Bagels have their own subculture. Seriously, there are die-hard bagel fans of all ages who insist the rounded dough beats all other forms of bread. Especially among healthy eaters (who haven’t sworn away carbs) the bagel is the way to go. Surprisingly, in a college town like Athens, there is only one bagel shop. Not surprisingly, Bagel Street Deli sees a huge amount of business. Inside the narrow eatery you’ll find a menu offering over 100 possibilities for your bagel sandwich.
Wedged between the Athena movie theater and an extremely dark alley, it’s easy to overlook Mike’s Dog Shack. It’s impossible to tell from a distance that the convenience store is also a restaurant, but a small dry erase board on the door promotes meal specials — Mike’s sells a variety of hot dogs ranging from chili dogs to polish sausage. Not that you’d ever tell from the outside; Mike’s is billed primarily as a convenience store selling beer and malt beverages like Four Loko. Mike’s counter was literally made from cases of PBR.
Most of Athens’ bars are packed tightly together on South Court Street, hoping to collectively get the attention of weekend revelers and students. Oak Room is not one of these. Located far off the typical bargoer’s path half a mile away, Oak Room is about a little nicer atmosphere and a little more mature taste. The Bar and Grill serves food to match. On weekends, it is packed with graduate students, post-college 20-somethings and people with a little more money.
Like any college town, Athens is awash in places offering food you can eat on the run. Not surprisingly, this means it has an unusually thriving burrito business. As one of the latest trends in fast eating, burritos are compact and easy to enjoy while walking to class or being otherwise occupied. With so much competition, it isn’t easy to stand out. In an atmosphere like this, Big Mamma’s, a tiny uptown burrito business, still has quite a large following.
Uncle Buck’s is not just a place for food. In fact one could argue the food at the stable is almost a side attraction. The dance barn offers horse rides and trail rides, a beer garden and dance barn focused primarily for large groups. It also offers a restaurant amidst the entertainment, which it calls “The Lady Buck Saloon.” Needless to say, Uncle Buck has a lot on his plate, and it’s easy for the food to get pushed to the back burner.
Café BiblioTech is a small coffee establishment inside Ohio University’s Alden Library. It caters to the student out for a late night caffeine rush to keep them focused during their all-nighter. The cramped little shop offers little in the way of seating, ostensibly because it is in fact surrounded by seven floors of tables, benches, and chairs. The coffee shop offers a decently large menu of drinks supplied by a Columbus-based beanery.
A newer addition to the Court Street scene, this little shop opened just last year. It offers a homey but friendly atmosphere where people can sit and enjoy their coffee. Other, more established Athens coffeehouses like Donkey have the stereotypical coffeehouse feel, but Court Street Coffee is designed to have a feel all its own. Its owner definitely accomplished her goal of giving it a much “simpler” feel.
While most Chinese places in uptown Athens are focused primarily on price and convenience, Campus Garden is unique among them in that it is aiming for a little nicer environment. Designed as a sit-down and order traditional restaurant, Campus Garden attracts people who are taking their meal a little more slowly. It makes for a pleasant experience. Located at the intersection of Congress, Richland and Union, it’s a prime location for a good food place.