Dining With the Stars
Emily Saliers's Watershed
A visit to Watershed restaurant feels a bit like an Indigo Girls song: easy, laid-back, and comforting. That should come as no surprise: Emily Saliers of the well-known band is one of the owners. But the restaurant isn't a celebrity gimmick. The chef is James Beard Award-winner Scott Peacock, who serves fancified Southern staples in this former gas station. "Scott's focus is seasonal and freshly prepared," says Emily. "There's nothing out of a can. His approach is very simple, but he has a way of making simple stunning."
What To Order: pan-fried chicken (on Tuesday), sharp house-made pimiento cheese, hot vegetable plate (differs daily), "Very Good Chocolate Cake" made with cooked frosting and a sour cream batter
SL Tip: On Mondays all wines are 50% off. Early reservations recommended Tuesday nights because the fried chicken is so popular.
406 West Ponce De Leon Avenue, Decatur, GA; watershedrestaurant.com or (404) 378-4900
Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede
Dolly Parton's place in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, brings new meaning to "dinner and a show." The 35,000-square-foot arena is decorated like a Southern mansion. Actors, comedians, and 32 horses perform while you eat with your hands (no utensils is part of the experience). It feels like a picnic with 1,000 friends.
What To Order: You don't actually have a choice! The set menu includes a biscuit, creamy veggie soup, rotisserie chicken, smoked pork tenderloin, corn on the cob, a baked potato, and an apple turnover.
SL Tip: Arrive an hour early to see a bluegrass band called Mountain Ruckus. (Slip some plastic utensils in your purse!)
3849 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN;dixiestampede.comor 1-800-356-1676
Johnny Nicholas's Hill Top Cafe
Grammy Award-winner Johnny Nicholas (formerly of Texas swing band Asleep at the Wheel) owns this little white-painted wooden restaurant and music venue "inconveniently located in the middle of nowhere." (Uh, that means near Doss, Texas―100 miles west of Austin.) Christmas lights and old neon signs light the interior, where some of the memorabilia on the walls (tin beer and petroleum signs) dates back to 1929. The schizophrenic menu jumps from Greek to Cajun to comfort foods―Mediterranean olives, seafood boudin, and chicken-fried steak blend together surprisingly well.
What To Order: "T for 1" Greek's Special Tenderloin marinated with olive oil, garlic, and black pepper
SL Tip: So popular on weekends, you'll need reservations. Or come early (at 5 p.m.) or late (at 8:30 p.m.).
10661 North U.S. 87, Doss, TX; hilltopcafe.com or (830) 997-8922
Bill Murray's Caddyshack
You know you've arrived at Murray Bros. Caddyshack, the movie-inspired restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida, when you see the golf cart crashed into the side of the building. Murray family pics and autographed pro golfer headshots adorn the walls. While the menu features mostly sports-bar fare, the lighthearted atmosphere is the reason to come here. Fore!
What To Order: an old-fashioned hamburger (the ground chuck patties are hand-formed daily).
SL Tip: This isn't the place to entertain a serious conversation; the noise reaches toddler-at-the-playground levels. 455 South Legacy Trail, St. Augustine, FL (at World Golf Village); murraybros caddyshack.com or (904) 940-3673