Five and Ten

Unpretentious, fresh, and with a great wine list to boot, this is easily the best restaurant within a two-hour drive of Atlanta. White anchovies with grapefruit and pepper, shaved Benton’s country ham prosciutto, sweetbreads with Red Mule grits custard, and Frogmore stew with Georgia shrimp will reward your journey. Hugh Acheson, the hot young James Beard–winning Canadian chef, also owns the National, a restaurant closer to downtown Athens that has a sunny Mediterranean disposition.

Best of Atlanta 2013: Restaurant Worth the Drive 
Thirteen years ago, Five & Ten put Hugh Acheson – and Athens – on the culinary map. He mingled the Southern lexicon (catfish over grits, Lowcountry Frogmore stew) with influences from France, Mexico, and Italy. It became a precursor to confluence of styles other Georgia chefs would adopt in the current resurgence of regional cooking. The menu still dazzles, and a move this year to more gracious digs in a Colonial Revival – style bungalow with a columned front porch makes the restaurant worth discovering anew. Don’t skip desserts like bread pudding with bourbon hard sauce and mint sherbet: Under the direction of pastry chef Mike Sutton, they’ve never been better.