The Best Restaurants in Every Southern State 2017
So many of our editors' favorite restaurants made this year's South’s Best Restaurants list, which were chosen by the Southern Living community. 22,000 passionate Southerners, to be exact. The Southern dining scene grows more interesting each year as talented chefs inspire us, not only be elevating classic regional foods but also by blending those dishes with cooking traditions from their own heritage. For example, you might find Stone Ground Baked Grits with country ham, mushrooms, and fresh thyme at Highlands Bar and Grill–the crowd favorite in Birmingham, Alabama.
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For Southerners, food is equal parts flavor and emotion, connecting us with people and places we love. That's what's so special about these Southern restaurants–they each have a story to tell. From Alabama to West Virginia, check out the restaurnats that have made your favorites this year.
Alabama: Highlands Bar and Grill
Birmingham, AlabamaChef Frank Stitt brought farm-to-table dining to Birmingham in 1982, before there was even a moniker for it. Since then, Highlands has only become more fresh and relevant in the Southern dining landscape.
Arkansas: The Pantry Eatery
Little Rock, ArkansasChef Tomas Bohm has introduced Little Rock to a different kind of European fare using his Czechoslovakian roots as his guide.
Florida: Bud & Alley’s Restaurant
Seaside, FloridaSo many beachfront restaurants rely on the view to make up for lackluster food, but Bud & Alley’s matches sparkling Gulf vistas with delicious baked oysters and locally caught fish.
Georgia: The Grey
Savannah, GeorgiaSavannah found a golden ticket with The Grey. Inside an impeccably renovated, Art Deco-style former Greyhound bus station, chef Mashama Bailey is raising Lowcountry cuisine up high with dishes like Roasted Yardbird and Red Pea Pancakes with Cracklin'.
Kentucky: Dudley’s on Short
Lexington, KentuckyIts location across from the Lexington Farmers’ Market makes this spot produce-centric. Owner Debbie Long holds a reputation as horse country’s consummate hostess.
The South's Best Restaurant: Commander's Palace
Commander's Palace in New Orleans' Garden District is a Big Easy icon. Built in 1893, the restaurant has become a must-see for any visit to New Orleans for its incredible energy, amazing food (Emeril was once the chef!), and storied history.
Louisiana: Commander’s Palace
New Orleans, Louisiana
Maryland: Duck Duck Goose
Bethesda, MarylandThis contemporary French bistro brings D.C. dwellers to Bethesda for delicious classics like beef tartare, dry-aged duck, and wild mushroom risotto. And every dish is plated with modern sensibilities.
Mississippi: City Grocery
Oxford, MississippiHaving a drink upstairs on the fabled porch of City Grocery, which overlooks Oxford’s town square, has become a Southern rite of passage.
Missouri: Sidney Street Café
St. Louis, MissouriChef Kevin Nashan continues to conjure exciting dishes here at the crossroads where Southern ingredients meet Spanish and French cooking techniques.
North Carolina: Chef & the Farmer
Kinston, North CarolinaMost folks hadn’t heard of the tiny town of Kinston until Vivian Howard moved back home to open a restaurant. Over a decade later, patrons still flock to it for a taste of Howard’s creative interpretations of local dishes.
Oklahoma: The Drake
Oklahoma City, OklahomaLike a futuristic, fashionable, 1960s diner in Los Angeles, The Drake has made the words “seafood” and “Oklahoma City” as natural of a pairing as the fresh oysters and rosé mignonette.
South Carolina: Husk
Charleston, South CarolinaGlobally renowned as a pilgrimage site for Southern food, chef Sean Brock’s Husk, currently in Charleston and Nashville, will open new locations in Savannah, Georgia, and Greenville, South Carolina, later this year.
Tennessee: The 404 Kitchen
Nashville, TennesseeInside a former shipping container in Nashville’s Gulch District, you’ll find a staggering whiskey selection alongside chef Matt Bolus’ Italian takes on country cooking.
Texas: The Original Ninfa's on Navigation
Houston, TexasWhether you believe this to be the home of the first fajitas or not, there’s no denying Ninfa’s as the archetype of Tex-Mex food.
Richmond, VirginiaBoth Pasture and its sister restaurant, Comfort, are love letters to Virginia ingredients and mountain cooking. Pasture takes a few more liberties with tradition, like the Country Captain chicken dish with tomato-curry gravy.
Washington, D.C.: Old Ebbitt Grill
Washington, D.C.With animal heads bagged by Teddy Roosevelt, the Old Ebbitt Grill is as much an unofficial museum off the National Mall as it is a steak-and-oyster house.
West Virginia: Prime 44 West
White Sulphur Springs, West VirginiaThis homage to NBA legend Jerry West is a full-court press, from the 44-ounce porterhouse to the famed lobster mashed potatoes.