Restaurant Graveyard

As of August 1st, 2012, I will no longer be updating the Restaurant Reviews for Hilton Head Island and Athens, Georgia, the two cities where I own property and spend most of my time. I started both critiques in 1996 when I noticed there was no independent food critic in either city, only "reviews" from people who had a financial interest in each restaurant.

Unless someone picks up the baton in each city, "reviews" will again come only from the owners. What is present on these pages on August 1st will remain on this web site, unchanged, until the end of the year. I thank all those who took the time, over the past sixteen years, to send emails adding their personal opinions. The rest of this website will remain here for the next 100 years.

Reviewed Places In Athens That Went Under!!
If the review included a web link, it is left here, as some of them remain
on a server somewhere and are not taken down for years - who knows why.

Clayton and Hull St. corner, near Last Resort (706) 227-4444
South Americam with variations; easy on the wallet. Parking scarce.
This critic was sorry to see Mia Madonna go under, the restaurant which last occupied this spot; I scored it highly. This new effort with different cooks is Small Plates (call them Tapas) which mix South of the Border with Southern. You can clump tapas choices in clusters for multiple diners, and groups tend to favor this place. The food is decent, the price is right, and the ambience largely retained from the former restaurant works well. There is a full bar where townees can mix with UGAs.
Lunch and dinner 7 days; 11:30am - 10:00pm or 11:00pm weekends. Reservations accepted.

10 Huntington Road (706) 227-1933
Japanese. Convenient parking.
One Japanese restaurant is much like another. You do not expect a gourmet experience, but you go for well prepared, simple food: steak, chicken, shrimp, scallops, and other seafood, all of it grilled in front of you with theatrical flair. This restaurant took over a large space in the mall across from Georgia Square (beyond the pink buildings and across the road from Rafferty's) and the extra space means plenty of leg room and a very large sushi bar. Banquet room available.
No Lunch. Opens for Dinner from 5:00pm to 10:00pm, 7 days a week. Reservations accepted.

279 E. Broad Street (Downtown) (706) 353-7065
New Orleans style. Casual. Moderate. Parking difficult.
A Louisianna southern restaurant in a delightful space where an old brick bank used to do business. (They even kept the brick teller windows.) The main items here are served Orleans style - a bit on the spicy side. Blackened redfish, crawfish etoffee, gumbo, and a few traditional items sprinkled in for those incapable of the spicy. The bar in front is filled with young folks day and night.
Lunch and Dinner from 11:00am to 10:00pm, 7 days a week. Reservations accepted.

1155 Mitchell Bridge Road (West Side) (706) 552-1193
New Orleans style. Casual. Moderate. Parking on site.
This West Side "Bissetts" is not a copy of the downtown version, though the food is nearly identical. This building is outlandish on the outside, modern on the inside (Manhattan night club) and that may be why this place is more about liquor then food: the bar space here is more than twice what exists downtown. And is it crowded! Anyway, it lacks the charm of the original, but should be a financial success. There does not seem to be an upper limit to the number of places selling alcohol in Athens.
Lunch and Dinner from 11:00am except Monday. Dinner to 10:00pm, 7 days a week. Reservations accepted.

151 E. Broad Street (706) 549-4656
Italian. Casual. Inexpensive. Parking difficult.
I have visited this place twice since 1986 and it remains a complete mystery to me: presumably the rent is high right across the street from campus, but the foot traffic is light and the food is very plain. Yet the place hangs on. Must be something I'm missing.
Lunch and Dinner from 11:00am. Reservations accepted.

3151 Atlanta Highway (706) 355-9919
Sports bar: Steaks, Ribs, Burgers. Casual. Inexpensive to Moderate. Easy parking.
The gimmick here is to combine "sports bar" and "rib place" and we are obliged to consider that in Athens, despite 30,000+ party animals, sports bars just don't make it. The food here is average, and the long lines which were present when the place opened have shortened considerably. Four very large tv screens which you can sit facing may make the difference for you.
Lunch and Dinner from 11:00am. Reservations accepted.

1074 Baxter Street (706) 369-8333
European. Sort of Hofbrau house. Easy parking.
From a small open kitchen, Chef Wolfgang creates a variety of dishes with familiar names from Germany, Eastern Europe, and Russia. In fact, the place is like a time warp to the 60's with curious artifacts scattered about the crevices of the dining room (a hofbrau house theme predominates) and the menu revealing old favorites like sauerbraten and "Steak Diane". The waiters are attentive and efficient. The wine service is poor: with California cranking out the world's best chardonnay from a hundred vendors, Wolfgang settles for a poor Italian version. Go for the food, and drink beer.
Dinner only from 4:00pm to 10:00am, 7 days a week. Reservations accepted.

364 E. Broad Street (706) 543-3097
Southwest Tavern. Casual. Parking difficult.
Texican-Mexican and Gulf Coast seafood. Also a nice tavern. Half a block from the campus. Po Boys, chowder and gumbo, crab claws, fajitas, oysters, shrimp and crab cakes, are some of the popular offerings. Many types of beers and ales.
Lunch and Dinner from 11:00am to 10:00pm, 7 days a week. Reservations accepted.

259 E. Broad Street (706) 613-0892
Pizza, calzones, subs. Casual. Inexpensive. Parking difficult.
Arguably the best pizza in town. The hoagies and calzones are not bad either. A favorite haunt for Athens' collection of tatooed females with black nail polish, or those of either gender with body piercings, when they go off-duty from The Grill or The Grit. Come here just to see the parade.
Continuous from about 11:00am.

Tallassee Rd at Mitchell Bridge (706) 613-2744
Cuban-inspired sandwich shop. Casual. Inexpensive.
Just another sandwich place except for the unique ambiance: visually, a step back in time to 1940's Honduras. A River Runs Through It. (Actually a creek.) The numerous outside tables fill up at lunch time. At night, the colored lights go on, and it's Festival! Athens most unusual dining spot.
Lunch and dinner from late morning.

Butler Crossing Shopping Center, Watkinsville (706) 769-0446
Italian, with pizza and subs.
If you like the style of the Macaroni Grill - choosing from 7 or 8 pasta styles and then 8 or 9 sauces (I like Carbonara) - you can do that here. Another tip-off that this place is serious Italian is how the pasta is cooked. At Roberto's the pasta is al dente, and if you know what that means then you will like this place, as the price is right. (Little secret: the owner is not Italian.) Bring your own wine.
Lunch and Dinner, 7 days a week till 10:00 pm. Reservations accepted.

Corner of Clayton and Hull (706) 548-1804
European bistro; attractive decor; wide open spaces; pricing very reasonable.
A mainly European menu featuring such items as slow-roasted lamb, gnocchi, bouillabaisse, and spit roasted chicken. The grilled veggies are terrific - try the radicchio. Our group of six shared several entries and agreed that Mia Madonna hit the ground running. Many of the menu items are priced lower than expected, which will delight the frugal UGA faculty. (However, I suspect the prices will creep upward as popularity rises.) A nice wine selection includes flights of 4 half-glass choices on a common theme. A good supply of service people keeps things moving. You will like this place.
Lunch and dinner; 11:00am - 10:00pm. No reservations.

Atlanta Highway at Timothy (706) 613-1592
"Italian". Easy parking. Nice building. Inexpensive.
This place will be a success. Not because of the food, but in spite of it. We deliberately waited a week to give the cooks and the wait staff a chance to get things in order, for this new chain representative in Athens opened with long lines, as is often the case. (The honeymoon generally lasts two months in this town.) Simply put, the food is dreadful. If you think this stuff is Italian, ask an Italian. So why do I say this restaurant is here to stay? Because Athens is a small city of 100,000 on top of which are 35,000 students who want things cheap, and the "food" is inexpensive at Carino's: a typical main course is under $10. We sat down and an elongated bread loaf was delivered uncut to our table in a white bag - a nice touch. Till you look at it and you see it is the same bread they use at Subway. We ordered the bruschetta, which in this case was a tall pile of chopped tomatoes on the same Subway bread. And then things descended from there.
Opens at 11:00am and serves food continuously until 10:00pm. 7 days a week. No reservations.

Beechwood Shopping Center (706) 353-2947
Bagel bakery and upscale Salad/Luncheon Bar.
This is a bagelry in the Jewish tradition. The equipment, from Germany, is intended for bagels. The recipe is a family secret of the Zimmermans. What began as a bagelry is now much more than that - the salad and luncheon bar is famous in this town for its great size and variety, and for its gourmet quality. The morning bagel prep begins at about 4:30 so the bagels are ready by 6 to 6:30. Bagels are baked repeatedly throughout the day so that the bagels are always perfect. As regards the luncheon bar, you pay by weight: grab as much of whatever you want, and they weigh it. The background music is truely the most bizarre in Athens, ranging from the Red Army Chorus to Jazz to 40's Big Band to 60's Soft Rock. You might even hear light opera, depending on Zim's mood.
Breakfast and Lunch from 7:00am to 3:00pm, 7 days a week.

Beechwood Shopping Center (706) 353-2947
Bagel bakery and upscale Salad/Luncheon Bar.
(Its Dinner but they call it Supper because that is what Southerners - as opposed to the rest of the world - call dinner.) Anyway...
In the evening, the paper goods are put away, the hard plates come out and the silverware, and wine and beer appear. It's still the same place - salads & sandwiches are still made, but the hot bar expands, and, as earlier in the day, you pay by weight. This is simply terrific food at a terrific price - the best dining deal in town, and right next to the multi-screen!
Supper Hours: Mon-Sat 5:30 - 9:00pm.

237 Prince Ave (In the Bottleworks) (706) 316-1006
Family Italian; also pizza. Casual. Moderate. Parking on-site.
This is warm gathering spot in the dramatically improved Bottleworks. There is a nice outdoor patio. The Italian menu is extensive, and the long wine list is all from Italy; several choices by the glass. See website for evening specials.
No Lunch. Dinner from 5-11pm. Friday, Saturday. 5-10pm Sunday-Thursday. Call for reservation.

The above place changed owner and name in October, 2008 as "237 Prince Woodfire Grill" and went under in that name.

Main Street, Watkinsville, just before Rt 15 begins (706) 769-6480
European; casual; moderate pricing.
Our group had pork tenderloin, filet mignon, and rack of lamb, and all of them were cooked to proper temperature, elegantly presented, and wonderfully appreciated. The kitchen appears to be adequately staffed, assisting the resident chef. A separate room for group functions. A new regulation allows wine and beer service in Oconee County. We found the wine list here to be the best in the Athens area, both by-the-glass and by bottle, in both breadth and uniqueness.
Lunch Tuesday to Fri 11:00; Dinner Tuesday to Sat from 5:00pm. Sunday Brunch. Reservations accepted.

104 E. Washington , at Lumpkin, Downtown (706) 227-8926
We are obliged to downgrade this once-good restaurant. We arrived on a Monday night, the place was empty. Our group of four ordered 4 different main courses. Everything was mediocre, including the bread and salads. A wine list that was once terrific now has only 4 white wines by the glass. Better restaurants than this have closed downtown. Sad to witness.
Lunch and dinner; 11:00am - 10:00pm. Reservations accepted.

So what do these disappearances mean?
There are multiple answers.

Sometimes it means that the food was good but price too high. Sometimes it means the food started out well but declined. Maybe it was just bad from the start. Maybe the cook/chef quit. Maybe the economy did it in. Perhaps a competitor in the same style came along and did it better. Sometimes the owners retire.