Locally Grown Food Destinations in Oconee County

Homemade, fresh, locally grown: Explore Oconee County’s food destinations from local farms to markets and restaurants. Feast your eyes upon these endless food options grown from and raised on Georgia soil.


Washington Farms strawberries. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

Washington Farms strawberries. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

Washington Farms, located in Bogart, is one of the largest strawberry farms in Georgia. Hundreds visit the farm each month to pick fresh berries and other seasonal crops grown by the Washington family. In the spring and summer, sweet strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are available to pick or buy pre-picked, and beginning in September you can pick out the perfect pumpkin for the fall season.

During the spring and summer, you will also find customers stopping by Thomas Orchards for scoops of their famous homemade peach ice cream. Thomas Orchards is an orchard, nursery and greenhouse famous for its freshly picked peaches. Owned by the Thomas family, the garden and greenhouse are filled with a variety of beautiful and bright flowers and plants.

Photo courtesy of Pastures of Rose Creek.

Photo courtesy of Pastures of Rose Creek.

Just five minutes from downtown Watkinsville sits Pastures of Rose Creek, a four-generation family-owned farm specializing in grass-fed, hormone-free cattle. The farm opens a stand where shoppers can purchase beef and fresh eggs from their egg-mobile each Sunday.


From the farm to the market, a spread of locally grown food fills the Oconee Farmers Market each Saturday from April to November. Hosted in downtown Watkinsville, shoppers choose from more than 20 vendors and 60 products — including breads, vegetables, fruits, seasonings, nuts and meats — from surrounding communities each weekend.

Oconee Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

Oconee Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of Oconee County Welcome Center

Like the farmers market, the fruit and vegetable stands that line Hwy 441 in Bishop feature food grown on local land. The crops that fill the stands travel only a few miles before arriving to their destinations along Macon Highway.


From Oconee’s farms and markets to its restaurants, Oconee County is filled with delicious food grown locally. Chops and Hops partners with local farmers to serve up delicious and quality dishes. The popular restaurant in downtown Watkinsville uses locally baked brioche to top off its fine burgers and incorporates locally grown and raised foods into its daily specials each week.

You can choose from some of the freshest food options in Georgia when traveling to Oconee County. Whether you enjoy picking your own fruit, buying your eggs from a farm stand or dining at a fine restaurant, Oconee has the freshest picks for you.

raquel-cobb-crop2Raquel Cobb is the marketing coordinator for the Oconee County Welcome Center and the voice behind Oconee’s social media channels and travel blog. Having grown up a few miles outside of Oconee County, Raquel enjoys the small-town charm Watkinsville and her hometown offers.

Southern “Seoul” Food Off the Beaten Path

You love food and you have the Instagram account to prove it. Your wanderlust has taken you near and far in search of the best dishes a city has to offer. You’ve heard Georgia is where it’s at for delicious farm-to-table dishes, down home meat-and-threes, and of course our addictive sweet tea. But did you know that just off the beaten path, there’s a suburb of Atlanta home to some of the best Korean food this side of the Pacific?

breakers BBQ in Duluth Georgia

Just 30 minutes north of Atlanta in Gwinnett County are dozens of authentic, mouth-watering Korean restaurants and bakeries that will make you re-think that 15 hour round-trip ticket to Seoul you’ve been lusting after. From barbecue to bulgogi, misugaru to soju- Gwinnett has you covered for all things Korean.


Harue Cafe Korean Food

If you have a big group and want to experience LOTS of different Korean dishes in one sitting, then Harue Food & Café is your spot. Harue offers up Korean snack foods like fried or sweet & spicy chicken (it is the South after all), dumplings and toppokki- a popular dish with soft rice cake, fish cake, and the sweet red chili sauce. They also have an interesting take on sushi- not really authentic Korean, but delicious none the less.

The Best Korean Barbecue in the United States

breakers korean bbq duluth georgiaBreakers upscale, table-side service highlights the best Korean barbecue Gwinnett has to offer. Paper-thin brisket, lightly smoked pork belly crisps, shredded piles of bulgogi, and spice-marinated chicken thighs. All this comes with an endless procession of banchan (side dishes) including kimchee, marinated vegetables, bean sprouts, and stir-fry glass noodles.


breakers in georgiaWe’re not the only ones that love Breakers Korean Barbecue in Duluth. It was recently names the top Korean BBQ restaurant in the nation and you’ll see why! With partitioned areas for big groups and a sleek, zen-like décor, the atmosphere alone with worth the trip to the Atlanta suburb. Breakers really should be on your foodie bucket list.

Korean Sweet Treats

korean bakery in georgia

Want to satisfy your sweet tooth? You can’t miss the delightful treats at Tree Story Bakery and Café. From custard buns to patbingsu (shaved ice with sweet red beans, fruit and ice cream), to cookies and cakes, Tree Story has something for every level of adventurous eater. Don’t leave without trying the misugaru- a delicious milky iced tea made from a blend of powered grains. It’s a great twist on Southern sweet tea.

While it’s the top destination for Korean food, Gwinnett has so much more to offer. There are plenty of places you can go to take in a show, explore a festival, catch a movie under the stars, or work off all the calories you just consumed on the ice. Grab a great meal and make some unforgettable memories- and be back in your own bed before you turn into a pumpkin!

If you missed our Snapchat story last week you can see it here. Don’t forget to follow us @ExploreGeorgia for all our adventures in real time.

If, somehow, you’re still not satisfied with all the delicious food at these three places you can check out all the restaurants featured in Gwinnett’s Seoul of the South Tour on their website ExploreGwinnett.org.

10665213_10205183432694767_2320968438576051730_nKatie Christof is the Senior Digital Strategist for Explore Georgia. When she’s not scouting out the newest Georgia restaurants and breweries, she’s scuba diving the nearby quarries or taking her cat Jane for a walk (it’s totally and thing). Keep up with all her travels over on Explore Georgia’s Snapchat @ExploreGeorgia.




4 North Atlanta Food Gems to Entice Your Taste Buds

Atlanta is known for its amazing food scene, but some of its best-kept secrets are just outside of the city. Travel a little north, and you will find several Atlanta suburbs famous for international cuisine. Locals know that these small cities offer access to several hidden Atlanta food gems — and now you do, too.

Buford Highway Farmers Market

Traveling the world can be expensive, so if you’re on a budget, simply head to Doraville to the Buford Highway Farmers Market, Atlanta’s No. 1 source for specialty foods and international cuisine. In addition to its wide selection of ethnic and imported culinary delights, the farmers market offers a variety of classes to teach you how to cook with the exotic ingredients it sells.

The Buford Highway Farmers Market

The Buford Highway Farmers Market has an amazing variety of produce, meat, seafood and international foods. Photo courtesy of Buford Highway Farmers Market, Facebook.

Find the staff picks of the week, or observe the in-store demonstrations on cooking a wide variety of foods, including Asian cuisine (Korean, Thai and Vietnamese) and Spanish and Latin-inspired dishes.

Explorers will find a vast array of international foods, and if you’re a curious epicurean indulge on the variety of samples, all available to take home as a gift or inspiration for your next dinner party. In addition to purchasing international ingredients, visitors can grab a bite on their way out with items such as fresh tamales and bubbles teas at the front of the market.

The Buford Highway Farmers Market is located at 5600 Buford Highway, just outside of the perimeter. It is open every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Tucker Farmers Market

Right next to Doraville is the city of Tucker. Tucker may seem like a typical small suburb of Atlanta, but on Thursday nights the Tucker Farmers Market becomes the place to be for great eats. More than 25 local farmers and food producers arrive each week to sell their creations. On the first Thursday of each month, they are joined by a selection of favorite Atlanta food trucks to create a taste extravaganza unlike any other.

Tucker Farmers Market

Food trucks serve up unique flavors at the Tucker Farmers Market. Photo courtesy of Tucker Farmers Market, Facebook.

Atlanta food trucks from all over partake in the quest to delight visitors’ palettes. Some of our favorite food trucks from Atlanta include Mac the Cheese Truck, which features delectable macaroni-and-cheese-inspired dishes.

In addition to tasty food truck dishes, visit the market for the fresh variety of goods and locally sourced foods grown in Georgia. Mercier Orchards, a well-known North Georgia orchard, is a featured vendor, selling freshly made fried apple pies, apple butter, apple cider and more. All this and more makes the Tucker Farmers Market a uniquely special gathering spot in Atlanta.

The Tucker Farmers Market takes place every Thursday from April through mid-December from 4-8pm. It is located in the heart of Tucker, at 2333 Main Street.

Super H Mart

Hungry travelers and visitors who want a piping hot meal cooked on-the-spot should consider visiting the Super H Mart food court in Duluth. Located near Doraville, the Super H Mart is a mega international grocery store featuring cuisine from all over the globe.

Of course, the food court inside Super H Mart is a popping, bustling center that attracts shoppers and diners alike. Featured dishes include Pho with delicious bean sprouts and basil, combo meals with kimchi, steamed rice, miso soup, pot stickers, and Korean BBQ.

Fresh side dishes made daily at Super H Mart.

Fresh side dishes made daily at Super H Mart. Photo courtesy Super H Mart, Facebook.

If you get the notion, be sure to check out the entire store. Similar to the Buford Highway Farmers Market, the store also features a fresh assortment of baked goods, groceries, and various snacks available for purchase.

The Super H Mart is located at 2550 Pleasant Hill Rd. It is open every day from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Atlanta Chinatown

Are you seeking a truly authentic Chinese meal? Atlanta Chinatown can accommodate your tastes with a rich variety of authentic Asian cuisine and dishes. This isn’t the typical “Chinese food” that many of us are accustomed to seeing on a takeout menu. Instead, you can find a vibrant array of restaurants that will delight any adventurous epicurean with unique items like hand-pulled noodles and seafood dishes. (Read Culinary Explorer Jennifer’s tips and recommended dishes at Atlanta Chinatown.)

Atlanta Chinatown Mall

Photo courtesy of Atlanta Chinatown Mall

Locals rave about the sit-down restaurants in Atlanta Chinatown. If you’re looking for the complete experience, try the Oriental Pearl restaurant. Around for more than 20 years, Oriental Pearl serves traditional Chinese dishes with many items you would find off-the-menu at other restaurants.

Atlanta’s melting pot goes beyond the borders of Doraville and DeKalb County. Other counties — Cobb, Gwinnett and Fulton — feature neighborhoods famous for their culture and growing diversity. I hope this has inspired you to explore Atlanta food options outside the city limits to find the unique, hidden gems of the North Atlanta area.

author-lisa-breslin-webLisa Breslin is a PR Consultant for the Clarion Hotel & Conference Center North Atlanta. Located off I-285 at Exit 32 near Doraville, the property is conveniently located 14 miles from downtown Atlanta and close to all the destinations featured in the blog post. For more information, visit www.northatlantahotel.com.

Georgia Chef Kevin Gillespie’s Favorite Holiday Recipes

Georgia born-and-raised chef Kevin Gillespie often draws from his experiences growing up in a Southern family. In fact, his latest restaurant, Revival, in Decatur, Ga., is a fresh take on the traditional, family-style Sunday dinner, with a focus on farm-raised and artisan-prepared ingredients. Below, Gillespie shares two anecdotes from celebrating the holidays in Georgia, along with two of his favorite holiday recipes that will make your dishes the talk of the table.


Brussels Sprouts Gratin

Brussels Sprouts Gratin is an interesting twist on a vegetable that is often under appreciated, especially in my house growing up. My mom always hated Brussels sprouts. They were taboo in our family. I hated them too, until I learned how to cook them.

Brussels Sprouts Gratin. Photo courtesy Kevin Gillespie

Brussels Sprouts Gratin. Photo courtesy Kevin Gillespie

The turning point was at Thanksgiving in 2009. I was determined to convert my mom into a Brussels sprouts fan.

The challenge was that I had to make something that could be baked in a crowded oven. One taste of this gratin and the whole family loved it. Now, it’s a requested dish at almost every family function. My mom and dad even ask me to make it for potlucks they’re going to, and they pass it off as their own.

You can prep ahead of time, so you’re not doing all the work the morning of your holiday gathering. Start by making and pureeing the sauce, slicing the Brussels sprouts, and preparing the topping ahead of time. Refrigerate until you’re ready to make the dish. Then, all you need to do is reheat the sauce, fold in the Brussels sprouts, assemble and bake.

You can get the entire Brussels Sprouts Gratin recipe on my website, along with some other holiday favorites.

Grilled Venison

Another great holiday recipe is grilled venison. If there was one theme from the holiday season growing up, it is this celebrated game meat.

The beginning of the holiday season always coincides with the best of deer season, and my dad usually takes a whole week off to hunt. Suffice to say, the Gillespie household always had venison on the table during the holidays.

My recipe for grilled venison is quite simple and calls for just five ingredients: two pounds of venison, one cup of extra virgin olive oil, two tablespoons chopped rosemary, two tablespoons chopped garlic and two tablespoons of espelette pepper or hot paprika.

Mix and marinate two pounds of venison for 8-24 hours. Boneless filet or backstrap are the preferred cuts. Heat a charcoal grill to medium-high.

Take the meat out of marinade, but don’t wipe it off; just lightly shake it. Then, season the meat with salt and ground black pepper.

Grill for four minutes on each side or to rare/medium rare. Never overcook venison. Let rest for five minutes, and it’s ready to serve.

Kevin Gillespie. Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee

Photo by Andrew Thomas Lee

Chef Kevin Gillespie is the owner of Gunshow in the Glenwood Park neighborhood of Atlanta and Revival in Decatur. In February 2015, he was named a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award Best Chef: Southeast. He is the author of two cookbooks — “Fire in My Belly” and “Pure Pork Awesomeness” — available online at Kevin Gillespie’s General Store.

Football + Farmers Markets = Tailgating Treats

Football season is in full effect. Whether you love it, hate it, or feel totally indifferent towards it, you must admit that there is some really great food surrounding it.

I was weaned on football and learned at a very young age that food and football go hand-in-hand, with the food often coming out on top! As I got older, I discovered that there was a huge difference between the foods you could buy in the football stadiums and the food experience you got by bringing your own food and cooking it in the stadium parking lots, or tailgating. Tailgating allows you to cook whatever your heart desires, from traditional stadium foods to more adventurous fare. Imagine enjoying spicy grilled jerk chicken wings, vegetable kabobs with herb butter, or smoky bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cheese, all while watching the game.

farmers market

A trip to your local farmers market makes picking up your ingredients easy and affordable. Plus, you’ll be eating seasonally (which is always best) and supporting Georgia family farmers. So, grab your shopping list, head to your farmers market and pick out some local ingredients that will make your tailgating menu a winner!

Looking for something new to try at the next game? Here is one of my favorite tailgating treats.

Smoky Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos
Makes 6 servings
Recipe by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Smoky Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker

Smoky Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker

1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
12 jalapeno peppers
12 slices bacon, thin sliced bacon works better
24 wooden toothpicks

1. Preheat grill to hot – 400 degrees.
2. Mix cream cheese and cheddar cheese together in a bowl until evenly blended.
3. Cut a small opening, about the size of a penny, in each jalapeno. Save the pieces of jalapeno you remove, and leave the stems intact. (For a less spicy jalapeno, use a small spoon to scrape out the seeds and membrane.)
4. Fill each jalapeno with the cheese mixture.
5. Put the penny-sized piece of jalapeno skin back in place, and wrap each stuffed pepper with a slice of bacon. Secure the bacon with a toothpick.
6. Arrange bacon-wrapped peppers on the prepared grill.
7. Grill until bacon is crispy, about 10 minutes, turning throughout the grilling process.

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Click here for more content from Jennifer.