10 Dishes You'll Only Find Done Right at Southern Restaurants
From hearty seafood stews to deep-fried delicacies, there is no shortage of delicious food to be found in Southern restaurants. Famous for its dishes that combine inspiration from African, French, Spanish, Caribbean, and Native American cuisines, Southern cooking is the perfect balance of flavor, texture, and history.
Although these dishes may be found in other parts of the country, chances are you won't come across as many of them while dining out as much as you would down South. Because of this, we put together a list of 10 restaurant dishes that you'll (probably) only find when you're in the region. From beloved King Cakes to the famous Frogmore stew, read ahead for a list of must-have dishes to enjoy while visiting restaurants in Southern states.
Fried Green Tomatoes
Fried green tomatoes, made by (you guessed it) breading and frying sliced green tomatoes, are a staple throughout the South. Although it appears on many menus, a good place to try out this Southern classic is Acre in Auburn, AL. Here they serve an elevated version, which includes marinated Gulf blue crab, pimento cheese, and Creole remoulade.
Hoppin' John is a famous Southern dish made using black-eyed peas, rice, onion, and bacon. Originating in South Carolina in 1857, today this simple-to-make food is a Southern staple. A famous restaurant in Charleston, SC, called Poogan's Porch, serves up its own variation alongside bone-fried chicken, country ham, collard greens, and hot honey.
Don't be surprised if you see alligator meat on menus in the South—starting in the mid-1800s alligator meat began to pop up in Southern recipes, such as gumbo. Today, different dishes featuring alligator meat, such as alligator chorizo and alligator tempura from Alligator Soul in Savannah GA, are popular.
Commonly made with milk, crab, fish stock, and sherry, she-crab soup is a rich soup that often appears on menus in Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA. Anson Restaurant in Charleston serves up its own version which one customer has said is "the best she-crab soup I've ever had."
Shrimp and Grits
Originating in the South's Lowcountry, shrimp and grits is a Southern essential that is often served for breakfast (but can be enjoyed during any time of the day). People love the version served at Alabama-based restaurant Commerce Kitchen, which includes crispy bacon, parmesan, and a fried egg.
Louisiana-based bakery, Sucre, is famous for its King Cakes, a New Orleans sweet treat that is served in the wintertime during Carnival season. Although King Cakes can be found throughout the region, people especially love the one at Sucre for its amazing flavor.
If you haven't tried hushpuppies yet, then you're missing out. Made by deep-frying cornmeal batter, hushpuppies are often served as a side dish or appetizer. In fact, this dish is so famous in the South that there is a hushpuppy championship held annually in Texas. If you're in the area, be sure to try out Skull Creek Boathouse, a South Carolina restaurant that serves a great hushpuppy appetizer with a side of spiced honey butter.
Bowen's Island Restaurant in South Carolina serves this Southern classic that visitors call "fantastic" and "delicious." Also known as "Lowcountry Boil," this stew consists of sausage, shrimp, corn, and potatoes, and is said to be named after a community near St. Helena Island in South Carolina. Today, many versions of this dish exist.
Another staple of the South is po'boys, one of the most well-known sandwiches found in that region. Typically made using different kinds of meat served on New Orleans French bread, people theorize that this sandwich dates back to the 19th century. If you're ever in New Orleans be sure to try Parkway Poor Boys, which serves over a dozen different versions of this Southern sandwich.
Gumbo Shop in New Orleans makes a jambalaya, full of smoked sausage, shrimp, and chicken, that you can't miss. Perhaps one of the most recognizable Southern dishes, jambalaya is an American Creole classic that has been around for centuries.