Salmon Cakes

Salmon Cakes Benedict from Mama's Boy restaurant in Athens, Georgia on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. The dish offers a savory start to the morning for a breakfast item. (Photo/Melanie Velasquez;

These early bird destinations focus on breakfast and lunch service.

ADD Drug

At this old-school Five Points counter, regulars meet for breakfast and linger over coffee and newspapers. Neighbors come in for lunch specials that include favorites such as slaw-smothered hot dogs and chocolate malts.

Athens Bagel Company

If you’re looking for a quick New York-style bagel, this downtown spot near campus is the place to go. A variety of breakfast platters offer a more substantial morning meal.

Big City Bread Cafe

While known for breakfast, this medium-sized restaurant also offers hearty sandwiches, a wide range of desserts, soups, salads and rotating lunch specials. The spacious outdoor seating area is a draw, especially in spring and fall.

Donderos’ Kitchen

With seating tucked into rooms of a historic home in Cobbham, this place has the cozy feel of a tea room or B&B. In addition to breakfast and lunch, Donderos’ offers to-go items, such as lasagna and pot pie.

Good to Know: If you walk, bike or ride the bus, you get a 5% discount.

Em’s Kitchen

At this eatery in Hawthorne Drugs, the breakfast menu features omelets and made-from-scratch biscuit sandwiches. Lunch includes classics such as pimento cheese and chicken salad sandwiches, heaping salads and homemade Brunswick stew.

The Farm Cart

After years of operating a food cart serving hand-crafted biscuit sandwiches at the Athens Farmers Market, husband-and-wife team Michael and Iwalani Farfour opened this Baxter Street spot in early summer 2019. From the organic flour in the biscuit dough to fillings grown in the owners own farm, everything is locally sourced.

Food for the Soul

This understated lunchroom on West Broad Street hosts everyone from construction workers and professors to preachers and off-duty chefs. At the time of publication, the restaurant is takeout only and offers variations of meat and vegetable plates.

Ideal Bagel Co.

Operated by Luna Baking Co., Ideal Bagel on the western edge of downtown is a great place for a bagel sandwich loaded with house-made cream cheese spreads.

Mama’s Boy

Consistently voted Best Brunch in Athens by Red & Black readers, Mama’s Boy opened near campus at the corner of Oconee and Oak streets in 2006. It became a beloved destination thanks to its charm and a menu that puts creative twists on classics. In 2017, the restaurant opened a location on Macon Highway.

Marti’s at Midday

Huge salads and hearty sandwiches are the draw at this cheery Normaltown cafe with a small indoor area and large patio. You also can pick up entrees and salads to go.

Mayflower Restaurant

This Athens spot has been owned and operated by the Vaughn family in the same Broad Street location since 1948. Ravenous? Try the Country Boy Special. Cash only.

This article was first published in The Red & Black's spring 2021 Eat & Drink special publication.