Georgia Bulldogs: Top 10 Restaurants in Athens on Gameday

by Dustin Schutte
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Your gameday meals in Athens don’t have to come from a tailgate before your trip into Sanford Stadium. The beauty of this southern college town is the availability of so many unique restaurants within a mile walk of the iconic SEC venue.

Athens is a hub for so many great food spots. It’s got you covered from a breakfast platter at 6 a.m. through those late-night kickoffs with the game ending at midnight. No matter what time the game starts, you’ll find great grub in the downtown area.

“There are so many great spots in Athens. If you don’t get in to one place, don’t be afraid to go to the place next door.”

Palmer Thombs, Dawgs HQ

We talked with Wes Blankenship, Jake Reuse and Palmer Thombs of Dawgs HQ to give you the best recommendations for the must-visit restaurants in Athens on gameday. The overwhelming theme? You really can’t go wrong, no matter where you stop.

Mayflower Restaurant

  • Location: 171 E. Broad St.
  • Distance to Sanford Stadium: 0.5 miles (10-minute walk)
  • Saturday Hours: 6:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
  • Gotta Try: Country Boy Special
  • Website

A staple of Athens, Mayflower Restaurant’s slogan is “Putting the south in your mouth since 1948.” That, alone, should make any UGA fan want to swing by on a gameday morning.

Mayflower Restaurant primarily works as a breakfast joint, making it the perfect stop for those noon Saturday kickoffs. You can pick from an array of breakfast options or get a taste of everything with the Country Boy Special, complete with two eggs (any style), grits, bacon or sausage and three hot cakes.

This legendary Athens joint is also easy on the wallet. The highest-priced item on the menu (an 8 oz ribeye) comes in at just $9. Even the Country Boy Special rings up at $7.

Dawg HQ’s Wes Blankenship took a trip to Mayflower Restaurant, giving y’all a sneak peek at the Country Boy Special — as well as what makes this spot so unique.

Mama’s Boy

  • Location: Multiple – Closest to Sanford Stadium is 197 Oak St.
  • Distance to Sanford Stadium: 0.6 miles (14-minute walk)
  • Saturday Hours: 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
  • Gotta Try: Georgia Peach French Toast
  • Website

Apparently, Athens understands the importance of a good breakfast. Mama’s Boy is another popular morning spot on gameday, especially if you’re looking for a little variety. This breakfast nook offers everything from biscuit sandwiches (some of the best in town) and a pulled pork bowl to French toast plates and cinnamon rolls.

Get a true introduction to Georgia before seeing the Dawgs in action with the Georgia Peach French Toast. It’s the top recommendation from our Dawgs HQ team and combines the state’s signature fruit with a traditional breakfast food. That sugary platter comes with “Luna sweet bread dipped in cinnamon-vanilla custard, pan fried and topped with chilled peach compote, whipped cream, candied pecans and powdered sugar.”

Too sweet for your liking? Order the French Toast Plate and get half the order, along with eggs and bacon or sausage to provide a “healthier” balance.

If the downtown location gets too busy, there’s a second location for this breakfast favorite:

  • 8851 Macon Highway, Suite 403

South Kitchen + Bar

  • Location: 247 E. Washington St. Suite 101
  • Distance to Sanford Stadium: 0.7 miles (13-minute walk)
  • Saturday Hours: 10 a.m. – 3p.m./ 4 p.m. – 11 p.m.
  • Gotta Try: Shrimp & Grits
  • Website

Georgia’s football program is steeped in history and tradition. South Kitchen + Bar can make the same claim. It’s located inside the old Georgian Hotel and offers a wide array of options that will satisfy any stomach.

South Kitchen + Bar doesn’t have the largest space but there’s plenty of seating, both inside and out. The menu offers traditional southern appetizers — such as fried green tomatoes and pimento cheese — and provides a wide selection of entree options. Some of the favorites include the Low Country Shrimp and Grits, Nashville Hot Chicken and the Bar Burger.

To give you even more options, South Kitchen + Bar breaks out a brunch menu on the weekends. You really can’t go wrong, regardless of when you stop in at this historic eatery.

“It’s a little bit smaller but there’s plenty of seating. The shrimp and grits is always my go-to — it’s so good — but you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.”

Palmer Thombs, Dawgs HQ

Dawg Gone Good BBQ

  • Location: 224 W. Hancock Ave.
  • Distance to Sanford Stadium: 0.8 miles (15-minute walk)
  • Saturday Hours: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Gotta Try: Mac & Cheese
  • Website

If you’re coming to SEC country for a college football game, you darn-well better grab some barbeque. Dawg Gone Good BBQ has some of the best in Athens. The smell alone has been known to get Uga drooling across campus at Sanford Stadium … or maybe that’s a stretch.

Dawg Gone Good BBQ offers all the good stuff for barbeque lovers — pulled pork, sausage, chicken and ribs. What you really need to try, though, is the macaroni-and-cheese. It’s been known to persuade prospects to commit to Georgia over other schools. Seriously.

Just ask former UGA wide receiver and current NFL star Mecole Hardman.

“I said [to Mecole Hardman], ‘What other schools you all interested in?’ He said, ‘Alabama and a couple other schools.’ … I said, ‘Well, I’ll tell you right now, if you don’t want to come to Georgia, don’t eat that macaroni and cheese.”

B.J. Hardy, Owner, Dawg Gone Good BBQ

The great thing about Dawg Gone Good BBQ — aside from the food — is that you can purchase something individually or buy a meal for the family. The Big Dawg Meal comes with one slab of ribs, one pound of chicken, one pound of pork, two sausages, two large sides and a large dessert.

Amici

  • Location: 233 E. Clayton St.
  • Distance to Sanford Stadium: 0.6 miles (12-minute walk)
  • Saturday Hours: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Gotta Try: Jumbo Wings
  • Website

A college football game and a basket piled up with chicken wings are a perfect combination. Throw a beer into the mix and you’ve essentially assembled the perfect Saturday meal. So, if you’re in Athens looking for wings, give Amici a try.

Yes, Amici is a chain but that shouldn’t prohibit it from landing on the list, especially with so many recommendations. It’s got a great menu — complete with wings, pizza and sandwiches — and proves to be a great place to watch a game, if you’re not heading to Sanford Stadium.

“Amici is a great place to watch the game if you’re not going in.”

Wes Blankenship, Dawgs HQ

If you like a little heat with your wings, Amici has sauces that reach a “XXX Hot” level. The buffalo chicken sandwich also gets rave reviews.

The World Famous

  • Location: 351 N. Hull St.
  • Distance to Sanford Stadium: 0.7 miles (14-minute walk)
  • Saturday Hours: 12:15 p.m. – 2 a.m.
  • Gotta Try: Chicken and Waffle Club
  • Website

OK, so this might not strictly fit the restaurant category because The World Famous is known more as a bar than a food joint. That doesn’t mean this place doesn’t serve quality grub, though.

It doesn’t have the most expansive menu of the places on this list, but it’s also not your typical bar food. You can get anything from boiled peanuts to empanadas to chicken wings. We haven’t even mentioned the best part, yet.

The Chicken and Waffle Club is a must-get item if you’re hitting up The World Famous before a Dawgs game. It’s an incredible spin on one of the south’s most delicious combinations.

Along with perfectly-fried chicken sandwiched between two fluffy waffles, this club also comes with bourbon maple butter, bacon, greens and tomato.

Hey, there’s a reason The World Famous landed on Esquire’s 21 Best Bars in America in 2018.

Blind Pig Tavern

  • Location: Multiple – Closest to Sanford Stadium is 312 E. Washington St.
  • Distance to Sanford Stadium: 0.7 miles (14-minute walk)
  • Saturday Hours: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
  • Gotta Try: Fat Matt Burger
  • Website

The Blind Pig Tavern offers your standard gameday fare and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that — especially when it’s done extraordinarily well.

This downtown Athens establishment offers wings, quesadillas, salads, hot dogs and plenty more. But if you’re stopping by, it’s the burgers that grab your attention. Every burger on the menu has its own claim to fame, but the Fat Matt brings folks back.

Blind Pig Tavern layers the burger with pimento cheese — a Georgia staple — as well as bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and pickles. The beef is seasoned with a Cajun rub, giving it great flavor in every bite.

“Sometimes, it can get a little crowded and hard to find a seat on gameday. I’ve had success taking an Uber to one of the other two locations and coming back downtown afterwards.”

Palmer Thombs, Dawgs HQ

If that’s not enough to get your mouth watering, just look at that photo.

Blind Pig Tavern’s downtown location can get a little crowded on gameday. So, if you’re really hoping to try their burgers but can’t get a table on a Saturday, there are two other locations in Athens:

  • 2440 W. Broad St.
  • 2301 College Station Rd.
The Fat Matt Burger from Blind Pig Tavern (Downtown location) in Athens, GA. (Photo from Dustin Schutte/Outsider)

Ted’s Most Best

  • Location: 254 W. Washington St.
  • Distance to Sanford Stadium: 0.8 miles (15-minute walk)
  • Saturday Hours: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
  • Gotta Try: Meatball Sub
  • Website

You can never go wrong with a good pizza spot, can you? Athens has one in Ted’s Most Best, located within a mile from Sanford Stadium in downtown Athens.

Ted’s doesn’t just offer pizza, either. You can also order calzones, salads, paninis and sliders for your gameday grub. And, actually, one of our Dawgs HQ gurus prefers something other than pizza if he’s stopping by on a Saturday in the fall.

“They’ve got a huge pizza menu, but I like the meatball sub.”

Wes Blankenship, Dawgs HQ

Another benefit to this pizza joint? It’s right next to Creature Comforts Brewery’s downtown taproom. So, grab a slice, enjoy a beer and then head down to Sanford Stadium to catch the Dawgs.

Not a bad gameday experience, is it?

Pulaski Heights BBQ

  • Location: 675 Pulaski St. Suite 100
  • Distance to Sanford Stadium: 1.3 miles (26-minute walk)
  • Saturday Hours: 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
  • Gotta Try: Chopped Beef Brisket
  • Website

Did you think you’d get out of an SEC college town with just one barbeque recommendation? Pulaski Heights is another good location for college football fans hitting Athens on gameday. Though, we’ll give you a head’s up, the walk (or drive) is a bit longer than the spots on this list.

Pulaski Heights has become popular for its chopped beef brisket, whether that comes in a sandwich or as one of the plates. But, it’s barbeque. Can you really go wrong with any of the options on the menu.

Be advised, though, if you plan on hitting Pulaski Heights, do so early in the day. This stuff goes quick … and when the restaurant is out of food, that’s a wrap.

“We smoke meats fresh daily and prepare all of our sides from scratch,” Pulaski Heights’ website says. “When the meat sells out, we close for the day.”

Cali-N-Tito’s

  • Location: 1427 S. Lumpkin St.
  • Distance to Sanford Stadium: 0.8 miles (16-minute walk)
  • Saturday Hours: 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.
  • Gotta Try: El Sandwich Cubano
  • Website

Looking for something a little different during your gameday experience than traditional southern cuisine? Cali-N-Tito’s fits the bill for the adventurous crowd. Or, maybe it appeals to the group of UGA fans who have already hit several places already mentioned.

“It’s some of the best Cuban food I’ve had. And it’s usually pretty quick unless the line gets too long.”

Palmer Thombs, Dawgs HQ

Either way, Cali-N-Tito’s offers great Cuban food and usually proves to be a pretty quick stop on gameday. Tacos, quesadillas and burritos are all fan favorites on this menu. Our favorite? The El Sandwich Cubano, which comes with your choice of steak, chicken or chorizo.

Honorable Mentions

Paloma Park (235 W. Washington St.)

This is a newer spot that serves primarily appetizers and has a great vibe. If you’re a fan of garlic aioli, Paloma Park has some of the best you’ll ever taste. This is also an excellent spot to grab a few drinks on gameday.

The Globe (199 N. Lumpkin St.)

For all the beer drinkers out there, The Globe offers a great selection of local craft brews. It’s an especially great place on those colder fall days (late October and November) when you can get take advantage of the fireplace.

Seabear Oyster Bar (297 Prince Ave. Suite 10)

An Athens resident says Seabear Oyster Bar has the “best oysters in town with an A+ ambiance.” It’s hard to go wrong with that kind of combination.

Chuck’s Fish (220 W. Broad St.)

If you’re looking for a solid post-game spot, Chuck’s Fish is your answer. It offers an interesting interpretation of sushi that has locals coming back for more. Plus, Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart has been spotted after a game a time or two.

The Place (229 Broad St.)

One of the best food traditions in SEC country is pairing chicken and waffles, giving you a perfect combination of sweet and salty. The Place has some of the best around, plus its Sunday Brunch is tops in Athens for those sticking around town for an extra day.

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