204 Food Finds Across the Region

Our staff picks the South's best flavors.

Crab Houses
66. Carrol's Creek Cafe, Annapolis, MD; (410) 269-1406 or www.carrolscreek.com. Their version of cream of crab soup is an elixir from heaven.
67. The Crab Claw, St. Michaels, MD; (410) 745-2900. Dine on soft-shell crab sandwiches and hot-and-spicy steamed crabs on the dock.
68. Harris Crab House, Grasonville, MD; (410) 827-9500 or www.harriscrabhouse.com. Feast on platters of steamed blue crab or fried soft-shell crab on the Kent Narrows Waterway.
69. Jimmy Cantler's Riverside Inn, Annapolis, MD; (410) 757-1311. Still one of the best family-style crab houses.
70. Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant, Miami Beach, FL; (305) 673-0365 or www.joesstonecrab.com. Succulent crabmeat for dining in or to go.
71. King Neptune's, Gulf Shores, AL; (251) 968-5464 or www.kingneptunes.com. Hand-picked fried blue crab claws with rémoulade sauce.
72. The Wreck Of The Richard & Charlene, Mount Pleasant, SC; (843) 884-0052. No credit cards, no sign--just look for lots of cars on Shem Creek. 

 

Comfort Foods
These dishes fill our tummies and satisfy our nostalgic cravings. If you note the absence of fried chicken entries, don't fret. We'll serve up a batch just for you in an upcoming issue.

73. Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q, Decatur, AL; (256) 350-6969. Barbecue chicken with white sauce from a secret recipe.
74. The Bourbon Mall, Bourbon, MS; (662) 686-4389. One of the best steaks in the South.
75. Czech Stop and Little Czech Bakery, West, TX; (254) 826-5316 or www.west-tx.com/czechstop/home.htm. An authentic Czechoslovakian bakery serving fruit and sausage kolaches.
76. Daily Grill, Washington, D.C.; (202) 822-5282 or www.dailygrill.com. Soul-satisfying beef tips and mashed potatoes.
77. Deli Den Restaurant, Hollywood, FL; (954) 961-4070. Corned beef sandwiches, pastrami, smoked fish, pickled everything, breads, and pastries.
78. The Hollywood Brown Derby, MGM Studios, Orlando, FL; (407) 939-3463. The cobb salad here rivals its Los Angeles original counterpart.
79. Jestine's Kitchen, Charleston, SC; (843) 722-7224. Down-home food that's fresh, well-prepared, and a notch above.
80. Joe Allen's Pit Bar-B-Que, Abilene, TX; (325) 672-6082. Steaks hand-cut to your specifications.
81. The Landing, Natchitoches, LA; (318) 352-1579. Meat pies from the town made famous when Steel Magnolias was filmed there.
82. Lynn's Paradise Café, Louisville, KY; (502) 583-3447 or www.lynnsparadisecafe.com. Their heralded macaroni and cheese is one of the ultimate comfort foods.
83. Magnolias, Charleston, SC; (843) 577-7771. Shrimp and grits--just how the Lord intended them.
84. May Lodge Dining Room at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park, Prestonsburg, KY; (606) 886-2711 (ext. 2179). The view makes the buffet extra special.
85. McLain's Family Steak House, De Funiak Springs, FL; (850) 892-2402. Good fried chicken just off I-10. Lots of food for cheap.
86. Niki's West, Birmingham, AL; (205) 252-5751. More than 30 tasty, fresh veggies and salads plus a dozen meats.
87. Nu-Way Weiners, Macon, GA; (478) 743-1368 or www.nu-wayweiners.com. Hot dogs loaded with chili, mustard, and onions.
88. The Original Point Restaurant, Perdido Key, FL; (850) 492-3577 or www.point-restaurant.com. Hush puppies served with bluegrass music on weekends.
89. Pell City Steak House, Pell City, AL; (205) 338-7714. Giant onion rings fried in a light batter.
90. State Fair of Texas, Dallas, TX; (214) 565-9931 or www.bigtex.com. Fletcher's Corny Dogs, dipped in cornmeal batter and fried while you watch. Open September 24-October 17.
91. The Varsity, Atlanta, GA; (404) 881-1706. Fried peach pies and onion rings stand out.

 

Desserts
92. Abigail's, Rocheport, MO; (573) 698-3000. Chocolate mocha cake--their most sought-after sweet.
93. Bern's Steakhouse, Tampa, FL; (813) 251-2421. Order banana cheese pie at this restaurant with an entire floor devoted to serving dessert.
94. Bright Star Restaurant, Bessemer, AL; (205) 424-9444. This landmark eatery near I-20 serves bananas Foster shortcake on weekends only.
95. The Bubble Room, Captiva Island, FL; (239) 472-5558. Football-size slices of red-velvet cake.
96. Love Creek Cider Mill and Country Store, Medina, TX; 1-800-449-0882. Delicious pie--4 pounds of apples in each.
97. McEwen's on Monroe, Memphis, TN; (901) 527-7085. Try Mexican chocolate crème brûlée or banana cream pie.
98. Parkesdale Farm Market, Plant City, FL; 1-888-311-1701 or www.parkesdale.com. Strawberry shortcake made with mounds of fresh berries.
99. Shady Brady's, Mandeville, LA; (985) 727-5580. Coffee-infused crème brûlée served in a ceramic cup.
100. Joël, Atlanta, GA; (404) 233-3500. They set the standard for crème brûlée.

 

Fried Catfish
101. Blues City Cafe, Memphis, TN; (901) 526-3637. The best catfish on Beale Street.
102. Belzoni Catfish Festival, Belzoni, MS; 1-800-408-4838. Come to town on April 3 to see it cooked every way possible. If you're lucky, you might even find catfish pie.
103. Catfish Pad West, Tallahassee, FL; (850) 575-0053. This hole-in-the-wall joint serves fresh and tasty catfish with bone and backbone.
104. The Catfish Restaurant, Decatur, AL; (256) 353-3537. Great fish, but we love the hush puppies too.
105. The Cypress Inn, Tuscaloosa, AL; (205) 345-6963. Catfish in an upscale setting on the Black Warrior River.
106. Gilligan's at the Dock, Moncks Corner, SC; (843) 761-8080. The catfish is crispy and curled.
107. Middendorf's Seafood Restaurant, Manchac, LA; (985) 386-6666. Quite possibly the best fried fish in the world--yes, the world.
108. Taylor Grocery Restaurant, Taylor, MS; (662) 236-1716. If you're within a day's drive, head here to taste the most succulent fillets around.

 

Ice Creams and Milk Shakes
109. Amy's Ice Creams, Austin, TX; (512) 458-6895 or www.amysicecream.com. All natural, with several wacky flavors.
110. Biltmore Dairy Bar, Asheville, NC; (828) 274-2000. Great for cool breezes on a summer afternoon.
111. Blue Bell Creameries, Brenham, TX; 1-800-327-8135 or www.bluebell.com. The legendary Texas dairy makes the best homemade vanilla.
112. Clumpies Ice Cream Co., Chattanooga, TN; (423) 267-5425. The flavors change with the seasons, but the quality doesn't.
113. The Dairy at University of Maryland, College Park, MD; (301) 405-1415. Making ice cream on campus since 1924.
114. Doumar's Cones and Barbecue, Norfolk, VA; (757) 627-4163. Waffle cones at the place that invented the ice-cream cone.
115. Durbin Farms Market, Clanton, AL; (205) 755-1672. Peach ice cream makes the perfect treat en route to the beach.
116. Elliston Place Soda Shop, Nashville, TN; (615) 327-1090. The vanilla shake is so thick you'll need a spoon to eat it.
117. Keller's Hamburgers, Dallas, TX; (214) 357-3572. Go for the milk shakes at the original 1950s drive-in.
118. Lane Packing, Fort Valley, GA; (478) 825-3592 or www.lanepacking.com. Soft-serve peach ice cream smack-dab in the middle of a peach farm.
119. Lighthouse Point Ice Cream Factory, Port Isabel, TX; (956) 639-3370. It is truly homemade.
120. Mayfield Dairy Farms Inc., Athens, TN; (423) 745-2151. Take a tour of the factory, and then grab a cone.
121. The Old Town Slidell Soda Shop, Slidell, LA; (985) 649-4806 or www.slidellsodashop.com. We like the chocolate snowballs, made with sweetened condensed milk, and old-fashioned ice-cream sodas.
122. Pop's Charburgers Inc., Heflin, AL; (256) 463-5520. The butterscotch shakes are a perk along I-20.
123. Stacey Rexall Drugs, Foley, AL; (251) 943-7191. Milk shakes in a wonderfully nostalgic atmosphere.
124. Jake's Ice Cream & Sorbets, Atlanta, GA; (404) 523-1830 or www.jakesicecream.com. Chocolate Slap Happy ice cream is fresh because it's made in microbatches.
125. Ted Drewes, St. Louis, MO; (314) 481-2652. Frozen custard so thick it's stuck in the cup.
126. Tic-Toc Ice Cream Parlor, Loudon, TN; (865) 408-9867. All homemade; open May through Labor Day.

 

Italian
127. Aldo's Ristorante Italiano, Baltimore, MD; (410) 727-0700. Risotto of the day is best at this special occasion place in Little Italy.
128. Charlie Gitto's On the Hill, St. Louis, MO; (314) 772-8898 or www.charliegittos.com. The place where toasted ravioli was invented.
129. Ciao Bella, Atlanta, GA; (404) 261-6013. The gnocchi is perfectly tender.
130. Il Pasticcio, Savannah, GA; (912) 231-8888. Gorgonzola-encrusted filet mignon with potatoes au gratin.
131. Joe Fazio's Restaurant, Charleston, WV; (304) 345-8443. Eggplant parmigiana is best in this old-fashioned family-owned place.
132. Lovera's Grocery and Meat Market, Krebs, OK; 1-800-854-1417. Handmade sausage and handcrafted cheeses since 1946.
133. Mangia! Mangia!, Columbia, SC; (803) 791-3443. Memorable brick oven pizza.
134. Portofino, Lexington, KY; (859) 253-9300. Lunch pasta specials in a dining room graced with fabulous local artwork.
135. Savoy Cucina Italiana, Asheville, NC; (828) 253-1077. The angel hair pasta tastes as if it comes from heaven.