Top 5 places to eat before a night out

Are you trying to decide on a place to eat before going out with your friends for your 21st birthday? Maybe you’re going to see a touring Broadway show at Memorial Auditorium but need to find a place to have a quality meal beforehand? With so many wonderful places to eat in Athens, it can be hard to narrow down your choices. No need to worry; I’ve done the research for you! These five eateries, all of which can be found on or just off of Court Street, are the best places to enjoy a meal before any kind of occasion.

Casa Nueva – 6 West State Street (All photos by Brooke Robinson)

Casa Nueva is a classic Athens favorite, and with delicious Mexican-style food, vegan and gluten-free options, and live music, it’s no wonder why. Casa even uses ingredients like pawpaws when they’re in season for a truly unique dining experience. Friendly service, a casual ambience, and some of the best quesadillas in town make this restaurant a hit.

O’Betty’s Red Hot – 15 West State Street

Perhaps you need to grab your food and run? Just across the street from Casa Nueva, O’Betty’s is a great little hole in the wall with famously delectable hot dogs. All the hot dogs on the menu are named after famous exotic and burlesque dancers, and vegetarian options are available. My personal recommendation is the Lily, which comes topped with homemade baked beans and cole slaw. Also, if you’re a cheese fan, their cheesy fries are the bomb. You can’t go wrong with O’Betty’s.

Sol – 33 North Court Street

Athens is known for having a variety of exotic cuisines, and Sol is the epitome of that. This restaurant specializes in Cuban dishes along with traditional college student favorites such as loaded nachos (with cheese, black beans, lettuce, tomato, fire-roasted salsa, red onion, and sour cream – yum). Many of their dishes are vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free. Try their Cuban fusion wrap, fish tacos, or maduros (slightly cartelized plantains) and enjoy the friendly staff.

Salaam – 21 West Washington Street

The minute you step into Salaam, the atmosphere sets the stage for the meal you’re about to have. Beaded curtains, colorful tapestries, and the hospitable employees make you feel right at home and ready for some amazing Mediterranean food. Try a plate of their Mediterranean pasta (penne pasta with basil pesto, feta, and sun-dried tomato) or, if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, the vegan vegetable curry with tofu (fresh vegetables with fried tofu and a tomato/coconut milk curry sauce served over basmati rice with coriander chutney and papadum).

Fluff Bakery – 8 North Court Street

Or maybe you’re more of the Leslie Knope-type and prefer to just fill up on dessert or baked goods before going out. Although Fluff Bakery also carries entrée-type food (sandwiches, salads, and salmon, just to name a few), they’re best known for their bakery, as you may have guessed. Their cannoli, pumpkin and red velvet cupcakes, macaroons, cinnamon twists, etc., are to die for. If you’re not hungry before walking in, the smell of the kitchen will have your mouth watering in no time.

The Fluff: not the average “Mutha Clucka” of a restaurant

Under the mask of a relaxed, crooner playlist and baked goods, The Fluff on Court Street has become a sort of central hub for Athens residents. Included in their logo are the words “Kitchen. Bakery. Drinks.” It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like at least one of the things included in that list.

On the northern end of Court Street between Pita Pit and the Red Brick Tavern, The Fluff is a pleasant place with drinks, food, and pastries that warm the soul. Their baked goods are made fresh every day and set out for customers to drool over and potentially purchase. Their chalk boards with the menu items colorfully written display the variety of options and fun environment that The Fluff offers.

2015-10-13 16.30.13When The Fluff opened, it was originally called “Fluff”, however, that name was added to in the last year. Why? The owners wanted to expand the definition of “Fluff.” In the past year, besides adding the word “The” to the title, the menu expanded. The little bakery matured into more of a restaurant scene with additions to the breakfast and lunch menus and the bold inclusion of alcoholic beverages to the beverage list. “It’s nice that they have a good mix of everything,” said junior biochemistry major and employee of The Fluff Emma Kessler. “I don’t know where else you can get breakfast and have a drink too.”

The menu is widely assorted with unique titles for the foods like “Mutha Earth” and “The Greenery.” But what items have customers hitting up the place so often? According to Kessler, some popular lunch items she has noticed are the “Mutha Clucka” and the “Thai Bowl.” The most popular, the Mutha Clucka, is a sandwich with roasted chicken, cheddar cheese, hummus, and their fresh, roasted vegetables all on rosemary focaccia bread. When it comes to drinks, Kessler said that lately the Irish Coffee has been a hit, and since it’s autumn, pumpkin spice lattes have been more in demand.



Personally, my favorite is the bacon, egg, and cheese bagel, which can be served on three different types of bagel or even a biscuit. Kessler said that this also is a very popular menu item, especially for breakfast. And for drinks, I love their hot apple cider, but of course I’m not the only Fluff-goer. Freshman publication design major Becca Ryan commented, “I feel like I haven’t been there enough to have a favorite, but I love their hot tea.”


2015-10-13 16.30.58The food is not the only charming thing about The Fluff. People who go there also love the atmosphere of the little restaurant and bake shop. “It’s a fun place to relax with friends,” said Ryan. “I love how you can just chill and do homework and listen to their good music.”

To fill my personal pastry and apple cider cravings, I head up to The Fluff a couple times a week and it’s always a good experience. Although The Fluff might not be someone’s first option when going up to Court Street for some drinks or a meal, the restaurant has adjusted its menu and motif to make it compete better with other Court Street dining options.