Purple Chopstix: Athens’ Hidden Dining Gem

There’s no lack of dining options for OU students. Cruise down Court Street and Chipotle, Pita Pit and Jimmy Johns– your typical quality chain restaurants– align the brick road.

They’re a safehaven from the everyday dining hall experience. However, Athens also has its fair share of hidden gems. One that made my senior-year bucket-list: Purple Chopstix.

It’s a little place I’ve heard about since my freshman year. This year, while constructing a bucket-list of places to visit in Athens before graduation, Purple Chopstix immediately came to the forefront of my mind.

Opening it’s doors in 1989, the unique, colorful restaurant located on Richland Avenue is within walking distance of South Green. However, its lack of proximity from the heart of OU campus keeps Purple Chopstix a secret sanctuary of eclectic food.

Purple ChopstixPassing by, you might not assume the little cottage would be home to savory, homemade dishes, and you might be shocked to learn that those dishes do not contain traditional Chinese foods eaten with purple chopsticks. However, the most surprising quality is that Purple Chopstix is BYOB.

According to owner and head chef Ed Fisher, his restaurant allows guests to bring their own alcohol — a concept that compliments the originality of the establishment, proving its appeal to college students — due to its lack of a liquor license.

“Going out to restaurants and bars to order drinks can be costly,” says Morgan Harkey, a senior at Ohio University. “I’m a broke college student, to have the option to get a cheap bottle of wine on your own with some friends and bring it to get a nice cooked meal is not only fun but keeps me from spending endless dollars on my own drinks.”

While the BYOB policy attracts intrigue, it is seen as a negative attribute for a restaurant from the side of those in the culinary business. “It definitely keeps would keep a restaurant from making more money,” says Jake Spiccia, the owner of Pizzazz On The Circle, a restaurant in Cleveland. “And especially for a restaurant in a college town, you just rack in the money from alcohol.”

In a town like OU, where partying is at the center of the social scene, you would think a restaurant that doesn’t serve alcohol would be quickly dismissed when choosing a place to dine. However, Purple Chopstix has been around for over 25 years. That’s because the food is what sells this restaurant to students and members of the Athens community.

Before going, I read some reviews to see what I was getting myself into, and they were raving. “Autumn S” claims on TripAdvisor.com says “You can’t get this food anywhere else on earth.”

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And “emilygood” promises that this a “must see when in Athens.”

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I was sold on trying Purple Chopstix after only reading a few reviews. The restaurant is only open Wednesday through Saturday for dinner from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday for brunch from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., so we made sure to make a reservation to just be safe.

Upon arriving, you instantly sense the quirkiness of your surroundings. From the colorful walls and artwork to the fun and personable employees. Before I had even tried the food, I decided I loved the place. To get a sense of the ambiance for yourself, check out the video below.

https://vimeo.com/145471434

The menu offers a wide variety of saliva-inducing plates ranging from curry dishes to Greek pizza. I went with “Sweet Potato Peanut Pasta” and was not disappointed. Purple Chopstix felt so homey and relaxing. We became friends with the waitress and even personally thanked Fisher, along with his son, Gabe.

5 Athens restaurants suited for a romantic date night

More options than any one person can name come to mind when talking about drunk food in Athens. However, if a couple of love birds are planning a fancy date, the options are surprisingly narrowed. Although the pickings might be slim, the few Athens restaurants that are fit for Date Night are well worth a visit.

Zoe

Athens restaurants | Athens Ohio romance
Presenting the perfect balance of fancy and comfortable, Zoe is the perfect place for a first date.

Located at 24 1/2 East State St., Zoe’s French-American cuisine offers the ideal fine-dining experience for a romantic date while maintaining a  comfortable and local asthetic. Zoe is known for it’s friendly wait staff and exceptional food presentation, fitting for any couple of bobcats in love.

Cutler’s Restaurant

Athens restaurants | Athens Ohio romance
There’s a piano player, too. Remember, the fork is always to the left.

Looking to play dress-up and really get fancy with dinner? Cutler’s is the place to go for super-special occasions. Located inside The Ohio University Inn, the restaurant provides a private dining area for couples on Valentine’s Day. It’s a black-tie affiar complete with red table cloths and a single rose for the lady. However, if a special dinner is nearer than Valentine’s Day is, Cutler’s is still a great option for a classy night out.

Thai Paradise

Athens restaurants | Athens Ohio romance
This exquisite interior decor makes you wonder how this place is located between The Smiling Skull and Union Street Diner.

If you’re in the mood for oriental but don’t feel like settling for takeout, Thai Paradise is an oriental cuisine paradise within walking distance for any OU student. The eclectic, little spot offers moonlit seating when the weather allows, complete with a cocktail named after dragons and a pad Thai dish that is to die for.

Sol

Athens restaurants | Athens Ohio romance
Sol’s dishes look too pretty to eat.

If the upcoming winter tries to freeze your love life, keep the heat alive with Sol Restaurant’s Caribbean cuisine. Sol aims to make its customers feel as though they’re vacationing on a beach somewhere.

What’s more romantic than a beach?

Also, a couple of brunch lovers won’t regret visiting Sol’s Court St. location on the weekends for brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The best part? Bottomless mimosas.

Purple Chopstix

Athens restaurants | Athens Ohio romance
Many don’t know that Purple Chopstix is a BYOB establishment. Yes, please.

Although some may be disappointed by the lack of actual purple chopstix at this neat little restaurant, the elaborate dishes made with fresh local ingredients in a cozy dining environment will make up for it. Ed fisher opened the joint on Richland Ave. in 1989, and now, he and his son work together in the kitchen to provide customers with high-quality meals and experience. The outdoor dining bridge seats a couple in the perfect romantic setting for a date night.

The next time you think that the only eatery for a date is Big Mama’s Burritos, think again. But if Big Mama satisfies your romantic date night needs, I’m not one to judge.