Just a short drive from Opelika, Alabama up I-85 north, you will find some of the best seafood in the south at The Cart Barn Grille in LaGrange, Georgia.
There are zero frills and no pretentiousness, just plain good food. We were introduced to The Cart Barn Grille a few years ago by a dear friend of ours who frequented the restaurant so much they named a dish after him, the Grouper Willi. We were told that they had incredible seafood dishes, and a laid back atmosphere that could not be beat.
The original Cart Barn was located just off Exit 13 on interstate I-85 in Georgia. They were forced out of that location due to the construction of the new, large Great Wolf Lodge. Originally, owner Tony Bishop, thought this might be his time to retire, but the demand for his food was too strong. Thankfully, the stars aligned and an even better location was found. Now the new and improved Cart Barn Grille is located at 625 Jefferson Street in the historic Hillside neighborhood of LaGrange, Georgia. The neighborhood is up and coming, with Beacon Brewery going in just across the street from the Cart Barn’s new location. I am excited to see the progress these new businesses will bring to the area. I love to see a town embrace their historic buildings and neighborhoods.
We arrived at The Cart Barn Friday evening to find a wait. Expect to find a wait most any time you go here. I consider a wait a good thing. It usually is a good indication of the quality of food you are going to get. The wait has never been unbearable, and we enjoy ‘tailgating’ in the parking lot talking with friends while we wait. They serve lunch on Monday, and have dinner and lunch service Tuesday-Friday. They are closed on the weekends. Even with atypical hours, this place is booming nonstop, and it is due to one simple reason, delicious food.
For appetizers we took a non-traditional route and ordered “off the menu” starters. We ordered one of their delicious cheeseburgers and split it with the table. For some added tastiness, we also ordered the fried shrimp a la carte. Their fried shrimp is some of the best I have ever had. The batter is light and crispy, and the shrimp is fresh and tender. If you order this combination, they will definitely know who sent you.
My favorite entrée on the menu is the Grouper Willi. The grouper is sauteed in lemon pepper, served over a bed of mashed potatoes, with lump crab meat, broccolini, and covered in a delicious beurre blanc and avocado aoili. The fish is fresh and flaky, and all the seasonings combined make this a bright and tasteful dish. I have ordered this dish more times than I can count, and it is consistently good every time.
My husband ordered the veal prime rib this particular evening. The veal chop was a bone in roast, with a demi-glace sauce, tobacco onions, all served over a bed of mashed potatoes and broccolini. He raved about this dish for days. I am sure he will be ordering this again if it is on the menu next time we return.
We adore The Cart Barn and do not hesitate in making the short drive to LaGrange. I do not consider myself a huge fan of seafood. However, the seafood here is so fresh and delicious, that I have discovered many seafood dishes that I now love. Not only is the food delicious, but the hospitality is second to none. From the first time I visited the Cart Barn, Tony and his son Shawn, made us feel like locals.
Hope you make the trip to The Cart Barn soon and enjoy a delicious meal. Tell Tony the Dining Winos sent you! 😉