Feast on Georgia Music History
Nothing goes better with a good meal than good music -- or a heaping side of Southern music stories. Here in Georgia, you don’t just hear the music, you taste it, too.
From greasy spoons to vegan bowls, Georgia plates are full of folklore from some of music's finest. So, loosen those belt buckles and take a tour around the state for a mouthful of music's deep-fried ties to food. For starters, feast your way around Athens, Atlanta, Augusta and Macon.
If You Want Lunch with a Side of Soul
Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods
1016 E. Broad Street, Athens
The sign says it all: Automatic for the People. Owner Dexter Weaver came up with it to advertise prompt customer service. Little did he know, it created a cult following ready for an “Automatic!” ever since.
Established in 1986, Weaver D’s became a favorite for R.E.M., and in 1992, the band named its eighth studio album after the slogan. The Grammy-nominated album created so much buzz that Weaver got an 800-number and hired a publicist to handle the increased attention. Weaver D’s is still serving up meat-and-three-style soul food fare, which includes fried chicken, boiled peanuts and skillet cornbread, and remains popular with Athens musicians, including Mike Cooley (Drive-By Truckers) and Michael Lachowski (Pylon).
807 Forsyth Street, Macon
With original, iconic posters and promo materials lining its walls, as well as a jukebox and a cast iron skillet from Capricorn Records that says “Thanks for the Beans & Things,” H&H Restaurant is an essential stop on a Southern rock pilgrimage. The story started with its original proprietors Inez Hill and Louise Hudson, two African-American women entrepreneurs who opened their humble restaurant in a former filling station. As legend goes, a group of lanky, long-haired hippies told Hudson they were hungry, but they didn’t have means to pay -- yet. They were too skinny for her liking, so she fed them for free. And thus began a lifelong, loving relationship with the Allman Brothers Band. They never forgot how their “Mama” took care of them in those early, starving artist days.
Since then, Mama Louise Hudson has fed thousands more -- some seeking her legendary fried chicken and sweet tea, others seeking her gracious blessing as the Patron Saint of Soul Food. Today, the H&H serves breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch under the ownership of the Moonhanger Group. While Mama Inez is looking down from Heaven, Mama Louise continues to check on things. There is a throne near the kitchen in which she visits and rests, seeing the multiple generations who come to return her generosity.
If You Want Dinner and a Band
1855 Central Avenue, Augusta
You can smack your lips to some familiar tunes with sauces named after Widespread Panic’s “Red Hot Mama,” Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” and the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil.” The centrally located, casual Southbound Smokehouse is one of the most popular visits, next to the Augusta National Golf Club. It’s a barbecue joint meets music venue and has an impressive list of players -- and eaters!
Cold, canned beer comes straight out of a cooler and there’s a true backyard, complete with horseshoes and barefoot games. With the entire place themed in music, you never know who you will find there, playing and eating, eating and playing -- Blue Dogs, Larry Keel, Todd Nance and John Neff, just to name a few.
515-B North McDonough Street, Decatur
If any Atlanta artist gets their start locally, Eddie's Attic captured their footprint. One of Georgia’s most cherished live music landmarks, music has lived in the upstairs listening room since 1991. The Indigo Girls, John Mayer, Shawn Mullins, India.Arie, Sugarland and the Black Crowes are just a few of those footprints left on its cherished history.
Located in the artist-embracing, smallish town of Decatur (which is within the Metro Atlanta area), the music club also boasts a full menu that includes signature sandwiches, burgers, small plates, plates to share and a full range of craft cocktails and beer. Whether it’s open mic night or a national act, the scene at Eddie’s takes pride in its intimate emphasis on the music. There are no limits to this dinner-and-a-band experience.
If You're Craving Meat Like a Godfather
129 North Avenue, Midtown Atlanta
Since 1982, “The Original” J.R. Crickets has been slinging wings in Midtown Atlanta. That includes a history of more than 60 million chicken wings sold across a timeline that traces its beginning, to burgeoning, to now notorious Atlanta hip hop scene.
In 2017, a scene in the FX series “Atlanta” featured a J.R. Crickets box full of glowing, golden wings. Served up “Lemon Pepper Wet” to protagonist rapper Paper Boi (Brian Tyree Henry), the Internet went wild, with mouths watering at the mere mention. Screenwriter Stephen Glover and his brother, “Atlanta’s” star and creator Donald Glover (Childish Gambino), were raised in Stone Mountain and are loyal Crickets’ customers. The Brothers Glover gave the place an appropriate shout-out, and now “Lemon Pepper Wet” has gone from a secret menu item to a restaurant star, where the secret is truly in the sauce.
2856 Washington Road, Augusta
It’s no surprise James Brown appreciated a good steak, so TBonz was one of his hometown favorites. Ask for his favorite steak dinner. Better yet, ask for his favorite corner and sop up some soul power from the James Brown Booth.
Mr. Brown came in often, sometimes with his entire band after rehearsals, and memorabilia from those visits continue to dot the restaurant walls. There’s even the story of a lucky customer who was serenaded by the legend himself with a funky rendition of “Happy Birthday.” They have 20 years of history and a classic steakhouse menu. Tell them the legend of the Godfather of Soul sent you.
562 Mulberry Street Lane, Macon
In the early 1970s, the days when Capricorn Records launched a Southern rock fairy tale-turned-true, Macon’s Downtown Grill was known as Le Bistro. It was a French eatery founded by Capricorn Records Vice President Frank Fenter and his Swedish baroness wife, Kiki. It featured the upscale cuisine of Paul Harpin, a British chef to the stars, such as Mick Jagger. Among the celebrities who dined at Macon’s Le Bistro were Andy Warhol, President Jimmy Carter and the Allman Brothers Band. In fact, it was here that Gregg Allman proposed to Cher in 1973. She said yes, and for the next five years, they married, divorced, remarried, had a son and made an album together.
Today, the Downtown Grill is one of Central Georgia’s most classic upscale steakhouses. It also serves a wide selection of seafood, cocktails and even cigars. In front of its historic building, tucked in a downtown alleyway, is a Macon Music Historic Registry plaque to commemorate Gregg and Cher’s legendary engagement.
If You Want to Vege Like a Rockstar
199 Prince Avenue, Athens
Drawing loyal musicians from Georgia like Michael Stipe (R.E.M.) and Jennifer Nettles (Sugarland) and beyond, like Kristin Hersch (Throwing Muses), The Grit serves up vegetarian and vegan fare in the heart of downtown Athens. In the last 30 years, The Grit has garnered quite a following for its quintessential boho vibe, Golden Bowl, meatless soul food, baked goods and even an accoladed cookbook. Customers rave about their Banh Mi and falafel sandwich and drive long distances just for the Brown Sugar Caramel Cake alone.
There is never any doubt that when new musicians come to Athens, The Grit is a rite of passage. For the veteran ones, it’s part of Athens music culture. Also, if you don’t have room for dessert, get your cupcakes to-go. Any musician whose had them can vouch they travel well.
The Slutty Vegan
1542 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd, Atlanta
Newer to the restaurant scene is The Slutty Vegan. Expect anything but bland or boring. That’s why the who’s who of Atlanta’s entertainment scene have been spotted eating at the food truck or the flagship store -- Snoop Dogg, actor Tyler Perry, music mogul Jermaine Dupri and even R&B crooner Ne-Yo, who is quoted on the website as saying “My name is Ne-yo and I’ve been Sluttified.”
Heavy on flavor, Slutty Vegan uses herbs and spices and the founder’s secret sauce on its Impossible Patty – a meatless burger that fools even the most devout meat eater. Founded in 2018 by entrepreneur Pinky Cole, the eatery was first a food truck dubbed the Slut Mobile. Cole wanted to offer vegan as an option, daytime to late night, to audiences in and around areas of Atlanta that normally would not have access to the healthy lifestyle option. The food truck quickly garnered a following easily selling 500 burgers a day and having line wait times as long as five hours. A store location opened in January 2019, but the food truck is still making the rounds with daily location announcements on the website and a national Gettin’ Slutty Tour that appeared in NYC, DC, NOLA and beyond. Try the musically named Dance Hall Queen or stick with their take on a classic, the PLT – plantain, lettuce and tomato, and of course, special sauce.
More Restaurants for Music Fans
Hard Rock Cafe, 215 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta, GA 30303. (404) 688-7625
Tic Toc Room, 408 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Macon, GA 31201. (478) 744-0123
Yesterday Cafe, 114 N. Main St., Greensboro, GA 30642. (706) 453-0800