Statesboro is one of Georgia’s secret treasures. It’s the small town that is home to Georgia Southern University and, like most college towns, it had a lot to see and do and a fantastic food scene. It’s close enough to coastal Georgia or bustling Atlanta for a day trip there.
You’ll appreciate the easy traffic flow and there are no parking problems like in the bigger cities. There’s an amazing amount of interesting things to see and do here.
Georgia Southern Center for Wildlife Education and The Lamar Q. Ball, Jr. Raptor Center offer South Georgia wildlife up close, including Freedom, the rescued bald eagle that is GSU’s mascot.
At Georgia Southern Museum, you can see authentic fossils from prehistoric times plus a look at the area’s more modern past.
The Botanical Gardens are filled with both flowery delights and edible plants. Its old one-room schoolhouse is an added bonus.
For water-related fun, you can kayak at Blackwater Preserve amid beautiful cypress trees or you can Splash in the Boro, a water park with so much more.
The Nine Best Restaurants in Statesboro, GA
121 S. Main St. Statesboro, Georgia 30458 // 912-764-2821
The Beaver House is a traditional boarding house-style restaurant and so much more. It’s a treat on so many levels.
Yes, our home-style fried chicken, rice, gravy, potatoes, squash, fresh sliced tomatoes, blackeye peas, plus a delectable chocolate pie or chess pie was fantastic. Many of the vegetables come from Clay’s farm, Beaver Falls.
The food is like dropping in at grandma’s house on Sunday. But touring the building and hearing the family stories added another layer.
Officially, it’s The McDougald-Beaver home, a turn-of-the century Neo-classical house with Corinthian columns not generally seen in Neo-classical architecture.
John Alexander McDougald, the current owner, Clay Beaver’s great-grandfather, built this house in 1911. McDougald and his wife, Mella, had seven children: Ruth, Annie, Dougald Worth, John Sidney, and three others. Ruth married Roy Beaver and was Clay’s grandmother.
It’s Annie, who died at eight years old–Clay remembers her falling and breaking her neck, but official cause of death is recorded as fever–who seems to still be hanging around the building along with her two brothers, Dougald Worth and John Sidney. The two boys, Clay’s great uncles, who died at ages 16 and 19, are still seen on the property.
Clay told several well-documented stories of seeing these three, and of a psychic that also documented sightings. They are always at the age they were when they died and dressed as they would have been then. They are not hurtful and just seem to want to remain in their home. A haunted Statesboro restaurant; who could resist that?
434 S. Main St. Statesboro, GA 30458 // (912) 681-7484
If you’re looking for fall-off-the-bone ribs and more, Uncle Shug’s is the place. Uncle Shug’s grew out of a family tradition.
Owner Stacy Underwood’s father had owned a restaurant called Uncle Shug’s Restaurant in Portal in 1986. He closed it just five years later, but Stacy was already hooked. In 1996, he opened his own on West Main Street. It did well but was only a takeout place. Stacy wanted a dine-in and drive-thru which he founded in 2006.
This one, also called Uncle Shug’s Chicken Barn at the corner of Highway 301 South and the Statesboro Bypass, was so much busier he closed his original site on West Main. He was doing great with his chicken using a recipe from his father-in-law, Guy “Bunny” Deal, who had also been a restauranteur.
Stacy uses the secret seasoning recipe and a unique marinade that lifts his fried chicken to the top of the heap. Still, he wanted to move farther up the ladder.
He did that in 2016, by opening Uncle Shug’s BBQ Place in Brooklet, Georgia, where he merged his love of barbecue with his favorite Chicken Barn food items.
That idea was so well received that in July 2021, Stacy opened a new restaurant in Statesboro on South Main Street.
Here, you’ll find BBQ chopped pork, BBQ chicken, BBQ ribs, smoked wings, fried and grilled chicken fingers, all-beef hamburgers, and made-from-scratch sides.
I had the Shug Sampler; ribs, brisket, chicken, and sausage with collard greens for a side.
It was pretty special. I coated the ribs and brisket with a mixture of his sweet and red sauces, and it added a rich slightly spicy flavor. The ribs were my favorite; they were so tender they fell off the bone as I bit into them.
239 South Main Street Statesboro, GA 30458 // (912) 259-9997
Dolan’s has fantastic barbeque, but it is a trendsetter in another way.
It’s owned by a woman pit master. At one time that was rare, but today you are seeing more women take to the pits. Mary Beth Brown and her sister, Lazar Brown Oglesby, opened Dolan’s Barbeque in 2017 in nearby Millen and moved it to Statesboro in 2021.
The two sisters’ strengths supplement each other. Mary Beth is the pitmaster with a slogan of “We smoke while you sleep,” indicating how long smoking and barbequing takes to get the kind of quality food Dolan’s serves. Lazar is the dessert queen. She rules over the white tile and blue cabinetry section that is the home of Honey Specialties.
When you enter from the parking lot, the first thing you see are those delicious-looking cheesecakes in a refrigerated case, turtle, chocolate chip, cookies and cream, patriotic, brownie cheesecakes, and others.
This is where you find packages of chicken salads, casseroles, Dolan’s sauces, and merchandise like t-shirts and hats.
Lazar is an Ogeechee Tech graduate with a Culinary Arts degree. Mary Beth graduated from Georgia Southern with a degree in Hospitality Management.
The two originally owned the catering company Honey Specialties before they expanded to the restaurant, which they named after their grandfather.
His picture graces one wall. They have an order at the counter and get it at your table process. They also have a full bar, indoor and outdoor seating.
Mary Beth explained the cooking process.
She uses two pits for barbecuing; a traditional brick pit and a barrel pit. The brick pit is similar to the one Grandfather Dolan had on the family farm, where she first got her love for barbequing. The pork butts and chickens get cooked on the brick, and the brisket and ribs on the barrel.
We started with shared appetizers; Fresh Fried Porkskins tossed with house rub, Pulled Pork Sliders, Bbq Pull Apart topped with garlic butter and smokey que, three cheeses, bacon, green onion, and three sauces.
Delicious! I had the Ribs Plate with green beans and macaroni and cheese for an entrée. My ribs proved another of Mary Beth’s slogans, “Girls can ‘que, too.”
They serve bread and sauce with all the plates. The sauces are unique; Sister’s White, Grape Vine Road Red, and Seven Oaks Mustard,plus a mopping sauce that was more like the briny sauce you find in North Carolina. I really loved the Grape Vine Road Red, which added a sweet and spicy touch to my ribs.
We finished the meal with shared cheesecakes.
Turtle and Cholate Chip were my two favorites, but the rest were nothing to scorn.
30 W. Main St. Statesboro, GA 30458 // 912-259-9990
Looking for luxury dining in Statesboro? Bull and Barrel Steakhouse is your spot. They’re relatively new, having opened in May 2020 despite Covid. The owners, Jim Peery, Jason Franklin, and John Adam, wanted to be known for steaks, whiskey, and wine and they wanted an elegant setting.
With that concept in mind, they began in 2018 and redesigned an older building on Main Street in what is known as “The Blue Mile.” For those of you who don’t know what the name signifies, don’t feel alone. I had to ask, too.
Blue Mile plays on Georgia Southern’s official colors, blue and white with a touch of gold, and the song, “The Statesboro Blues,” a blues song written by Blind Willie McTell, who, though born in Thomson, Georgia, called Statesboro “my real home.” He first recorded the song on October 17, 1928.
We shared several appetizers. My favorite was the Deviled Egg Flight; six well-stuffed eggs topped with smoked bacon, pickled okra, and sweet and spicy pickles.
I couldn’t resist the Low Country Crab Cakes with remoulade sauce. A loaded baked potato is the perfect side.
One of our group had an unusual choice, New Zealand Lamb with a bordelaise sauce and sweet potato soufflé. They have extensive cocktail, wine, or beer choices in this Statesboro restaurant.
Dessert offered some hard choices.
I was torn between Flourless Truffle Torte with Belgian chocolate, berries topped with whipped cream, Bread Pudding with white chocolate custard base and caramel praline sauce, or Coconut Crème Brûlée made with coconut and Madagascar vanilla, and crusted with caramelized sugar.
I went with the Crème Brûlée but got to taste the others. You cannot go wrong no matter what your choice is.
40 East Main St. Statesboro, GA 30458 // 912.259.1212
Tandoor and Tap is the place to dine if you are looking for international dining in Statesborotaste. It serves authentic Indian cuisine in a dining area that is brimming with Indian décor.
They are a fairly new restaurant, opening late in 2020, and the only authentic Indian cuisine in Statesboro.
The owner, AJ Jetwani, remodeled the narrow, block-long former 40 East Grill and decorated it with objects like the sparkly elephant quilt-sized wall hanging on the red brick wall, lots of little elephants and other ornaments in nooks on the wall, unique light fixtures, and the bar separated to the rear.
They have already earned several awards, including Most Fabulous New Business.
We had a trio of appetizers; Garlic Naan, an unleavened bread stuffed with cheese and topped with ghee, minced garlic, and cilantro; Vegetable Samosa, a crisp turnover stuffed with seasoned potatoes, green peas, and deep-fried; and Gobi Manchurian, deep-fried cauliflower in a soy-based sauce. The Garlic Naan was my favorite.
They also have a unique collection of cocktails. I tried the Sun, Sea, and Sand, made with Plantation Pineapple rum, curacao, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup. It was delicious, very soft, and fruity tasting. Even though I don’t like Scotch, their A Scots Remedy, made with Scotch, Benedictine, Black Walnut Bitters, and honey, sounds like it might cure anything that ails you.
19 South Main St. Statesboro, Georgia 30458 // 912-421-9078
If you just need a quick pick-me-up, stop in at Cool Beanz.
The beautiful old building dating back to the turn of the 20th century with its octagonal tile floor and red brick wall, is worth a visit just for the early 1900s architecture. It was once a funeral home and, prior to that, a pharmacy.
Owner David Hoyle, a Georgia Southern Graduate who loves coffee, fed his passion and your coffee quest when he opened Cool Beanz about four years ago. He serves organic coffee from the mountains of Honduras or from the birthplace of coffee itself-Ethiopia.
You can have an expresso, a cold brew, or other coffees. For non-coffee drinkers, there are several good tea choices.
For a more adult culinary experience, there’s Vino 1910. It’s more than a wine bar. The atmosphere is more like a pub where friends gather.
They do have an expansive menu of wine, more than 50 wine choices, but they also offer four beers on draft and a variety of liquor choices. They are new, having opened on Black Friday of 2021. The owner, Michael Blackmon, says their main goal is to educate people about wine.
Food choices are limited to charcuterie boards and a few dessert options. But their charcuterie boards are special.
They offer three different sizes: Solo, Duet, and Ensemble, so that your board size can match your party size. Our board was filled with delights, cheeses, crackers, bread, strawberries, jams, beets, red and green grapes, and apple slices. WOW! This is a top-shelf Statesboro restaurant.
106 Savannah Ave., Suite B, Statesboro, GA 30458, // 912-489-2337
Eagle Creek Brewing Company is Statesboro’s first craft brewery.
Franklin Dismuke, Eagle Creek Brewery owner, told us how the brewery began, “It started at a New Year’s Eve party. After all the other world problems had been solved. The problem was, why doesn’t Statesboro have a brewery? So it kind of went from there. That was January 1st, 2012. And my business partner at the time had been home brewing. That’s kind of how it got started.”
They planned to start small but because of Georgia laws, they found they couldn’t do that. They started selling beer on July 21st, 2013. The way they decided to do things really worked as Eagle Creek Brewery is going full force now.
We visited on a Friday night. A musician was playing guitar and singing. People were talking and enjoying themselves. There were a few folks playing the slots (they are regulated by Georgia law and can’t pay in cash). It was a friendly, family kind of atmosphere.
We ordered at the bar and chose from a selection of about ten craft beers. I usually don’t enjoy beer, but the Georgia Tea Party Amber was good. One of my friends enjoyed the River Street Praline. She and I are both from New Orleans so that one tempted me also.
Franklin gave us a tour of the brewery and showed us how the beers are made and canned. Tours are a regular event here, so if you go, be sure to take one. Franklin told us about the different events. Open Mike Night is Wednesday. Thursday is Trivia Night. There’s music on Friday and Saturday from 8:00 to 11:00.
You can get a great meal here as well. My friend and I shared GATA GATA Shrimp (sort of like Bang Bang Shrimp) and Balsamic Honey Glazed Brussels Sprouts. There are lots of other choices, ranging from steak to burgers and even a Beyond Meat Veggie Burger for Vegans.
What a great way to spend a weekend night at a Statesbor restaurant.
222 S. Main St. Statesboro, GA 30458 // 803-232-8707
This is a fabulous farmers’ market in a refurbished old public warehouse set between the CVB offices and the Blind Willie McTell Trail. It’s just two years old, but judging by the happy crowds, it has caught on in a big way.
Justin Samples, Vice President of Marketing and Operations at Visit Statesboro, helped design and remodel the old warehouse. When the Convention and Visitors Bureau acquired the building, it was filled with old furniture from a hotel. He said, “We tried to give the furniture away, but no one seemed to want it. It was too new to be collectibles and too old to be modern.”
Today, it’s a large, rustic-looking building with many large doors opening to the covered areas on each side. Vendors set up either inside, on the side porches, or in the yard. There’s a paved patio area with tables and chairs between the market and the boardwalk on the trail. Dogs are welcome and there was even a vendor selling homemade dog treats. Upstairs, there is a small balcony overlooking the vending area and an office space.
There were vendors selling home-grown vegetables and fruit and craftspeople with candles, jewelry, and handmade items.
I saw delicious-looking peaches, corn, tomatoes, lots of honey, and just about any produce you might want.
Best Restaurants in Statesboro, GA, Wrap Up
Statesboro is just about an hour’s drive northwest of Savannah. One of the nicest things about Statesboro is it has a real down-home feel. Instead of a chain hotel, our group stayed in cottages. Ours, The Cottage at Cypress Lake, was right on the lake. It was supplied with two kayaks in case we wanted to paddle off from our private dock into the peaceful lake. The screened porch was a great spot to relax.
Visiting other destinations in Georgia? Check out our other delicious guides:
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- 8 Best Restaurants In Savannah GA
- 10 Best Atlanta Seafood Restaurants
- Best Georgia Food
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- 12 Fun Things To Do In Helen GA
- The 10 Best Helen GA Restaurants
- The 5 Best Bars In Helen GA
- The 6 Best German Restaurants In Helen
- 9 Must-Try Jekyll Island Restaurants
- 10 Must-Try Augusta Restaurants
Which of these restaurants in Helen, GA do you most want to try? Let me know in the comments section below!
I’m Kathleen Walls, former reporter for Union Sentinel in Blairsville, GA, currently publisher/writer for American Roads and Global Highways. I live in Middleburg, FL but travel extensively, mainly in the U.S. I’m the author of travel books, Georgia’s Ghostly Getaways, Finding Florida’s Phantoms, Hosts With Ghosts, and Wild About Florida series, and several novels. All available at my site, katywalls.com/.
Publications I write for include Travel the South, Roadtrippers, Travel Awaits, World Footprints, Snowbirds and RV Travelers, Family RVing, Deep South, Florida Country, and more. My photographs appear in many publications. I also do videos. I’m a proud member of International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers (IFWTA), Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), and North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA).