By Hope S. Philbrick
Whether you live in Macon, are visiting for a day or longer, or even just passing through on I-75—it would be a shame not to stop!—good flavors await in this middle Georgia city.
Like the city’s music scene, it rocks.
Among our recent favorite discoveries…
Diners line up to order lunch at this counter and then grab a seat at a table in one of the dining rooms or take their food to-go. Since 1989, this female-owned and -operated restaurant has served traditional Southern fare like fried chicken livers, fried pork chops, fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, country fried steak, hamburger steak, meatloaf, baked chicken and more alongside sides like macaroni and cheese, collards, black eyed peas, rice and gravy, butter beans, green beans, broccoli casserole and much more. The menu changes daily, but odds are you’ll find something irresistible. The peach cobbler was recently named as “best” by food writer John T. Edge in Garden & Gun magazine.
If I could frequent just one restaurant in Macon, this is the one I’d choose. Founded by the Moonhanger Group in October 2012, the restaurant has been featured in Southern Living magazine and received Opentable.com’s “Diners Choice Awards” for “Most Booked in Macon.” Located downtown Macon, Dovetail serves contemporary Southern fare: re-envisioned traditional favorites with creative twists, showcasing seasonal flavors. Ingredients are sourced from local/regional farmers and artisans as much as possible, with an emphasis on quality. The dining room cleverly balances “fancy” with “casual,” so expect to feel relaxed and pampered here. Order whatever most makes your mouth water off this menu, you cannot make a mistake. Save room for desserts like the addictive cracked pie with salted caramel ice cream or the divine sweet potato donut holes with maple icing.
H&H Soul Food
H&H was a favorite with the Allman Brothers during their early years in Macon, and now the restaurant walls are decorated with Band memorabilia. Founded in 1959 by Mama Louise Hudson, who still reigns over the place, the restaurant is now owned by the Moonhanger Group. Fried chicken is on the menu daily—and it’s some of the gosh-darn best fried chicken ever. Other menu options rotate through a roster of Southern favorites. Whatever day you visit, you’ll find comforting fare that fuels your stamina and your spirit.
Founded by Jeneane Barber on Mulberry Street in historic downtown Macon in 1989, this casual eatery feels like a throw-back to a simpler time and place. Come here for breakfast and linger over coffee while locals at nearby tables discuss a range of matters.
Also owned by the Moonhanger Group, The Rookery is located in the center of downtown Macon. It has been a gathering place for decades, and the interior walls are peppered with graffiti to prove it. This is a very casual place that draws locals and visitors alike, so expect to find a vibrant, energetic dining room. Burgers are a key draw, with creative combinations like peanut butter and bacon on the “Jimmy Carter Burger,” blue cheese and onions on the blackened “James Brown Burger,” red cheese, collards and crisp country ham on “Outkast’s Stankonia Burger,” and other concoctions, both expected and not. Other menu options include a buffalo chicken burger, fried green tomato BLT, fish and chips, steak frites, club salad, cheese board and more. Start with a beer or cocktail, an order of spicy pimento cheese dip, then study the menu to make your selections.
Tic Toc Room
This is the place where Little Richard first found a stage. Named “Miss Anne’s Tic Toc” back in the 1940s, the current owners, HotPlates Restaurant Group, present an upscale menu and service that focuses on details. Start with a selection from the award-winning martini menu, weigh the daily specials against menu standards like the South African seared ostrich tenderloin with roasted garlic cream sauce, filet mignon with béarnaise sauce, lobster ravioli, jumbo lump crab cakes, shrimp and grits, and much more. Order whatever most appeals; you can’t go wrong here.
Macon Beer Company
“Engineering great beer since 2013,” this craft brewery produces a roster of great-tasting, well-balanced, “Southern-style,” brews with creative names: Macon Progress (always available), Macon Love, Macon Movies, Macon Music—say the names out loud if you don’t ‘get’ it. “I try to find the balance between sweetness and bitterness,” says Jeremy Knowles, founder and president. Our verdict: He totally nails it. “Our theme is to promote Macon with seasonal releases in conjunction with something that’s going on in Macon,” he says. Sip and savor whatever is in season, then you’ll be hooked and wanting to revisit for the next release.
This boutique shop, located downtown, is loaded with kitchen essentials and extras sure to make any foodie drool. Come prepared to buy: You will find something you can’t live without. Don’t miss the cooking school at the back of the store where chefs lead a range of hands-on and demonstration classes. Pick up a schedule or, better yet, plan ahead and pre-register for whatever is offered during your visit.
College Hill Corridor
This two-square mile area between Mercer University and downtown Macon encompasses several historic city neighborhoods, parks, and businesses. More than a place, it’s a movement. The College Hill Commission, made up of of neighborhood volunteers, and the non-profit Historic Macon Foundation lead the area’s impressive revitalization effort with support from the Knight Foundation, Mercer University and private developers. It’s a great place to visit—and by all reports it’s an even better place to live, so fair warning, you may start thinking about moving after exploring the corridor!
– Photos © HSP Media LLC
Featured products, services and/or travel arrangements may have been complimentary in part or in full; this affords the research opportunity but does not sway opinion.