Posted by: KStrate | February 25, 2008

Friend of the Week: Meridith Ford

While this subject doesn’t really have to do with restaurants in Athens, I thought I’d share my experience interviewing the Dining Editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Meridith Ford.

I was assigned to interview some sort of media gatekeeper for one of my classes, so with some advice (Thanks, Bryan.), I decided to interview a reporter who likes what I like- food.

I won’t bore you with the PR jargon we talked about, but I want to touch on something interesting she said. Meridith commented that some of her favorite dining experiences didn’t come with a high price tag.

She told me the story of a Mexican vacation where she ate some sort of two-to-three foot long fish right off the grill on the beach. The atmosphere, the ambiance and the genuine quality made that meal ever so memorable to her.

This is where I turn our conversation to Athens.

I think most restaurants in our fun town, including its sidekick Watkinsville, do a nice job of creating an atmosphere that fits the culture and personality of their owners, staff and food.

When I say this, I don’t mean to glorify the Mexican restaurants who think they’re awesome because they have sombreros everywhere. Not only does the decoration count, but the wait staff, the music and the other diners in the restaurant have a significance influence.

Here are some of my favorite examples in Athens:

  • Transmetropolitan– When you go in, you get this warehouse feeling. The ceilings are tall, and the chairs are old and heavy. It has a rustic feeling, but the food is always top-notch. I think Transmet is one restaurant where you could sit for hours and not even know it.
  • Little Italy– If you’ve ever been to New York, just the smell of Little Italy makes you think you’re about to go see the Statue of Liberty. The pizza is authentic; the people aren’t naturally cheery, so I feel like I have to earn their love by enjoying the food. It is a different experience, but I love the buried treasure feeling I get when I go there.
  • Casa Mia– The best part about Casa Mia is it’s the only restaurant of it’s kind in Athens. I have never met an unfriendly employee, and they are wonderful at translating the menu for you. The atmosphere mixes classic Latino with new age retro that I love. It’s classy, sleek and spicy!
  • Jittery Joe’s at Five Points– I don’t care if you like coffee or not. Hanging out in an old car repair garage is fun. Everyone who works at Jittery Joes is really funky- kind of like the people I always wish I could be. The coffee is good (watch out for those Jitters!), but I love how cozy I feel when I’m crammed in a corner with a little lamp and a desk. It’s those kind of moments when I realize how much I love Athens.
  • The Hot dog Man- This is the paramount experience of Athens life. For some reason, hot dogs always taste better from the Hot dog Man- whether you eat one at 3 a.m. or 12 p.m. I think this could relate to Meridith’s fish/beach/Mexico time.

I’ve touched on a few, but I’d love to hear about some of your favorite “experience” restaurants. It doesn’t matter if the food was mediocre. Some people don’t care anyway.

So let me and everyone else know what your favorite dining experiences in Athens have been. Like Meridith said, some of the most memorable dining experiences don’t have to have a high price tag.



  1. Harry Bissett’s downtown has an awesome atmosphere. you walk in first and there is just a regular bar but you continue through and there are little enclosed booths and this awesome old staircase. and the kitchen is upstairs, so you watch the waiters come down with your food… good experience and good food

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