During the recent college football playoff games in the U.S., Cartersville might have been best known as being the home town of Trevor Lawrence, star quarterback for Clemson University. But what most of the world is coming to realize is that this small town in north Georgia is gaining a well-deserved reputation for its great food.
Cartersville, Georgia has a wide range of cafes, diners and restaurants to suit all palates. From casual, down home, locally-owned favorites to upscale eateries suitable for special occasions, there is a Cartersville restaurant that is sure to please.
1. Table 20
Table 20 opened in 2016 and occupies a prime location on South Wall Street in the heart of downtown and overlooking the railroad. With a full bar on the premises, it is great to see a tempting list of starters which can get a meal off to a tasty beginning, or be a meal in itself. For dinner, creative entrees such as mahi mahi pho, mushroom ravioli and pork belly gnocchi appear alongside steaks, burgers and chicken. “Breaking boundaries one dish at a time” is the mantra of Table 20 and keeps people coming back to taste the various changes in the seasonal menu. It is open everyday from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
2. Appalachian Grill
Appalachian Grill is located on East Church Street, mere steps away from Booth Western Art Museum. Reservations are not accepted, so plan to wait if you arrive during peak times. The food and ambiance, however, are worth that wait.
Appalachian Grill’s menu majors on seafood, but also offers fish with a more local bent, such as catfish and Smoky Mountain trout. Steaks, chicken dishes, salads and decadent desserts round out the choices for a great meal in this cozy, attractive restaurant. In fact, it was recently named “the most charming restaurant in Georgia” by LoveFood.com.
3. Ross' Diner
Ross’ Diner is an iconic eatery in Cartersville that has been serving locals since 1945. It will only seat about two dozen or so inside at a time on its stools arranged around a U-shaped counter, with a few tables available outside on the sidewalk. Traditional breakfast and lunch items are the order of the day. Think in terms of biscuits, gravy, grits or pancakes for breakfast and chili burgers, chili hotdogs or cubed steak with a couple of sides for lunch.
Ross’ Diner has a prime location on Wall Street and is open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
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4. Maine Street Coastal Cuisine
Maine Street Coastal Cuisine is a major play on words. It is located on Main Street and has an interior decor reminiscent of the state of Maine. The menu suggests connections to Maine, as well, with raw oysters and lobster. If diners want the fish of the day, they may have it prepared blackened, sauteed or grilled with a choice of five toppings. One of the signature dishes takes shrimp and grits, which is so popular in the South, and adds scallops to kick it up another notch.
Maine Street Coastal Cuisine is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
5. Doug's Place
Doug’s Place, on Georgia Highway 293 in Emerson, Georgia, began its life as a general store selling homemade biscuits, but all of that changed when Interstate 75 was under construction and traffic had to be rerouted taking it right past that general store. The owner realized that he had a golden opportunity to meet the needs of hungry travelers and began serving breakfast and lunch. The building has expanded, and the restaurant now opens three nights a week for dinner, also.
None of the meals are haute cuisine, but they are satisfying and delicious. Plan on having Southern favorites such as fried okra and banana pudding when you stop in for lunch.
6. BridgeHouse Cafe
BridgeHouse Cafe is situated in the back behind BridgeHouse Interiors, a beautiful home furnishing and decor business located on East Church Street, appropriately enough “under the bridge.” The cafe considers itself to be fast casual and is open for lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and serves a Taste and Share menu from 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Soups, toasts, salads, sandwiches and flatbread pizzas make up the bulk of the menu, but several hot entrees are featured as well. The vibe is vintage, and the atmosphere is cozy. It is particularly good for ladies meeting for lunch, since it is close to so many great shops.
7. The City Cellar & Loft
Steak and music may be the two things that come to mind first when you think of The City Cellar & Loft, but their version of shrimp and grits is a hit as well. Located directly beside the railroad tracks and facing Cartersville’s iconic Coca-Cola painted wall, this restaurant is open every day except Sunday for lunch and dinner. Diners may want to check the calendar on the website to see the listing of live musicians performing throughout the month.
Burgers, sandwiches and wraps provide more modestly-priced choices, and the sides are outstanding. Whole fried okra, fried green tomatoes and Cajun pork cracklins will catch your eye immediately.
It is especially nice to have both a lovely meal AND entertainment in one place during your evening on the town.
8. Wes-Man's Restaurant
Wes-Man’s Restaurant is technically located in White, Georgia, directly across the street from Old Car City U.S.A. Owner Wes Wesley opened his cafe in 2000 and couldn’t afford a billboard for advertising, so he painted his menu on the side of an old truck that he parked at the edge of the parking lot. The idea worked, and he’s open six days a week now to a steady stream of hungry diners. The truck receives a new coat of paint every day, generally acknowledging a birthday, anniversary or special announcements and events. The paint eventually gets so thick that about every three years the layers fall off, and the process begins again. The interior walls are full of license plates and Woody and Jesse dolls (from the movie “Toy Story”) line the shelves.
Wesley arrives at 4:00 a.m. to get started on the day’s menu items and opens the doors at 6:00 a.m. He stays open until 3:00 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and until 9:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
The menu primarily consists of Southern fried favorites, and Wesley insists that he’ll “fry anything.” Diners can even find fried mac and cheese or fried cheesecake on the menu from time to time. This is a slice of Americana that you don’t want to miss.
9. Booth Cafe at Booth Western Art Museum
While browsing the expansive and amazing Booth Western Art Museum, there’s no need to leave the building when hunger pangs hit at lunchtime. The Booth Cafe is a few steps away from the entrance and the gift shop. It is open from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and serves fresh and delicious salads, sandwiches, burgers and desserts. In keeping with the Western theme, the burgers are highly recommended, but the chicken salad is also very good.
10. Woodlands Grill at Barnsley Resort
Barnsley Resort is a fabulous getaway spot nestled in the rural splendor and peacefulness of Bartow County. Even though Woodlands Grill may be considered slightly casual, the service and elevated menu are exceptional. The decor and architecture of the building are outstanding, and diners can take in the immaculate golf course while they enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Breakfast entrees are in keeping with the sophisticated atmosphere of the resort and include avocado toast, ricotta pancakes, frittatas, eggs benedict and more. Options for dinner entrees are pork chops, steaks, pasta, salmon, chicken, scallops and more.
11. Rice House at Barnsley Resort
Rice House is located in a refurbished 19th century farmhouse, and its menu is suitable for a very special evening occasion. Meat and produce comes from local farms, and the chef and his staff put their most creative spin on what is available in each season. As a result, the menu changes often.
A three-course dinner includes soup or a salad, an entree and a dessert for 75 USD. The entrees might be rack of lamb, risotto, fish, short ribs or whatever the chef has found that he feels will be exceptional.
Rice House has been closed for several weeks but will reopen in time for Valentine’s Day.
All kinds of meals for all kinds of diners
If you’re more comfortable sitting on a stool at a short-order counter, there’s a Cartersville diner with your name on it. If you’re partial to comfort foods or burgers, you’ll find numerous suitable options. However, if you are an adventurous eater who loves exotic flavors and creative preparations, Cartersville can satisfy you as well. It may be rare to find a town the size of Cartersville with so many culinary choices. I encourage you to go and try several of these for yourself.