Stranger Things is a hit Netflix series featuring some seriously brave kids and a creepy Demogorgon, and happens to be filmed in one of the many adorable tiny towns in Georgia, over an hour south of Atlanta. The show has brought fans and tourists through modestly populated Jackson, and it actually has a pretty awesome culinary scene to incorporate into your visit.
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Fresh Air Barbecue
Fresh Air Barbecue has been around since 1929 and is a local favorite, only a few miles down the road from the Jackson Square where many of the Stranger Things scenes were filmed. The menu is very simple; they focus on doing an awesome job on only a few things, there’s no frill. As soon as you get out of your car, you’ll notice the amazing smell of smoking meat piping out of the pit chimney. Inside, there are plenty of places to sit, but it’s in the main room where you can soak in the heavenly aroma.
Perfected barbecue, one tangy, not too sweet sauce, the best southern slaw ever, and Brunswick stew rounds up the core menu. Chips and drinks are available, but it’s nice that Fresh Air focuses on doing just a few things superbly.
Lucy Lu's Coffee Cafe
This place is even more in its infancy than 3rd Street Station, but has brought high-end coffee to this quaint little town. Situated right on the square, you have a view of Melvald’s Drug Store, another Stranger Things Film location. Be sure to go sign the guest book. Lucy Lu’s has showcased the history of the building, bringing out an industrial and brick design, which is very inviting and interesting. On the wall, you’ll find a large, lighted baseball that once hung in the now demolished Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta.
You just can’t find better coffee; baristas carefully grind and brew each cup to order, and the roast is so fresh and smooth. A basic latte with cocoa powder or an iced latte with whipped cream are lower sugar options. But if the sweet tooth is calling, you find creamy frappes and macchiatos.
Blind Pig BBQ
Are you a serious barbecue fan? Don’t miss t Blind Pig BBQ, only 10-minutete drive from downtown, in the cutest, rustic cabin. The barbecue is genuinely delicious, and their sauce is sweeter than Fresh Air’s, which some people down south prefer. However, huge, juicy, meaty, smokey, perfect ribs make the Blind Pig standout in a sea of barbecue destinations. After being slow smoked, they are glazed with a special rib sauce and served with your choice of two sides. Seriously, these ribs are so big, you can easily split them with someone.
Their fries are a little different, potatoes are sliced into medallions and fried for a crispy exterior, and fluffy interior. Brunswick stew and brown sugar seasoned baked beans are outstanding choices as well.
This Japanese restaurant is actually right beside the alley mentioned earlier; when walking from the parking lot across the street, you’ll be able to stop for photo ops. Saki is just your tasty, Americanized Japanese food stop with great “yummy” sauce, fried rice, and sushi. Their rolls are good, but they have the best nigiri, or single piece sushi, than anywhere around the area. Each slice of fish is generously sized and perfectly fresh.
A family-owned business since 1976, Hunter’s Cafe is located a hop, skip and a jump away from the square. The location did change after an unfortunate fire destroyed their building, and a Dairy Queen now resides there. But thank goodness the family forged forward at a new “in-town” location and continues to serve authentic country breakfasts, veggies and some darn good fried chicken.
Breakfast is the highlight, with homemade biscuits bringing loads of hungry locals in every day. Bacon, egg and cheese biscuits are what Georgia breakfast dreams are made of; it takes a special kind of person to completely nail the soft, moist center and flaky exterior of a country biscuit, and hunters does just that. Bacon strips are always crispy and the eggs are just real, simple, skillet cooked eggs. Dinner is equally as impressive and the cornbread, greens, and meats would make any southern grandma proud.
Their catering service, pictured here, is also a popular option for those looking to entertain.
In a little shack right off the center of town, you’ll find gigantic, Southern-style chicken sandwiches and other heavenly battered dishes. Big Chic is simply a walk up, take out restaurant. A few tables are scattered outside if you’d like to eat there, or you can load it up for a picnic at Daughtry Park.
While their seafood is great, the chicken sandwich is what you want to try, hence the name. The bun is soft and the chicken is lightly battered in a slightly salty, traditional breading like you’d expect to find in the south.
Lucky’s has been around Jackson for years and recently moved into a beautiful historic Jackson home across the street from Big Chic. Pretty much everything “traditional Italian ” is great here; Lasagna, spaghetti, ravioli, you name it. Visitors rave about the stuffed mushrooms. You most certainly can feel the love here, something that can often be lacking in chain restaurants.
Bradley's Olde Tavern
Remember that part in Stranger Things where some not so nice things about Nancy were spray painted on the local movie theater sign? Well, that movie theater is actually a tavern, Bradley’s Olde Tavern. While serving up basic snack food and drinks, the minds behind the menu dreamt up a Stranger Things Burger, which consists of bacon, cheese and your imagination. Three toppings of your choosing will be piled on; macaroni and cheese, mushrooms, fried jalapeños and grilled onion to name a few options. Make it as “strange” as you’d like.