24 Hours IncityGeorgiaTravel

24 Hours in Athens, GA with Hugh Acheson

by Stephanie

Today’s 24 Hours in Athens, GA City Guide comes to us from renowned chef and author, Hugh Acheson. Although born in Ottawa, Canada, Hugh developed a love of the South and its cuisine and eventually opened his first restaurant, Five & Ten, in Athens, GA. Since then, he’s opened several more restaurants in and around Georgia and penned the popular (not to mention, James Beard Awarded Best Cookbook of 2012) A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your KitchenToday he shares with us his ideal day in the city he calls home: Athens, GA. Thanks for taking us on a tour, Hugh! —Stephanie

Illustration above by David Saracino

Read the full guide after the jump…

Athens, GA is my community. Known for its music and arts, football and academics, it is a city that is constantly progressing, while retaining a Southern, small-town feel that can’t be beat. What has always impressed me is the number of amazingly talented citizens who could live anywhere but choose to call Athens home. At its core, the town is very magnetic to good souls.

In my smaller world, my neighborhood is called the Boulevard Historic District, about ½ mile away from the northeast corner of downtown Athens. We live in an old house, which is beautiful and decaying at the same time. We walk the kids to a great public school around the corner, a requisite for me, as I always loved walking to school.

If I drove out of town I would encounter rural Georgia in about five minutes, as long as I didn’t head west toward Atlanta. In the other directions you find farms and small towns, streams and foothills. It is a beautiful landscape that has provided for the communities that dot its red clay.

To me it is home, and that will never change. I will go many places, but my pillow will always be in Athens.

7:45 am: Independent Bakery, for a quick morning coffee and a fresh baguette.

9:30 am:Waffle House for some mid-morning waffles and a small order of well-done hash browns, smothered.


10:25 am: A walk to The Arch – while walking downtown, to contemplate greatness – on the way to  Wuxtry to grab some tunes and see a flyer for a show at the 40 Watt.


11:17 am: The REM Trestle for a break from the hustle and bustle.

12:35 pm: Delicious Tacos: for delicious tacos. (It’s really called Los Amigos, but Delicious Tacos are what I eat.)

2:30 pm: Two Story for a mid-day writing session with a good cappuccino.


7:00 pm: Dinner at my restaurant, The National. I will enjoy fabulous vittles with Mediterranean sensibilities created by my pal Peter Dale.

…speaking of pals…


8:30 pm: Old Pal to sit at the bar and drink some bourbon.

10:00 pm: End up at 40 Watt to wrap up the day with a show.

Some additional places to hit up…

Treehouse Kid and Craft – if you have kids, it’s a great place. If you don’t have kids, it’s a great place. Crafting classes regularly.

Normal Hardware – because why would you drive out to Lowes and choose to not support a local hardware store? Who has hardware stores anymore? They’re awesome.

Ideal Bagel – my friend Matt doing great things with bagels and coffee.

Indigo – the place I’d stay in Athens if I didn’t have a house here.

Agora– cool spot for vintage shopping.

Suggested For You


  • Hugh is awesome, great chef and all around good guy. His cookbook is really well done.
    I am eating at one of his establishments this week. And he is spot on, Athens, GA is the real deal.

  • I was lucky to live in Athens during my college days at UGA and, some 10+ years later, it still occupies a special place in my heart & memory! I haven’t visited in several years but I’m glad to hear the magic lives on.

  • Ah Athens… ! I was lucky enough to live there for 6 years: it was and still is a magical place. Thanks for the lovely piece, Hugh!

  • Another Athenian. I am *shocked* that Hugh likes Waffle House, but like the first poster, I also love that fact. And Los Amigos I have never heard of, despite being a foodie and living here four years. I’m excited to try it. Hugh didn’t mention his new venture, http://cincoydiezathens.com but it’s inspired by his love of tacos and it’s amazing (I’ve been for brunch and dinner). I’d like also to mention http://hendershotscoffee.com, whose disaffected hipsters and grad students I prefer to Two-Story’s sorority crowd. And my ‘hood is Cobbham Historic District, which is served by the amazing local food co-op http://www.dailygroceries.org, a great place to grab a coffee, a vegan sandwich, artisan yogurt and local produce.

  • Live from New Delhi India, sculptor, designer, Georgia boy, No matter where I am in the world both my wife and my heart will reside in Athens GA.

    George Morgan

  • Avid Bookstore is a wonderful locally owned bookshop that has enlivened Prince Avenue. Be sure to check it out, too.

  • Avid Bookshop on Prince Avenue is a great place to stop and shop – it’s our only locally owned bookshop. Also, Pulaski Heights BBQ, Shiraz (wine, cheese shop), Daily Groceries, the Grit, Hendershot’s, Vive Argentina, Taqueria Del Sol, Siri Thai are close by – all local and great, including those already mentioned. Agora is great for vintage as is Modern Star next to the National, which is housed in Cine, Athens’ art moviehouse. This list barely scratches the surface. Great post by Chef Hugh!

  • Let’s add the Georgia Museum of Art, Vic’s Vintage, The Butt Hut, Sr Sol’s margaritas, Botanical Garden! One of the best TJ Maxx/Homegoods in the nation…trust me My husband and I check them out wherever we travel.

  • Go Heidi. Remember to look at the ART at Hotel Indigo, soon to install a mural in their backspace patio. Real supporters of local Athenians!

  • OOPs! and Big City Bread, Ted’s Most Best, Clocked, 40 Watt, Georgia Theatre, GO Bar, of course. Yes, Jim, Hotel Indigo, too. The list goes on and on….
    No slight to the African-American community. My ideas are focused on Prince/Downtown in same general area. If we branched out the list grows ever more.

  • Would also add:

    – Weaver D’s for amazing fried chicken
    – Cine for great independent movies (plus, the theater is a converted garage)
    – Some really great thrift shopping at America’s Thrift Store/Goodwill
    – REM history spots = the Murmur trestle, church steeple.
    – If you’re willing to drive a bit, Watson Mill State Park has a beautiful covered bridge and river area.

  • Also check out all the really cool one of a kind bus stops dotting the city landscape. As an interior design student at UGA, a group of us designed the bus shelter in front of Mama’s Boy–inspired by REM’s murmur trestle. Yet another reason Athens is an amazing town: It believes creativity is worth investing in. http://m.flickr.com/#/photos/hannahgoldberg/7044099819/in/set-72157629368348670/

    Oh And Cecelia’s cakes cannot be missed!


  • Re: Mae’s comment about Athens’s TJ Maxx/Homegoods–oh no, you just gave away one of our best kept secrets! My Hudson and J. Brand jeans, handmade Italian shoes, D.L. & Co. candles, and Spode china are not ashamed of their deeply discounted origins. And

    Hannah, I’m afraid Cecilia passed away last year, but Cecilia’s Cakes is still in business. Let me add to the list two more great Athenian institutions, our local print shops Smokey Road Press (antique letterpress) http://www.smokeyroadpress.com and Double Dutch Press (ink printmaking) http://doubledutchpress.com.

  • Oh, nobody mentioned the new location of Five and Ten on Milledge – a beautiful space and we all know about the food! And I love Heirloom and White Tiger, both in the Boulevard area.

  • Excellent description Hugh! “At its core, the town is very magnetic to good souls”- so true. We just moved to Athens, a couple years ago from Nashville, Tn and completely love it with all our hearts. The community is real and the creativity is contagious.

  • Although I was born and raised elsewhere, Athens (and tiny nearby Winterville) is now my hometown! In addition to the great bar music scene in Athens, check out the yearly music festivals over the summer: the Marigold Festival in Winterville each May, and AthFest in downtown Athens each June. Or if you’re here through the school year, stop by the Performing Arts Center on campus or the Classic Center downtown.

  • This design is spectacular! You definitely know how to keep a reader amused.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to
    start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Excellent job.

    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!