There’s an option for those still wary of returning to local restaurants, especially with this latest surge in new coronavirus cases in Northwest Georgia. If you can endure a little extra heat, there are plenty of options to dine outdoors. The secrets: Arrive other than “prime time” for lunch or dinner and look to see where the shade is that afternoon or evening.
We’ve tried a few outdoor options in recent weeks and heard about a few others. Here are some to consider:
Yummy Thai, Broad Street, Rome: The same great food and service with more parking options. Two to three tables usually are available, depending on how creative they get with distancing. We’ve been twice and, by chance, saw some friends in the healthcare industry dining just a table away both times. If it works for that expert, it works for us. Our tip: Try the crab meat fried rice; best in town.
Moe’s Original Barbecue, Bridgepoint Plaza: Perhaps the best equipped outdoor dining spot in the region. Tyson and Jeremy designed it with a huge outdoor porch that has come in especially handy during the pandemic. Three of four sides are wide open. In addition to ample, safe seating, there are plenty of fans and a nice view of the Confluence and park area. Same incredible service and menu — and you’ll see a lot of friends there as a bonus (all socially distanced). Our recommendation: Smoked wings with any of the specialty sides.
Roma Mia, Armuchee Village: Prior to May, the covered area with fans was something we walked through. Not these days. The staff offers full service, including the bread and olive oil. Our tip: The baked spaghetti. The portions are huge; you’ll bring home lunch for the next day as well.
Sam’s Burger-Deli, Armuchee: Sam Edwards did more than add all those great visuals when he moved from the Schroeder’s North location. The porch on the southside of the campus is ideal for outdoor dining. Three open-air sides. They’ll check you in at the front of the restaurant — under the nose of the jet — and promptly seat you. Best bet: The Philly Cheese Steak. Get Sam to give you a play-by-play on how it is prepared.
A & B Creekside, Cave Spring: One of the closest things to waterfront dining even if you can jump the creek (on a good day). Tim Ayers has a well-earned reputation for being the best barbecue guy in the region. Add a healthy mix of Herb — Ballenger, that is, of you-know-where fame — and it is fine dining at a fine price. Last Sunday, we did a late brunch and caught the table in the shade. We opted to go a little more dinner so the orders were the special ribeye and half a smoked chicken. Best steak we’ve had in Northwest Georgia (ask Tim about the seasoning). The sides were just as great. We started with the beer formerly known as Downtown Brown brewed fresh at Rome City Brewing Co.; never had one served quite this cold and that was appreciated on a warm June afternoon. Definitely worth the drive; just check the hours before leaving.
Some others to try:
Rome City Brewing Co., Broad Street: Speaking of RCBC… Hillary, Jay and Trent have a great thing going. There’s space to dine outdoors at 333 Broad St. but you might be OK inside the Keg Room as well as the big doors are usually open. Don’t forget the upstairs patio off the Tap Room as well. Our favorite: Any burger with beer cheese — or any of those fabulous grilled cheeses. Craft beer, craft food — an adult happy meal.
John Henry’s Grill, Broad Street: One of the larger cafe offerings downtown, this newcomer had a full house indoors on Friday. Two parties were outside for lunch and the umbrella shades did the job. We tried the Reuben burger with roasted potato salad sides. The other entry was a John Henry’s burger. Served with water (cool blue-tint Mason jars). Right at $30 before tip.
Bella Roma, Braves Boulevard at the Bypass: Eddie had the right idea with the outdoor patio facing State Mutual Stadium. A shame you can’t hear a ballgame but maybe next year. No matter; the food and service are just as good. Tip: You can never go wrong with real lasagna (sorry, veggie fans).
Appalachian Grill, Cartersville: Northwest Georgia’s original destination restaurant just gets better. Jackie has added more room for outdoor dining and at the perfect time as well. You can never go wrong ordering the restaurant’s namesake.
Antigua Mexican Restaurant, U.S. 411 East, Rome: Sabrina has built a powerhouse in the strip center adjoining the East Rome Walmart campus, and that includes an enhanced, covered dining option. Used mostly for overflow, it is a great spot for those seeking perhaps Rome’s most unique Mexican dishes. Tip: Anything. We’ve never made a bad choice.
For Independence Day:
Off Broad, Hawthorn Suites: The big deck sitting above the Oostanaula River is a great place to park this Saturday night if waiting to see the fireworks. On the menu: The Firecracker Burger with steak fries or barbecue chicken sandwich with steak fries. Libations, too. Kitchen hours are 5-9 p.m. so arrive early; the pyrotechnics start at 9:50 p.m.
RCBC’s upstairs patio is another option.