The South's Best Tomato Dishes
From Cherokee Purples to Brandywines and Green Zebras, heirloom tomatoes are making appearances on menus across the South in salads, sandwiches, pies, and even cocktails. While time with this fleeting fruit of summer is short, these restaurants make the most of the season. Order these items before it's gone.
John's Island Tomato Tarte Tatin
FIG in Charleston, South Carolina
Charlestonians anticipate the arrival of the Tomato Tarte Tatin at FIG so much the dish is just an annual meeting and a few t-shirts short of having its own fan club. Served with a cannelle of whipped chevre and olive coulis, the tarte tatin differs from its pie cousin. It's prepared like an upside down cake with a flaky crust only on the bottom.
Saint Leo in Oxford, Mississippi
The new kid on the Square, Saint Leo has won locals and visitors over with their wood-fired Italian offerings, but their panzanella salad with torn pieces of bread, local tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, basil, mint, and a sherry vinaigrette makes for a fresh prelude to pizza.
Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, Alabama
While you won't find any wildcard components, the ingredients in the tomato salad at Highlands featuring buttery soft-ripened cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy, cucumbers, red onion, and basil are carefully sourced and thoughtfully presented in Chef Frank Stitt's trademark way.
WATCH: Make and Herbed Tomato Tart for Your Next Party
Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, North Carolina
One of the restaurant's best-selling menu items, Chef Vivian Howard's pie layers a combination of fresh and roasted tomatoes underneath a cheesy-mayo topping with a side of eggplant and okra dressed in a corn vinaigrette.
Angeline in New Orleans, Louisiana
Like summer in a lowball glass minus the heaviness of a traditional Bloody Mary, Angeline's False Blood mixes vodka, gin, or mezcal with fresh tomato juice and herbs, served with a pickled okra garnish.
Tomato and Mozz Sandwich
Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, Georgia
Top-notch tomatoes deserve a fitting platform, and the housemade ciabatta at beloved Back in the Day Bakery is just that. The fresh mozzarella, greens, sea salt, and balsamic turn it into a handheld caprese.
Heirloom Tomato and Watermelon Salad
Decca in Louisville, Kentucky
This salad first caught our attention on Instagram when Scott Hocker, editor-in-chief of Liquor.com, posted it during his trip to Louisville. Chef Annie Pettry pairs scarlet heirloom tomatoes and magenta chunks of watermelon that contrast with olives, blue cheese, and sunflower seeds. "This is the best salad I've had all summer," according to Hocker.
Preserved in St. Augustine, Florida
At Preserved, tomatoes are given the same treatment and flavor profile as a classic steak tartare with capers, red onion, chives, arugula, and parmesan served with crostini.
Stono Market and Tomato Shed Cafe in John's Island, South Carolina
A hidden gem outside of Charleston, the Tomato Shed Cafe makes a ultra-cheesy, old-school tomato pie with thick slices of sweet onion and a robust crust that's worth taking the scenic route.
Butcher and Bee in Nashville, Tennessee
At the supersized East Nashville outpost of this inventive sandwich shop and cafe (originally from Charleston), heirloom tomatoes mingle with charred corn, tangy and crumbly goat feta, basil, and hot honey mustard for a spicy-sweet counterpoint.