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16 Best Restaurants in Athens, GA — According to a Local

Restaurant in Athens, GA, USA

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Athens, Georgia, isn’t just home to the University of Georgia and the Georgia Dawgs. It’s also home to some pretty amazing restaurants. In fact, it felt nearly possible narrowing down to the best of the best. After all, it’s just my opinion, and I know there are probably restaurants in the Athens area that I simply haven’t yet enjoyed. 

I decided to keep it simple and just share some of the areas most beloved restaurants — with a couple of secret spots thrown into the mix. If you don’t see your favorite local eatery on the list, feel free to add it to the comments section. In the meantime, enjoy these collected greatest hits of local eats. 

16 Best Restaurants in Athens, GA

Condor Chocolates, Athens GA, view from outside in the morning
Condor Chocolates, Photo by Author

You’ll want to bookmark Condor Chocolates for dessert after you’ve tried some of Athens, Georgia’s best eateries. It’s conveniently located beside Avid Bookshop, making it the perfect place to get brownie points with your date when you throw in chocolate and a book to sweeten your day or evening out. Here are the best of the best Athens restaurants.

1. Cali N Tito’s 

Cali N Tito’s, Athens, GA, Plate of rice, Onions, Avocado, Beans
Cali N Tito’s — Photo by Crystal Jackson

Cali N Tito’s is a personal favorite of mine, but I know I’m not alone because it’s rare to show up without finding a line out the door. In fact, on the day I took these photos, I arrived to find a surprisingly empty parking lot.

By the time my order was served, there was a line out the door and tables filling up fast. The food is perfect, and the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. There’s a small playground in the Five Points location, and my children always enjoy running around like mad while we’re waiting for our food. 

You’ll quickly find out that Cali N Tito’s is worth the wait. I’ve never been anything less than delighted by my order, and the long lines are just another indication that the secret is out on this delicious dining experience. The good news is that there’s another location in Athens. If one is too busy, give the other a try!

Cali n Tito Athens GA, Colored Table Outside
Photo by Author
Cali n Tito Athens GA, Tables Outside
Photo by Author
Photo by Author

2. Home.made

Photo by Author

Home.made might be one of the only restaurants where I will order all vegetables as a meal. They’re that good! I highly recommend the tomato pie when that’s on the menu, the whipped sweet potatoes, and the roasted carrots.

Although the menu has changed a bit since the pandemic, I have always been pleased with my order. They offer gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options — making it a perfect place to stop for lunch with friends with a variety of dietary needs. 

3. Pulaski Heights BBQ

Photo by Author
Photo by Author

Pulaski Heights BBQ might be one of my more controversial picks for best of Athens eateries. There are other barbecue establishments you’ll see on local eatery lists, but this is my personal favorite. Their motto is, “We don’t run out, we sell out,” and it’s easy to see why.

It gets a 4.4-star rating on Google, so I know I’m far from the only fan of this restaurant. Try their chopped brisket, ribs, or ramen. They all get rave reviews! They even offer smoked tofu!

4. South Kitchen + Bar

South Kitchen + Bar is considered one of the best Athens dining experiences for a reason. You’ll find menu items like duck fat tater tots, low country shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, and Nashville hot chicken.

This local restaurant offers southern comfort food with a twist. It’s located inside the old Georgian Hotel. Expect to find an extensive cocktail menu, local craft beer, local wine, and amazing food. On the weekend, this is the perfect brunch destination!

5. Shokitini

If you ask locals where to go for sushi, we’ll tell you to stop in at Shokitini. It’s open for dinner, and it has amazing sushi. I went for the first time with a friend. I had eaten sushi before, but I had never ordered anything adventurous.

I’d stuck to the basics, but on my first visit to Shokitini, I let her order. I didn’t ask questions. I just ate what they put in front of me, and it was delicious! I stepped out of my comfort zone and into a new love of all different kinds of sushi. 

6. Trappeze Pub

Trappeze Pub, Athens GA, view from outside
Trappeze Pub — Photo by Crystal Jackson

Trappeze Pub is an Athens establishment. It’s not only a great place to hang out and have drinks with friends, but it also has amazing food! They’ve got soup, salad, burgers, and charcuterie on the menu, and it’s hard to go wrong with anything you order. It’s also conveniently located downtown — provided there’s not a UGA game nearby and you can find street parking. You’ll want to come out, hang out, and stuff your face with the many delicious offerings at Trappeze.

7. World Famous

World Famous, Restaurant in Athens GA
World Famous — Photo by Crystal Jackson

For a place with such a big name, I almost walked right passed World Famous. The “This Is It” sign was a clue. I went inside and was not disappointed. This gastro pub might be known for its drinks and live music, but you can also find truly superior pub grub inside. You can order up poutine fries, enjoy chicken and waffles, try a shawarma sandwich, or eat your fill of tacos. Enjoy the vibe, the drinks, the music, and — most importantly — the food. 

World Famous — Photos by Crystal Jackson

8. Last Resort Grill

Last Resort Grill Athens GA
Last Resort Grill — Photo by Crystal Jackson

Last Resort Grill is the ideal dinner stop — unless it’s the weekend and you choose to pop in to fill up on a delicious brunch instead. Last Resort was originally a 1966 music club. These days, it’s a vibrant southern restaurant that sources food from local farmers, growers, and bakers.

You’ll find an amazing menu at Last Resort Grill, but you’ll also find a very cool vibe both inside the grill and in their outdoor patio. It won’t take you long to see why this is considered one of the best of the best of Athens eateries.

9. Five & Ten

5&10, Athens GA
5&10 — Photo by Crystal Jackson

You’ll find 5 & 10 in the five points area of Athens. It’s open for dinner and Sunday brunch, and you’ll find contemporary Southern cuisine inside. This upscale dining experience may require advanced reservations, but from all accounts, you’ll be glad you took the time to guarantee your spot.

Try their charcuterie or cast iron cornbread to start, and choose between entree items like steelhead trout or pork schnitzel. Don’t forget to take a look at their dessert menu for specials like nemesis, which is described as butterscotch, smoked sea salt, malt chocolate ice cream, and milk crumble. 

10. The Place

Don’t be fooled by the simple name. It is The Place in Athens, quite literally. It will always make the list of best restaurants in Athens because it remains iconic.

You can find southern food anywhere around town, but The Place sets itself apart by serving up old family recipes with a twist like black eyed pea hummus or gouda mac and cheese. They’re open for lunch and dinner — as well as Sunday brunch. 

11. The Slutty Vegan

The slutty vegan, Athens GA
The Slutty Vegan — Photos by Crystal Jackson

In the interest of full disclosure, the Athens Slutty Vegan location is temporarily closed with plans to reopen. While no date has been provided, it’s still worth bookmarking this black-owned vegan burger joint on your list for best restaurants. This restaurant started in Atlanta with a food truck and now has multiple locations. 

Expect to be greeted with a boisterous, “Hey, slut” when you walk in, and then you can order vegan burgers with cheeky names like One Night Stand, Fussy Hussy, Heaux Boy, Hollywood Hooker, and Super Slut.

You’ll even find a kids menu with vegan cheeseburgers, plant-based chik’n tenders, fruit cups, fries, and juice. Fries and desserts also feature heavily in the menu. It’s a fun place to go, and the food is good even if you’re not on a plant-based diet. 

12. ZZ & Simone’s 

ZZ & Simone’s is open daily for dinner, and if the menu doesn’t have you salivating, check to make sure you’re in the right place. While I haven’t had the chance to try this one, it’s reputation for great food precedes it.

You’ll find an extensive menu for pizza and pasta, or you can order their chicken parmesan, bistecca alla fiorentina, grilled branzino, or chiani-braised short ribs. There are daily specials, delicious desserts, and the perfect atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating.

Best of all, you can make reservations in advance for a special date night or simply walk-in and enjoy their delicious Italian offerings. 

13. Catch 22

Catch 22 Restaurant, interior
Catch 22 — Photo by Crystal Jackson

Catch 22 isn’t just a pub. It’s a gastro pub. That’s why it’s making the list as one of the best places to eat in Athens. Located in a shopping center, you might not think much of it from the outside, but step inside and enjoy the warmth of the environment.

They described their food as “refined, messy food” and offer some of the standard pub grub items like fish and chip, sandwiches, and burgers. But if you’re expecting mediocre bar food, you’re in the wrong place. They mean it when they say “craft beer, craftier food”.

You’re sure to be pleased with whatever you order, and you’ll also find an extensive enough kids menu to make it a family friendly evening out. 

Yes, they do serve Pepsi products, an oddity anywhere near Atlanta, but you’ll soon forgive them for this when you bite into the buffalo fried cauliflower or bacon fried brussels.

You’ll soon forget their lack of Coca-Cola loyalty when you’re scarfing down an El Cubano sandwich or inhaling a Helldorado Burger. We won’t even mention the street tacos and how quickly you’ll forgive and forget the Pepsi situation when you try them. 

14. ADD Drug

ADD Drug — Photo by Crystal Jackson

You’ll see a lot of Athens eatery lists recommend Clocked for its retro vibe, but I would like to suggest trying ADD Drug for an actual retro vibe. There’s not a lot of seating, so you may have a wait ahead of you, but it’s rare to find good burgers priced so affordably.

You’ll get the soda fountain experience with quick and friendly service, and while it might not be the most spacious of seating or the most glamorous of venues, you’ll get an authentic retro feel served up with good, affordable food. You’ll find this little lunch counter tucked away beside Earth Fare in Five Points. 

The lunch counter is open from 9am to 3pm Monday through Friday and on Saturday from 9am to 2pm. Where else can you expect to find a milkshake for $2.95?

Best of all, it’s conveniently located near Condor Chocolates and Avid Bookshop if you want to start with a retro vibe and then continue to dessert and book browsing across the street. 

15. Gusto 

Gusto entrance, Athens GA
Gusto — Photo by Crystal Jackson

Gusto! is another Georgia eatery with multiple locations. This healthy restaurant offers salad or rice bowls that can be customized with topping sof chicken, spicy chicken, shrimp, or tofu. Sweet potato chips come with every order, and you can expect fast and friendly service here. If you’re looking for a quick and healthy lunch spot in Athens, you just found it. 

Gusto — Photos by Crystal Jackson

16. Maepole

Maepole — Photos by Crystal Jackson

You’ll find three Maepole locations in the greater Atlanta area. Two of them are in Athens. The owners worked together at famed Athens eatery The National before branching out to open Maepole with the goal of providing fast and healthy food at affordable prices. 

Customizing your meal is simple. Choose greens, brown rice, sweet potato, or quinoa for your base. Choose two of the following sides: broccoli, braised greens, beet salad, brussel sprout slaw, mac & cheese, roasted vegetables, hoppin’ john salad, or green beans and onions.

Next, you’ll add protein, which can be chicken, pork, fritters, or tofu. Last, you’ll choose between sauces to top off your bowl. If that sounds like too much decision making, there are seasonal chef plates to choose from that are already customized for you. 

Eat Local in Athens, Georgia

It’s impossible to thoroughly cover all the best Athens eateries. There are just so many of them! Athens isn’t just known for the University of Georgia and the Georgia Bulldogs. They’re known for southern hospitality and truly amazing cuisine.

It’s not all boiled peanuts and peaches here — although you’d be a fool to miss out on them. There are plenty of restaurants vying for your patronage, and they’re unlikely to disappoint. 


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