Cartersville, Georgia, a town of 22,000 people in North Georgia, and its surrounding area can prove Native American habitation as far back as 650 A.D. Hernando de Soto explored there in the 1500s, and General William Tecumseh Sherman marched through Cartersville during the Civil War, just a few years after Cartersville was originally incorporated.
With all these historical connections, it makes sense that the townspeople would be keenly interested in preserving the evidences of their past. They also have citizens who are devoted to art and science. As a result, Cartersville is home to several world-class museums and has become known as “Georgia’s Museum City.”
The Tellus Science Museum is highly visible from Interstate 75 and encompasses a large parcel of land and museum space of 125,000 square feet, where minerals, paleontology, transportation, and astronomy are the major subjects covered inside.
The Booth Western Art Museum is perfect for lovers of cowboys and Indians, and houses the largest permanent exhibition space in the country for Western art.
Other fascinating museums near the heart of downtown are the Bartow History Museum and Rose Lawn Museum.
A short drive from the center of Cartersville is Old Car City U.S.A. which is said to be the world’s largest classic car junkyard.
By contrast, the Savoy Automobile Museum, where visitors can explore the history of automobiles in a state-of-the-art facility, is set to open in 2021. Clearly, Cartersville has a museum to suit all ages and interests.
The same is true of its selection of restaurants. From vintage diners serving Southern comfort foods to a luxurious resort where the chef creates dishes that are visual and culinary feasts, Cartersville and Bartow County aim to please. Nine of the places listed are within a few blocks of each other downtown, while the other four are a short drive into Bartow County.
31 East Main Street // (770) 387-1357
Beginning with burgers in 1931, Fred Garrison started serving customers in the same spot where the eatery is located today.
Famous for the fact that it has never had a telephone inside, the eight barstools at the counter stools stay busy every day except Sunday from 5:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with hungry breakfast and lunch customers.
Don’t try to go in with a group or when you’re in a hurry. This is a place where locals eat and share gossip in the same spot enjoyed previously by their daddies and granddaddies in the past.
For a blast of history and a great meal, make sure to try this Cartersville restaurant.
17 North Wall Street // (770) 382-9159
One set of Cartersville folks are fiercely loyal to 4 Way Lunch, while another set insists that Ross’ Diner is their favorite. Like 4 Way, Ross’ is closed on Sunday.
Ross’ varies its hours a bit, opening at 6:30 a.m., closing at 2:30 p.m. and staying open until 8:00 p.m. on Fridays.
Ross’ Diner opened in 1945, is slightly larger than 4 Way, and has a u-shaped counter. Breakfast choices are hotcakes, biscuits, and a variety of typical a la carte items.
Meat-and-three plate lunches are very popular for the noon crowd, as are the hamburgers, hot dogs and sandwiches. There is a small area for outdoor dining directly in front. Try both these Cartersville diners, and see which side of the fence you prefer.
20 South Wall Street // (470) 315-4851
Table 20 is open from noon to 9:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and is a great location for appetizers or a creative meal with a view of the railroad and Cartersville’s historic depot.
The business is committed to following the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control regarding cleanliness and sanitation of its kitchen and dining area. Seating capacity is reduced, and all servers wear masks and gloves.
Table 20 offers a full menu of farm-to-table freshness along with an extensive list of drinks. In addition to the brick and mortar building (literally), they also have a food truck and full catering.
During the pandemic, their lunch and dinner specials are listed on their Facebook page and are available for dine-in or carry-out. Live music is also presented on Wednesdays, and that schedule of talent can be found on Facebook, as well.
14 East Church Street // (770) 607-5357
Since there are likely thousands of restaurants in the state of Georgia, it is remarkable and very exciting that Appalachian Grill was named “the most charming restaurant in Georgia” recently by LoveFood.com. The mountain cabin atmosphere inside certainly adds to its appeal, but in our current days, the availability of outdoor patio dining and curbside pick-up are especially helpful. Be aware that reservations are not accepted, but the wait will be worth it.
Southern favorites with unexpected twists, such as Chattahoochee Chili and Pickles and Pups (hushpuppies) served with Alabama white sauce on the appetizer list, leads to an impressive choice of seafood, chicken, and steak entrees.
Save your daily calorie allotment for one of the fabulous desserts. Kentucky Bourbon Bread Pudding or Kentucky Pie a la mode are surefire hits.
For some fine dining in Cartersville, make sure to try this classic restaurant.
501 Museum Drive // (770) 387-1300
The Booth Museum Café, located near the gift shop inside the incredible Booth Western Art Museum, deserves to be on this list of foodie finds for several reasons.
The most obvious one is that in order to fully appreciate the wonderful works of art, you will need to stay for several hours. During that time, you are bound to work up an appetite. This café is convenient, attractive, and reasonably priced with tasty choices.
Burgers and chili carry out the Western theme of the museum, but salads and sandwiches are available as well. I can personally vouch for the chicken salad croissant and the homemade cookies.
It is also a kid-friendly place to grab a quick snack. If learning and eating on are your agenda, try this restaurant when in Cartersville.
24 West Main Street // (770) 334-3813
A physical address of Main Street and an interior décor suggesting the state of Maine make this an interesting and delicious choice for dining in Cartersville.
Seafood is the primary attraction at Maine Street Coastal Cuisine, but non-seafood lovers will find plenty of delightful dishes too. From a burger to linguine to a butcher-cut ribeye, the entrees are very tempting. For an appetizer, the trout dip with pita points may be the most popular, and the salted caramel cheesecake and lava cake have many fans.
Maine Street Coastal Cuisine serves lunch and dinner seven days a week and an exceptional brunch on Sunday. Owner John Pettinati is committed to finding sources for his seafood from sustainable fisheries and supporting local farmers.
Cartersville may be a long drive from either the Gulf Coast or the Atlantic Coast, but Cartersville diners can still enjoy great seafood without leaving home, thanks to Pettinati and his team.
If you are “mainly” looking for a seafood restaurant, go to Maine on Main.
10 East Church Street // (770) 334-8576
BridgeHouse, which is actually a combination home décor showcase, café, and wine bar, is located literally under the bridge. At least, that is how the locals refer to it.
Walking through the front door, you will first want to browse for a few minutes at the selection of furniture and accessories on display before heading to the rear section of the building for specialty lunch dishes accompanied by coffee, wine, or a cocktail.
Diners order at the counter but then servers take care of everything from that point. A variety of healthy salads, sandwiches, and flatbreads are offered, along with several hot entrees such as chicken pot pie or turkey bolognese.
If you prefer to come in for a glass of wine with some friends, then there are several shareable appetizers and a charcuterie board that would be perfect accompaniments.
Normal hours are 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The café is currently undergoing construction and expansion but expects to reopen in early fall. It will be worth the wait to try this Cartersville restaurant.
110 North Museum Drive // (770) 334-3170
Find the railroad running through the center of Cartersville. Look for the world’s first outdoor Coca-Cola wall advertisement beside Young Brothers Pharmacy. Directly across the tracks from that sign you’ll find The City Cellar & Loft.
The Loft portion of the building is an event venue, perfect for wedding receptions and parties, while the Cellar is a restaurant serving lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. If you prefer, there is a large dining patio in the back in addition to the basement dining room.
Fried green tomatoes, Cajun pork cracklings, and loaded potato soup headline the list of starters, followed by a choice of five burgers or sandwiches and four large plates, such as shrimp and grits or buttermilk fried chicken. The signature dessert is buttermilk pie.
If you want a restaurant for filling, delicious southern delicacies, this Cartersville restaurant should be on your list.
227 Fite Street // (770) 387-0059
Moore’s Gourmet Market is an excellent place to dine outdoors. There is a large patio in front covered by thick greenery to protect from the hot sun at lunchtime and to lend a cozy vibe at night.
Moore’s is on a residential street, not far from Rose Lawn Museum and several of the other outstanding attractions in Cartersville. There is ample parking and a full bar. It is obvious that the building has been around for a while. Its original identity was a meat market and deli, but it evolved over time to serving full meals.
The base menu is impressive, but daily specials of hot dishes, seasonal sides, soups, and quiches are also offered. Moore’s serves lunch and dinner every day and a hearty brunch on weekends. It is easy to see why this is a popular gathering place for the locals, many of whom can walk or bike to the restaurant.
Fried Brussels sprouts or a kale and goat cheese salad are intriguing starters, as well as the tempting burgers, sandwiches and Po-boys. Fish, steak, pork, and chicken dishes round out the full entrees on the dinner menu and made-in-house desserts will entice you to splurge.
From comfort to classic, you’ll find a food you enjoy at Moore’s.
Here are four additional or bonus restaurants for you that, although not actually located in Cartersville, are nearby and worth the drive:
3167 Highway 411 NE, White, Georgia // (770) 386-9933
Wes-Man’s Restaurant is a perfect choice for lunch or dinner when visiting Old Car City U.S.A., which is directly across the highway. The vibe and personality of the restaurant are a great match for the view of the junkyard of classic cars nearby.
Owner Wes Wesley had no money in the budget for advertising when he first started, so he painted the daily menu on an old truck and parked it in the front. One day a customer inquired if Wes would paint his name on the truck. Wes agreed and a tradition that started twenty years ago continues today. Every three years or so, the paint gets so thick that it just falls off, and Wes begins again with a fresh canvas.
Both the exterior and the interior are lined with license plates that he has collected through the years, but inside Wes also displays mounted hunting and fishing trophies and toys based on the Toy Story movies.
Like Ross’ Diner, this is a meat-and-three kind of lunch place, but Wes also claims that he’s willing to fry anything. The day I visited, fried corn on the cob, fried green tomatoes, and fried cheesecake caught my attention. Wes-Man’s is also open for breakfast.
You may have a view of junk, but it won’t be junk food when you go to this Cartersville restaurant.
5989 Groovers Landing Road, SE, Acworth, GA // (678) 726-8464
Lake Allatoona is one of the best natural resources in Bartow County. The fish are abundant and so are the swimmers, skiers, and boaters.
Amazingly, though, there is only one lakeside eatery in Bartow County, and that is the Allatoona Grill, located at Groovers Landing within sight of dozens of boats coming in and out after a great time on the water.
Allatoona Grill looks rustic and small on the outside, but once you walk in, you’ll see that it turns into a nice-sized dining room, a deck, and tables with umbrellas on the grounds nearby.
Seafood is the menu headliner, and oysters on the half shell or Rockefeller style are the logical first course. Surprisingly, drunken mussels claim to be the best-selling appetizer.
A few chicken, steak, and pork dishes are listed among the entrees, but with the great views of Lake Allatoona setting the mood, you’ll want to choose a seafood option.
Six kinds of fish or the sea scallops can be prepared grilled, sauteed, blackened, or fried, but diners may also opt for shrimp and grits, crab cakes, or seafood pasta.
Burgers, soups, salads, and wings are also available, and more likely to be chosen at lunchtime.
If possible, arrive in time to watch the spectacular sunset, but remember that Allatoona Grill is closed on Tuesday. For a top-end seafood restaurant in Bartow County, you can’t beat Allatoona Grill.
696 GA-293, Emerson, GA // (770) 382-9063
A short drive from town but still in Bartow County is a bustling place that can give thanks for its success to a fortunate detour created when Interstate 75 was under construction.
What started as a roadside country store blossomed into a perfect place for hungry travelers to score a breakfast, lunch, or dinner of Southern comfort foods, topped off by wonderful homemade desserts originating from when the owner first chose to bake a few biscuits.
Doug’s Place closes at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday but stays open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday. Expect to find five or six meat choices and about a dozen sides that change every day to make up the meat-and-three plates.
For good southern barbecue, try this Bartow County restaurant.
WOODLANDS GRILL at Barnsley Resort
597 Barnsley Gardens Road, Adairsville, GA // (770) 773-7480
After driving for several miles on rural roads, you will spot a 3000-acre mirage that turns out to be the luxurious Barnsley Resort. A world-class golf course, immaculately-groomed lawns, large and small cottages, a spa and an inn await guests to this beautiful getaway near the ruins of the historic Barnsley manor house and formal gardens built in the 1840’s.
Executive Chef is Nicolas Lebas from France, and his dishes appeal to your eyes as well as your tastebuds. He incorporates fresh produce grown on the property into many of his dishes.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served daily at Woodlands Grill. I can enthusiastically recommend the ricotta pancakes for breakfast. Be sure to eat them on the screened-in porch overlooking the golf course for a treat that will incorporate all your senses.
To be sure, there are other good, locally-owned restaurants in the Cartersville area, as well as a number of well-known chains. These thirteen, however, are ones I have personally sampled and can give my hearty approval. I hope I’ve given you plenty of reasons to plan a visit. You’ll be happy to discover this North Georgia gem.
Which of these Cartersville restaurants do you most want to try? Let us know in the comments section below!
Connie Pearson retired from past careers as a public school music teacher and as a missionary. She is currently a freelance travel and food writer and blogger based in Hartselle, Alabama. She has over 200 published articles in 24 different print and online publications, and her blog is There Goes Connie. Connie enjoys sampling regional cuisine wherever she goes and is a certified judge for the World Food Championships.