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Pan-roasted red snapper with black eyed pea and butter bean salad from Seabear Oyster Bar in Athens, GA.
Pan-roasted red snapper with black eyed pea and butter bean salad.
Seabear Oyster Bar

Where to Eat in Athens, Home to the University of Georgia (UGA)

From barbecue, Baja fish burritos, and shawarma to Eritrean and Ethiopian fare, fried chicken, and fresh oysters paired with Negroni slushies

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Pan-roasted red snapper with black eyed pea and butter bean salad.
| Seabear Oyster Bar

Hailed as one of the best (if not the best) college towns in the South, Athens, Georgia — aka the Classic City — includes everything one desires of a day trip or weekend jaunt from Atlanta: a healthy arts and music scene, a closely knit local community, a vibe of boundless energy, and a strong food scene. There’s a wealth of restaurant power players for a city of 130,000 residents, which swells by tens of thousands when students are in session at the University of Georgia. Each restaurant listed on this map reflects the wide range of food options folks will find when visiting Athens, from barbecue, Baja fish burritos, and shawarma to Eritrean and Ethiopian fare, fried chicken, and fresh oysters paired with Negroni slushies.

Did Eater miss a restaurant on this list? Send the details to atlanta@eater.com.

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home.made

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Chef and owner Mimi Mamus started home.made, which specializes in regional cuisine made from local ingredients, out of her home in 2006. Five years later, home.made’s Baxter Street location opened and allowed Mamus’ food to reach myriad mouths in Athens. No time for a multi-course meal? Stop by for some hors d’oeuvres instead (the Swanee Bites, stuffed medjool dates, and deviled eggs are all rave-worthy.) Mamus just opened Sidecar in the former catering kitchen for home.made on Baxter earlier this year, serving small plates and cocktails.

White Tiger Athens

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Another barbecue spot in North Georgia? Yep. Home cooking and chef and owner Ken Manring’s culinary mastery intersect at this Boulevard-area haunt to create some seriously impressive barbecue. There’s a robust selection of both omnivorous and vegetarian sandwiches; highlights include the Barberella, the Jason, and the Portabella Cheese Burger. A second location in Watskinsville is expected to open soon. 

Heirloom Cafe and Fresh Market

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Heirloom sits at the center of Athens’ historic Boulevard neighborhood and commits to highlighting local growers. The fare makes simple ingredients feel fancy, but still maintains a down-home feel — that’s likely because much of the menu is inspired by Southern family recipes. Heirloom’s relaxed, yet sophisticated atmosphere and friendly staff truly make diners feel like part of the family. 

Donderos' Kitchen

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Grabbing a table at Donderos’ feels like stepping into someone’s home. Maybe it’s because this Cobbham spot maintains its architectural integrity, but one can’t ignore the love that goes into Donderos’ food, coffee, and hospitality. That familial, relaxed aura shines everywhere — in the restaurant’s cozy atmosphere, the house-made pastries behind the cafe pastry case, and the menu’s daily brunch offerings. 

The Expat

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Jerry and Krista Slater should be familiar names to longtime Atlanta diners. The duo ran Reynoldstown restaurant and cocktail hot spot H. Harper Station (now Muchacho) for years, before closing it in 2016 and moving to the Athens area. Now the couple owns and operates another beloved restaurant, the Expat on South Lumpkin. Coffee lovers were bereft in 2017 when Two Story’s Five Points location announced its closure, but there’s comfort in knowing the Expat makes a worthy successor. The menu steers towards Italian cuisine made with local ingredients, while the bar and cocktail lounge have national renown, thanks to barman Jerry Slater. Make sure to visit wine shop and tasting room the Lark on Prince, where sommelier Krista Slater walks customers through her selection of natural and minimal intervention wines. Look for the Slaters to open Slater’s Steakhouse in the Five Points neighborhood soon, too.

Five and Ten

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Chef Hugh Acheson’s flagship restaurant has a celebrity status in Athens, and after more than two decades in operation, that honor is still much deserved. Five and Ten remains one of the best upscale Southern restaurants in Georgia, if not the entire region. In 2020, William Cantrell returned to Athens after a five-year stint working in Atlanta at Staplehouse and Miller Union to help run Five and Ten as its executive chef.  

Slutty Vegan

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Pinky Cole isn’t just a restaurant power player in Atlanta, she’s poised to become a power player on the national scene, thanks to the huge success of her vegan burger joint Slutty Vegan. Founded in 2018 as a delivery service, and then a food truck popping up around Atlanta University Center, people continue to line up for Slutty Vegan’s meatless burgers, like the One Night Stand and Ménage à Trois. Cole now has four Atlanta-area restaurants in Westview, on Edgewood Avenue, in Duluth, and in Jonesboro, with a fifth restaurant now open in Athens, and restaurants in the works for Birmingham and Brooklyn, New York. She also opened a vegan cocktail bar and restaurant at Atlanta’s Ponce City Market in 2021. 

Cali N Tito's

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Both Cali N Tito’s locales draw a crowd come lunch and dinnertime. The Lumpkin Street outfit is a go-to for students, while the larger Eastside location is lush with kid-friendly entertainment. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Baja Fish Burrito, which is stuffed with sweet maduros and a creamy chipotle sauce, will ruin all other burritos for people. 

Seabear Oyster Bar

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It’s pretty much a given that any lover of seafood and good cocktails needs to make their way to Prince Avenue hot spot Seabear, where rounds of oysters flow just as steadily as the humming Negroni slushie machine. The oyster selection is primarily harvested in the South and along the East Coast, sometimes inching up to Canadian locales, including Newfoundland and PEI. Expect to order more than anticipated because portions are on the smaller side. But nothing on this menu disappoints. 

The Grit (closing October 7)

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The Grit is one of those special places that is Athens to the core, which is why when the owners announced its upcoming closure on October 7, memories and messages of love from past and present residents and students poured in on social media. Yes, the Athens vegetarian institution is closing for good after 36 years on Prince. For some, the Grit was their introduction to tofu, hummus, and a broader range of vegetarian and vegan foods, giving the restaurant crossover appeal in Athens. It became one of the best breakfast and brunch spots in the Classic City, too, with menu staples such as the falafel, Golden Bowl, or black bean chili, and special dishes like the spinach feta lasagna.

Pulaski Heights Barbecue

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Come prepared to PHBBQ with a major appetite, because they do not play around. Big on taste and portions, this aptly named Pulaski Heights stronghold doesn’t just produce some killer barbecue — its also incorporates ‘cue into salads, stews, tacos, and even ramen on Wednesday nights. Of course, the slow-smoked meats are signature offerings, but with options including smoked cauliflower, vinegar lime slaw, and mac and cheese, the sides shouldn’t be taken lightly either. 

The National

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Erin Wilson’s downtown spot is another deservedly famous fine dining institution in Athens. The National has a knack for making any food irresistible — the vegetable plate, for example, is truly on par with the meat-based entrees, and although founder and chef Peter Dale made his departure last year, chefs Jeremy Collins and Daniel Fetter are handling the kitchen exceedingly well. Fun tip: for a $1 fee, people can have dinner delivered to Creature Comforts Brewery or Little Kings Shuffle Club, turning a brewery or bar outing into a serious dinner party. 

The World Famous

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The World Famous is one of the Hull Street residents that keeps the downtown Athens Hot Corner hot. The regular menu is stacked with trendier, elegant takes on bar food, including poutine, shawarma, and pork steamed buns — if staying out late like a college student, TWF is the place to refuel. The food is only outdone by the drinks, which features original cocktails and house-made sodas, and a selection of Georgia’s best craft beer, much of which is brewed right in Athens. 

Trappeze Pub

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Anyone with a penchant for beer owes themselves a visit to Trappeze. The gastropub’s massive drink menu includes 33 taps and hundreds of bottles, and a smart selection of cocktails. Balance out that buzz with a sturdy sandwich, like a veggie reuben, the pork belly and bacon-adorned Double Pig, or the Carolina Dip, a fried Springer Mountain chicken breast on ciabatta. Don’t forget to order a side of fries with garlic aioli — some of the best fries in Athens. 

Weaver D's Delicious Fine Foods

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Weaver D’s claim to fame is its role as R.E.M.’s preferred feeding ground back in the 1980s — yes, it does boast some of the city’s best fried chicken, but owner Dexter Weaver has said the trio was partial to its extensive selection of vegetarian-friendly sides. Diners are greeted by Weaver’s bellowing catchphrase, “automatic,” after placing their orders at the cafeteria-style counter. Everything here is good, but standouts include the broccoli and rice casserole and sinfully delicious banana pudding. 

Mama's Boy Restaurant

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Mama’s Boy is one of those places that requires advance planning. The Oak Street location draws a throng of students in the morning, even during the summer. Although, it’s adjacent to Dudley Park and the Oconee Greenway, so there’s at least something to do during a wait for a table. Pin the blame for the wait on the biscuits — a Mama’s Boy biscuit could sit in a paper bag for an hour and still come out delectable. The remaining breakfast and lunch options are solid, but every Athenian needs to taste a Mama’s Boy biscuit sandwich at least once. 

Mannaweenta Restaurant

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One doesn’t need to be familiar with Eritrean and Ethiopian fare to recognize the care and talent that goes into Mannaweenta’s food. The Eastside spot is the culmination of owner Haregu Bahtu’s longtime dream and fervent prayer — Bahtu got her start as a vendor at the Athens Land Trust’s West Broad Farmers Market. The restaurant officially opened in 2015. There’s no such thing as a bad dish at Mannaweenta, and the vegan dishes here surpass the meat. Don’t leave without enjoying a traditionally prepared Ethiopian coffee. 

home.made

Chef and owner Mimi Mamus started home.made, which specializes in regional cuisine made from local ingredients, out of her home in 2006. Five years later, home.made’s Baxter Street location opened and allowed Mamus’ food to reach myriad mouths in Athens. No time for a multi-course meal? Stop by for some hors d’oeuvres instead (the Swanee Bites, stuffed medjool dates, and deviled eggs are all rave-worthy.) Mamus just opened Sidecar in the former catering kitchen for home.made on Baxter earlier this year, serving small plates and cocktails.

White Tiger Athens

Another barbecue spot in North Georgia? Yep. Home cooking and chef and owner Ken Manring’s culinary mastery intersect at this Boulevard-area haunt to create some seriously impressive barbecue. There’s a robust selection of both omnivorous and vegetarian sandwiches; highlights include the Barberella, the Jason, and the Portabella Cheese Burger. A second location in Watskinsville is expected to open soon. 

Heirloom Cafe and Fresh Market

Heirloom sits at the center of Athens’ historic Boulevard neighborhood and commits to highlighting local growers. The fare makes simple ingredients feel fancy, but still maintains a down-home feel — that’s likely because much of the menu is inspired by Southern family recipes. Heirloom’s relaxed, yet sophisticated atmosphere and friendly staff truly make diners feel like part of the family. 

Donderos' Kitchen

Grabbing a table at Donderos’ feels like stepping into someone’s home. Maybe it’s because this Cobbham spot maintains its architectural integrity, but one can’t ignore the love that goes into Donderos’ food, coffee, and hospitality. That familial, relaxed aura shines everywhere — in the restaurant’s cozy atmosphere, the house-made pastries behind the cafe pastry case, and the menu’s daily brunch offerings. 

The Expat

Jerry and Krista Slater should be familiar names to longtime Atlanta diners. The duo ran Reynoldstown restaurant and cocktail hot spot H. Harper Station (now Muchacho) for years, before closing it in 2016 and moving to the Athens area. Now the couple owns and operates another beloved restaurant, the Expat on South Lumpkin. Coffee lovers were bereft in 2017 when Two Story’s Five Points location announced its closure, but there’s comfort in knowing the Expat makes a worthy successor. The menu steers towards Italian cuisine made with local ingredients, while the bar and cocktail lounge have national renown, thanks to barman Jerry Slater. Make sure to visit wine shop and tasting room the Lark on Prince, where sommelier Krista Slater walks customers through her selection of natural and minimal intervention wines. Look for the Slaters to open Slater’s Steakhouse in the Five Points neighborhood soon, too.

Five and Ten

Chef Hugh Acheson’s flagship restaurant has a celebrity status in Athens, and after more than two decades in operation, that honor is still much deserved. Five and Ten remains one of the best upscale Southern restaurants in Georgia, if not the entire region. In 2020, William Cantrell returned to Athens after a five-year stint working in Atlanta at Staplehouse and Miller Union to help run Five and Ten as its executive chef.  

Slutty Vegan

Pinky Cole isn’t just a restaurant power player in Atlanta, she’s poised to become a power player on the national scene, thanks to the huge success of her vegan burger joint Slutty Vegan. Founded in 2018 as a delivery service, and then a food truck popping up around Atlanta University Center, people continue to line up for Slutty Vegan’s meatless burgers, like the One Night Stand and Ménage à Trois. Cole now has four Atlanta-area restaurants in Westview, on Edgewood Avenue, in Duluth, and in Jonesboro, with a fifth restaurant now open in Athens, and restaurants in the works for Birmingham and Brooklyn, New York. She also opened a vegan cocktail bar and restaurant at Atlanta’s Ponce City Market in 2021. 

Cali N Tito's

Both Cali N Tito’s locales draw a crowd come lunch and dinnertime. The Lumpkin Street outfit is a go-to for students, while the larger Eastside location is lush with kid-friendly entertainment. It is not an exaggeration to say that the Baja Fish Burrito, which is stuffed with sweet maduros and a creamy chipotle sauce, will ruin all other burritos for people. 

Seabear Oyster Bar

It’s pretty much a given that any lover of seafood and good cocktails needs to make their way to Prince Avenue hot spot Seabear, where rounds of oysters flow just as steadily as the humming Negroni slushie machine. The oyster selection is primarily harvested in the South and along the East Coast, sometimes inching up to Canadian locales, including Newfoundland and PEI. Expect to order more than anticipated because portions are on the smaller side. But nothing on this menu disappoints. 

The Grit (closing October 7)

The Grit is one of those special places that is Athens to the core, which is why when the owners announced its upcoming closure on October 7, memories and messages of love from past and present residents and students poured in on social media. Yes, the Athens vegetarian institution is closing for good after 36 years on Prince. For some, the Grit was their introduction to tofu, hummus, and a broader range of vegetarian and vegan foods, giving the restaurant crossover appeal in Athens. It became one of the best breakfast and brunch spots in the Classic City, too, with menu staples such as the falafel, Golden Bowl, or black bean chili, and special dishes like the spinach feta lasagna.

Pulaski Heights Barbecue

Come prepared to PHBBQ with a major appetite, because they do not play around. Big on taste and portions, this aptly named Pulaski Heights stronghold doesn’t just produce some killer barbecue — its also incorporates ‘cue into salads, stews, tacos, and even ramen on Wednesday nights. Of course, the slow-smoked meats are signature offerings, but with options including smoked cauliflower, vinegar lime slaw, and mac and cheese, the sides shouldn’t be taken lightly either. 

The National

Erin Wilson’s downtown spot is another deservedly famous fine dining institution in Athens. The National has a knack for making any food irresistible — the vegetable plate, for example, is truly on par with the meat-based entrees, and although founder and chef Peter Dale made his departure last year, chefs Jeremy Collins and Daniel Fetter are handling the kitchen exceedingly well. Fun tip: for a $1 fee, people can have dinner delivered to Creature Comforts Brewery or Little Kings Shuffle Club, turning a brewery or bar outing into a serious dinner party. 

The World Famous

The World Famous is one of the Hull Street residents that keeps the downtown Athens Hot Corner hot. The regular menu is stacked with trendier, elegant takes on bar food, including poutine, shawarma, and pork steamed buns — if staying out late like a college student, TWF is the place to refuel. The food is only outdone by the drinks, which features original cocktails and house-made sodas, and a selection of Georgia’s best craft beer, much of which is brewed right in Athens. 

Trappeze Pub

Anyone with a penchant for beer owes themselves a visit to Trappeze. The gastropub’s massive drink menu includes 33 taps and hundreds of bottles, and a smart selection of cocktails. Balance out that buzz with a sturdy sandwich, like a veggie reuben, the pork belly and bacon-adorned Double Pig, or the Carolina Dip, a fried Springer Mountain chicken breast on ciabatta. Don’t forget to order a side of fries with garlic aioli — some of the best fries in Athens. 

Weaver D's Delicious Fine Foods

Weaver D’s claim to fame is its role as R.E.M.’s preferred feeding ground back in the 1980s — yes, it does boast some of the city’s best fried chicken, but owner Dexter Weaver has said the trio was partial to its extensive selection of vegetarian-friendly sides. Diners are greeted by Weaver’s bellowing catchphrase, “automatic,” after placing their orders at the cafeteria-style counter. Everything here is good, but standouts include the broccoli and rice casserole and sinfully delicious banana pudding. 

Related Maps

Mama's Boy Restaurant

Mama’s Boy is one of those places that requires advance planning. The Oak Street location draws a throng of students in the morning, even during the summer. Although, it’s adjacent to Dudley Park and the Oconee Greenway, so there’s at least something to do during a wait for a table. Pin the blame for the wait on the biscuits — a Mama’s Boy biscuit could sit in a paper bag for an hour and still come out delectable. The remaining breakfast and lunch options are solid, but every Athenian needs to taste a Mama’s Boy biscuit sandwich at least once. 

Mannaweenta Restaurant

One doesn’t need to be familiar with Eritrean and Ethiopian fare to recognize the care and talent that goes into Mannaweenta’s food. The Eastside spot is the culmination of owner Haregu Bahtu’s longtime dream and fervent prayer — Bahtu got her start as a vendor at the Athens Land Trust’s West Broad Farmers Market. The restaurant officially opened in 2015. There’s no such thing as a bad dish at Mannaweenta, and the vegan dishes here surpass the meat. Don’t leave without enjoying a traditionally prepared Ethiopian coffee. 

Related Maps