It’s always pleasant to find a little place that does a great job in one of our smaller towns. Champion’s of Roberta is a sweet, simple restaurant that works hard to please their customers, from well-made soups, sandwiches and salads to a pleasant atmosphere in a historic home.
Roberta, if you’ve never made it out that way, is a straight shot down Eisenhower Parkway heading west through Lizella. Once you hit Roberta, you just take a right to get to the yellow 1886 house called Champion’s. The name comes from the namesake of the city, Mattie Roberta Champion, who taught first grade for 29 years. She was the third generation to live in the home.
Someone at Champion’s is a history buff, as several items on the menu are named for historic figures significant to the area. Indian agent Benjamin Hawkins has a chef salad named for him, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville is honored with a French dip, former slave and U.S. Representative Jefferson Franklin Long has a cordon bleu wrap, and Crawford County-born Coca-Cola creator John Pemberton has a Cobb salad.
We started with Merritt’s Monte Cristo, one of the local favorites. This triple layered sandwich has three slices of raisin bread stuffed with layers of ham and turkey, topped with powdered sugar and served with fantastic raspberry preserves. Next was Yaughn’s Tex-Mex Quesadilla with spicy tomatoes and black beans and a side of chicken tortilla soup. The soup was so cheesy that we used it as a dip for the quesadilla, along with the pineapple salsa.
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Averett’s Cuban Sandwich came press-grilled to melt the Swiss cheese into the layers of roasted pork and ham, each bite inspiring another salivating bite. Hiram McCrary’s Reuben would have been a favorite of Miss Roberta’s father, with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and a secret sauce stuffed into grilled pumpernickel.
The signature chicken and raspberry vinaigrette salad is topped with candied pecans, grapes, strawberries, mandarin oranges, blueberries and bleu cheese crumbles. William Crawford’s Roast Beef and Sweet Onion Salad tasted as good as it sounds, with shredded Cajun-style roast beef, plum tomatoes, snow peas, carmelized onions and fried onions on top.
Sides include a mini raspberry vinaigrette salad, carrot raisin salad, classic potato salad and a Granny Smith and broccoli salad with pecans and dried cranberries in a tangy, sweet dressing. There’s also a salad bar, baked potatoes and a design-your-own sandwich option.
Kids entrees include the Gobbler (sliced turkey, raisins, cucumbers and mandarin oranges) and a mini-sub with chips. Of course, we had to try some of the many desserts, our favorite being the homemade cheesecake with a key lime topping.
Everything at Champion’s is as gracious and thoughtful as I imagine Miss Roberta once was. Take a morning or afternoon drive out to Roberta and taste a slice of local history.
Address: 277 N. Dugger Ave., Roberta
Hours: 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday
Payment: Cash, credit
Kids Menu: Yes
Noise Level: Low
Health Rating: 100
Price range: $5.50-$8.50
Rating: 3 stars