Southern food is a mosaic. A constellation of culinary influences came together over the last 300 years to give us defining pleasures like skillet fried chicken, cornbread, cheese grits, collards in porky potlikker, and caramel cake. This was a cuisine built on Native American acumen, colonialism and the spice trade, adaptive farming in fertile soil, and on the sheer resilience of Africans sold or born into the horrors of slavery. The food of the region constantly evolves, its repertoire extending far beyond the Antebellum pantry. A constant influx of immigrants makes the South their home. Newcomers adapt regional standards to their tastes; their foods become indelible to our collective identity.
The South is the part of the country I know best, but no one person could author an unimpeachable declaration of the essential restaurants across this dazzling corner of America. On this list — presented in alphabetical order by state and restaurant — you’ll find a rich cross-section of voices and palates contributing their opinions. Twelve writers and experts joined me in narrowing the South’s dozens of standouts down to 38, a brutal task. — Bill Addison, restaurant editorRead More