15 Southern Cities All Food Lovers Should Visit Now
Don’t Miss: Chez Fon Fon; Big Spoon Creamery (our Birmingham-based editors visit here perhaps too much); The Pizitz Food Hall, filled with a collection of globally influenced vendors plus a full-service, Italian spot, Fero; The Atomic Lounge for inventive, not pretentious, drinks; Johnny’s in the Homewood neighborhood; and Saw’s Soul Kitchen for Alabama White Sauce-covered barbecue.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Don’t Miss: The classics like Upperline and Dooky Chase’s Restaurant both run by pioneering women for decades; hidden French Quarter bistro, Angeline; lamb roti at Turkey and The Wolf; lunch at meat lover’s paradise Cochon Butcher; oysters at Casamento’s; and happy hour in the courtyard at Cure.
Chapel Hill-Durham, North Carolina
Don’t Miss: Dinner at the new mid-century-modern hotel The Durham; shrimp and grits at the legendary Crook’s Corner; wildly fresh seafood at Saltbox Seafood Joint (don’t let the line scare you); Picnic for barbecue and seasonal sides; and locally loved Lantern.
Don’t Miss: Wood-fired pizza at Hog and Hominy; hand-made pasta and cacio e pepe-style Brussels sprouts at Catherine and Mary’s; dive destination Ernestine and Hazel’s with their Soul Burgers and haunted jukebox; Loflin Yard's dressed-up chicken wings; ribs at Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous; a chopped pork sandwich at Payne’s Bar-B-Que; coffee and a cookie at Muddy’s Bake Shop in Midtown; and cocktails at The Beauty Shop, Priscilla Presley's former hair parlor.
Don’t Miss: Wood-fired Italian at Saint Leo, a 2017 James Beard Award semifinalist for Best New Restaurant; drinks on the porch overlooking the square at City Grocery; oysters and okra chaat from Chef Vishwesh Bhatt at Snackbar; and Smash Burgers at the newest outpost of Tupelo-based Neon Pig.
Don’t Miss: Frosé at the Saint George Hotel’s new oasis Bar Nadar; gyros at Food Shark; Boyz2Men Taco Trailer; fresh Italian at Stellina; Do Your Thing Coffee; laundromat-gelateria hybrid Tumbleweed; and donuts at Buns N’ Roses.
Don’t Miss: Cajun classics at kitschy, taxidermy-heavy Prejean’s; house-made charcuterie and inventive pizza at Bread and Circus Provisions; drive-through delights at Daiquiri Depo; the Acadian Superette's lunch platters and Instagram-worthy signage; Johnson’s Boucaniere for boudin biscuits; brunch at The French Press; Red Beans and Sausage at Creole Lunch House.
Don’t Miss: The imaginative and surprisingly affordable bar menu at Poor Hendrix; new food hall The Canteen with stalls for gourmet bagels, Middle-eastern snacks, and fresh-pressed juice; the veggie plate at Miller Union; coffee inside shipping container-constructed Brash in the Westside Provisions District; Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q; international food destination Buford Highway, especially Masterpiece and Pho Dai Loi 2; and of course Staplehouse (if you made your reservation earlier this year).
Don’t Miss: Maple + Pine in the Wes Anderson-ish, pink-accented lobby of the Quirk Hotel; locally sourced oysters at Rappahannock Restaurant; Sub Rosa Bakery’s wood-fired bread; Coconut Cream Pie at Proper Pie Co.; sister restaurants Comfort and Pasture; and Perly’s, the Southern answer to New York’s Russ & Daughters Cafe.
Don’t Miss: Chef Ryan Pera’s thoughtful, vegetable-driven dishes at Coltivaré (tiny, but worth fighting for a table); the new seafood-focused menu at Chef Chris Shepherd’s Underbelly and Shepherd’s ambitious One-Fifth, which will morph into five different restaurants between now and 2021; Tacos al Carbon at the OG of Tex-Mex, Ninfa’s on Navigation; fruit-forward cocktails at Alba Huerta’s Julep; Crawfish and Noodles in the city’s massive Chinatown area; the seasonal Pimm’s Cup at Better Luck Tomorrow; and Anvil Bar and Refuge.
Asheville, North Carolina
Don’t Miss: Chef Justin Burdett’s produce-packed menu at Local Provisions; trout and eggs for breakfast at Early Girl Eatery; the mountain-style cooking opus known as Rhubarb; The Admiral; tapas at Cúrate; whole-hog barbecue and a rotating cast of pies at Buxton Hall; White Duck Taco Shop; the Iron Rail IPA at Wedge Brewing Company; Almond-Rose Croissants at Owl Bakery; and a basement filled with Belgian brews at Thirsty Monk Brewery and Pub.
Don’t Miss: Butcher shop and farm-to-table cafe, Delta Meat Market; burgers and live music at Hey Joe’s run by unofficial mayor Weejy Rogeers; hand-made tamales at gas station Delta Fast Food; food truck Levee Break Grill; and real-deal soul food at The Senator’s Place.
Don’t Miss: Arnold’s Country Kitchen; dinner at Rolf & Daughters (don’t skip the sourdough and seaweed butter); beer with artful cheese and charcuterie boards at Tennessee Brew Works; turbo-powered coffee at Barista Parlor in Germantown; Henrietta Red's buzzy oyster bar; cocktails in the backyard of house-turned-lounge Rosemary and Beauty Queen; hot chicken at Bolton’s; izakaya Two Ten Jack; musician-favorite dive Santa’s Pub; and Chef Tandy Wilson’s City House.
Little Rock, Arkansas
Don’t Miss: Pork Dumplings at Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co.; freshened-up bar food staples and beer at Lost Forty Brewing; lunch at The Root; a scoop of buttermilk in a cone at Loblolly Creamery; refined Southern staples at the historic Capital Hotel’s Bar and Grill; South on Main for dinner and literary readings, live music, and a jazz series curated by the staff of the Oxford American; and The Fold, tropical fare in a colorful remake of a former filling station.
San Antonio, Texas
Don’t Miss: The Pearl Plaza, a massive compound of restaurants, like La Gloria and Cured, and shopping, housed in the stone buildings of a former brewery and bottling plant (Book a stay at Hotel Emma and you could spend the whole weekend here.); Ocho, the glass conservatory-like restaurant at Liz Lambert’s Cuba-influenced Hotel Havana (don’t miss the candlelit bar downstairs); cozy cocktail lounge The Brooklynite; shipping container counter-service at The Luxury; and Mixtli, where the planning to grab a seat at their 12-customers-only, 10-course dinners exploring different Mexican cooking traditions is well worth it.