Middle Georgia is home to some of the best food in the state with its Southern cooking, barbeque and several international restaurants.
Some of those restaurants are owned by people with no connection to the food they serve, but many local restaurants have authentic, personal ties to various cultures and cuisines.
Here is a list of a few local restaurants with authentic cuisines.
Miyang Kim, owner of the Kimchi Factory, had never really cooked before she came to the United States 20 years ago, but she learned from watching her mother when she was growing up, she said in a Telegraph article.
“My mother was always thinking about the balance of the food,” Kim said. “The food is like a story. We try to cater the food to your health.”
She opened the Kimchi Factory in the old Len Berg’s restaurant amid the height of the coronavirus pandemic in July 2020.
La Bella Morelia
When Angelica Marin was growing up in Morelia, Mexico, her grandmother taught her how to cook.
“She always talked about when she was growing up, her and her grandma would always cook, of course, very authentic Mexican like in the countryside of Mexico. So, pretty much she got all her recipes from her grandma which will be my great grandma,” German Marin, co-owner of La Bella Morelia with his mother Angelica, said.
German said his parents moved him and his siblings to the United States when he was 10 years old, and their restaurant has been in downtown Macon for nearly four years.
“It makes us feel happy, proud of what we’ve done just because we grew up eating this on a daily basis and just to let other people try it makes us feel good,” German said.
Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday
Location: 524 Mulberry St., Macon
Ricky Perez, owner of Ricky’s Tacos, said his dad, who was from El Salvador, taught him how to cook when he was growing up.
“The first thing he taught us how to cook was eggs, beans and rice, and he pretty much said if you know how to cook those three things, that’s all you’ll need in life to survive,” Perez said with a laugh.
When he moved to Georgia, he said the Mexican food he tried didn’t taste the same as the food he ate when he was growing up.
“I’m from California, so it’s a different way of cooking than out here, the Mexican food that they say it is. So when I came out here, I was like, I have to open up my own place,” he said.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday with a break from 2:30-4:30 p.m., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and 4-10 p.m. Saturday
Location: 518 Cherry St. Macon
My Grandma’s Empanadas
Rikki Waite, the owner of My Grandma’s Empanadas, uses recipes that have been passed down for generations and from her grandmother, according to a Telegraph article.
Her family is from the Cayman Islands and Panama, and although she said her grandmother was critical of her own recipes, Waite has managed to turn them into a successful restaurant.
“Honestly, I am a little speechless about it because I missed her so much that for me it gave me a lot of closure and because it makes me feel like she is being carried on,” Waite said, in the article. “I have created a legacy of sorts for her. I think she would be very proud.”
Kavita Sharma, owner of Little India, said her and her husband were looking to start an Indian restaurant in downtown Macon, and they finally found a place to do it when a downtown property owner called them with a vacancy.
Her husband, Anu, learned how to cook in India and has more than 20 years of experience cooking Indian food, she said.
“Everybody likes his food,” she said. “We provide very fresh food… We are very lucky. We have nice customers.”
Because they are short staffed, Sharma said she hopes people will understand that it takes a little longer to get food, but they are looking for people to hire.
Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Location: 402 Cherry St., Macon
Tzango Cocina del Mundo
Karina Barragan and her husband, Mario, own Tzango Cocina del Mundo, and they combine their Argentinian and Mexican heritages to create Latin American cuisines.
“It’s completely different from any other restaurant in Macon,” Karina said. “We have a wonderful restaurant because it’s a combination of my strengths and his strengths.”
Mario learned how to cook from his grandmother, and he creates his own recipes from what he learned from her while adding an American flair with melted cheese and his own special seasoning, Karina said.
Hours: Lunch: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Friday; Dinner: 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday
Location: 336 Second St., Macon
3 Countries Restaurant
Daniel Figueroa, the son of the owner of 3 Countries Restaurant, said his mother learned how to cook when she was growing up in Mexico.
The previous owner of the restaurant taught them how to cook Cuban style food, and the Cuban Sandwich and their homemade tamales are their best sellers, he said.
“I’m glad to be able to serve this type of food that I never knew how to make, and my parents, they taught me how to make,” he said.