Over time, Bobcats have grown to love and rave about popular food places on Court Street and around Athens such as Bagel Street Deli, Souvlaki’s, Union Street Diner, Ginger Asian Kitchen, Brenen's Coffee Cafe and Courtside Pizza.
However, many students fail to venture out from the food enterprises they commonly order from and, in return, miss out on some of Athens’ best. Here are five underrated Athens food enterprises and why they are, simply, delicious:
Thai Paradise (Siam Thai)
Siam Thai, also known as “Thai Paradise,” undoubtedly lives up to its name. The sit-down restaurant is located on West Union Street and offers extensive menu options consisting of various appetizers, soups, Thai noodle dishes, rice combinations, curry and chef’s specials.
The quaint and quiet spot makes for the ideal dinner destination on a snowy Sunday night in Athens with its natural ambience, authentic dishes, fast service and affordable prices.
Thai Paradise provides the best of both worlds for customers who are looking to dine in and those wanting to grab a quick bite for take-out. Either way, the food is sure to impress.
Indulge in a full course meal by beginning with an appetizer such as the perfectly crunchy vegetable spring rolls, followed by the hot and salty wonton soup. As for the main dish, try the Thai fried rice with your choice of vegetables or protein. The portion size of the dish will leave you with leftovers for days. Simply put, it’s a college kid’s dream.
Pro tip: Ask for the brown garlic sauce, and drizzle it all over the rice to elevate the meal to another level.
Another revered restaurant tucked away on the outskirts of campus and just seconds away from Thai Paradise is the Instagram-worthy wine bar Athens Uncorked.
Located on Station Street, the classy, modern and colorful dining venue is one you wouldn’t expect to be found in Athens, as it is more upscale compared to the typical Court Street bars and craft beer scene Athens is home to.
Athens Uncorked serves a wide variety of domestic and imported wines, featured Ohio wines and a small selection of fine European beers and ales, according to its Facebook page.
Not only does Athens Uncorked have delectable alcoholic beverages, but the small menu of food items the venue does offer is just as good.
With baked shareable appetizers, handpicked cheeses and meats available, along with breads and olive oils, house-made desserts, seasonal flatbreads and hearty lunch and dinner specials, Athens Uncorked will resolve all your Italian and charcuterie board cravings in more ways than one.
Though China Panda isn’t quite within walking distance of OU’s campus, it is unquestionably worth the drive to East State Street.
China Panda’s multiple-page menu is so wide-sweeping that it’s genuinely difficult to choose what to order, especially for those who are indecisive.
Similar to Thai Paradise, China Panda’s menu offers several food options under a diverse array of subsections, like appetizers, soups, salads, nabemono and noodle, don buri, sushi and sashimi, maki and temaki, sushi a la carte, teriyaki entrees, tempura entrees, bento boxes, special rolls and desserts.
In the face of potentially feeling overwhelmed by so many enticing options, whatever one decides to order will surely not disappoint.
Last year, the grand opening of Bubble’s Tea Company on Court Street took Athens by storm as the first place to offer Boba in Athens. However, the opening of Firdous Express, located in the same venue, failed to receive the same amount of hype surrounding its launch despite it being much deserved.
Firdous Express is one of the only Greek venues in Athens, making it that much more special.
The venue is constructed similar to the way Chipotle is, where customers can decide what goes in their pita while ordering.
Many authentic Greek toppings, meats, sides and sauces are offered, such as lentil rice, cinnamon rice, gyro meat, chicken shawarma, chicken, falafel, garbanzo beans, feta cheese, hummus, Kalamata olives, different vinaigrettes, tahini, harissa and garlic sauce.
Firdous Express is different from typical Athens food venues and is one everyone should try.
If you’re not a fan of more adventurous cuisines such as Thai, Italian, Chinese or Greek food, Fluff Bakery’s comfort food and dessert and bakery entrees are here to deliver.
According to its website, “Fluff Bakery was brought to life in the fall of 2010 to fulfill a lifelong dessert and bakery obsession, and to showcase the talents of local farmers, producers, and entrepreneurs committed to making good food and drinks.”
Tucked away in the brick buildings of Athens, it often goes easily unnoticed, as passing students flock to Chipotle instead but, from here forward, let that not be the case.
Serving as the perfect breakfast, brunch and lunch destination, Fluff Bakery offers house favorites, scramblers, breakfast tacos, veggie specialties, rice bowls, sandwiches and salads, wraps, pastries and baked goods and, last but not least, coffee.
Start off your next free morning before a long day of classes with a BBQ tofu burrito, which includes house tofu, roasted potatoes, fresh eggs, cheddar cheese and a house BBQ sauce in a flour tortilla. Pair it with a coconut macaroon to fulfill that sweet tooth fix, and top it off with a Traincatcher — Fluff Bakery’s house-made mocha mixed with cold-brewed Toddy.