Driving from Jacksonville to St. Louis looking for interesting local food (institutions that serve the best...).
Looking for institutions that serve the "best" of their particular food (bbq, burger, pizza, fried ect...). My only planned stop is at The Varsity in Atlanta. My route is Jacksonville - Atlanta - Chattanoga - Nashville - St. Louis. Thanks!
At the V be sure to get the second best fried pie in GA and a frosted orange. Or better yet, get the best fried pies at the Dwarf House on the way. http://www.cfarestaurant.com/hapevilledwarfhouse/home
It's the original restaurant from 1946 that spawned the Chick-fil-A empire. But it's unique and has a different menu including the "hot brown" . Get the fried sweet potato pie to go. Heck get a peach also. Take them along for the ride north, but beware the paper bag will leak a little grease. It's 5 minutes off I-75 near the airport: http://blissfulglutton.com/happiness-is/ Then head for the V. get a pie there and you be the judge later after you have eaten both. I'm not sure why, but you may have to ask for the pies. They might not be on the menu, definitely not the on-line version - maybe they are in short supply so you have to be "in the know".
BBQ ... The other two mentioned are fine, but closer to I-75 is Dave Poe's in Marietta.
He's one of three former partners (see the former Sam & Dave's BBQ) who all have their own restaurants now that are equally good IMO. Community Q is one of the other two. Get the mac and cheese and the beef brisket is great but not Ga trad. BBQ. Trad. pulled pork is good too so try both. I mix their two sauces to get both vinegar and tomato base.
As an older lifelong native of Atlanta, I would say certainly stop by the Varsity.
But beware, most people from other states who try it because of it's legendary
status are baffled. The food is not that good but it is an 'institution' .
Barbecue will provoke a storm of opinions and many think Fat Matts it the end
all. But believe me, it should be called Fat Matt's Fat-O-Rama. Basically it's all
hype and boiled ribs. Fox Brothers or Community BBQ are among the favorites
in town these days.
Pizza? Everybody seems to be creaming over Antico these days. Southern?
Stay away from Mary Mac's by all costs. WAY over rated. I hate YELP, but you
may find some suggestions there if you can bear the pompous hipsters that
populate the Atlanta page.