Cultural Experience | Athens

Food Trucks, Brewery and Diners, 5 Great Student Eats in Athens, Ohio

This tiny college town is packed with good eats for foodies.

Maybe I’m biased, but I have never seen a love for any school quite like that which my fellow students have for Ohio University. A few weeks ago, while my friends at other schools took to social media to complain about summer coming to an end, we Bobcats were tweeting up a storm about our excitement to head back Athens, the 10-square-mile corner of Appalachian paradise that we call home for most of the year.

A list of all the things to love about OU and Athens would require its own blog post, so I decided to focus on one particular aspect that’s constantly at the front of every college student’s mind: food. Even though Athens is located “in the middle of nowhere” (about an hour and a half southeast of Columbus, and so close to West Virginia that my phone’s location service sometimes gets confused), this small college town is overflowing with delicious cuisine.

As hard as it is to pick just a few favorites when it comes to Athens food, I managed to narrow it down to just a few of the many must-try restaurants (in no particular order). I’ve included a few of my favorite dishes for some places as well.

•  Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery: Jackie O’s is mainly famous among Ohio University students for its homemade craft beer. If that’s not reason enough to stop into their W. Union St. location in uptown Athens, consider dropping by for the food. Share some cheese curds or a pizza with some friends at this all-time favorite student hangout. On a nice day, grab a table on the rooftop patio and you’ll realize that yeah, life is pretty good.
Try: the Melt My Pesto sandwich (Red onions, roasted red peppers, local spinach, pesto and Laurel Valley cheddar cheese, $9) and a glass of Mystic Mama IPA.

•  Goodfella’s Pizza: With not one but two locations in uptown Athens, Goodfella’s is the place to go for a late night snack after a night on the town. Their inexpensive but delicious pizza is a hungry, broke college student’s dream come true. Just $3.75 will get you a slice, chips and a refillable drink, and be sure to check out the Slice of the Day for a unique pizza experience.

•  Union Street Diner: If you’re looking for homestyle comfort food, this is the place for you. USD is open 24/7 and serves breakfast during all hours of the day (or night). With a laid-back atmosphere, friendly service and the best pancakes in southeast Ohio, it’s easy to see why this place is so well-loved among current students and alumni alike.
Try: the homemade blueberry pancakes with a side of bacon ($5.29) and a fruit cup ($3.49) – it sounds like a perfect breakfast, but an absolutely delicious choice at any time of the day.

•  Ali Baba’s: Although technically not a restaurant, the Ali Baba’s food truck is one of the best “street food” experiences you can get in Athens. Their most popular location is at the corner of Court and Union Streets uptown. When I first arrived in Athens a few years ago, I had never eaten from a food truck and was a bit skeptical, but I’m definitely glad I gave Ali Baba’s Mediterranean cuisine a try. They are best known for their gyros, but their tiny truck offers a variety of other options as well.

•  Bagel Street Deli: This trendy eatery on Court Street, owned and operated by OU alumni, puts a spin on the traditional deli sandwich. With a diverse array of sandwich options, there’s bound to be a “Bagelwich” for everyone. Its ideal location makes it the perfect place to kick back and enjoy lunch in between classes. Don’t forget to bring some chalk so you can add your name to the brick wall!
Try: the Bluenana Bagelwich (banana, cinnamon and honey on a blueberry bagel, $3.25)

No matter what you have a taste for, there’s bound to be a restaurants in Athens that will make your taste buds happy. Bon appetit, and go Bobcats!

Lindsey Zimmerman

Ohio University | 19 stories

Lindsey Zimmerman is a senior public relations major from Columbus, Ohio. After graduating from Ohio University this spring, she'll be spending the summer interning in Cleveland before moving to Spain in the fall to work as an English teacher. She studied abroad in Leipzig, Germany in 2013. When she's not planning her next adventure, she enjoys reading, writing, cooking, learning new languages and spending time with her friends and family. Above all, she believes life is too short to speak just one language and stay in the same place. Follow Lindsey on Twitter @lindseyzim716.

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