TASTE OF THE SOUTH
TEN RESTAURANTS AND WHAT TO ORDER
TEN RESTAURANTS AND WHAT TO ORDER
Folk art, perfect beaches, town-square charm. Yes, the South has many reasons for exploration. But who’s kidding who: The food here is what you’ll dream about forever. From crispy fried chicken and slow-cooked barbecue, to shrimp po’boys and stone-ground grits, the Southern table is worth every mile. As a digital-only companion to our new American South Road Trip Guide, here are ten of our favorite things to eat and where to find them.
BUTTERMILK BISCUITS - SAVANNAH, GA
BACK IN THE DAY BAKERY
Start the Georgia morning at Cheryl and Griffith Day’s sun-filled, artisan bakery tucked into Savannah’s Starland District. Wunderkind chef Sean Brock calls their fluffy wonders the best biscuits he’s ever tasted. His exact words: “extraordinarily perfect.”
SHRIMP AND GRITS - CHAPEL HILL, NC
Native to the Carolinas and coastal Georgia, this amalgamation of creamy corn grits, sautéed shrimp and bacon-tomato gravy is the star of the menu at Crook’s Corner. Many nod to the restaurant’s founding chef, the late Bill Neal, as perhaps the first cook to elevate this Lowcountry staple to dinner-plate status.
FRIED CHICKEN - MEMPHIS, TN
GUS’S WORLD FAMOUS FRIED CHICKEN
Battered and deep- or pan-fried yardbird anchors thousands of tables across the region. Yes, they’ve gone nationwide with locations, but Gus’s keeps it real in downtown Memphis. The original location on Front Street is our pick for trying the 60-year-old Bonner family recipe.
SHRIMP PO’BOY - NEW IBERIA, LA
BON CREOLE LUNCH COUNTER
The best po’boys in Louisiana can be found in New Iberia at Bon Creole. What started as a crawfish peeling plant in 1982 is now a windowless, counter-service restaurant beloved for its daily plate lunches (Monday: red beans and rice with sausage, fried pork chops), dark-roux gumbo and overstuffed seafood sandwiches--like this foot-long embarrassment of Gulf shrimp riches spilling from a crusty loaf.
VEGETABLE PLATE - NASHVILLE, TN
ARNOLD’S COUNTRY KITCHEN
In the Mecca of meat and threes, Arnold’s is Nashville’s most beloved shrine for steam-table veggies (with a side of roast beef or pork chops). Turnip greens, stewed okra, creamed corn, baked squash, white beans, fried green tomatoes: Fill up your red tray and settle in for a long lunch.
MAC-N-CHEESE - RALEIGH, NC
Poole’s Diner chef Ashley Christensen’s three-cheese classic (Jarlsberg, Grana Padano and white cheddar) comes out piping hot to the table, top crust begging to be spooned into and sides dripping over with golden, melty goo. Not hyperbole: This is the finest mac-n-cheese anywhere.
OYSTERS ON THE HALF SHELL - APALACHICOLA, FL
INDIAN PASS RAW BAR
Park it at this Gulf Coast bend in the road for Apalachicola oysters that were likely scooped out of waters just a football field away. Slurp ‘em straight from the shell or deliver via salty cracker, cocktail sauce and a dab of horseradish. This part of the Panhandle was directly in the path of Hurricane Michael
WHOLE HOG BARBECUE - CHARLESTON, SC
RODNEY SCOTT’S BBQ
Pitmaster Rodney Scott honed the smoky craft at his family’s slanted-roof country store in Hemingway, and today serves up all-nighter hog at his own joint on Upper King in Charleston. Winning a James Beard Award in 2018 for Best Chef in the Southeast only made the lines run longer for his peppery-vinegary-citrusy-heavenly pork plates.
TAMALES - GREENVILLE, MS
DOE’S EAT PLACE
Delta residents routinely drive an hour for dinner at the legendary Doe’s, known for thick-cut steaks and pan-sizzlin’ potatoes. Start this iconic dining experience with the housemade hot beef tamales, wrapped in wax paper and coated in orange grease. It might not be Instagram-worthy, but the 1941 recipe will win your appetite over quick.
STONE GROUND GRITS - BIRMINGHAM, AL
HIGHLANDS BAR & GRILL
In 2018, after 10 years of nominations, Frank and Pardis Stitt’s Highlands Bar & Grill finally took home perhaps the most coveted prize in food: the James Beard Award for Best Restaurant in America. Sophisticated without pomp, Highlands is what happens when a small-town grandson of farmers learns the finery of French cuisine, but doesn’t forget what true hospitality feels like. If (when) you go, politely ask longtime server Goren “Red Dog” Avery to order for you. Whatever lands on the table will feel like a long embrace. Just be sure to start with the divine round of soufflé-like yellow-corn grits, bathed in a wild mushroom sauce laced with Benton’s country ham.
THE AMERICAN SOUTH HAS A RICH AND COMPLEX CULINARY HISTORY. FOR A DEEPER DIVE, TRY ONE OF THE FOLLOWING BOOKS:
The Potlikker Papers, John T. Edge’s bestselling collection of essays
Heritage, Sean Brock’s award-winning cookbook
The Jemima Code, Toni Tipton-Martin’s deep dive into the history of African-American cookbooks