In a town plagued by chain restaurants surrounding the mall, near the interstate, and fast food, buffets, and college dives, an original, fine-dining restaurant is a rare gem. Moreso, while there are several decent, independent restaurants in Valdosta, the ones I've visited have all had some odd quirk or flaw except Lulus.
Lulus is a simple, open, small restaurant in the revitalized downtown area. It has a big window on the street exposing the small kitchen, which opens up into the restuarant on the other side. It's not a sizzling, steaming, flame throwing event there, just an open environment. The owner is often there to seat and check on you and she's as nice as she can be. It's like fine dining meets southern hospitality. The food is good, and you can look at the menu online, plus the service is fine, but what makes me recommend Lulus is that it just all fits together so well. It's not cutting edge cuisine, but it's creative and good. It's not cheap, but it's not going to break the bank.
There is another nice-ish restaurant in downtown that just gets everything mixed up where Lulus gets everything sorted out. The "Other" seems to be trying too hard to impress people who don't know that service in a nice restaurant can be quick and informative if that's what you want. With huge distracting paintings, a wall full of grocery-store level wines, and disinterested, very slow service with okay food, "Other" has just lost my business for now.
If you want a pleasant experience with good food and no unnecessary distractions or flourishes, Lulus is your place.
There are a couple of new restaurants in town that may soon compete, but for now Lulus has my $.
PROS: Good food, reasonable prices for fine dining, no distractions
CONS: Downtown Valdosta is somewhat isolated
Country Cobbler was one of the first places I stumbled into when I moved to Valdosta this year, 2005. I was blown away. I'm not a shoe fanatic, but I do pride myself on having some knowledge and awareness of practical things like shoes. Since we spend so much time on our feet, why don't we put more energy into thinking about and selecting our shoes? As a runner, hiker, skier, and military member, I know all too well the hazards of poor quality/poor fitting footwear.
Country Cobbler is one of the top 5 shoe stores I've ever seen for what they sell (No Manolo Blahniks, sorry). It reminds me of Schnee's in Bozeman, MT. I'm talking about a place that sells quality, comfort, function, and style. Yes, the shoes are expensive compared to a discount store, but they are very good brands like Born, Clarks, SoftWalk, Dansko, H.S. Trask (Made in Bozeman, MT), ECCO, Birkenstock, The North Face, Merrell, New Balance, and on and on. The shoes are the point here, and this store is for you if you're going to actually walk, work, or somehow live in these shoes and you care about your feet as well as how you look. It's not a granola-hippie store, but such a person would be just as at home shopping there as a socialite.
My mother is 54 and I just bought her a pair of SoftWalk shoes there. She said it's the first time in her life she's had shoes that really fit and were comfortable all day long. They're cute too.
When I find such a business that takes the effort and risk to know and carry products that combine such quality construction, comfort, and style I feel I really owe them more than a chain discount store because what they're providing is an all too rare and valuable service to people in our community. Support them.
PROS: Great quality, great selection, great service
CONS: Can't be afraid to spend $100 on a pair of shoes