CMH Gourmand

Culinary Discovery & Misadventures in the Ice Cream Capital of the World (Columbus)

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  • Archives: August 2006 to Now

Eating Athens

There is a lot to see, do and eat in Athens as well as the surrounding region. Here are some ideas if you need inspiration. For more depth, details and to read things I forgot to mention, check out the Athens category on the main page.

To learn more about Athens, take a look at this great project from OU students – Soul of Athens

And for all things food in this region – take a look at the 30 Mile Meal.

Slow Food-Columbus; Snails Slide South 2008

Athens Slow Food Weekend 2009

Athens, Ohio:


Twice or thrice a year I drive down to Lake Hope State Park and rent a cabin for a long weekend. I hike at my favorite places – Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls, Ash Cave and Moonville Tunnel. I make fires, get caught up on books and podcasts. I play a game Risk or Carcassone depending on the company of my companion(s). But the real reason I go is to eat like a fool in Athens, my favorite college town east of the Mississippi. Athens is a short 22 mile drive from Lake Hope which is about how long I can stay awake after what is typically a lunch at two…or more locations. And it is a fast and easy 1 1/2 hours from Columbus – so I have been known to go there for breakfast, lunch or dinner on a whim. I always go O’Betty’s and get in as many meals as I can as well as a Burrito Buggy burrito to go.

Athens Farmers Market

The Market is open all year on Saturdays and Wednesdays from April to December. Hours are 10 AM to 1 PM.

Athens Farmers Market Link

Avalanche Pizza

Avalanche Pizza
329 East State Street

Avalanche Pizza web site

Avalanche pizza may look a bit cheesy from the outside but these guys know what they are doing. Avalanche has been voted as the best pizza in Athens eight years in a row. The shop has won several national and international pizza competition awards. Among their 45 plus toppings are Kimchi, Red Bliss potatoes, and cashews.

Pictured below are two of there dozens of gourmet pies.

Ted Nugent Pizza

Ted Nugent – Genoa Salami, Chicken. Ham, Pepperoni, Steak, Meatballs Mozzarella and Provolone

The Godzilla

Godzilla – Best Pizza in World Pizza Championship (Italy) 2007
Spinach, Feta Cheese, Chicken, Sun dried Tomatoes, Provolone, and something else

A true Athens experience is getting a burrito from the Burrito Buggy late at night in the heart of campus, the buggy was doing Chipotle before the concept was big, One little food cart makes a lot of yummy big burritos. I love this place and look for it whenever I am at Athens. Hours vary by time of year, number of students in town, and weather conditions.

Burrito Buggy Link

Casa Nueva

Casa Nueva Restaurant, Bodega, and Cantina
6 West State Street

Casa as the locals call it started in 1985 as a worker owned co-op restaurant. It is still worker owned today maintaining its hippy, tree hugger, whole foods roots and continuing to deliver some exceptional food at reasonable prices. The Bodega and Cantina are extensions to the original restaurant space. The Bodega offers quick meals and appetizers while the Cantina serves as a waiting area, fully serviced bar and venue for local performing acts.

A Casa Burritto

A Casa Burritto

As much of the food as possible is from local or Ohio suppliers whenever practical. The supplier lists features over 40 local farmers and food companies as well as Columbus Brewing Company and Marietta Brewing Company. The menu is changes each season to feature and showcase the produce available. A must try for any visit is the salsa sampler of chips with two or more salsas. You will not be disappointed. The menu does offer meat but is very vegetarian friendly. Most of the menu is Mexican themed or inspired but there are other food styles represented for personal as well as bio-diversity. The menu changes with the seasons featuring what is available locally as the core ingredients for many items. Breakfast is really good as well. The restaurant is always busy on the weekends. There can be a wait at peak times but feel free to use my survival strategy, put your name on the wait list then walk across the street to O’Betty’s to order a hot dog and fries to go to make wait enjoyable. Or if you can find a spot at the Casa Cantina Bar, order a local brew and a salsa sampler to kill some time.

Della Zona Pizza

270 East State Street
Village Bakery
268 East State Street
Web site for Della Zona and Village Bakery

Cliffnotes for both places (they have the same owners, Christine and Bob) – excellent!

A recent offshoot of the above is The Catalyst Cafe at 540 B West Union Street which offers coffee, beverages and light snacks/meals. This is located on the bike trail that connects Athens and Nelsonville – great ride!

Huevos Rancheros a la Village Bakery

Huevos Rancheros a la Village Bakery

Donkey Coffee and Espresso
17 1/2 West Washington Street
Donkey Coffee and Espresso

Fair Trade hot and cold coffee beverages served with snacks and treats from local producers including: Crumbs Bakery, Big Chimney, Avalanche Pizza, and more.

Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery
24 West Union
Jackie O’s

Beer. Damn good beer and artisan ales. Made from local ingredients when possible.

Jana’s Soul Food Cafe

11315 Jackson Dr
The Plains

Diner style breakfast, lunch and brunch fare that is easy on the pocket and local when possible.

Latitude 39 – at Ohio University

Miller’s Chicken (Poultry Company)
235 West State Street

The Miller family has sold chicken, in various forms since the 1940’s. This simple, cinder block building is tucked away off the beaten path in town but is well known to locals You can buy buckets of chicken, pints of side dishes, or chicken hearts and gizzards. They make a fine fried chicken and the prices are very pocket friendly to promote poultry consumption.

Here is a review from Columbus Foodie

Mistretta’s Italian Market
9 North Shafer Street
Mistrettas – daily specials are listed on the web every day

This little market is about the size of a large garage. It has a small selection of fine wines, some miscellaneous gourmet items and cheeses, select chocolates and a large selection of deli style sandwiches and Italian panini. This is a great place to grab a sandwich on the go or a bottle of wine for the campfire or cottage.

Menu board at Mistrettas

Menu board at Mistrettas

Outside O Bettys

O’Betty’s (Ohhh.. Betty’s… mmm)
15 West State Street
Athens, OH
740 589 6111

Monday – Saturday 11 AM – 3AM;

Sunday 12 PM – 8 PM

O’Betty’s Red Hot Dogs and Sausages

O’Betty’s Red Hot Web Site

Oh, O’Betty’s. This is my main reason for and first stop of most of my trips to Athens. The shop won the dining hearts in Athens since it opened in 2003 and has been voted best Hot Dog each year since 2004. The theme of the place involves hot dogs named after various striptease and pin up models from the first half of the 20th century.

The hot dogs are 5 Star all beef dogs with a natural casing (one of the best commerically available hot dogs in the country). There are tweleve “varietease” of dogs including a create your own style and tofu dog for vegetarians . If you want a Chicago style dog – go with the Salome – “Dance of the 7 Veils” – sport peppers, sweet relish, pickle spear, diced tomatoes, diced onion, Stadium Mustard, and celery seed. Any kind of topping you can think of is available as well as salsas from Casa Nueva, baked beans, mushrooms, and on occasion, toppings such as corn relish and pepperjack cheese.

My current favorite is a bratwurst – The Sophie – a Sheyboygan Brat with diced jalapenos, mustard, sauerkraut, swiss cheese, fresh chopped parsley on a toasted, crusty french style roll. Yum.

Brat, Dog and Fries

The Fresh Cut fries – are perfect.


The dine in area accomodates about 10 people, most people do carry out. On a Friday or Saturday night expect long lines of college students outside O’Betty’s waiting for their chance to get the perfect hangover food. My favorite memory is, (at about 2 AM) getting the third to last dog and the last order of fries after seeing the Dirtbombs in 2005.

Another bonus of O’Betty’s – the mini in-house Hot Dog History Museum / Weiner Hall of Fame.

HD Museum

This is a mandatory stop when in Athens.

Owners Bob Satmary and Ryan Stolz enjoy what they do and clearly put service and fun first for the business. They are always chatting it up with their friends/customers. And they like to mix things up as well. In the winter – expect some tasty soups to keep warm and all year long expect special hot dog combos to keep things hopping (last one I experienced was a Mango BBQ sauce dog with bacon – yum!).

If you happen to be in town in early August – you may want ask about the Hot Dog Derby and Hot Dog Eating Contest – two local events that are not to be missed.

O'Betty's Red Hot

If you want to win that hot dog contest – plan on eating over a dozen of these.

24 East State St
Athens finer dining alternative. The fare is varied and local when possible. The Restaurant is BYOB but fear not, the BP gas station is a 1 minute walk down the road (seriously) has a decent selection if you don’t have time to dash to Mistretta’s.

10 Responses to “Eating Athens”

  1. Lisa Satmary-Martinez said

    Hey Bobby!

    Alexa showed me your website and i saw your video on the hot dog eating contest. Seems like you have a great thing going up there! It’s been a long time since I have seen you. Come on down to Jeff’s sometime so we can get toghether! Bring some hot dogs too!!!!

    Love Lisa (ex sister in law :o) )

  2. PhilvillePhil said

    I’ve never been to O’Betty’s. I’ve asked a few ex-Athenians about it and they’ve not heard of it. Doesn’t mean it’s not there, I guess. The Red Hot is in my sights.

  3. Todd said

    Just came to Athens for the first time over the weekend for Ryan Stolz’s wedding, so of course I had to try O’Betty’s. It is a small place but everyone I talked to knew what you where talking about as soon as you made mention of the hotdog place.

    I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good hotdog.

  4. Bob said

    Just wondering why you refer to Casa Nueva, and the Burrito Buggy as “hippie” owned and/or operated? There is much more to each of these businesses than that! If you look at the growth of Casa over the last 20+ years, you’ll learn, among other things, that it was the main mover in the creation of ACEnet, a food and business incubator, providing a certified kitchen to assist start up food entrepreneurs. They deserves utmost respect for it’s support of local food, and their impact on the local economy.

    CMH G Comment: I have the upmost respect for Casa and the Burrito Buggy – which is displayed by my wallet, writing and efforts to get more people to see and understand what the Athens Food Community does everyday – as a model for how I would like to see other communities implement as well. AceNet rocks. So while it may not have been construed as such, I am one of the biggest fans or Casa and AceNet and all that came after.

  5. rr said

    Betty’s is indeed there, has been for a bit…it’s great late night food ; )

    Another great Athen’s Rest. is Bagel Street Deli. They steam their bagels and have a variety of delicious sandwiches. The space is pretty cool too…they closed off a narrow alley between buildings. The interior still sports the exposed brick.

    One of my favorite reasons to return to Athens (as an OU grad) is simply for the food.

  6. leicalady said

    My son is attending Ohio U in the fall…..thanks to your posts I don’t have to worry about good food for my boy!!!!
    Great blog! oops! I mean awesome web-site…..more than a blog!


  7. Katherine said

    Athens has inspired me for a lifetime of good eating! Such incredible food – I can remember my sis & brother-in-law coming down to visit & doing an impromptu, and unplanned “eating tour” of Athens…starting at Big Chimney bakery (most important first), to the Farmer’s market, to the Farmacy, to Bagel Street, the Burrito Buggy, Goodfella’s Pizza, Casa (an absolute must)…and on:)
    Now as an entrepreneurial restaurateur, being reminded of ACEnet makes me wish that every town & city were as smart & evolved & forward-thinking as Athens with their incredible local food culture!

  8. Jane said

    Some changes to the above… Della Zona now only doing Friday nights :( But at least they are still making their delicious pizzas… Mistretta’s is closed – some kind of gourmet french restaurant with limited seatings in its place but haven’t checked it out yet… Jana’s is no more, status-post tornado-in-The-Plains, but she cooks brunch at Jackie O’s on Sunday mornings, from what i hear – and it’s her food just like the restaurant…And Zoe has a full liquor license now, with half-price wine night on Tuesdays (bottles AND glasses!)… That is all.

  9. kaleba said

    I found my way here via Faith Durand’s profile of your food tour business on The Kitchn. And my heart is aching. I went to OU and love Athens so much. I didn’t know how much I miss it until reading this. And of course I’m a Burrito Buggy devote! It didn’t look the way it does in your photo when I was there because I’m so old! I’m so happy it see it’s still around. As soon as the weather breaks (ahem – June! – lol) I’m headed to Columbus, and now Athens, thanks to you. Can’t wait. Now, if only spring will spring.

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