Michael's Deli & Seafood restaurants are popping up across Georgia, but so far Dublin is as far north as the chain has ventured.
Michael's is known for its oven-baked subs, but we came for the grilled tilapia. It had been recommended, and it didn't disappoint.
The fish was tender and tasty. It wasn't too fishy. I'm not a big fan of tartar sauce, but I gave Michael's a try. It wasn't as overwhelming as most tartar sauces, so I ended up eating it on half the fish. The other half got cocktail sauce. Both were delicious.
The fish came in a combo with fan-tailed shrimp that were fried to near perfection. They were big, with a thin coat of crisp batter, and not at all greasy.
The entrees were so good that I almost ignored the sides. The green beans were seasoned and cooked well. The other order of beans - of the baked variety - struck a nice balance of smoky sweetness.
A kid's platter of chicken tenders and fries got a thumbs up from my 7-year-old, who also thought the beach decor - including tribal masks on the walls and tiki hut-like booths - was pretty cool.
Most of the 15 Michael's restaurants are in south Georgia. There is one in Hazlehurst and another opening soon in Vidalia. The Dublin restaurant opened less than a year ago in the new Kroger shopping center.
There was big crowd on this Friday night, and it almost certainly included some spillover from the new Japanese steakhouse a few doors down. We placed our orders at the counter, minutes before a stream of customers filed in.
The crew was busy but friendly. The prices were reasonable - $7.99 each for the combos and $3.99 for kid's meal - and the food was well worth the cost and the 10- to 15-minute wait before our number was called.
I left Michael's with a good impression but with one complaint. The corner where customers fixed their drinks and condiments was much too crowded. People were almost stepping on each other.
Michael's has a huge selection, including a dozen appetizers - if you count fries and fried okra. The menu's catchier-named offerings include Macho Mushrooms, Zany Zucchini and Potato Baby Cakes.
The restaurant also features lots of sandwiches, subs and wraps. You can get different types of burgers, or go with sandwich choices such as shrimp po boy, fried catfish fillet sandwich or grilled steak and onion wrap.
The seafood menu has fewer options. The choices include Alaskan pollock, tilapia, flounder, bite-sized shrimp, catfish fillet and an 18-piece fantail shrimp. All come hand-breaded and fried, but the tilapia and shrimp are also available grilled.
If you're hankering for something other than seafood or a sandwich, there are several salad and dinner options, including a hamburger steak topped with grilled onions and gravy.
Michael's is a good destination for family night. There's bound to be something to please everyone's palate, and the most expensive item is a three-meat combo seafood dinner at $9.49.
Michael's Deli & Seafood
1100 Hillcrest Parkway, Dublin
Phone: (478) 272-3051
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; closed Sunday
Price range: $2.49 (sandwich) to $9.49 for three-meat seafood combo
Payment: cash, credit card
Children's menu: yes
Vegetarian selections: yes
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Noise level: moderate
Health code: 93