Written by Hunter Terrell, Social Media Editor. Photos courtesy of Hunter Terrell
You don’t have to lie, having Palms Dining, Chick-Fil-A, Moe’s and all other on-campus food options is part of the reason you chose to attend VSU, but don’t begin to overlook all the mouthwatering cuisine Valdosta has to offer! Compiled here is some of Valdosta’s top rated and most exclusive eateries that both Guy Fieri and Gordon Ramsay would approve.
*Disclosure: McDonald’s, Zaxby’s, Longhorn’s and Chili’s did not make this list.
But first, coffee: Some people need it to function on a daily basis. Starbuck’s may be too overrated. Don’t worry, these baristas got your back
Elliano’s: Though they are only drive-thru, it’s not one you want to pass by. They have signature creations like their Milan Mint Mocha or Cookies & Cream Freezer, tons of espressos and their delicious guilt-free menu including my favorite, sugar-free spiced chai. They open at 6:30 a.m. and stay open until 10 p.m. They run you about the same as Starbuck’s cost wise. They are conveniently located on Baytree Road. IG: ellianos_onbaytree
Birdie’s Market/ Grassroots: In the heart of downtown is Grassroots Coffee, or more notably, Birdie’s Market. This full service coffee shop sells delicious coffees and espresso straight out of Thomasville. You can choose from French press, traditional espresso, cold brews, ice cream blenders and their breakfast and lunch is crafted by talented chefs who also create the menu at Steel Magnolia’s. If you ever find yourself downtown, you have to go in Birdie’s Market to grab a drink, maybe a bite and even shop around a bit. IG: birdiesmarketvaldosta
Red Owl: Newer to the coffee scene is Red Owl Coffee Co. who crafts with passion and quality. You can purchase Americano, drip coffee, earl grey tea and flavored espresso shots. They are located on North Patterson Street, and you can find them by looking for the cute stringed lights hung up on the patio. IG: redowlcoffee
Keeping it classic: Some people can go to a fancy restaurant and order chicken tenders, burgers and fries. This category is for you my friends
Bleu Pub: Anything and everything you could put on a burger, they got it. The Black and Bleu (tons of blue cheese), Braveheart (peanut butter and bacon), the Heat (jalapeno cream sauce, sriracha and pepper jack), Dirty Bird (gouda, egg and bacon) are just some of the delicious burgers. You can make it a double or triple and choose between regular fries and sweet potato fries. If you are 21, they have an extensive list of craft beers and IPAs. They are one of the few places that have live music, trivia night and stay open late downtown. The kitchen closes around 1:30 am.
Smokin’ Pig BBQ: Good times, good friends and better BBQ. I’m talking brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis style ribs, smoked chicken, pork chops, fried shrimp, cod nuggets, catfish, prime rib, New York strip and amazing “trimmings” to go on the side. It’s more food than you can eat in an entire day. If you dine-in you can indulge in the salad and dessert bar.
Located on Baytree, Big Nick’s has been serving Valdosta since May 2015. The restaurant has great BBQ and southern comfort food, outstanding service and amazing deals. The wings combos are a good deal, the gator tail is tender, pork chop dinner is huge, and the shrimp and grits are smooth and savory. They’re open until midnight on weekends. IG: bignicksvaldosta
Sebastian’s Wings: This place is a hidden gem! If you’re from Atlanta, you will notice that Valdosta doesn’t have wing joints on every corner like at home. Sure, you can pay an arm and a leg at Hooter’s or Buffalo Wild Wings, or you could go on down to West Hill Ave and place an order for 6, 12 or 20 piece combo in one or two of their 14 flavors. Winnersville Heat is a scorcher, and Gold & Tangy is sweet and smooth. This place is no bigger than a dorm room, but the atmosphere is welcoming and hearing the wings being tossed to perfection just adds to the experience.
GG’s Country Kitchen: Home cooking done right! Buttermilk fried chicken, oxtails with rice and peach glazed fried pork chops are just some of the main dishes. Broccoli and cheese casserole and mac and cheese are two sides you have to try! Desserts vary by day, but it’s not far from your grandma’s apple turnover. Located at 200 N. St Augustine Road.
Say Ole!: Taco Tuesday, Sombrero Sunday, Monday Margaritas (if applicable) and pass the salsa please!
La Jalisco: Here you can enjoy authentic Central American culture and cuisine. Tamales, tacos, tacotes, tostadas, sopes are all served with your choice of protein. Fresh guacamole can be an appetizer, and each taco is served with cilantro and homemade salsa verde. After eating, you can shop around for some of your favorite Central American provisions and finish with homemade tres leche.
Empanada’s and More: Home cooked flavors from across the Latin world. You can order empanadas Caribbean or Columbian style, individually or by the dozen. You can try one of their full meals, like chicken drumsticks stew, with potatoes, Cuban sandwich or build your own plate! My favorite are the plantains and fried yuca. The environment is family-like and very welcoming. They do have their regulars, and the owner will try to learn your name. It will definitely keep you coming back.
Rico Rico Puerto Rican Restaurant: Hot and New! Rico Rico came on the scene about four weeks ago, and they are bringing flavor to the table. They have authentic mofongo relleno, tripletas and pinchos! The owners will welcome you with a warm hand shake if in the building. Each dish is delicious and fresh. This is real Puerto Rican cuisine.
Burritos: A great local alternative to Moe’s. They will pack your burrito full with goodies! They also have bowls, tacos, nachos and salads. Each dish comes with free chips and salsa, and they have imported apple soda and Jarritos soda. Show your VSU ID for a cheeky discount Monday-Thursday.
Mama Mia, it’s a pizzeria!: Even though pizza can be considered a classic, I think it deserves its own category
Though I usually don’t go for chain restaurants, this is one of the only places that has good pizza and amazing dough. At lunch time, you can get pizza by the slice, and you can make your own creation at any time. Tossed to perfection, they are also the only pizza place to offer gluten free dough. If you dine-in, you can enjoy the superhero theme with Superman flying above and Hulk standing guard at the door. IG: valdosta_mellow
Fabulous Pizza: With beer, good pizza and unbeatable prices, what could be better? Thursday trivia night has dollar slices and dollar Bud Lights with speedy, sufficient service. Grab a slice at Fabulous Pizza and support local business! IG: fabulous_pizza
The Mill: Fresh and hot pizza buffet! They offer a weekday lunch special for $5.99, and they take flex. The Mill has signature pizzas including Hawaii Five-O, Blazer Buffalo Chicken, The Cheese to my Macaroni, Meat Lover’s and Milltown Supreme. Did I mention it was a buffet? They also have arcade games if you’re up to it. Not much more can be said.
*Valdosta also has delivery: Domino’s. Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Stoner’s Pizza, and Pizza Quick.
Date night: So you eat together at Palms all the time, but what about a real date? I won’t lie, these places are a little pricier but will totally impress your date.
Salty Snapper: They have an exciting atmosphere, great service and the best seafood in Valdosta. The clam chowder is thick, the baked oysters are juicy, the fried platters are plenty, the lobster and dumplings are better than their already good shrimp and grits, and the grilled Scottish salmon will melt in your mouth. You got to take your girl here, and no doubt you’re both leaving with leftovers.
Voted one of the top places to dine in Georgia, Steel Magnolia’s has a menu crafted by hand selected chefs who also partake in Birdie’s creations. At Steel’s, you can have a rooftop dinner that starts off with pulled pork deviled eggs and creamy burrata, and then dive straight into lemon thyme chicken confit, some awesome Colorado lamb chops or pan seared scallops and pork belly. IG: steelmagnoliarestaurant
Friend’s Grille and Bar:
Being partners with the Salty Snapper, the food and drink menu here is quite impressive. With its spacious patio, lively bar and open kitchen, excitement is always in the air. Supporting the local community and providers is very important to the owners. Pork, pecans, olive oil, lettuce, cheese, grapes, tomatoes, figs and strawberries are just some of the items being harvested from just a few miles down the road. Start off with spring rolls of the day or a kale salad and then try the slow-braised beef short ribs, pan roasted pork tenderloin or The Burger! IG: friendsgrilleandbar
Getting out of your comfort zone: Think bold and become bold!
Tandoor: Roti? Kara dosa? Malai kofta curry? They’ve got it all, and it is good! If you’re a vegetarian, this is also a good option for you. Tandoor specializes in the North Indian Cuisine where cooks typically use rich spices and aromatic herbs to transform intricate conjurations of vegetables, lentils and rice into tasty meals that are fulfilling.
Can you say sushi? What about Bulgogi, Bokeum or more familiar, Hibachi? Cup Works offers different styles of Korean dishes that supposedly have health benefits of lowered insulin levels and neutral fats. You can also try the notorious kimchi, bibimbop and mandu. This one is a bit further from campus, but they have a drive-thru too.
I love Bowl Pho: This is taking microwave ramen to the next level. Like other cuisines, Vietnamese uses ample, spices, herbs, meats and broth that can make any noodle dish knock your socks off. There is Pho Bo Vien, Pho Ga, Pho Tofu, Bun Tom Cha Gio, Bun Tom Nuong and if you never had ca Phe Sua Da (Vietnamese coffee), you have to at least try this.
And with a cherry on top: The secret to a good life? Chocolate!
The Mix: Valdosta’s very own fro-yo spot! You’ll notice that a lot of campus organizations hold fundraisers here, and why wouldn’t they? It’s cheap, sweet and they have the biggest variety of toppings for your treat. IG: themix_frozenyogurtvaldosta
Smallcakes Cupcakery: Sometimes you’re just in the mood for cake, maybe a whole cake, but a cupcake will suffice. No need to fret, Smallcakes has your back. With monthly flavor specials like blueberry cheesecake, hum-bird and Nutella overload, every bite will be moist, sweet and leave you wanting another. On the weekends, they offer gluten free cupcakes with an icing of your choice. You can buy an individual cupcake or a whole batch if you like. IG: smallcakes.valdosta
What better way to cool down on a hot Valdosta day than with a giant snow cone? New and located on the Southside of town, Snopocalpyse serves up huge cups of shaved ice with over a 100 flavors to choose from. You name it: horchata, pink lemonade, wine cooler, jalapeno stinger, Georgia peach and caramel. You can have up to three flavors in a cup, and they will put soft-serve ice cream in the middle for just 75 cents more. They only take cash, but a small is two dollars and a large is five. IG: snopocalypse
All these places can be found on Yelp or Trip Advisor. The next time you grab a bite to eat snap a picture and post it on Instagram or Twitter. Don’t forget to tag The Spectator and tip your server!