Brunch Sloppy Joe at Heirloom Cafe

Dining in Georgia: Farm to Table

In recent years, a wide array of Georgia restaurateurs, foodies and other advocates have been heeding the call to “eat local.”  Star chefs – such as “Top Chef” judging favorite Hugh Acheson and coastal chef-farmer Mathew Raiford – continue to build seasonal, local menus to expose guests to the bounty of natural goods available just around the corner.
While the locavore movement may have originally planted roots in the city centers of Atlanta, Athens and Savannah, it quickly swept throughout the Peach State. Towns big and small now treat travelers to a host of farm-to-table restaurants offering delicious local fare. 
With so many of them now basing their menus on what’s “fresh at the market” on any given day, it’s tricky to know exactly what they’ll be serving the next time you stop by. Thankfully, most of these tasty tables are active on social media, so be sure to follow their feeds for updated offerings.
Here, we’ve rounded up some of the hottest locally sourced restaurants in the state, organized by region, to help start your farm-to-table culinary road trip. 

North Georgia

In the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll find several farm-to-table favorites, including Jasper’s 61 Main. Housed in the historic Jasper Theater building, 61 Main serves up specialties like plantation quail, grouper, rabbit and wild Georgia shrimp. In Ellijay, The Martyn House is known as a great “glamping” getaway, with both farm and in-town locations to serve guests. Several farm-to-table dinners are served throughout the year, with seasonally changing menus featuring goodies like pumpkin soup, house-roasted chicken and freshly baked apple pie.
Tasty tip! Be sure to stop by Blue Ridge’s Mercier Orchards and Taste of Amish for fresh foods to take home. 

Athens and Atlanta

Athens’ dining options include the famed Heirloom Cafe & Fresh Market and Five & Ten. Located in a former Amoco service station, Heirloom Café is known for its seasonal lunch, dinner and brunch menus with items like a fresh fig salad and bacon-wrapped meatloaf. At Five & Ten, be sure to try the star-worthy Georgia Blue Catfish, local veggie plate or one of the daily specials, such as Tuesday’s tonkatsu-style ramen. 
Atlanta has a near endless locally-sourced food scene. Grass-fed beef meets seasonal ingredients at Farm Burger. At 4th & Swift, menus change daily but consistently delight both vegetarians and meat-eaters. Restaurant Eugene also offers a daily rotating menu filled with items like duck with honey bee pollen or shrimp and okra.
Tasty tip! Make a side trip to any farmers market, including Morningside Farmers Market, open Saturday mornings in Atlanta, and Athens Farmers Market, open Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. Be extra thoughtful and bring your own bag! 

Savannah and Coastal Georgia

Along the state’s 100 miles of coastline you can get your fill of fresh Georgia shrimp, which is the star of the show at both Darien’s Skipper's Fish Camp and St. SimonsCoastal Kitchen & Raw Bar. The Green Truck Pub in Savannah provides a laid-back atmosphere, a menu stocked with locally sourced finds and the best burgers in town (made from grass-fed, all-natural, hormone-free beef from Hunter Cattle Company in nearby Brooklet). For a more upscale ambiance, head to Local 11ten, also in Savannah, where wine is at the ready and chefs dole out seasonal menus featuring the day’s fresh catch, Georgia buffalo tartare and UGA caviar. Looking to splurge? The six-course chef tasting menu is so worth it.  
Tasty tip! Stop by Forsyth Farmers’ Market in Savannah on Saturday mornings, White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, the Georgia Buffalo Ranch & Trading Post in Townsend or make a special trip to Little St. Simons Island for a day of local dining mixed with outdoor recreation.
Published: October 2014