Summer time is all about the grill. Growing up near Athens, Georgia, I have many wonderful memories of eating with my family out on our back deck, laughing and enjoying one another's company while watching the evening sun lazily drift away. And thanks to my "grill master" of a father, the food on our plates was always hot off the charcoals. My young, carnivorous appetite kept me drooling over it all: the steaks, the pork chops, the barbecued chicken, the burgers. Ah, the burgers. Especially the burgers.

When the weather starts to heat up, the days get a little longer, and the best way to feel refreshed is a jump in the pool, I begin to yearn a little for those warm, summer nights spent with my family. So with a little help from this month's issue of Southern Living Magazine, which (of course) featured Athens in an article about the best restaurant burgers in the state of Georgia, I ventured out to The Grit for the B.O.D. (Burger of the Day) to cure my nostalgic blues. 
As many of you know, The Grit in Athens, Georgia prides itself on serving fresh, delicious vegetarian food that appeals to all different types of eaters. Now, I will be the first to admit that if I'm gonna eat a burger, it's likely going to be made of beef. It's just in my blood; we Bertrands love bovines, both when grazing quietly in a pasture, and when served medium-well on a plate. So when I eat a vegetarian burger  I feel worthy of sharing with all of the blogging world, know that it must be darn good. The Grit is definitely doing something right with its White Bean Burger.

I ordered mine complete with all the essential toppings, including a special request of white cheddar cheese. The white bean patty itself was incredibly juicy. Chefs at The Grit managed to maintain the texture of a traditional all-beef burger, a feat that is definitely not often accomplished in the vegetarian burger world. Topped with melting cheese and crispy lettuce and tomato on a freshly toasted sesame-seed bun, this burger gave me all the nostalgic satisfaction I was searching for, without all the fat, calories, and cholesterol of the ground beef from my younger years.

Speaking of healthier alternatives, I opted to swap out french fries for a side of Spicy Sweet Potato and Chick Pea Soup. Now I know that the summer heat in Athens can be borderline brutal. I understand that the last thing you even want to think about putting in your mouth is a steaming spoonful of soup. However, I urge you to turn down your thermostats, chug ice water, stick your head in the freezer. Do whatever it is you need to do to cool your body down so that it starts to long for a little warmth, because this soup was the perfect side-dish. The chick peas were hearty and filling, and the zest from the broth wonderfully complimented the sweetness of the potatoes. This soup was truly good for the soul.

Hot, summer days should be spent with family and friends, soaking up rays, cooling down in the water, and eating fresh, tasty food. The next time you experience the desire to indulge in a grilled summertime meal, load up the family and head to The Grit, at 199 Prince Avenue in Athens GA. Their B.O.D. is sure to satisfy that inherent need for a succulent, delicious burger.

Tell us . . . What's YOUR favorite burger in Athens?

--Elizabeth Bertrand