Athens, Georgia, is known for its loyal University of Georgia fans, unique residents, and, of course, their diverse food options!
Restaurants in Athens GA like Mama’s Boy, South Kitchen Bar, and Hilltop Grille offer up the good ol’ southern home-cooking you’ve heard so much about, but did you know that Athens also offers exotic options from restaurants like The National and Cali N Tito’s?
Or perhaps you’re looking for some bar food from Trappeze Pub, some vegetarian options from The Slutty Vegan, or even some seafood from Last Resort Grill. Whatever you’re craving, chances are Athens, Georgia, has it.
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN ATHENS
- Best Downtown. Located in downtown Athens, the Hyatt Place Athens Downtown is right in the heart of the city, minutes away from restaurants, shops, and the University of Georgia campus. Free breakfast included.
- Best Instagram-worthy spot. Nestled into the musically famed Foundry building and a short walk to UGA’s campus, Graduate Athens is a beautiful Insta-worthy spot. Enjoy their signature Southern style with a splash of Georgia pine, pink and hint of history in every room and venue. You’ll also find an outdoor pool here!
- Best for Foodies. Located in the Downtown Historic District of Athens, Hotel Indigo Athens is a 5-minute walk from UGA. The on-site Madison Bar serves gourmet meals for breakfast and dinner. It offers a full-service bar and outdoor seating. You’ll love it!
LAST RESORT GRILL
Serving Southwestern cuisine with a distinctive culinary point of view. A wine and beer garden were added in July 2020 to include new patio space with trees, picnic tables, and a full-service bar. The Last Resort Grill has a long-standing commitment to serving the local community the highest level of quality food and service, but it is in the relationships with its guests and suppliers that truly distinguish the restaurant.
You’ll probably recognize Last Resort Grill from the iconic mural on the side of the restaurant, but have you actually ordered food there? If not, you definitely need to check it out! This restaurant is one of the most well-known spots in downtown Athens, and their food speaks even louder than that beautiful mural.
Last Resort offers tons of southern-style seafood options like the Salmon and Grits. But if you don’t like seafood, have no fear! Though they are famous for the surf, they also have plenty of turf to choose from, like the Roasted Pork Tenderloin. Brunch is served here on Saturdays and Sundays!
THE SLUTTY VEGAN
Note: The Slutty Vegan is temporarily closed during the summer of 2023.
With the closing of The Grit in 2022, vegans and vegetarians have had to find alternatives — and boy, have they! The Slutty Vegan opened a new location in Athens in May of 2022 on Baxter Street, and it’s the place to go for plant-based burgers, sandwiches, fries, and more.
You’ll find sandwiches on their menu with names like the Hollywood Hooker (vegan chopped Philly with jalapeños, bell peppers and caramelized onions, and more); the One Night Stand (plant-based patty loaded with vegan bacon, vegan cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and Slut Sauce on a vegan Hawaiian bun); and the Fussy Hussy (plant-based patty loaded with pickle, vegan cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and Slut Sauce on a vegan Hawaiian bun).
They also offer plant-based options for kids — like their cheeseburger and “chicken” tenders. You’ll love the food almost as much as you’ll love this fun environment.
BEST RESTAURANTS IN ATHENS GA: FOR A LARGE GROUP
Are you and your crew craving some exotic food? Well, The National’s got you covered. Their small plates are perfect for sharing with friends and tasting plenty of flavors.
The Mediterranean-inspired cuisine is ideal if your taste buds are feeling adventurous. The menu is constantly changing since The National buys from local farmers, making every meal a unique one!
BEST BAR FOOD
Looking for some finger food to snack on? Trappeze Pub turns bar food into an Athens delicacy and gives you all of your favorite bar food options – gourmet popcorn, boiled peanuts and sweet potato fries? Yum! They also have small plates and larger entrees if you’re feeling a little hungrier than you originally thought.
Though the food is higher quality than typical bar food, the prices are still pretty low. It’s a great place for a tasty, low-priced meal. Their expansive craft beer list is another reason to visit, because after all, it is a pub! They have plenty of local beers, so you can feel like a true Athenian.
BEST DATE NIGHT SPOTS
Craving a cozy atmosphere for you and your significant other? Drop in to Hilltop Grille for a nice meal with warm lighting and a welcoming vibe. There’s also a blazing fire to warm you up on those cold Georgia days.
They serve southern comfort food along with their seafood and steaks to make you feel even more at home. The menu is a bit pricier than most Athens-local restaurants, but the quality of the food is worth it. After all, who can put a price on a cozy night away from the freezing Georgia temperatures?
SOUTH KITCHEN + BAR
South Kitchen + Bar not only has southern food, but serves it up elegantly, right down to their fried beignets! The restaurant also has beautiful, large windows, giving you a nice view no matter where you eat.
The marble columns throughout the restaurant also give it a nice, classy look. Take your loved one out for a night on the town, and make sure to grab a meal here. Your date is sure to be impressed by the chic look, and you’ll be happy with the reasonably-priced food!
SLATER’S STEAKHOUSE AND COCKTAIL LOUNGE
Jerry and Krista Slater behind The Expat neighborhood bistro have debuted a brand-new upscale steakhouse in Athens’ Five Points neighborhood, Slater’s Steakhouse and Cocktail Lounge.
The cozy spot serves diverse American classics and crafted cocktails, including a make-your-own martini service.
Later into 2023, the Slaters plan to open The Nighthawks Lounge cocktail bar on Tracy Street and a Vietnamese restaurant titled Pretty Boy on Barber Street.
Sixteen years ago, Alicia Segars and Cooper Hudson opened this charming retro diner that quickly became one of the must-see breakfast spots in Athens. Menu items include “Chocolate Cake for Breakfast!,” in addition to vegan and vegetarian options.
If you’ve ever heard someone speak about Athens food, you’ve most likely heard Mama’s Boy’s name thrown into the sentence. Mama’s Boy is a favorite among Athens locals, and there’s no question why. Get there early if you want a guaranteed spot – the restaurant is pretty small and the lines form as soon as their doors open in the morning!
The restaurant is only open until 2:30 PM Monday thru Thursday, and 3:30 PM Friday thru Sunday, so make sure to arrive early so you don’t miss out on this Athens-famous breakfast. No matter what you order, make sure to ask for an extra biscuit. The light, fluffy biscuits will truly solidify your love for Athens’ favorite breakfast spot. Or get the side of potato hash — you won’t regret it! Try the Georgia Peach French Toast for a fun, local-inspired start to your day… After all, who doesn’t love Georgia peaches?
In addition to their downtown Athens location on Oak Street, they now also have a second location at the Falls of Oconee on Macon Highway.
Don’t you miss the simpler days when popping Double Bubble bubbles and sharing milkshakes were all the rage? With Clocked you can relive the glory days… But with a twist. Their classic American food (like hamburgers and hotdogs) can be served the way you’ve always loved (cheese, onions, lettuce and plenty of ketchup), or you can be a little adventurous and order a jalapeno and Cream Cheese Burger or a Blackberry Bacon & Jam Burger.
Grab a seat at the bar if you want to watch some old SciFi movies on a vintage TV and split a shake with your loved one. Order the red velvet milkshake and ask them to make it a malt. This whimsical diner will certainly remind you of the days of poodle skirts and swing dancing.
The Grill is another restaurant that takes you back in time, complete with neon diner signs and diner-style booths. This old-fashioned spot offers one of Athens’ locals most treasured foods: feta fries. If you haven’t tried the feta fries, can you even say you’ve had the full Athens experience?
Meet up with your friends and grab an order of feta fries to share…but fair warning, you might want to order your own portion once you try them! This is another great location for milkshakes, too. The chocolate malt is a classic, delicious sweet treat done right. The Grill is currently open Tuesday-Saturday from 5p-11p.
BEST SWEET TOOTH SATISFIER
ZOMBIE COFFEE & DONUTS
Zombie is a relative newcomer to the Athens community, but it’s already a most-loved spot in downtown. Everyone loves donuts, and customizing them just makes them even better! At Zombie, you can choose your own toppings to create your very own fun donut. Oreos, Fruity Pebbles, SweeTarts… The possibilities are endless.
These donuts are cake-based and so soft, you’ll certainly want to come back to this deliciously sweet location. Grab some coffee, too, if the sugar rush simply isn’t enough to energize you!
Cookies and ice cream are the perfect late-night treat, and Insomnia has both. You can even make an ice-cream sandwich with your choice of two cookies and a scoop of ice-cream. But maybe you’re just looking for cookies – you can order a box for you and your friends, or a few cookies for yourself. They’ll warm the cookies up for you, too!
Insomnia is open until 3AM Thursdays through Saturdays and 1AM Sundays through Wednesdays, so indulge in those late night sweet cravings and pick up a few cookies to go. Make sure to order a S’mores deluxe cookie while you’re there – graham crackers and marshmallows and chocolate, oh my!
PAULEY’S CREPE BAR
Pauley’s has a great lunch and dinner menu, but they’re most famous for their delicious crepes. The long list has crepes that could appeal to anyone – sweet or savory. Make sure to try the Apple Pie crepes, complete with chunks of apples and a dash of cinnamon!
The decor is pretty unique, too. The walls are covered in plaques with pictures of people who have joined the Around The World Beer Club (which involves drinking at least 100 different beers and marking it on a beer card), accompanied by a fun quote by each person.
They also offer some great food options other than crepes. Their chicken salad sandwich on sourdough bread is a mouth-watering option that you’ll want to order again and again!
BEST RESTAURANTS IN ATHENS GA: KID-FRIENDLY ATMOSPHERE
CALI N TITO’S
The Latin American influence on this restaurant is definitely easy to see. Decorations cover the walls and ceilings, and there is always something fun happening! Cali N Tito’s has two locations in Athens: South Lumpkin Street and Cedar Shoals Drive.
It is known for its authentic Latin American fare, including fish tacos that diners go back for again and again. An expansive outdoor patio provides a fabulous atmosphere on a beautiful day. Oh and it’s BYOB.
If it’s a nice day out, head over to the South Lumpkin location and eat your meal outside in the sunshine. If the weather’s not looking too great, try the Cedar Shoals location, a bigger spot where the dining rooms are indoors.
The Cedar Shoals location also has tricycles and a dance floor for busy kids. Cali N Tito’s is guaranteed to be a fun night for the family! Don’t let the fun atmosphere distract you from ordering some Latin American-inspired food. The cuisine is as authentic and unique as the decor. Order the Fried Sweet Plantains with your meal for some unique finger food.
BEST SOUTHERN COMFORT FOOD
Fried chicken, fried green tomatoes and caramelized onions… Sometimes we all need a little southern twang. The Place has everything you love about southern cuisine, complete with chicken and dumplins, just like your mom used to make, and it’s always “The Place” I recommend to people looking for the best restaurants in Athens GA. I eat here almost every time I visit.
Each weekday has a different theme to the meats offered, so make sure to visit on a Tuesday for Country Fried Steak or a Wednesday for Hump Day Pulled BBQ. Head on upstairs to the bar if you’re looking for their unique cocktails or other drinks, or stay downstairs if you’re here for a meal. The small size of the restaurant makes your visit nice and cozy and wraps you in the southern hospitality you’ve heard so much about in Georgia.
FIVE & 10
Five & Ten is award-winning chef and frequent Top Chef judge Hugh Acheson’s flagship restaurant. Here, you’ll find great Southern food — with French and Italian influences — and delicious drinks.
You’ll find such snacks on the menu like pimento cheese with bacon marmalade or oysters rockefeller. For dinner, try the cornmeal-fried catfish, or the lamb navarin. They host a daily happy hour as well, which features its own menu of drinks for $7.
Restaurants in Athens GA FAQ
What is Athens GA best known for?
Known as The Classic City, Athens, GA, is best known as being home to the University of Georgia. UGA’s football team, the Georgia Bulldogs, won the 2021 and 2022 College Football National Championship.
How should I spend a day in Athens GA?
A great way to spend the day in Athens, GA, is to head downtown. Downtown Athens is where you’ll find the beautiful UGA campus, along with plenty of breweries, pubs, restaurants, and unique shops.
Is Athens GA a walkable city?
Downtown Athens is a very walkable part of the city. You can park and then spend the whole day walking from place to place without any problems.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO GEORGIA
- YOUR GEORGIA VACATION
- ATHENS: The Best Things To Do in Athens Ga for an Exciting Weekend
- HOLIDAYS: Christmas in Athens: 7 Ways To ‘Sleigh’ the Holiday
- BREWERIES: Drink Up! These 39+ Awesome Atlanta Breweries Are Leading the Craft
- HARD LABOR CREEK: Hard Labor Creek State Park: An Affordable Family Resort
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