Editor’s Note: Rachel and Miguel Gonzalez did their own summer “Dalton Food Tour,” and we were so excited when they agreed to write about their experience for the WSJ! This is only part 1, so please stay tuned for their next adventure. Thank you Gonzalez Family!
Mexican food? Tijuanas. Meat and Veggies? Oakwood. Burgers? Steak N’ Shake. If you’ve had the privilege of living in Dalton for awhile, you almost certainly have you’re favorite local restaurants- a one word answer to any food genre question. The beauty of a town our size is that you can get very familiar with a few special places- you know the menu, you have a “usual”, and you probably even know at least one waiter/waitress by name. Whether your favorites are chain restaurants or locally owned ones, the reality is that we are all prone to get stuck in a bit of a rut. Not long ago, my husband and I, both Dalton natives, found ourselves in this very predicament. Newly married and determined to breathe some fresh life into our already familiar culinary tour, we set out to try all Dalton has to offer through a series of food challenges. Our first challenge focused on downtown Dalton restaurants- many of which are only open weekdays during school hours. Since we are both teachers our opportunities to visit are usually slim. We thought it would be easy enough to visit one restaurant a day and cover everything, but we were so wrong! What we discovered is that downtown is bursting with delicious kitchens ready to share their food with you! So if you find yourself feeling adventurous or needing a break from your well beloved and equally amazing “usuals”, try one of these locally owned gems!
More Than Greens
This one was really exciting- we didn’t even know it existed until we started researching for this challenge! It’s a great place for those trying to eat on the lighter side. They have both a cold and hot bar with a great variety of foods! We tried as much as we could fit on our plates- crab salad, ravioli salad, feta and chicken couscous, fried squash, and spring rolls. Everything was DELICIOUS! You pay by the weight of your plate and even though we both had plate-fulls we ate for a total of $12!
Full confession, we were a bit behind the curve on this one. Many of our friends and co-workers had been telling us about Cyra’s, but we just hadn’t made it around there yet. It definitely lived up to the hype! The atmosphere is something special, even featuring it’s own art gallery with local artists. We started off with the already legendary avocado fries and the house bread with basil oil. I forgot to make note of the names of our entrees, but I venture to bet that you will be pleased with whatever you order! This is a great place to go for a romantic dinner or anytime you feel like adding a little extra class to your week. We also have to add in a plug for Baja Coop- just a few storefronts down on Hamilton Street and run by the same owners! It’s just as fabulous as Cyra’s but has a more relaxed, tacos and quinoa type of vibe. This owner is definitely onto something, so do yourself a favor and check out both places ASAP!
This one is an oldie but an (oh so) goodie and one of our go-to restaurants! Their chicken fried rice and tomato tortellini soup are to die for! We also love their black bean burger and the chicken wrap with feta! Since this was a routine stop for us, we had to try something new- Frozen Horchata (pronounced “or-cha-tah”). It’s a vanilla flavor with hints of cinnamon. It was sooooo good! When you visit, don’t neglect to check out their variety of delicious smoothies and loose leaf teas!
Oh, Mama Wilson. We love you. Our sweet-tooth game is strong and this place definitely takes the cake. Forgive the pun, but seriously. Don’t underestimate the power of a cookie. We tried red velvet and turtle, but the EPITOME of our cookie experience was the Banana Pudding Cookie. I have to stop here and take a deep breath, cause Y’ALL. That cookie is amazing!!! If you like banana pudding, I promise you this cookie will change your life! In addition to this world altering option, there are plenty of other flavors to try. You can buy them in 3’s, by the dozen, or in even larger orders. We talked with Mama Wilson herself and she told us that they also like to get creative! If you find a cookie recipe on Pinterest that you like, send it to them at Mama Wilson’s and they will try it out for you. Yes, that’s right! You can actually TRY that recipe you’ve had pinned for 2 years without the fear of failure! There’s usually a sample on the counter and lots of cute kitchen accessories to check out too. We can’t say enough good things about this place, so just stop reading and go get some cookies!
Y’all, Willie’s cooks a mean burger! There’s not much seating, so this is a great place to swing by and pick up dinner on your way home. We were able to split a burger and an order of fries and end up perfectly full! They have so many different kinds of burgers and, as the name suggests, some great seafood options as well. And while you’re waiting on your order, enjoy the interesting mural painted on the building right next door! So if you’re wanting a quick burger, don’t go through a drive-thru! Go visit Willie’s!
We had some special guests join us for the last day of our downtown food challenge. And it was the perfect day because, if there’s anyone with authority to judge southern food, it’s my Nana! We had the already famous fried chicken, grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, squash, fried pickles, and macaroni and cheese. It was delicious! If you’ve been there you know that Lisa’s is another one of those places that just makes you feel like you’re at home. The staff is friendly and the atmosphere is laid back. If you haven’t been to Lisa’s yet, grab some friends or family and go get some fried chicken
We can’t let this downtown food challenge end without giving a shout out to the many amazing places we didn’t make it to this week:
Lalo’s to Go, Buckin Burrito, Baja Coop, Hamilton’s Pizzeria, Cherokee Brewing Company, Tijuana’s, Conductor’s Bar and Grille, Crescent City Tavern, The Cremo Drive In, Love Empanadas, The Sweet Spot, The Market, The Oakwood, Chelsea’s Tea Room
We had so much fun on this challenge and we encourage you to go do your own! If you see a place you haven’t been before, go try it out!