5 of the best meals in Athens you probably didn’t know about

 

1. Get yourself a sexy dog at O’Betty’s Red Hot!

O'Betty Red Hot!
O’Betty Red Hot!

Near the end of Court Street, this little hotdog shop is a sharp turn off the main drag and onto West State Street. It churns out some of the most delicious and diverse hotdogs in town. The inside of the shop is decorated with old school showgirls, red walls and cheetah print drapes. This is a great place to go if you want great local food late night or a quick bite midday. I usually order either the Varla which has sauerkraut, horseradish, bacon bits and 1000 Island Dressing all mounted on a bratwurst, or I get the Tempest which is a hot dog smothered in Casa Nueva’s Hot Habanero Salsa with chopped jalapeños, shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream. And if you are from Cincinnati and feeling a little homesick, their chili cheese fries are the closest thing to homemade Skyline chili you will find in Athens. The only menu item I advise against is the fresh garlic fries. They are literally covered in raw garlic – not my thing. Other than that side warning, everything else here is great. Prices range from $4 to $10.

 

2. Start your Saturday off with a saucy brunch at Casa Nueva.

Casa Nueva
Casa Nueva

If you are sick of dining hall brunch and want to try something a little different, walk down to Casa Nueva near the intersection of Court Street and West State Street. I am a sucker for a Mexican-inspired brunch, and this place has a reputation for creating tasty dishes with local ingredients. This restaurant gets everything local and even changes part of their menu with local seasonal ingredients. No matter what time of day, I always order the Enchiladas Verde, stacked. Their isn’t actually a brunch version of this, so I just order the stacked breakfast enchiladas and add green chilies, cream cheese and salsa verde. They have a wide variety of homemade salsas and all of them are delicious. It really is a great way to start off any Saturday. Prices range from $7 to $20.

 

3. Netflix and chill with takeout from Thai Paradise.

Thai Paradise
Thai Paradise

This may sound weird, but for some reason a big bowl of pho is my version of comfort food. It has a flavorful warm broth, lots of basil, bean sprouts, jalapeños, noodles and meatballs – just a lot of amazing things. It is the perfect food for a cold, rainy night when you just want to snuggle up in your sweats and binge watch Dexter on Netflix. The only place to properly complete this Netflix and chill bonanza is Thai Paradise. Call ahead and take a quick trip down Union to this cozy spot to grab your take out. This is one meal experience that will relieve you of your FOMO anxiety. Prices range from $11 to $30.

 

4. Get away from the crowded restaurants on parents weekend at Zoe Fine Dinning.

Zoe Fine Dinning
Zoe Fine Dinning

If your parents are coming to town, this little city-slicker’s gem snuggled next to Passion Works Studios on East State Street is the perfect place to get away from the crowds. It is one of the few places that will take reservations. A lot of underclassmen don’t know about Zoe, so it is a nice meal with a short wait. The restaurant serves a wide variety of upscale cocktails, and the menu features a lot of Hungarian-inspired cuisine. Prices range from $11 to $30 a plate, depending. So, like I said, it is a good place to take your parents!

 

5. Enjoy a heaping spoonful of soul at OMG! Rotisserie.

OMG! Rotisserie
OMG! Rotisserie

It’s a small adventure down Columbus Road, but the trip is well worth it. In the center of a concrete parking lot next to the Sunset Motel is this tiny orange restaurant lined with orange and yellow flowers. If you are in need of some fresh soul food, this is the perfect place to reach a comatose bliss. The menu is filled with  sweet and savory options, but there are a few absolute must haves when you venture out here. The chicken and sausage gumbo is a cup of flavor you won’t regret trying, the sweet potatoes are lathered in warm butter and sugar and the sweet tea has unlimited refills. Grab a breast and a wing and sit under the sun as you enjoy these delicious southern flavors. Prices range from $5 to $12.

 

Feel like I’m totally full of it and have no clue what food is? We want to hear what you think of these places and what your five favorite meals are. Join our conversation about what the best places are in Athens on Slack!

Spoken word brings Donkey Coffee to life on Tuesdays

Behind a closed, wooden door covered in posters and flyers, there is a room in Donkey Coffee cluttered with the kind of couches that steal patrons away from the world and the kind of old wooden chairs and tables that beg to be decorated with old ceramic mugs. At the farthest end from the door is a stage, furnished with a piano, a desk and a lamp.

On a typical weeknight this room is filled with the studious, the chatty and the introverted. But on Tuesday nights the room becomes Designated Space, a place for spoken word, whether that be a rant, a poem, a monologue or a song.

Griffin Allman, a freshman studying fine arts, sat in front of the stage with a few friends, his jacket still on and his backpack pressed to his leg, like he was waiting for something to start – or maybe for something to end. One by one people volunteered to step up to the microphone. Finally, Allman raised his hand, ran his fingers through his hair and then jumped on stage.

He read through a poem about a rough prom night and then proceeded to introduce a second reading.

“I guess I need to do trigger warnings for this one,” he said. “It’s something that I think about a lot. So, there’s a lot of thoughts of suicide and death and blood and stuff going on. I figured I should say that.”

 

That was Allman’s first time doing spoken word.

“All of that was true, and the second one is something that I think about a lot when I drive,” he said.

Allman doesn’t consider himself a poet because he doesn’t rhyme – which could be heard in his performance. He prefers prose.

Allman is no stranger to public speaking. He spent a lot of his extra time in high school doing speech and debate and is on the team at Ohio University as well. Most of Allman’s friends in high school were in competitive sports, but he wanted to compete in a different way.

Allman took a pause before he continued on. He started to describe a girl who broke his heart.
Allman took a pause before he continued on. He started to describe a girl who broke his heart.

“It was really exciting for me to find out that there is just this whole other world where you can competitively compete and win scholarship money, for just competitive emotion.”

When he takes the stage during debates, it is usually to recite a dramatic monologue about true events, like he did on Tuesday. But for Allman, Designated Space was a different beast. Before his performance, the freshman sat quietly, studying each speaker. 

“Surprisingly, I still get a little nervous talking, and since this is the first time that I’ve spoken here I was a little not sure if I wanted to. But I just figured I’d go for it, and after I did it I felt a lot better.”

And it was noticeable. After Allman stepped off stage, he ran his fingers through his hair again, but this time with a huge grin on his face. He encouraged one of his friends to get on stage and speak as well.

“Speaking competitively, when it comes to speech and debate, is something that I love to do,” he said.

“Go ahead, Hot Stuff”

“Sometimes it’s like a free-for-all-” Buzz, buzz. Josh Simpson’s phone went off. He got a text message from his boss that said, “Go ahead, Hot Stuff.” Simpson had to ask for permission from his boss to do an interview. He works for Green Cab, a company sending out those little metallic cars waiting at the end of Court Street, usually in front of BP, at all hours of the day. Everyone working for the company uses text to communicate and pick up passengers. It’s 10:11 am and Simpson started his shift at 11 pm the night before. He gets off in an hour. “I needed money and I like to drive.” Despite being a cab driver in a small area, Simpson said he has nights where the phone is ringing off the hook with customers wanting a ride back to their dorms, apartments or homes further outside of town. “It could be utter chaos. You get that rush around two o’clock. It usually is pretty easy. The night goes by pretty quick. You meet a lot of really cool people, and most people are pretty good about tipping and things like that. As for drunks, it’s not as bad as you’d think it would be. I mean there are people who are loud and obnoxious, but just about everyone here in Athens is pretty chill,” Simpson said. “You really meet all sorts of people, especially ones that think you’re attractive…maybe even ones you don’t necessarily want to think you’re attractive.” #PlanetAthens

A photo posted by Maren (@marenmatchless) on

The Burrowing Process: My Writing Corner

I can confidently say I have filled up thousands of pages of notebooks and journals with my words. In my earlier years, those words were about boys or my gross older brothers or the meaning of life – if I identify something as blue, do other people see it as blue…or do they maybe see it as green? Basically, I was a super deep kid.

Everyday, I sit down and write whatever I feel like. Because this has been a ritual since I started writing  – even with backwards letters – I have always built a place specifically for writing. I refer to building it as the burrowing process, where I craft my own sanctuary of blankets and blank pages.

I don’t usually let strangers – especially strangers on the internet – see my writing corner. But due to circumstances involving a professor and a prize to be won, I am bringing out the big guns.

Welcome to my writing corner.

Defining a writing corner

Of course, there is an obvious necessity: there must be writing happening for it to be deemed a writing corner. But the second most important part of creating this space is surrounding it with things that evoke comfortability. This is the place I spend most of the deadest hours of the night, 3 to 5 am. It must be comfortable!

My window sill is lined with 12 to 15 scented candles because I am secretly addicted to collecting candles. They calm me.
My window sill is lined with 12 to 15 scented candles because I am secretly addicted to collecting candles. They calm me.

To create a comfortable atmosphere, I pile up cozy and colorful pillows, curl up in my childhood Tinker Bell blanket and light an almost dangerous amount of candles and incense(candles must smell delicious).

When I was younger, I was forbidden from being alone with fire after nearly burning the house down with a candle, so I decorated my corner in holiday lights.  This is a great alternative for pyros and clumsy people.

Surrounding the space with some favorite books is a great third necessity. I always have Mary Oliver and Walt Whitman on standby for inspiration.

The list of necessities doesn’t have to end with those three must-haves. It’s about creating a safe nest for creative and artistic exploration, and this is mine.