Fifth Group Restaurants began in 1993 with a hunger-driven dream and the opening of South City Kitchen in Midtown; in the intervening 17 years, the restaurant management company has grown to include a caravan of five grumble-silencing victual villas in a variety of cuisine styles. The restaurant group is also actively involved in a number of charitable and green programs, including a no-trash initiative where at least 95% of waste is either composted or recycled (Ecco is dumpster free and recycles or composts everything).
Jocks & Jills sates sports-lovers with a menu of classic American cuisine served in an athletics-championing atmosphere. Rev your hunger engine with a 10-piece set of original buffalo wings ($7.99), available in nine different sauce styles, or make room on the mantelpiece of your stomach for a bowl of made-from-scratch Trophy chili ($4.29). Bread bookended bites include the Hall of Fame burger ($6.99), a half-pound of beef and overly emotional speeches, and the Philly Fanatic, topped with rib-eye steak, onions, peppers, and cheese ($7.99). Jill's Berry Walnut salad culls together fresh strawberries and raspberry vinaigrette ($6.49), and a full-rack of the Back-to-Back baby-back ribs slathers the meat-marimba in hickory barbecue sauce ($18.99). Desserts include the quadruple chocolate-mousse torte ($4.99), which satisfies sweet teeth via a quartet of cocoa elements—one for each half in a football game.
Chef Chris Hall, one of the three locals behind the eatery’s moniker, sources fresh, seasonal ingredients from area farmers and weaves them into creative and playful comfort dishes. For example, the chefs show off some of the region's best meats—and some of their own butchery skills—in the Notorious P.I.G. charcuterie plate, and they modernize the classic meatloaf by subbing in a sophisticated pâte and pairing it with pickled seasonal vegetables.
More than 100 varieties of wine quite literally surround guests at Local Three, where the bottles are tucked into the walls in a private dining room. Space behind the curved oak bar is reserved exclusively for spirits, including more than 40 bourbons available by the glass or flight. The bar’s taps flow with local and international craft brews, and bartenders shake up a seasonal cocktail list that, more often than not, features a drink inspired by The Big Lebowski.
Most locavores dwell more on where their food comes from than where it’s prepared, but the owners of Local Three poured a lot of thought into their kitchen—which, at more than 4,000 square feet, is actually larger than all the restaurant's dining rooms combined. This sprawling workspace houses enough gadgetry to make just about everything from scratch, including a duck-fat fryer, two smokers, and a computer-controlled oven complete with USB port. There's even a designated pasta room that operates on a separate heating system to control humidity.
Visiting Bone Lick BBQ is as much about the experience as it is about the food. Inside, a skee-ball machine from 1945 stands alongside classic tabletop arcade games, and old school rock n' roll spins atop a record player (patrons can even bring in their own vinyl and get a complimentary PBR for their effort). Further entertainment comes in the form of TVs above the bar and the occasional live act, including comedy every Wednesday evening.
Even with such a fun, laid-back atmosphere, the food still shines at Bone Lick. Its chefs rub beef, pork, and chicken in secret spice blends, then cook them for hours on end over hickory and pecan woods. While the meat cooks, the chefs stay extremely busy—they make everything on their menu from scratch every day.
They bake corn bread, braise collards in pork, and blend jalapeños into mac 'n' cheese. They also whip up homemade pickles and cider slaw to lay atop pulled-pork sandwiches on griddled texas toast. Even the cotton candy, funnel cakes, and Granny Pearl's pecan pie are made in-house, though no one knows how Ms. Pearl keeps sneaking into the kitchen unnoticed.
At the bar, which is made from recycled shipping pallets, mixologists concoct creative cocktails, such as bacon old-fashions. They also send out crisp Georgia drafts and American-crafted whiskies.