-functional brewery...).

                    2. For Athens, I'd recommend the East-West Bistro. Although it's not mexican or bbq, Chef Lamar will treat you right.

                      For Atlanta, I second (or third) Fox Bros. Outstanding texas-style bbq.

                      Down home chicken? Stop in at Son's Place.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: geonuc

                        Wow, thanks. Great stuff. Living in Miami, someone's Cuban heritage is no biggie. We're all from somewhere... I was reading through the website and noticed the Cuban-style recipe. Posting pdfs of favorite recipes is a great gesture! The 5 & 10 restaurant looks great as does the National. Chef Acheson actually posted on that thread. I think it's cool to have access to the chefs on this board. The National menu is really lovely. Wish I had more time in Athens.

                        I am very excited about my Georgia adventure and thank each of you for your generous and delicious advice. I welcome you all down to Miami anytime.