Things Southerners Will Always Order at Restaurants

If it’s on the menu, you best know we’ll be ordering it. 

Caps on the Water restaurant in Vilano Beach, Florida
Photo: courtesy of Florida’s Historic Coast

As much as we love a home-cooked meal, you'll also find us frequenting all the local dining spots around town. Aside from manners and football, there are few things Southerners are more finicky about than food… which is to say we know how and what to order (and we know when it's authentically Southern). From sweet tea to greens and just about anything fried, if it's available, you can bet your bottom dollar one of these seven things will be on our table.

That Sweet, Sweet Tea

Your Southern roots might be in question if you're not ordering sweet tea with an extra cup of ice on the side. (And it's essentially expected to ask for a to-go cup of that liquid gold.) But, if that's not your cup of tea, a refreshing Arnold Palmer or ice-cold Coca Cola are also Southerner-approved.

The Bread Basket

When it comes to the carbs, you won't find us holding back. Dinner rolls, cornbread muffins, biscuits, and hush puppies, oh my! We try to save room for our meal, but they're just irresistible.

The Fried Goods

There isn't a vegetable or meat we haven't tried frying down South, but when it comes to ordering them at a restaurant, we have our staples. There's no better way to start off a meal than with a plastic red basket lined with checkered paper and filled to the brim with fried pickles, fried okra, or fried green tomatoes. And because we didn't have enough battered goods already, we'll throw in some crunchy, crispy fried chicken for our meal too.

Anything with Potatoes

You name it, we'll eat it: potato salad, loaded potato skins, french fries, mashed potatoes.

The Sides That Aren't Fried

While we love our fried veggies, we never miss out on collard greens, country green beans, crispy Brussels sprouts, or coleslaw when they're on the menu. We're also all about grits, whether it's breakfast, lunch, or dinner—and no, instant ones don't count. Then, of course, it would nearly be a sin to let mac and cheese go unordered. And lastly, though it's admittedly more of a dessert than a side (but we won't tell if you choose to eat it right alongside your main), you can't leave a meal without the comfort of banana pudding.

Fresh Seafood

Now let's talk seafood. If we're down by the coast and there's fresh catch listed on a chalkboard menu, no doubt about it; that's what we're getting. At a true seafood joint, you can't pass up a shrimp or crab claw basket (seasoned or fried). Delicious crab cakes or a cup full of gumbo also always catch a Southerner's eye.

The Dippin's and Drizzlin's

When the waitress asks if she can bring anything else, that's our cue to ask for all our favorite condiments and sauces. If there are greens coming, we're ready to douse our dishes in pepper vinegar and hot sauce. Fried pickles on the way? Ranch, please! For anything in the smoked-meat realm, we'll be needing all the barbecue sauce variations the restaurant has to offer. Fried chicken might merit honey mustard; and when it comes to French fries, my dad always asked for a side of mayo and ketchup, then mixed it together for dipping (think a pared-down version of comeback sauce). And finally if there is a special sauce, you know we'll be asking for it… and extra of it, naturally.

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