After nearly four years of living in the foothills of Athens, Ohio, I must make the bittersweet announcement that my time in that town is done. Before I go, though, I thought I would go back and review some of the best food in town. With about 70 local eateries in this small town, there are quite a few places to try. I’ve reviewed 59 Athens restaurants, see all of them here.
Here are Another Food Critic‘s best places to eat in Athens, Ohio:
Breakfast is done best at Court Street Diner, right in the heart of uptown. With an extensive menu, a convenient location and fast service, I’ve come here time and again and I have never been disappointed. You can come here any time of the day for plates of steamy eggs, juicy bacon and crispy hash browns around heaps of pancakes and french toast. The menu here is always good and the people are always friendly; the only worry you’ll face is droves of other patrons out for a great meal.
Runner up: Union Street Diner
Lunch in Athens has a lot of variety, but the colorful Burrito Buggy packs a great lunch in a small package. With a friendly staff and a load of deals for savvy students, the Buggy is a mainstay of Union Street’s vending area, serving an enormous variety of burritos and snack foods at almost all hours of the day. Different burrito sizes and options let you customize your food in any way possible. The best of the burritos are spicy and filled to the brim with fresh vegetables and expertly-seared beef. It’s an institution with a huge following across town.
Runner up: Bagel Street Deli
Dinner is a tough pick with as much variety as Athens offers. After careful consideration I have to say Restaurant Salaam edges out competitors with its unique menu and sense of style. With an eclectic menu served from around the world, Salaam serves a mix of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian food with a very Athens flare. Lamb, chicken and beef dishes seasoned with curry dominate the palette, prefaced by very fresh salads and tasty vinaigrette dressing.
Runner up: Kiser’s BBQ Shack
Dessert is a difficult prospect for Athens, as so many shops of this kind have come and gone over the years. New kid on the block Fluff Bakery definitely has huge potential. It’s got more treats than you can imagine, and many are produced with ingredients from local businesses. There are too many goodies here to count; creamy cannolis and chocolatey tiramisu, rich samoas and so on. Fluff’s mastery of so many treats plus its holistic approach to the local economy make it a true gem.
Runner up: McHappy’s Bake Shoppe
Pizza is abundant in a college town. In a town dominated by chains, Avalanche Pizza has managed to pull ahead. With over 50 toppings and dozens of strong house pies, it’s no wonder this place has raked in awards for local pizza place. Pies with a dozen meats will satisfy the carnivores while fresh authentic ingredients will appease pizza snobs and evoke a taste of Italy. Perhaps most impressive, even the simple, one topping choices are a slice above what you’ll find at the chains inundating town with mediocre meals. Slightly longer delivery times are worth the wait.
Runner up: Courtside Pizza
Coffee is another staple of life in a college town. Donkey Coffee and Espresso is renowned statewide for its amazing java. The options are amazing, and a cup of coffee is accentuated by dozens of syrup options to add a little flavor. With lots of nooks to study, local music and entertainment many nights and the least pretentious barristas I have ever met, Donkey breaks the mold and shatters the stereotypical Coffee Shop notion with great success.
Runner up: Brenen’s Coffee & Cafe
Ethnic Food is one of my favorite categories. This town boasts a large international community thanks to Ohio University. China King is a diamond in the rough. While most buffets sacrifice quality for quantity, China King bucks the trend. Its single, huge line has dozens of dishes, but every single one of them is extremely good by itself. Stir fried vegetables and fried meats in thick sauce will make you fill – and empty – your plate faster than you can think, and the simple delights of the menu will keep you coming back.
Runner up: Casa Nueva
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