Food tours are one of the best ways to experience a new destination and the South is no different. Athens Food Tours was founded by Mary Charles Howard in 2011 as a way to connect visitors with the farmers in the area as well as the restaurants to see the full background of the food scene. She then expanded into Roswell and added another tour into the Athens area that involves riding bicycles from farm to farm. Read more about Rachel’s experience on the Agro-Cycle Tour here.
These days the focus is mostly on the Agro-Cycle tours that run a few times a year, but she still operates Athens tours by request or on specific dates. I was able to check out the downtown tour, which may include different stops depending on the days you visit. Either way, you’ll be introduced to historical landmarks of the Classic City while you eat your way around town.
Our first stop of the tour was The Place, a new restaurant opened by a family who also owns Gnat’s Landing on St. Simon’s Island, one of my favorites. The former hardware building was renovated and the walls proudly display historic photos of Athens. Here we were served some Southern favorites like pimiento cheese, hangar steak and fried chicken, complete with sides macaroni and cheese and collard greens, pictured above.
The Georgia Theatre
The Georgia Theatre is a beloved local music venue that was partially burned a few years ago in a fire. It’s now been renovated and features a rooftop bar with the best views of Athens. The rooftop’s food is from neighboring eatery The Branded Butcher, offering light bites like fried chicken skins and Phickles pickles and burgers.
Creature Comforts Brewery
Our tour ended at Creature Comforts Brewery, the second of three craft breweries in Athens and my favorite (and not just because my sister works there!). The building itself is a former tire warehouse and it’s kept many of its architectural features. They serve delicious craft brews in their tasting room while also offering tours and weekly farmer’s markets.
While our tour was a modified version due to time constraints, we learned about important musical landmarks like Wuxtry Records-Athens, the headquarters of R.E.M. when they lived here, the Morton Theatre, an original vaudeville theater, and the 40 Watt Club, where some of the most notable bands have played over the years.
Additional tours include a “bucket list” tour of Athens and the Athens beer tour. The downtown Athens tour costs $80 and lasts three hours. Georgia Food Tours can adapt the food served for dietary restrictions if you let them know in advance. All dishes and drinks are included in the price of the tour.
I went on the Downtown Athens Food Tour as a part of a trip sponsored by Visit Athens, Georgia and Explore Georgia.