If you come into Auburn for a football game intending to just spend a few hours with your student/child, have a meal, see the game and then head back home, you might as well face the fact that you will be in a crowd, a big ol’ crowd. At all of the eating joints within walking distance of the stadium, you’ll be standing in line or waiting quite awhile for a table. If you’re a tailgater, then you’ll have your own food with you, so that’s another subject altogether. In the mid- to late-90’s when our kids were there, we used their dorms or trailer as our gathering spots. Many students have much more deluxe accommodations these days, I hear. Don’t tell our kids. 🙂
However, if you have the luxury of coming in a day early or staying for a day or so AFTER the game, or if you come for a visit when there’s no ballgame on tap, then I have another place for you to enjoy. Head 10 miles down the road to nearby Opelika and find the railroad tracks. A beautiful area has been developed on South Railroad Avenue with eateries of all kinds and live music is scheduled frequently. There’s a nice parking area, and the landscaping is lovely. Several of the restaurants have outdoor dining patios you can enjoy when the weather is nice. A few fun shops also welcome browsers.
The two places Steve and I tried on South Railroad Street recently were Ma Fia’s Ristorante and Niffer’s at the Tracks, but you could also choose Side Track Coffee, O Town Ice Cream, Irish Bred Pub, Jefferson’s, or 8th and Rail. 8th and Rail, I must say, has a menu that doesn’t seem to fit its name — sushi and cocktails. ??? What’s up with that?
If you want to “eat like the students eat,” then go to Niffer’s. I mentioned it briefly in a blog post a few weeks ago. There are other Niffer’s locations in Auburn and at Lake Martin with the same tempting menu. Get a basket of corn nuggets with honey mustard sauce for starters. You’ll be glad I told you. Ah-may-zing. Burgers take center stage at Niffer’s. Choose from 5 different types of patties — beef, black bean vegan, vegetarian, chicken or turkey. Then, pick from an array for toppings and sides. This is a multi-napkin experience. So delicious.
Ma Fia’s was formerly a simple pizza place, but now it has an extensive and mouthwatering Italian menu. I loved the eggplant parmesan, and Steve gave his pizza 2 thumbs up. The foccacia bread at the beginning was great, too. The atmosphere at Ma Fia’s is more intimate than that of Niffer’s. Think smooth jazz and cozy tables.
Opelika is half the size of Auburn, but it has much to offer. I hope you have a chance to find this neat gathering spot by the tracks.
Oh, and one more thing, here is a link to my article about Railroad Avenue recently posted in MilesGeek.com.