From grits and gravy to buttermilk biscuits and fantastic fried chicken, there’s nothing quite like the cuisine that personifies the Southern United States. And, the best part is that each region puts its own unique spin on what southern cooking truly means.
Head to Texas to enjoy some of the most mouthwatering BBQ in America, or make your way to Louisiana to sample some of the country’s finest fritters. Exploring the best Southern restaurants in America is a neverending journey of fantastic food, delightful tastes, and some top-notch service.
However, with so many great restaurants serving up soulful, Southern cookin’, we wanted to figure out where the absolute best places are to indulge. The readers have spoken – here’s where to find the 25 best Southern restaurants in America.
Best Southern Restaurants In AmericaHow do these rankings work?
Fried chicken, beef ribs, and catfish are just a few of the standard dishes that guests love at Bully’s. This Jackson, Mississippi institution has been serving hungry visitors for years now, specialising in soul food that’s so comforting you’ll never want to leave the place. The food here is about as homemade as it gets, and you’re definitely going to want to finish it all off with some sweet tea.
From start to finish, everything about Pittypat’s Porch Restaurant is infused with Southern soul and flavour. Start your meal with a large glass of boozy Peach Lemonade and some mouthwatering gumbo. Then, work your way on to the world-class entrees they’ve got, all of which are served with collard greens, black-eyed peas, and homemade biscuits and bread. It’s impossible not to order seconds here.
Tucked away on an unassuming street in the South Oak Cliff neighbourhood of Dallas you’ll find Sweet Georgia Brown, one of the best Southern restaurants in America. Crispy fried chicken, buttery sweet potatoes, and some of the tastiest macaroni and cheese you’ve ever had make this place simply irresistible. Everything here is served buffet-style, which makes it easy to go back for second helpings of collard greens, too.
Chef Audrey prepares everything from scratch at this Mississippi hotspot. And, the service is buffet-style, meaning that on any given day there are more than a dozen different foods to choose from. Indulge in some creamy gravy, crispy chicken, and a side of some of the best potato salad in the state. Then, make your way on to dessert. Her made-from-scratch peach cobbler should be illegal it’s so downright scrumptious and addictive.
Southern food doesn’t have to be served traditionally to taste great. And, the Great Southern Cafe in Florida is proving that point. Here, you’ll get the chance to sample traditional Southern recipes but with a modern twist. Expect all of the favourites, such as macaroni and cheese with bacon or crab cakes with fried green tomatoes. But, expect the flavours to feel updated. The result is a delightful mixture of flavours and spices that truly take your tastebuds on a journey.
Dining at Circa 1886 is a delightful experience as it’s housed inside of the original carriage house of the Wentworth Mansion. Old-world charm merges with intriguing details to form one of the best Southern restaurants in America. The chef is Texan, and those flavours are certainly infused in the menu, which showcases dishes such as shrimp and rice grits, fried green tomato salad, and their famous venison. You can’t visit this restaurant and not try the venison.
Hailed as a secret Southern kitchen, Mae is one of the most up-and-coming restaurants in the Pacific Northwest right now. Service is by reservation only, as the dinner is a multi-course prix fixe meal showcasing only the finest ingredients from Southern artisans. Each dish tells a story that clearly has roots in Southern Appalachia. Expect bold, natural flavours across the board and a lot of added charm.
This mom and pop restaurant certainly deserves a spot on any list of the best Southern restaurants in America. Every day they wake up to create each item on their menu from scratch, using ingredients and flavours reminiscent of grandma’s home cooking. Order a round of long-simmered, perfectly golden fried green tomatoes to start. Then, make your way on to their famous meat-and-three fare. It’s all so mouthwateringly delicious.
From baby back ribs to raw oysters and even barbecue, Doc Crow’s specialises in offering guests some of the finest flavours that make up Southern cuisine. Their smokehouse is especially impressive, as it’s where they smoke their meats daily. Beef brisket is a must-try while you’re here, although they’ve got shrimp and cheddar grits that are worth trying as well. Come here hungry, as you’re going to want to start with the Texas-style chilli pictured below. It’s like nothing else you’ve ever tasted.
It’s no surprise that one of the best Southern restaurants in America would be in the heart of trendy foodie city Austin. Fixe Southern House is an upscale eatery offering an elegant atmosphere in which to enjoy traditional, homestyle plates. Everything here is bursting with flavour and so creatively cooked but their Pimento Mac n Cheese is especially to die for. It’s served with 10-year aged cheddar, braised collards, smoked ham shank bechamel, and confit ham shank. Wow.
At Social Southern Table and Bar, you get more than a few experiences all rolled into one. Super Southern dishes are paired with craft beer, wine, and craft cocktails in this rustic restaurant. Dishes use seasonal ingredients, which somehow makes them taste fresher than most. And, while they might look a little upscale, they still retain the same wonderful traditional flavours you’d expect out of this level of quality Southern cooking.
Acre’s vision is to serve “stylishly modern food with roots deep in Southern soil.” And, that’s exactly what they do. Artistic presentations without pretence and a lot of imaginative cooking go into making the cuisine here some of the best in the country. For starters, just look at these Chicken Fat Pancakes below. They’ve combined Nashville hot chicken skins and maple hot sauce. It’s incredibly creative and extremely irresistible.
With a name like Tupelo Honey, you can bet your butt that this is one of the best Southern restaurants in America. Here, the scratch-made Southern food menu changes with the seasons to allow for quality and freshness. And, not only is the menu constantly updated, but it’s quite extensive. You’ll find everything from fried pickles, fried okra, and honey chipotle wings to sweet tea roasted chicken and sweet potato pancakes. This is about as Southern as it gets.
Chef James Roberts’ Southern Louisiana roots shine through like a ray of bright sunshine in the dishes he so perfectly crafts. Although Buffalo is practically on the other side of the country, and nowhere near the South, Toutant provides high-quality, authentic Southern food to hungry eaters from all over the state. From jambalaya to cast iron skillet cornbread, there’s nothing here that’s not tantalisingly delicious.
Highlands Bar and Grill is different than most Southern restaurants in America. Here, you’ll find a daily-changing menu that features Southern dishes rooted in classic French cooking techniques. The result? A high-end form of Southern cuisine you’ve probably never tasted before. The chef here perfectly combines his roots in Cullman, Alabama and work experience in France to craft some of the most intriguing and delicious Southern food in the country.
Southern-inspired cuisine from the heart of the Carolinas is what attracts most diners to The King’s Kitchen. And, while they excel in infusing every dish with perfectly-balanced spices, flavours, and ingredients, there’s something else that makes this place special. This is a not-for-profit restaurant that donates 100% of its profits to feed the poor in the Charlotte region. That alone makes it one of the best Southern restaurants in America.
Ida Claire is just as much of an experience as it is a restaurant. Funky and eclectic describe this Addison eatery pretty well. On the weekdays they offer Vinyl Hour between 3 to 6 pm where they put on their favourite vinyl and offer specials on food and drinks. You can enjoy the special hour in their imaginative airstream, which is the perfect place to sit back and enjoy a draught beer and some chicken and waffles, pecan-smoked pork chop, or Nashville hot chicken.
If you’re a fan of Southern desserts, then the best Southern restaurant for you is Willa Jean. More than entreés, what this place does really well are their snacks, sides and scrumptious desserts. You’ll be hard-pressed to find better banana pudding and buttermilk chess pie anywhere else in Louisiana, if not the entire country. And their biscuits? Don’t even get us started.
Denver Biscuit Company is one of the best brunch spots in Colorado Springs. But, their biscuits are just so darn good that they’ve earned the restaurants the No. 7 spot for best Southern restaurants, too. Here, you can indulge in a variety of freshly-baked buttermilk biscuits daily. From buttermilk fried chicken, apple butter, smoked pulled pork, and biscuit pot pie, there’s nothing here that’s not downright delicious.
Central BBQ is home to the best barbecue in Tennessee. But, it’s also one of the best Southern restaurants in America for those looking to sample true Southern, smoky flavours. This downtown BBQ joint is pretty famous, in part due to the sheer variety of pork they offer their guests. Choose from mouthwatering pork shoulder and ribs or chow down on what they call “dark,” the heavily smoked crust that any true BBQ lover is going to die for.
Family-owned since 1943, Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room feels like just that, a familiar dining room where you gather with friends and family to indulge in some of the tastiest Southern cooking around. This is one of the best places if you’re looking to bump shoulders with locals and truly immerse yourself in the culture. You can sample everything from fried chicken and cornbread dressing to sweet potato souffle, black-eyed peas. Welcome to the South.
JuneBaby recently ranked as one of the hottest restaurants in America for 2020, but readers really ranked it high as a top Southern restaurant, too. While it appears to be a classic Southern restaurant, they add a contemporary touch to the food and space itself. The restaurant is trendy, and expect nothing less than the finest of flavours, all constructed using heirloom recipes and a lot of care. While everything here is decadent and creative, we suggest starting with their famous fried chicken.
Magnolias is a forerunner in the upscale Southern dining scene, practically pioneers in offering fine Southern dining in South Carolina. If you’re looking for the perfect mix of elegance and tradition, this is it. Conventional dishes are upgraded here to showcase creative plates such as Down South Egg Rolls and Shellfish Over Grits. Think hometown taste with elevated flavours and a superb presentation.
An upscale elegance fuses together with traditional roots and hometown flavours to form one of the best Southern restaurants in America. In fact, this place is worth planning a trip to DC for. From the finely-crafted flavours to the occasional live jazz, every detail of this diner is perfectly planned and so delicious. Head here for Sunday Jazz Brunch or simply for lunch to indulge in some fine fried chicken and Charleston Perlau.
The absolute best Southern restaurant in America in terms of quality ambience, authentic food, and impeccable Southern hospitality? Babe’s Chicken in Roanoke, Texas. While they’ve now opened other locations, to enjoy the original experience, head to Roanoke to enjoy family-style country cooking at its finest. As you can guess, they serve fried chicken, but their entire scaled-back menu is bursting with Southern favourites. Just make sure to leave room for pie or some world-famous banana pudding.