10 Must Eat Georgia Dishes

By Kate Parham Kordsmeier

Photo courtesy of Umi - Sushi Buckhead

Photo courtesy of Umi – Sushi Buckhead

As a food writer, I’ve been fortunate enough to dine at some of the world’s best restaurants, from Michelin-starred chateaus in Bordeaux to hole-in-the-wall hidden gems on Buford Highway. And I’m happy to report that some of my most memorable meals have, in fact, been at restaurants in the state of Georgia. To wit, here’s a list of 10 of my most favorite dishes from The Big Peach:

  1. Otoro Caviar at Umi: There’s perhaps no restaurant in Atlanta that I return to as often as Umi. Chef Fuyuhiko Ito’s specialty nigiri may just be my all-time favorite bite in town: buttery otoro (fattiest tuna) is swathed in truffle soy and topped with a fiery serrano slice and decadent caviar.
  2. Lamb Belly Shwarma at Last Word: After visiting Istanbul, I often find myself craving those fresh, sometimes spicy and always bold flavors so prevalent in Middle Eastern cuisine. I feel as if I’m back in Turkey when I eat at Last Word—their lamb shwarma is a lesson in complexity, the lamb belly at once tender and crispy, perfectly balanced with fragrant onion and parsley, crunchy and tangy pickles, fiery roasted tomatoes, creamy tahini and warm housemade flat bread.
  3. Farm Egg at The Florence: The pierce of a fork sends velvety egg yolk flowing down over a crispy polenta cake laced with salty ham and earthy mushrooms at celebrity chef Hugh Acheson’s latest outpost in Savannah.
  4. BoccaLupo's Fried Cauliflower. Photo courtesy of Chloe Morris.

    BoccaLupo’s Fried Cauliflower. Photo courtesy of Chloe Morris.

    Fried Cauliflower at BoccaLupo: Chef Bruce Logue’s mastery over made-from-scratch pasta is revolutionary in Atlanta, but what he does to cauliflower will change the way you think about vegetables. This flavor-packed dish is chockfull of fresh mint, tangy capers and sweet-and-sour meyer lemon.

  5. Pork Belly Buns at Makan: The contrast of flavors and textures—tender slow roasted local pork is spiked with pickled red onions and pecan sugar—in this iconic Chinese dish is so addicting, you may as well order two when you sit down.
  6. Brisket burger at Collins Quarter: The burger debate gets heated in Georgia, but there’s no denying that one of the best versions comes out of this Savannah café—here, house-ground brisket is piled high with bacon, cheddar, onions and pickles and sandwiched between a buttery, baked-in-house brioche bun alongside hand-cut steak fries.
  7. Burrata with chimichurri at Floataway Café: Whenever I see burrata, that ultra-creamy mozzarella cheese, listed on a menu I can’t help but order it. Floataway’s rendition, which is bathed in herbaceous chimichurri, is like taking a bite out of spring and best spread over grilled sourdough.
  8. Fried Chicken from The Farmhouse at Serenbe. Photo courtesy of ScoutMob.

    Fried Chicken from The Farmhouse at Serenbe. Photo courtesy of ScoutMob.

    Fried Chicken at Serenbe’s Farmhouse: Georgia has a seemingly endless supply of finger-lickin’ fried chicken (Gunshow and Mary Mac’s serve up some of the best), but the flavor-packed bird served for lunch at The Farmhouse in Serenbe, may be my favorite. It’s ultra-crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and served with habit-forming sour cream and chive biscuits.

  9. Butterscotch Chocolate Custard at Atlas: I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and I’m a self-proclaimed chocolate hater, but pastry chef Judy Roman has mastered the art of balance in this equal opportunity masterpiece where creamy chocolate custard comingles with crunchy hazelnuts, candied orange and a healthy hand of sea salt.
  10. Red Bean Bbang at Tree Story Bakery & Café: One of the few desserts I can’t resist is the bbang (egg bread) at this Korean bakery. Bursting with housemade cream and red bean paste filling, it’s soft, airy and incredibly indulgent.

KateKate is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and a freelance food and travel writer for more than 100 publications. Click here to read more culinary content from Kate

5 Places to Eat Seafood on Georgia’s Golden Isles

Darien, Georgia. Photo by Evangelio Gonzalez . Submitted via Flickr.

Darien, Georgia. Photo by Evangelio Gonzalez . Submitted via Flickr.

The annual Blessing of the Fleet Festival is coming up April 17-19 and one of the highlights of the multiday festival is seeing all the shrimp boats lined up along the coast. Whether you’re heading to Darien for the festival this year or just driving by and get inspired for a meal, there are five of my favorite places to grab a fresh seafood dinner.

1.)  B&J’s Steaks & Seafood – It doesn’t look like much from the street but a trip to B&J’s comes highly recommended by locals… and they would know.

2.) Mudcat Charlie’s – Sit back, relax, and enjoy a view of the river while you wait for your fresh seafood on Brunswick’s coast. Plus, their prices won’t break the bank.

Photo courtesy of The Crab Trap

Photo courtesy of The Crab Trap

3.)  The Crab Trap – Their website advertises “Tasty Food. Cold Beer.” and that tells most of the story. The St. Simons Island locally owned restaurant offers local shrimp, scallops, oysters and fish, alongside Southern favorites like battered fries, hush puppies, coleslaw, cheese grits, and crab soup. Feeling adventurous? Order the Blue Crab Cocktail.

4.)  Crabdaddy’s Seafood Grill – Local fresh fish, seafood, and crab cakes are hits with locals and tourists. Plus, Golden Isles visitors will like that it’s just down the street from The King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort.

5.) The Half Shell – Another one of my favorite places, this new-ish restaurant serves tables full of oysters and crab cakes nightly. The restaurant is located near Neptune Park and the Saint Simons Island Lighthouse Museum – two great spots to stop and stroll before your dinner or after your lunch.

Not in the mood for seafood but want reasonably priced food, a kids menu that won’t hike up your bill, live music, and a local vibe? Don’t miss Tipsy McSway’s in Brunswick.

EileenEileen is Georgia’s official Festival Explorer and the editor of Occupy My Family, the Atlanta area’s most comprehensive resource for family fun. Click here for more Festival content from Eileen.

Four Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do at Georgia State Parks

A vacation at one of Georgia’s State Parks is not only lots of fun, but its one of the best values in the state. Of course there’s amazing hiking, as well as a myriad of different camping options; however, Georgia State Parks also offers a lot of unusual activities that can add some affordable adventure to your vacation. Here are four of our favorites.

Photo courtesy of SAM Shortline

Photo courtesy of SAM Shortline

Ride the rails on the SAM Shortline: This is Georgia’s only park on wheels. The SAM Shortline, outside Cordele, Ga., travels over lakes, through cotton fields and past the boyhood home of former President Jimmy Carter. Along the way sample a bit of life in the rural South, as well as delicious peanut butter ice cream.

See Gopher Tortoises at Reed Bingham: Did you know the gopher tortoise is the state reptile of Georgia? Well it is, and the best place to see him is at Reed Bingham State Park just off I-75 near Valdosta. While you are there, take advantage of the first time camper program and ask for the paddle-in campsite.

Photo courtesy of Panola Mountain State Park

Photo courtesy of Panola Mountain State Park

Learn archery at Panola Mountain State Park: About 20 minutes outside of Atlanta, Panola Mountain State Park offers archery lessons on the weekends. Bring a bow or use any of the compound bows available, after class, head to the standard or 3D ranges to test your new skills.

Photo courtesy of Georgia Girl Guides

Photo courtesy of Georgia Girl Guides

Explore the Underworld: Underneath North Georgia’s Cloudland Canyon State Park is a whole world waiting to be explored. The Georgia Girl Guides offer the perfect tour. Be prepared to wade through icy rivers, and get up close and personal with a few bats. Oh yeah, and get very, very muddy.


SueSue Rodman is Georgia’s official Smart Travel Explorer and the editor and publisher of the award-winning family travel blog Field Trips with Sue. Click here for more Smart Travel content from Sue.

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9 Reasons We Love Springtime in Georgia

Williamson, Georgia. Photo by @lizibailey via Instagram.

Williamson, Georgia. Photo by @lizibailey via Instagram.

Georgia is on our mind year-round, but we especially love the Peach State during the spring months. From the blooming flowers to the delightful temperatures, there is plenty to love about springtime in Georgia!

Festival Season: Nothing says spring quite like chowing down on a turkey leg while meandering through booths selling organic soap, handmade jewelry and bottle cap artwork. Georgia is home to such popular spring festivals as the Annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival and the famous Macon Cherry Blossom Festival. No matter where in Georgia you go, your chances of finding a spring festival between March and June are high. Our advice? Pack up the car and spend a weekend exploring Georgia.

Dogwood Festival in Atlanta

Dogwood Festival in Atlanta

Mild Temperatures:  Georgia’s spring weather is perfect for backyard barbeques, front porch sitting, driving with the windows down on the Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway or visiting Georgia’s Golden Isles. Georgia’s spring weather is so perfect, in fact, we think even Goldilocks would find it to be just right.

Pick-your-own Farms: Grab a bucket and head to one of Georgia’s many pick-your-own farms for a true Southern springtime tradition. Pick fresh peaches at Gardner Farms in Locust Grove or stock up on strawberries when you visit Strawberry Station in Dublin. The whole family will have fun picking their favorite springtime treats fresh from farms throughout the state.

Seminole State Park 2 - GDECD

Seminole State Park


Georgia State Parks: Take advantage of the perfect spring weather with a trip to one of Georgia’s state parks. Whether hitting the hiking trails, paddling the waterways, or sleeping under the stars, Georgia’s state parks have programs the whole family will love.

Spring Break: When Spring Break rolls around, students of all ages are restless for outdoor fun. Luckily for them (and their parents), Georgia is filled with theme parks, attractions, outdoor adventures and more. Treat your little one to a day at Wild Adventures in Valdosta, a hike up Stone Mountain in Atlanta or have an adventure on the water in Columbus. No matter which activity you choose, your child will return to school with a story to share!

Braves Baseball:  When April arrives, fans across the Southeast don their jerseys, paint their faces, and do the tomahawk chop in honor of the Atlanta Braves. A game at Turner Field, affectionately called “The Ted,” is a must-see when in Georgia.

Piedmont Park. Photo courtesy of Lauren Cleland.

Piedmont Park. Photo courtesy of Lauren Cleland.

Patio Dining: We’re of the firm belief that food always tastes better when eaten on a patio. Whether you’re sipping a cocktail at Atlanta’s Park Tavern or enjoying an intimate sunset dinner at the Meritage Café in Columbus, Georgia’s springtime weather makes for the perfect patio dining experience.

Lake Season: When the temperatures warm up, folks everywhere flock to Georgia’s lakes for weekends full of water skiing, tubing and more. Rent a pontoon boat on Lake Sinclair, camp on the shore of Lake Oconee or book a weekend at the luxurious Lake Lanier Islands Resort to get your lake fix this spring.

Callaway Gardens

Callaway Gardens

Flowers in Bloom: Our springtime list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning our beautiful blooming flowers, including azaleas, peach blossoms, magnolias and more. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the season with a visit to one of Georgia’s famous gardens, such as Guido Gardens in Metter, Gibbs Gardens in Ball Ground and Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain. You’ll discover displays of floral beauty like you’ve never seen before when you explore Georgia!

Photo Credit: Photojenik Photography

Photo Credit: Photojenik Photography

Lauren Cleland is the voice of Explore Georgia on social media. She loves ice cold sweet tea, anything peach flavored, channeling Scarlett O’Hara in her daily life and sharing the wonders of her beloved Georgia with all of you!

10 Ways to Celebrate the First Weekend of Spring

Callaway Gardens. Photo courtesy of @lizibailey via Instagram.

Callaway Gardens. Photo courtesy of @lizibailey via Instagram.

Celebrate the start of spring at these Georgia events!

March 18 – 22: Witness world class show jumping at the Atlanta Spring Classic in Conyers. Admission is FREE.

March 20: Peruse local art and soak up the sunshine at the Spring Art Walk in Newnan.

March 20 – 21: Enjoy extended hours, special sales, inflatables and photos with the Easter Bunny during Dalton’s Spring Holiday Open House.

March 21: Breathe in the fresh spring air during the Spring Sprint in Jonesboro. Registrations is only $25 in advance, $30 the day of.

March 21: Take advantage of the spring weather during Springs Fling at Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla.

March 21: Kick off spring with wine and live music during Hightower Creek Vineyards’ Vino & Vibes Spring Kick-Off.

March 21: Honor the Burmese chickens that are a fixture of the Fitzgerald landscape at the Wild Chicken Festival.

March 21: Get those Irish eyes smiling as hundreds of floats take to Jackson Street and Bellevue Avenue during the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin.

March 21 – April 25: Celebrate Spring and the beginning of azalea season at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain.

March 21 – 22: Proudly sport your pink clothing at the 34th Annual  Conyers Cherry Blossom Festival