The White Tiger is bringing it back to the basics with its simple selection of local Southern cuisine and succulent barbeque dishes. This quintessentially-Athens restaurant fits right into the quaint Historic Boulevard District and is a prime spot for Sunday brunches and wholesome, hearty dinners—and it's BYOB, so there's that.
Owner Ken Manring opened White Tiger in 2007 in a building that was originally a old-time general store back in 1905. Manring takes pride in White Tiger’s location. “It’s a real piece of Athens history,” says Manring. “Of course it does come with its challenges but I think that’s part of the charm.” Little has changed in the past century. This building still embodies an old-school appearance with a homey feel.
Inside you’ll find a whimsical dining area with tablecloth picnic tables, antique furniture, shelves full of colorful knick-knacks, and one wall dedicated entirely to a selection of local artwork and paintings. Manring says, “It’s always been a really 'neighborhood' kind of spot.” Don’t be surprised to see a wide selection of locals ranging from businessmen taking a lunch break to college students getting away from the campus crowds.
Manring graduated from New York’s Culinary Institute of American and worked in fine dining establishments in five states. The native Georgian decided he wanted a change of scenery from formal fine dining and started his own restaurant back at home. “I like low stress level, I mean it can get stressful of course,” says Manring. “But people enjoy simpler foods and say 'Wow, that’s really good!' and it’s just barbeque."
Nothing is too fancy at White Tiger. Salt, pepper, vinegar, and smoke are Manring’s main secrets to his savory pulled barbeque. Instead of the standard gas smokers, cooks use an actual fire smoker just behind the building. “It’s real simple,” says Manring. “Let the smoke do the work.”
White Tiger has a lot of vegetarian options as well. The Grilled Tofu and Tofu-Q sandwiches are both popular menu items. Other must-trys are the Happy Top Cheeseburger, the Jason Sandwich, and the BBQ Benedict on their brunch menu. The restaurant uses homemade “Tiger” sauces and dressings, Southern veggies, and a variety of cheeses and breads. Specialty items are listed daily and are sure to keep the options fresh and new for regulars.
The restaurant will cater to any vegan or other specific requests. “We’re extremely open to making what you want,” says Manring. White Tiger has been buying produce from farmers since the doors opened. Along with the standard menu, specialty meats and veggies are changed seasonally.
The atmosphere at White Tiger is very mellow and friendly. The “picnic” feel is reassured with paper plates, the freedom to bring your own beer (including your own champagne to Sunday brunch), and plenty of outdoor seating. During some evenings, White Tiger will also host live music. This tucked away Athens gem is sure to satisfy your Southern food cravings with every visit.
White Tiger is open for lunch Tues-Sat 11a-3p. Dinner from Thurs-Sat 6p-8p, and Sunday brunch 10a-2p.