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Best New Gourmet Southern Food?

I'm touring the south and looking for the best new southern gourmet southern food. I use the term "gourmet" loosely, but what i'm really after is the best new southern cuisine in the south, from Texas to Virginia. Diner-grub and home-cookin places are great and I'll take the suggestions, but anything that's an upgrade from that is mucho appreciated too.


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  1. The Stone Ground Baked Grits at Highland's Bar & Grill in Bham are exquisite! Made with parm cheese & country ham, mmmmmm! Also, their crab cake served with a beurre blanc sauce are the best I've ever tasted!

    2 Replies
      1. If you get to Atlanta, don't miss Athens! Sunday brunch at The Last Resort, (706) 549-0810
        184 W Clayton St, Athens, GA, is worth writing home about. Try the Bloody Mary. Five and Ten in five points, Harry Bissets on broad street, and Del Palmas are also worth the time.

        5 Replies
        1. re: moorek

          Five and Ten is a wonderful restaurant. It does not, however, serve specifically "Southern" food.

          The Last Resort, Bissett's, and DePalma's are emphatically NOT worth driving out of one's way, to put it very mildly. And they don't serve "Southern" food, either. Bissett's serves a mostly-mediocre version of New Orleans-style food, but I would classify that as a different style of cooking than "Southern". At any rate, these three restaurants would surely disappoint any true Hound who visited with high expectations. I am unaware of any Athens restaurant serving truly awesome "Southern" food, actually.

          I really liked Hominy Grill in Charleston, and that fair city has several fine restaurants serving variations on Low Country quisine, but Hominy is darn good "classic Southern" kicked up a bit with locally-grown, high-quality ingredients.

          1. re: uptown jimmy

            Five and Ten doesn't serve exclusively Southern food, but some dishes are squarely in that camp. Boiled peanut beurre blanc!

            1. re: hillarybrown

              Sure, they make a point of including Southern touches here and there. But it ain't Southern food. It's California quisine with the occasional bit of Southern flair.

              That peanut beurre blanc was awesome, and I hate boiled peanuts.

              I love 5&10. Very much. Thank you, Hugh.

          2. re: moorek

            I concur that you should come to Athens if you stop in Atlanta. Although, Five & Ten may not be exclusively southern, most of the ingredients are southern however the technique used to prepare the food very likely won't be. Either way, it's an incredibly unique experience and easily worth the trip.

            There is also a newish restaurant called Mama's Boy which is a very unique southern food place. It's hard to describe, but it is mainly twists on southern classics. For example, they have ice tea brined fried chicken and a mojito marinated pork chop.

            Last Resort, Bissett's and Depalma's are not worth the trip from out of town. They are not bad if you live here, but don't make a trip to visit them, especially Depalma's.

            1. re: Awall25

              Actually, tea-marinated fried chicken has been around for a while, at least in deeper parts of the South. FWIW. I've heard it's awesome, and I gotta get me to Mama's Boy to find out.

          3. If you make it to the SC coast Louis's at Pawley's would be a good place to stop for a bite. If you're there on a Sunday around noon get his Sunday lunch plate. His grits are transcendent.

            Louis's at Pawley's
            At The Hammock Shops
            10880 Ocean Highway
            US 17 Pawley's Island,
            South Carolina 29585

            11am - 11pm 7 days
            4 - 7 Happy Hour



            1. The next time I am in the Atlanta area I plan on checking out the Watershed. http://www.watershedrestaurant.com/ I had the opportunity to meet Scott Peacock several months ago during brunch/book signing in Ponte Vedra Beach. The cookbook he co-authered with Edna Lewis "The Gift of Southern Cooking" is fabulous. He is also very involved with the Southern Foodways Alliance http://www.southernfoodways.com/.

              Any Atlanta hounds care to comment?

              1 Reply
              1. JCT Kitchen in Atlanta just got a brief mention in an article in Access Atlanta. I'm sure a longer review is on the way.

                1. Restaurant August - New Orleans.
                  Watermark - Nashville
                  Peninsula Grill - Charleston

                  All are pricey.


                  1. CHARLOTTE- Boudreaux's! GO THERE!!! amazing atmosphere, fairly priced, a very intellectual-type staff who absolutely rock-- bomb-diggidy bloody mary's on sundays-- to die for soups-- o and it's actually pretty healthy eclectic versions of Louisiana cajun cuisine-- it's in a cool artsy district right next to the neighborhood theater-- a music venue that pulls in fantastic groups who don't usually play small venues...

                    1. Thanks all y'all!

                      What about the fringe southern regions of North Florida, NE Texas, Kentucky, West Virgina? Would love some suggestions for this area too?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: adamhgraham

                        From an earlier post:15 miles north of the Colonel Sanders museum in a little town called London Kentucky is a 24/7/365 joint called Burger Boy.Ignore the burgers,although they're pretty darn good but do try the "Bauter Better Chicken".It's among the best I've sampled in the 15 or so states I've tried fried chicken.Good history[open for 40 plus years],diner atmosphere,smoking allowed,Alice Cooper on the jukebox and a phalanx of soulful waitresses from the surrounding counties.When I vacation in the area each August it's the only restaurant that I CRAVE.Give it a shot and then please post a response

                      2. Apalachocola, FL is food heaven.........Boss Oyster, Owl Cafe, Tamara's, Magnolia Grill et al...............


                        1. Southern food = Matthew's Cafeteria in Tucker GA

                          1. Watershed in Atlanta is wonderful, but I would have to cast my vote for Wisteria (also in ATL) The pork tenderloin is the most amazing ever....

                            1. Thomasville Ga., a few minutes north of Tallanasty, has Liam's which is fantastic. Between the two cities is Malhanna Plantation, now owned by the Bowden clan, which is locally renowned for its excellent southern cuisine. And while in the area, though certainly not gourmet, is a must for the best chili dawg in these parts - The Billiard Academy on Board street.

                              1. had great hopes for mama's boy. what a cute name. the sandwiches are pretty bad. the french fries are so greasy that even my kids won't eat them. they do have a good sweet potato soup but that is hard to ruin. they don't seem to know what they don't know. i can't figure why some of these wannabe restaurant cooks don't just go on food network, get a recipe and follow it. can't they read? there is so much available on that score that it seems inexcusable that one would put out a dish that tastes terrible. i don't think most of these people ever sit down, taste their own food and say, 'you know, this doesn't really taste all that good...how can we improve it or should we just drop it altogether". if you can't learn from the internet how to make good fries, shame on you. it ain't all that hard.

                                1. You don't say what your route is going to be, but in about 1993, we drove from Austin to New Orleans to Nashville to Virginia on secondary roads and ate some of the best food ever, all at places I found in travel guides. We stopped at barbecue joints in Texas, crawfish places in Louisiana, meat-and-threes along the way. We stopped in Jackson, took the Natchez Trace to Tennessee, stopped in Tupelo and Florence. Detoured to Memphis for Public Eye.
                                  There's a good Southern restaurant in Abingdon Virginia on the Tennessee borderand another good one in Front Royal Virginia, and it's a darling town. Dropped my brother off in Richmond, Virginia, and ate somewhere wonderful there, too. And later went to Georgia Brown's in D.C.
                                  Haven't been to Birmingham in a while, but I'd suggest the Hot and Hot Fish Club if it's still open.
                                  Someone mentioned Apalachicola Florida -- it is indeed a great eating place -- I go there nearly every year. Magnolias is great, and so is Tamara's. I've been to most of the BBQ stands along the highway, too. There's a great little Southern place called Julia May's in Carabelle, but it isn't particularly noveau.
                                  Sorry I can't recall the names of any of these -- my long-distance road trip days are in the past now that there are screaming kids in the backseat. You're going to have a fantastic trip, though, and I wish I were going too!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: fluffernutter

                                    Bad news Fluffernutter, Julia Mae died and now in the place of her dilapidated building is a boat condo! That Place on 98 literlly became That Place in the middle of HWY 98 in hurricaine Dennis but they have rebuilt. Not a big fan of That Place but thought that it's worth mentioning. Also, Boss Oyster (Apalachicola) is just great if oysters are your thang. Ate there two days ago and have the biggest oysters I've ever had. Angelos in Panacea also had damage in the storm but have rebuilt and are close to reopening.

                                  2. A small town called Bainbridge in South Georgia has the best thing that you could ever put into your mouth. A man that owns a place called "Anthony's One-Stop BBQ and Laundrimat" will serve you a chipdawg: a hotdog with ketchup, mustard, mayo, onions, and a heaping of chipped bbq pork. The price changes (I've payed $0.50 one day at $3.00 the next), but it's always worth it. I recommend getting either a pineapple or strawberry Sunkist to go along with it.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: college town cook

                                      Louis At Pauley Island, Wisteria, Watershed.

                                    2. The Smithfield Inn in Smithfield, VA, has the best peanut soup I've ever tasted, along with a country ham salad, Brunswick stew, crab cakes, local pork - excellent food in a beautiful old B&B.


                                      1. I am eagerly awaiting the opening of MAYA in Charlottesville, VA. The former chef of the Clifton Inn is opening an upscale "meats and threes" place on Main Street. He's well-known for excellent food. The opening has been delayed, but it looks like next weekend may happen. If you'll be in the area, check it out.