I have spent a little time in Athens. In previous posts, I have written about general good vegetarian eateries in Athens, Ohio Brew Week (in two parts), Star of India, Purple Chopstix, Avalanche Pizza, Salaam (which is slowly but surely changing locations), Mistretta's, and half a million posts on Casa Nueva. It will be half a million and one when I'm finished here, but first I'll cover a few other favorites lurking in the Appalachian foothills.
I stopped into Donkey Coffee on Washington Street. Donkey is pretty much the cream of the Athens coffee crop. The varietal coffees offer as much quality as the espressos, cappuccinos and the other coffee beverages. The food is also from a series of local establishments and tastes delicious when washed down with hot coffee.
I never thought to go to O'Betty's Red Hot in Uptown Athens before for one simple reason...I'm a vegetarian, and O'Betty's is a hot dog joint. Then one afternoon, I saw my vegan friend coming out of O'Betty's, and I thought I had busted him. It turns out they have a vegan hot dog that can be prepared in a variety of ways. I went with the Salome (pictured above), a Chicago-style veggie dog delicious enough to make the Superdawg go vegan. It comes with nuclear green relish, yellow mustard, tomato chunks, onions, sport peppers and celery salt.
And of course, I always have to go to Casa Nueva every time I'm in Athens. Casa Nueva is a locavore's delight, with seasonal offerings that highlight the regional bounty. The infused vodkas are amazing (coffee and vanilla bean infused soy milk white Russians, anybody?). The cocktails are great. There are many local brews, including Athens' own Jackie O's and Marietta Brewing.
I started with the guacamole and chips. The guacamole won Casa's annual Guac-Off (where a local recipe becomes part of the menu after a vote), and it was made with avocados, cilantro, lime juice and local cayenne peppers. It was tasty. I also got the broccoli, cheese and fresh sage soup. Instead of being a goopy Velveeta broth with soggy broccoli strewn throughout the dish, Casa Nueva's version of broccoli cheese soup was in a vegetable base with huge chunks of broccoli, sage leaves, onions, carrots and sprinkles of organic white cheddar, served with a side of corn bread. The soup was flavorful, understated and comforting.
My entree was a winter seasonal enchilada. It was skin-on mashed potatoes with melted white cheddar cheese and a four-chili relish in a corn tortilla with onions and marinated peanut tofu in a garlic black bean salsa. Yes, it was even better than it sounds.
I also rolled past a few other veggie favorites in Athens (Big Mamma's Burritos and the Veggie Mamma Grande, the Burrito Buggy and the black bean and rice burrito with tofu, Bagel Street Deli and the steamed bagel and tofu sandwiches, Brenen's and the multitude of veggie soups and sandwiches, and the Pita Pit's falafel pita with hot sauce and tzatsiki). I have to stop in a few more times before I finish school. I'll add some more updates, and I'll definitely order an Avalanche Pizza Veggie Boulder sandwich on a return visit.