Classic City Eats food

The dark meat tray from Classic City Eats consists of a fried chicken thigh, drumstick and a choice of two sides. (Photo/Maggie Cavalenes)

Classic City Eats opened on Baxter Street at the onset of COVID-19 closures in Athens in early March. Its grand opening was short-lived as the restaurant closed on March 18 and remained closed until May 19. In that time, the restaurant staff renovated the interior of the building which was formerly home to Champy’s Famous Fried Chicken.

Now open Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. for dine-in, pickup and delivery, Classic City Eats offers quintessential Southern dishes like fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, wings and catfish. On Saturdays from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., the restaurant offers brunch specials like chicken and waffles and jalapeño cheese grits. The restaurant also offers catering for larger groups with 48 hours’ notice.

As a fan of fried chicken, I’m always wary about how well it will travel in a to-go container. I decided to take my chances and try the dark meat tray, which consists of a fried chicken thigh, drumstick and a choice of two sides. The menu warns that bone-in chicken takes 20-25 minutes to prepare, and my order was ready when I arrived to pick it up 25 minutes after calling it in. Pickup orders can be placed by calling (706) 850-3092.

I’m all for piling on carbs when it comes to my choice of sides, and I think the most imperative sides for a Southern meal are mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese. Classic City Eats offers both, so of course, that’s what I chose.

When I got home, I discovered the styrofoam container had held the heat of the food fairly well. The fried chicken instantly shocked me because it was still hot and perfectly crispy, despite my 10-minute drive. The fried chicken’s coating was salty and crunchy without being too oily or soggy. The chicken itself was tender and moist, and it didn’t dry out during the frying process. This chicken is well worth a 25-minute wait.

Both of the sides were served in plentiful portions. The mashed potatoes had a dollop of gravy in the middle. Both the potatoes and the gravy were peppery, and the gravy boasted a hint of lemon. When the two were mixed together, this self-proclaimed mashed potato connoisseur was satisfied.

The macaroni and cheese, which was made using cavatappi macaroni, was not particularly flavorful. In addition to its light, cheesy flavor, this side also tasted peppery. When I order macaroni and cheese from Southern restaurants, I expect a higher level of cheesiness or a layer of cheese on the top. While it was enjoyable, I might opt for green beans next time — or a double order of mashed potatoes.

This meal cost $9.58, which felt like a great value for the amount of food provided.

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