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Blue Willow Inn
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Front entrance to the Blue Willow Inn
The small town of Social Circle is home to the Blue Willow Inn, one of the best buffet-style restaurants in North Georgia and on our must stop list anytime we travel on I-20 between Augusta and Atlanta. Located north of the interstate, and north of the city as well, the Blue Willow welcomes guests from across the Southeast who know to take exit 98 to visit one of the Treasures of I-20.

From the ample parking lot behind the inn return to the front and enter the main door. A greeter will take your name and verify your reservation (sorry, the place is so popular you have little chance of getting in without a reservation.) Seatings are made on the half-hour, but it is done one party at a time. We arrived nearly half-an-hour early for our 12:30 seating and were at the table before our reservation. There are two levels, upstairs and downstairs, but there is no appreciable difference in the two.

An older man dressed in tophat and tails or women dressed as cooks call names on the massive front porch overlooking the inn’s colorful garden that serves as a waiting room. When your party is called they escort you to the table and seat you. Drinks are Southern-style, ice tea (sweet or unsweet), lemonade, coffee or water with lemon, and served by a hospitable local crew that take pride in the restaurant. Its not unusual for a waitress to refer to the Blue Willow as “…our inn.”

A small section of the buffet
Once seated and served drinks its time for your (first) visit to the buffet. As with any country restaurant in North Georgia the litmus test of good food will be the fried chicken, and a generous sample found its way to our plates. Fried Green Tomatoes, a Georgia delicacy even before the movie of the same name, also found its way to our plates, along with a helping of macaroni and cheese. The chicken was superb, with a generous, thick coating of breading consisting of more than simple flour and spices. The skin was left on (yeah!) and while the outside was fried crispy the inside was kept moist and tender.

Fried green tomatoes were well-breaded, but they seemed to fall short, perhaps cooked some time prior to being served (they were only warm, not hot). This tends to make these fried slices of heaven a little less juicy than they should be, but on other trips to the inn this had not been a problem. The mac and cheese was excellent, traditional in style with a crispy top with elbow macaroni underneath laying in a bed of smooth cheese in a white sauce.

Folks enjoy the garden area after a meal at Georgias Blue Willow Inn
The buffet does not stop at fried chicken. Also offered on the day we visited was ham, roast beef (Georgia style, not the kind you buy in a deli) and a shrimp and (faux?) crabmeat soufflé. Of the three the ham was outstanding and the roast beef was good. The soufflé, unfortunately, was not that good. Vegetables included green beans cooked Southern-style (with pot licker and bread for sopping), corn on the cob and creamed potatoes.

The stand-alone dessert bar is normally packed with eye-pleasing delights. On the day we visited a strawberry short cake and whipped cream mixture drew oohs and aahs from passing customers. Also on the menu were excellent home made brownies (plenty of sugar in these delights), a multiple layer chocolate cake, cookies, and pecan pie. All desserts were above average, with a special nod going to the brownies because of there chocolaty chewiness.

Blue Willow Inn
294 N. Cherokee Rd. (Ga. Highway 11)
P.O. Box 465
Social Circle, Ga. 30025
(770) 464-2131
Toll Free 1-800-552-8813
Web site: www.bluewillowinn.com

Blue Willow Inn, Social Circle


Take I-20 East from Atlanta or west from Augusta to Exit 98, Social Circle / Mansfield. Head north on GA 11 (that's right if you're coming from Augusta, left if you're coming from Atlanta). Travel four miles to the Blue Willow Inn, past the city center on the right.

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