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Athens Food Tour – Roadtrip to Ruin

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 4, 2008


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.

Avalanche Pizza

Avalanche Pizza
329 East State Street
740.594.4664

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 the two pizzas I tried on my last food tour

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

Casa Nueva

Casa Nueva Restaurant, Bodega, and Cantina
6 West State Street
740.592.2016

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.

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. Breakfast is really good as well and 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.

O\'Betty\'s

O’Betty’s Red Hot Dogs and Sausages
15 West State Street
740.589.6111

According to Jim Ellison, O’Betty’s is the greatest hot dog place ever, in the history of the world. No doubt about it, this is a true fact. And you can get the full lowdown on the page I have devoted to O’Betty’s on this blog. O’Betty’s did a small expansion in 2008 adding about 5-6 seats which doubles the seating area. The variety and creativity of hot dog combinations that O’Betty’s puts together never cease to amaze me, see some examples below.

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

I should also mention Seven Sauces. It is supposed to be a great restaurant but I never have room left when I am in Athens, I will have to stay an extra day some time.

Seven Sauces Link

(Update May 2009 – I guess I should have gone, because the Seven Sauces sailed off). An alternative is Zoe’s. Another lower priced alternative is Jana’s. Both are very good.

There are two newer discoveries as well.

Mistretta’s Italian Market
9 North Shafer Street
740.594.4949

This little market is about the size of a garage. It has a small selection of fine wines, some miscellaneous gourmet items and cheeses, some chocolate and a large selection of deli style sandwiches and Italian paninni.

Miller’s Chicken (Poultry Company)
235 West State Street
740.593.6544

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.

5 Responses to “Athens Food Tour – Roadtrip to Ruin”

  1. Steve said

    Love to see my favorite places! You ought to try Village Bakery sometime, and Della Zona. They are a little pricey but worth it.

  2. Jared R said

    Athens eats pretty well for a little college town in the hills. I went to grad school there a few years ago, and I’m still trying to lose weight from most of the places you wrote about here.

    I wrote up vegetarian eateries here on my blog. It might broaden your options for your next trip.

  3. Betty said

    I do the same thing at Lake Hope and I’m overdue for one of my trips there. I’ll wait until the peak season is over though to avoid people. I drove to Athens once but had no idea where to start looking for food. Now I know where to go next time. Thanks!

    On a different topic, Husband and I went to Ollie’s last night – thanks for that tip too!

  4. Thanks for the restaurant reviews, Jim and Jared, and I agree with Steve. Della Zona serves delicious gelato for little more than a dollar a scoop. The farmer’s market in front of Tractor Supply Co. on State Street in Athens is a Saturday morning treat in season.

    Athens residents (and the 2000 census data) tell me Athens County is the poorest county in the state. I find it difficult to believe. Any theories?

  5. Bruno said

    Casa Nueva’s Website

    As Casa’s popularity continues to grow, the wait times continue to increase. While you are waiting, besides going to O’Betty’s, you can also order appetizers and lunch items from the bartenders.🙂

    CMHG Comment: I suggest doing both O’Betty’s and the Casa Cantina – you can’t miss if you have to wait.

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