Epicurean Athens, GA Caters to Any Appetite

It's no wonder that the town is becoming known as a serious place for foodies.

On Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 05:55

With all of the culinary creativity coming out of Athens these days, it’s no wonder that the town is becoming known as a serious place for foodies. Athens’s own Hugh Acheson, chef of the acclaimed Five and Ten restaurant and the new The National, was named one of America’s Best New Chefs by Food & Wine magazine. His Five and Ten restaurant has also won many awards, including Restaurant of the Year in 2007 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The restaurant is known for “merging soul food with Old World Cuisine,” and the result is creative cuisine along the lines of pecan truffles and Frogmore Stew. For straight-up soul food, no discussion of eating in Athens would be complete without a mention of Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods, the legendary soul food joint that was named one of America’s Classics by the James Beard Foundation, arbiter of all things culinary. The cinderblock building near campus is home to such favorites as fried chicken, greens and sweet potato casserole. It has been feeding the souls of generations of students, locals and visitors alike. But traditional Southern meat-and-threes aren’t the only game in town. With its overall spirit of healthy living, it’s no surprise that vegetarian cuisine is big in Athens. You wouldn’t think that a restaurant named The Grit that features menu items like Big Daddy’s Burger and the Mondo Burrito would be vegetarian, but that’s exactly what it is, and its food is so popular that the restaurant even has its own cookbook. The Grit, which proudly serves “vegetarian food for carnivores,” is part of the reason that Athens received the America’s Best Vegetarian-Friendly Small Cities Award given by GoVeg.com and PETA in 2006. Even the University of Georgia Dining Services has a complete vegetarian menu. On the drinking side of the menu, The Globe, a popular downtown watering hole with a brass bar, was voted the third best bar in America in 2007 by Esquire magazine. And homegrown Terrapin Beer Co. has won national and international top honors for its ales, pilsners, stouts and other handcrafted varieties.