Diners, drama and degrees: Your city guide to Lawrenceville

Lawrenceville Lawn (Courtesy City of Lawrenceville)
Courtesy City of Lawrenceville

The county seat of Gwinnett County — metro Atlanta’s booming northeast hub — the city of Lawrenceville has grown into a bustling suburb from its humble farming roots. Named after the War of 1812 veteran Captain James Lawrence, this city was incorporated in 1821 and built around a series of natural springs. Its earliest years were dominated by farming and the cotton trade, but as railroads were built connecting Atlanta up the eastern seaboard, Lawrenceville became an important trade stop.

The Civil War and the late 1800s saw Lawrenceville grow in importance. Though many of its buildings were damaged before and during the war, its city square roughly remains today. (Lawrenceville is also, notably, one of the few cities to vote against secession.) After the war, as new cities sprouted between Lawrenceville and metro Atlanta, highways began to connect them, and in the 1960s the Interstate system brought I-85 up through Gwinnett.

By the 1980s, massive growth in Gwinnett County benefited the whole region. A massive new mall, now named Sugarloaf Mills, opened in 2001 to serve nearby neighborhoods in and around Lawrenceville, especially as Gwinnett Place Mall faded in importance. Then, in 2006, a county-wide need for additional educational opportunities led to the creation of Georgia Gwinnett College, the first four-year college built in Georgia in nearly 100 years. These landmarks — in addition to a wide range of food options, greenspaces and growing housing opportunities — have helped Lawrenceville continue to grow well into the 21st century.

What can I do for fun around Lawrenceville?

Spend your night with knights at Medieval Times. If you missed the Georgia Renaissance Fair this year, step back to the Middle Ages any time with this dinner theatre castle at Sugarloaf Mills. Choose your champion and enjoy the epic performances of the cast and creatures alike. Guests can chomp down on giant turkey legs and hearty meals while they watch knights on horseback joust for the king’s favor and engage in an epic performance that’s fun for the whole family!

Embrace your inner theatre kid at Aurora Theatre. Located in the heart of the downtown square, Lawrenceville’s premiere theatre for plays, music and more has been around for almost three decades. Upcoming season shows include “Sister Act,” the literary classic adaptation of “The Color Purple,” rock musical “King of Pangea” and more. If you’re more into concerts and comedy, Aurora has a wide lineup of cover bands and stand-up acts on tap. Click here for schedule and tickets.

Where are the best places to eat and drink around Lawrenceville?

Little Barn

This cozy breakfast and lunch spot has served Lawrenceville for over 30 years with its homemade recipes and country-style food. Voted as one of the best restaurants in Gwinnett for Southern food, Little Barn’s giant biscuits and flavor-packed pastries are big in size and reputation. Start your day off with a fried chicken biscuit loaded with gravy and a side of hash browns. Or if chicken is too pedestrian, load up your sandwich with spicy salmon, steak or country ham instead. Be sure to grab a cinnamon roll for that extra mid-morning boost, too. You can’t miss the big red barn.

Location: 60 East Pike Street; Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Website: littlebarn.com


Lawrenceville is a far cry from the Caribbean, but this Cuban diner is full of fresh tropical dishes that will make you long for the sea. Start off with savory small plates, especially the ceviche and empanadas you can share with the table. The Cuban sandwiches and meaty entrees like vaca frita steak and spicy oxtail will fill you up with flavor if you’re wanting more. Your sweet tooth will love the tres leches or guava cheesecakes. Catch the breeze on the extended patio and sip a sangria at the full-service bar to close out the night.

Location: 125 West Crogan Street; Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to midnight; Website: dfloridian.com/lawrenceville

Local Republic

Perhaps you’re near the downtown square and want more of a pub food vibe to go with your happy hour. Check out Local Republic. They have small plate snacks and big entrees like shrimp and steak, but the real draw are the juicy smash burgers. Served on locally sourced brioche buns, these burgers are loaded with everything from cajun spices to pimento cheese to mushrooms and more. Pair with fries and one of the many dipping sauces.

Location: 139 N. Perry Street; Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Website: localrepublic.com

Adriatic Grill

One of the first restaurants of its kind in the area, Adriatic Grill serves up all sorts of Eastern European goodies (in addition to more standard fare) with a smile. Open the meal with a falafel salad and a side of pita and hummus, then add a lamb kebab on a flatbread sandwich or a gyro wrap. If you’re really feeling hungry, try the grilled mix platter with sausages, grilled chicken, chevapi and a salad. And if that’s too much, less adventurous diners can always get a chunky beef burger on a flatbread with fries. Stick around for a rotating choice of the well-loved cake slices.

Location: 396 W. Pike Street; Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Website: theadriaticgrill.com

Perry’s Chop House

For a fine dining experience on the historic Lawrenceville square, dress your Sunday best and make a reservation at this farm-to-table steakhouse. Fresh oysters and shareable veggies start off the evening, but Perry’s prime draw (pun intended) is the Midwestern-sourced prime steaks butchered in-house and served in 11 different cuts. All of them come with a side of smashed potatoes and are best paired with a glass of wine from their extensive menu. Still looking for more? Order the honey amaretto crème brulee for a sweet ending to the meal.

Location: 125 N. Perry Street; Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 5-9 p.m.; Friday, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5-10 p.m.; Sunday, 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m.; Website: perrystreetchophouse.com

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