The South’s Best New Restaurants 2020
Here in the South, we love our classic restaurants, those comfortable old favorites that have stood the test of time. But our region’s culinary scene is hardly standing still, and a parade of impressive new entrants and local eateries have recently come on the scene.
This year we launched a new dining category, Best New Restaurants, to recognize the top establishments that have opened within the past three years. With tempting new offerings ranging from pristinely fresh seafood to updated French classics, the South’s dining future looks very bright indeed.
10. Tiny Lou's (Atlanta, Georgia)
Downstairs from the lobby of the recently-revived Hotel Clermont, diners tuck into steak frites and trout almondine at this stylishly playful brasserie. Brown leather booths, pink velvet banquettes, and framed black-and-white photos set a throwback atmosphere, but chef Jeb Aldrich’s Southern-accented French fare has plenty of light modern touches.
tinylous.com, 470-485-0085, 789 Ponce De Leon Avenue Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30306
9. Automatic Seafood And Oysters (Birmingham, Alabama)
In 2019, Adam Evans and Suzanne Humphries returned to their native Alabama to launch this stunner of a seafood house. Southern oysters and a rich selection of fresh-caught fish from the Gulf anchor the menu along with a few Alabama-inspired twists, like smoked fish hushpuppies with comeback sauce and grilled fish ribs with white barbecue sauce.
automaticseafood.com, 205-580-1600, 2824 5th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35233
8. Benne on Eagle (Asheville, North Carolina)
Located in the heart of The Block, Asheville’s historic black business district, Benne on Eagle pays homage to the region’s African American culinary traditions. John Fleer’s and Ashleigh Shanti’s “Appalachian soul food” offering ranges from crisp fried quail and potlikker-braised chicken wings to fried trout and oxtail with peas.
benneoneagle.com, 828-552-8833, 35 Eagle Street, Asheville, NC 28801
7. Watchman's (Atlanta, Georgia)
In 2018, the proprietors of the Kimball House launched this bright, modern take on a classic seafood and oyster hall. Amid white walls and seafoam green tables, chilled oysters on sparkling trays of ice are the order of the day, followed by hot and cold seafood plates and rum-centric cocktails.
watchmansatl.com, 404-254-0141, 99 Krog Street Northeast Suite Y, Atlanta, GA 30307
6. Parish Restaurant & Bar (Monroe, Louisiana)
At Parish Restaurant & Bar, owner Cory Bahr pays tribute to the flavors of his native Delta region. Fried Gulf oysters, crispy boudin, and elaborately-garnished deviled eggs mingle with handmade pastas, duck confit, and prime steaks.
parishrestaurant.com, 318-376-2423, 318 North 2nd Street, Monroe, LA 35235
Check Out The South's Best New Restaurants
5. The Stanley (Charlotte, North Carolina)
Father-and-son team Paul and Alex Verica have transformed an old grocery in Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood into a haven of seasonal small plates. Menu regulars include chicken liver mousse, steam buns, and fresh local produce prepared “a few different ways,” with tempting “other stuff” like hefty pork chops and fresh North Carolina seafood.
thestanleyclt.com, 980-299-2741, 1961 East 7th Street, Charlotte, NC 28204
4. Folk (Nashville, Tennessee)
A pair of brick wood-fired ovens anchor the open kitchen at Folk, the latest East Nashville venture from Philip Krajeck of Rolf & Daughters fame. Crisp-charred Neapolitan-style pizzas are the heart of the menu along with a seasonal array of fresh veggies, cured meats, and hearty meat and seafood plates.
goodasfolk.com, 615-610-2595, 823 Meridian Street, Nashville, TN 37207
3. The Elysian Bar (New Orleans, Louisiana)
It may be the bar of the Hotel Peter & Paul, but the Elysian has plenty to offer on the culinary front. The stunningly-remodeled parlors of a former Catholic rectory, adorned with ornate curtains and colorful chairs, are a fitting setting for chef Alex Harrell’s Mediterranean-inspired plates, which have a few Southern accents like smoked pecans and heirloom red grits.
theelysianbar.com, 504-356-6769, 2317 Burgundy Street, New Orleans, LA 70117
2. Melfi's (Charleston, South Carolina)
Melfi’s is a new Italian restaurant with a clubby retro style, including white cloths on the tables and sleek leather-backed banquettes. Start with an old school martini then move on to fresh pasta entrees, larger plates like steak florentine and wine-braised veal Osso Buco, or thin-crust pizzas hot from the wood-fired oven.
eatatmelfis.com, 843-513-0307, 721 King Street, Charleston, SC 29403
1. Alewife (Richmond, Virginia)
In a stylishly-restored brick storefront in Richmond’s Church Hill neighborhood, Alewife highlights sustainable fish from Mid-Atlantic waters. Chef/owner Lee Gregory’s rotating menu might include rockfish, drum, or black sea bass, and it makes full use of the less common bits, like collars and cheeks. Alewife’s tempting slate of cocktails is designed for pairing with seafood, and there are always a few hearty meat options, too.
alewiferva.com, 804-325-3426, 3120 East Marshall Street, Richmond, VA 23223