If you’ve never driven the long and windy road that hugs Lake Seed and Lake Rabun, you are missing out. It is hands down one of the most scenic drives we’ve been on in North Georgia – and the one most likely to fill you with jealous envy as you pass gorgeous million dollar plus lake homes. We usually begin our drive at the bottom of Lake Burton and Burton Dam Road and then hang a right on Seed Lake Road. This a great afternoon trip as you can make the scenic drive in 30 minutes but you can also stop and jump off for two relatively short hikes to Minnehaha Falls or Angel Falls while on the trip.

The trip around the lake is worth the drive in and of itself. But the key is to make sure you stop at Annie’s at Alley’s on the way out. The drive will kick you out near old 441. If you take a left at the fork once you get past the lake, you can ride right on into “downtown” Lakemont. Here you will find the Historic Lakemont Village and a few really great shops like Personify, the Lakemont Gallery, and Annie’s Outpost to name a few. But the real gem here after a drive or short hike is the Market & Deli. The historic building previously served as the post office, grocery, bait, hardware, and ice source for the residents of Lake Rabun. While they still carry a few locally handmade items and gifts and keep a few essential grocery items in stock – toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and wine – Annie’s at Alley’s specialize in market and deli sandwiches.

There aren’t a ton of sandwiches choices (maybe 6-8) but what they have are all awesome. On this trip we went with a classic Pimento Cheese on Rye, a Reuben on Rye and a plain turkey sandwich on white bread for our two picky kids. I’m biased, but I feel like I’ve become a bit of a pimento cheese expert. After not trying it for 30+ years, I finally got brave enough a couple of years ago to give it a try, and since then I’ve become a bit of a zealot for it.

Annie's At Alley's
Annie's At Alley's

Living in Athens Georgia for a few years, I quickly got spoiled as there are maybe a half dozen places that are regionally and nationally famous for their version of it. The down side was that it made me a bit of a critic as I know what I like and I know what great should taste like. Luckily, the option at Annie’s is just about perfect. It wasn’t too thick which is a great thing in my book. Sometimes pimento cheese gets so thick in order to make it more “spreadable”. I prefer the version somewhere between spreadable and fall apart, which is exactly the version that Annie’s makes. Creamy with the right amount of cheese.

We got a couple of glass bottle soft drinks (they also have a small beer selection) and sat out on the porch at a small table. They have inside seating as well and we saw a couple of people grab a sandwich to go to eat on the boat later on. For the kids (and adults) they also have ice cream and other small snacks.

Annie's At Alley'sAnnie's At Alley'sAnnie's At Alley's

The decoration would be stereotypical lake decor if it wasn’t so downright charming and hospitable. The place felt lived in. Warm and inviting and a place where you would want to come in and kick up your feet and relax a bit. Not quite Americana and not quite kitschy. But something much closer to classic. And definitely distinctively southern.

The service was great and the food even better. But the sign that proudly announced that that had no WiFi was a reminder that we weren’t just buying and eating a couple of sandwiches. Instead we were experiencing and flashing back to a time where one didn’t need fancy gourmet bread and condiments and fancy table clothes to eat our sandwiches on. At Annie’s we enjoyed the simple pleasure derived from basic ingredients on a handmade table while having a good conversation.

Annie's At Alley's

If you still have time in your day and want to extend your drive, you’re right down the road from Tiger and Clayton. There is a great little North Georgia winery in Tiger worth checking out. And Clayton has plenty of options for shopping and antiques if you’re into that. Or if you want more exploring, you can always slide back down to Talulah Gorge for sight seeing or hiking.