17 Best Restaurants in Athens, Georgia to Try Today (2024)

Looking for the best restaurants in Athens, Georgia?

We’ve got you covered!

Maybe you’re in search of a quick bite on your own, or a romantic dinner date for two.

Or you’ve been put in charge of figuring out where to take a big, hungry group of friends or family for a fun night on the town!

Whatever the case, there’s sure to be something in this list of the 17 best restaurants in Athens that will meet your needs, and then some!

PS – want other Georgia foodie guides? Check out our guides to the best restaurants in Savannah, the best restaurants in Marietta, and the best restaurants in Columbus, Georgia!

1. Cali N Tito’s

Photo credit: Cali N Tito’s Facebook page

Cali N Tito’s serves up some of the best food in Athens – with authentic Latin flavor!

Try the all-natural, preservative-free fish tacos, or the popular Cuban sandwich.

You’ll have to bring your own beer if that’s your preferred beverage, but there are plenty of other drink options on the menu!

Sip on a refreshing Jarritos (Mexican soda), Coke, or go for a frozen limeade – a great all-ages substitute for a margarita, in our opinion.

Take your order to go, or dine in to enjoy the eclectic Latin decor.

If the weather’s nice, sit at one of the picnic tables on the patio – many of them have umbrellas to shade you from the hot Georgia sun!

2. Clocked! American Diner

If you’re looking for the best places to eat in Athens, GA with a fun atmosphere, you’ve got to check out this place!

Clocked! American Diner is known for burgers and fries that are “out of this world” – in a setting that’s just as thrilling!

You’ll know you’re in the right place when you see cartoon depictions of Space Boy, their official mascot, on and inside the building. 

Try their signature Clocked!Burger, or go for something totally unexpected, like the bacon jam burger, or the peanut butter bacon burger!

Cool down with a tasty original blackberry shake, or go with a classic diner beverage, like sarsaparilla, a Shirley Temple, or a Roy Rogers.

Yep, this is the place to be for a fun and family-friendly dining experience in Athens!

3. Grindhouse Killer Burgers

Photo credit: Grindhouse Killer Burgers Facebook page

Another place to find great food and a unique atmosphere in Athens is Grindhouse Killer Burgers.

This local chain has only six locations, and one of them is in Athens – lucky you!

The metal architecture sets the tone before you even step inside, but there’s more to discover in this iconic eatery!

With classic B-movie and sci-fi / horror posters scattered along the walls, like Mothra and The Day the Earth Stood Still, this place is a must-see for any film history enthusiast. 

But of course, the food is a huge draw, in itself!

Create your own burger, or opt for one of their suggested “burger styles” – Cowboy Style is a hit!

The fried pickles or sweet potato fries are excellent sides, and they’ve got nearly a dozen different milkshake or malt flavors.

Adults can enjoy beer and cocktails from the full-service bar, and their trivia nights are a hoot!

4. South Kitchen + Bar

Photo credit: South Kitchen + Bar Facebook page

For contemporary Southern cuisine that Georgia is so known for and elegant atmosphere, head over to South Kitchen + Bar.

Housed in a historic building with marble columns, chandeliers, stained glass, and Greek tile flooring, this is the perfect place for a date or upscale gathering in Athens.

Surprisingly affordable given its atmosphere and culinary quality, you can get a delicious lunch here for less than $15 per person (depending on what you order).

Dinners run a bit higher, but you’ll understand why when you try these Southern classics!

Duck fat tater tots are a hit, and definitely worth ordering for the table.

For the over-21 crowd, cocktails, beer, and wine are available – and there are a couple of refreshing mocktails, too!

5. George’s Lowcountry Table

Photo credit: George’s Lowcountry Table Facebook page

Looking for the best restaurants in Athens that serve seafood?

Come to George’s Lowcountry Table!

This laid-back restaurant has a beautiful wooden bar, plenty of tables, and some of the best Southern-style seafood in the area.

A popular spot for brunch, you’ll love the popcorn crawfish, and there are omelets and other egg-based specials for the folks that don’t like seafood.

Got a sweet tooth? Their French toast casserole in a mouthwatering strawberry rum sauce is to die for!

They’re closed on Mondays, so be sure to plan your visit so you can enjoy a meal at one of Athens’ best restaurants!

6. The National

Photo credit: The National Facebook page

Looking for fine dining in Athens?

The National is a beloved local establishment that serves Mediterranean-style food with the influences of Southern comfort.

Their seasonal menu is sure to please at any time of year, and their emphasis on using fresh ingredients from local farmers is definitely a plus.

Start with patatas bravas or a plate of flatbread and hummus, then dig in to a delicious main dish like pork chop or hanger steak.

Their turmeric tonic is a delightfully refreshing drink, as is the cucumber-mint soda.

If you’re dining on the weekend, a reservation is recommended, as this popular spot can fill up pretty quickly!

7. Last Resort Grill

Photo credit: Last Resort Grill Facebook page

Can’t decide where to eat in Athens, GA?

Well, this humbly named establishment really shouldn’t have to be a last resort!

Last Resort Grill creates spectacular dishes with the help of fresh ingredients from local farmers, growers, and bakers.

Step into this awesome Southern restaurant, located in a former music club (dating back to 1966), and admire art from local creators while you enjoy some good ol’ fashioned comfort food!

Their praline chicken is the talk of the town, and you’ll definitely want to leave room for some white chocolate cheesecake for dessert!

8. The Place

Photo credit: The Place Facebook page

One of the best restaurants in Athens, GA for Southern food is The Place!

Located in the heart of downtown, right across from the University of Georgia campus, the warm atmosphere and delicious food make this a popular stop for lunch or dinner.

Fill up on chicken and waffles, hanger steak, or salmon, and be sure to order a side of their delicious onion rings.

Shrimp and grits are also a hit, and the buttermilk chicken sandwich is the very definition of comfort food.

Whether you’re dining solo, or with family, friends, or coworkers, The Place is the place to be!

9. Pulaski Heights Barbecue

Photo credit: Pulaski Heights Barbecue Facebook page

Dig in to some of the best BBQ in Athens at Pulaski Heights Barbecue!

Sit on the patio on a nice day, or seek refuge from the Georgia heat indoors and sip on the Kool-Aid flavor of the day while you enjoy some of the most mouth-watering brisket in the area.

Dining on a Wednesday? Try their ramen special, with a generous heap of brisket on top!

Otherwise, you’ll definitely want to grab a plate or two of their pork, chicken, or brisket, smothered in BBQ sauce.

They close up when they run out of fresh BBQ, so be sure and get there earlier in the day before it sells out!

10. Marker Seven Coastal Grill

Photo credit: Marker Seven Coastal Grill Facebook page

Looking for a dose of local history while you dine in Athens?

Marker Seven Coastal Grill is located inside a historic home, and its charming wooden porch makes for great outdoor seating.

The inside is lovely, too, with a coastal theme and a welcoming atmosphere.

And, of course, there’s the food!

Chow down on hush puppies, shrimp and grits, or coconut shrimp at this Southern seafood restaurant.

Got someone in your party who doesn’t like seafood? Order them some chicken fingers, or a bowl of gouda mac and cheese!

11. Tlaloc

Photo credit: Tlaloc Facebook page

In search of some authentic Mexican food in Athens, GA?

Head over to Tlaloc on North Chase Street!

This roadside restaurant may be small in size, but it’s big on flavor!

They’re known for their pupusas, a Salvadoran dish consisting of thick corn flatbread stuffed with various savory fillings like cheese, beans, and/or meat.

You’ll also find tamales, chalupas, tacos, burritos, and more, plus a whole vegetarian menu for those who don’t eat meat. 

Their margaritas are considered by many to be the best in town, and their combo plates are a great deal for a tasty lunch or dinner!

12. Mama’s Boy

Photo credit: Mama’s Boy Facebook page

Need a little boost to your morning in Athens?

Start the day with breakfast or brunch at Mama’s Boy!

This local chain serves up scrumptious breakfast food in a laid-back atmosphere.

Two of their three locations are in Athens, and they are adored as a brunch spot by locals and visitors alike.

Try their fresh-baked biscuits, which are an excellent ingredient in their breakfast sandwiches.

If someone in your party isn’t in the mood for the typical breakfast fare, there are also a few lunch options, like a BLT or a cheeseburger.

Want something sweet, but not up for a full plate? Share an appetizer of their delicious cinnamon buns with the table!

13. Little Italy Pizzeria

One of the best restaurants in Athens, GA for pizza-lovers is Little Italy Pizzeria!

Serving up New York-style pizza, sub sandwiches, and more, this is a great place to go whether you’re sharing a whole pie with the family or grabbing a single slice or two.

The neon lights both indoors and on the exterior of the building make this a fun eatery for families, and the couple of classic arcade games they’ve got in the back are a blast for all ages!

This is a popular stop on game days, so be prepared for a crowd if the university’s football team is playing!

14. Maepole

Photo credit: Maepole Facebook page

If the Georgia heat’s got you feeling in need of some healthy food, head over to one of Maepole’s two Athens locations for Southern comfort dishes that don’t compromise on nutrition.

Their health-conscious menu gives you the joy of customization and plenty of flavor!

Order by choosing a base, then pick two sides, a protein (or a third side!), and a sauce.

Can’t decide?

Try one of their standard bowls, like The Boxcar: sweet potatoes, mac & cheese, green beans and onions, pork, and a sriracha-honey sauce!

Their simple, light-themed atmosphere is a great place to sit back and recollect yourself in the middle of a busy day in Athens – and with comforting, healthy food!

15. Punta Cana Latin Grill

Photo credit: Punta Cana Latin Grill Facebook page

Looking for something different? 

Punta Cana Latin Grill is serving up delicious Dominican food in a spacious, two-story building!

The colorful walls and decor, featuring a lovely mural at the upstairs entrance, will whisk you away to another part of the world – as will the food.

Try the Dominican sliders, smoked chicken, or smoked ribs, or go for lighter fare with something off of their tasty sandwich menu.

If you like unique pizza toppings, try the Dominican pizza, which has salami and queso frito.

Oh, and the guava empanadas are a delicious dessert you’ve absolutely got to try!

16. Strickland’s Restaurant

Photo credit: Strickland’s Restaurant Facebook page

Don’t be deceived by the simple atmosphere of Strickland’s Restaurant; it’s got some of the best Southern food in Athens!

Open for breakfast and lunch, with a daily lunch menu that brings you different comfort foods throughout the week.

Breakfast ranges from eggs, biscuits, and sandwiches to sweet pancakes, while the lunch menu varies from day to day, with recurring favorites like mac ‘n cheese, pork chops, and BBQ chicken.

Lunch plates allow you to customize your sides, as you go down the cafeteria-style line and watch the friendly employees load up your plate with home-cooked goodness!

17. Poquitos

For some of the best (and most fairly-priced) tacos in Athens, head over to Poquitos!

Located right on the corner of Prince Avenue and Meigs Street on the way into downtown, this popular spot is staffed by cooks with 20 years of experience in making great-tasting Mexican food.

Try any of their tacos – the steak and the birria ones are the most popular!

Or, mix it up with a tasty torta, or some yummy sopes!

Kids are sure to love a simple (but delicious!) quesadilla, and of course the chips & salsa will be a hit with the whole table!


Sip on a Jarritos (Mexican soda) while sitting under one of the colorful umbrellas on the patio, or dine indoors at one of their bright orange booths!

They’ve also got a selection of Mexican beers, plus wine and cocktails like sangria, or a michelada, the Mexican version of a bloody Mary.

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