Best bets for eatin’ right during this year's Cherry Blossom Festival

Telegraph correspondentMarch 16, 2012 

So you’ve descended upon Macon to partake in the Cherry Blossom Festival. Congratulations! You are now in a city brimming with pride for its architecture, its hospitality and its food. If you’re a local and your favorite restaurant isn’t listed here, please make a (helpful) comment on Macon.com so our visitors will know about all the other top choices we have here in Macon.

Let’s start with the downtown classics: Nu-Way Weiners and H&H. Nu-Way is a hot dog joint that’s been around since 1916 and has been featured on several shows on the Food Network. The wieners are famously red and can be topped with slaw, chili and/or beans. They also have a great breakfast menu and a triple-thick chocolate shake. The downtown location at 430 Cotton Ave. is open 6 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturdays.

The H&H is a must for music buffs. The Allman Brothers Band used to come here before they made their money and Mama Louise would take care of them with her down-home cookin’. You can still meet Mama Louise herself, eat some collards and fried chicken, and peruse all the ABB paraphernalia on the walls. It’s at 807 Forsyth St., toward the hospital building.

If you get your taste buds set for fried chicken and there’s a line out H&H’s door, go about four blocks north to 425 Mulberry St. and try Jeneane’s Cafe. It’s a mainstay for folks who work downtown, and with good reason. For less than $10, you can get a meat and two vegetables, like meatloaf with mashed potatoes and lima beans, beef tips with rice and black-eyed peas, or baked tilapia with pole beans and broccoli casserole. Check out their Facebook page and their other location on Forsyth Road.

For something fancier, try Molly’s café, Downtown Grill, Market City or the Rookery. Molly’s, on the corner of MLK and Cherry near the train station, has a quaint ambience and never fails to deliver on good food. Our favorites are the Monte Cristo, fried catfish and banana pudding. It’s only open for weekday lunch and the price is right.

Speaking of banana pudding, Market City Café has a ridiculously rich one -- see if you can guess the secret ingredient. They also have huge slabs of cake, crab Benedict and beautiful salads. It’s located at 502 Cherry St. -- just follow the pink line down the middle of the road.

Also on Cherry Street, the Rookery is a cozy little pub with the best hamburgers in town and great specials for dinner. Take a seat in the outdoor area or in the upstairs loft for the local experience.

Downtown Grill is a little hard to find in the alley behind the Rookery, but well worth the search. It has a club-like feel and some of the best, most personal service in town. Come here for steaks, fresh pasta dishes and decadent desserts. It’s also a great place to meet friends for drinks.

I’ve run out of space before I could also mention Natalia’s, Marco, Dolce Vita, Lemongrass, Fish N’ Pig, Satterfield’s, Jim Shaw’s and Ingleside Village Pizza. Here’s where your expensive smartphone comes in handy! Look them up -- you’ll be glad you did.

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