Explore our picks for top dining in the Southern United States — from saucy BBQ to white-tablecloth-worthy, Old World fare. It’s all here, served up by state (and updated regularly, so come back often to see what’s cookin’).
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Hot and Hot Fish Club (Birmingham)
Owned and operated by Chris Hastings, 2012 winner of the James Beard Best Chef (South) award, H&HFC offers a unique blend of Southern, French, and California cooking styles to bring out the best in local harvests, fresh fish, and other quality ingredients. Standouts include the fried okra and red snapper.
Petit & Keet (Little Rock)
This culinary-driven restaurant offers a variety of menu items including dishes crafted by a renowned local chef and uses as many local products and ingredients as possible. Petit & Keet also features a full bar with specialty drinks, cocktails, and a signature bar menu.
Cypress Restaurant (Tallahassee)
A sophisticated Southern regional-style restaurant with a creative menu of fresh in-house ingredients including chef-cut aged meats, local produce, and fresh seafood.
Enzo’s on the Lake (Orlando)
Enjoy family recipes showcasing Roman and Neapolitan influences, pasta lovingly crafted by hand, and fresh fish. Housed in a beautiful Italian-styled villa on the Fairy Lakefront.
Highball & Harvest (Orlando)
H&H transforms ingredients sourced from local farms and organic garden into innovative Southern dishes and cocktails featuring seasonal fruits and fresh herbs.
J.B.’s Fish Camp & Seafood Restaurant (New Smyrna Beach)
“Southern Seafood with an Attitude.” So reads the front sign on J.B. — an accurate assessment of this culinary institution. While it’s slightly out of the way on the Indian River, it is absolutely worth the trip. Don’t miss the oyster stew and Key lime pie.
Jenkins Quality Barbeque (Jacksonville)
Proudly offering tasty ribs, chicken, beef, and pork – cooked over an oak wood-fired pit and topped with a secret savory mustard-based barbecue sauce.
Preserved Restaurant (St. Augustine)
Located in the (well-preserved) house of Thomas Jefferson’s great-granddaughter, Maria Jefferson Shine, Preserved is owned and operated by James Beard Award nominee Chef Brian Whittington and features authentic Southern cuisine artfully prepared with locally sourced produce and proteins. Sunday brunch is not to be missed.
Old Brick Pit BBQ (Atlanta)
Selected as one of Southern Living’s “The South’s Top 50 Barbeque Joints 2019” – and for good reason. Ribs, pork, and chicken slow-cooked in the hickory-fired brick pit make for a supreme BBQ experience.
Southern Soul BBQ (St. Simons)
Southern Living’s “The South’s Best BBQ 2018” winner (one of two). An unwavering devotion to slow-cooking meat and dedication to quality has won them the award two years running.
Sunbury Crab Co. (Sunbury)
As with many great dives, this one is a little out of the way, but worth the diversion. The big three from the menu (blue crab, oysters, and wild shrimp) come from the waters and docks you can see from your seat. Don’t miss the crab cakes.
Malone’s is considered one of Lexington’s best restaurants, period. A wide variety of steaks are cooked to perfection under an infrared broiler — including a 12-ounce prime sirloin, filet mignon with king crab legs, and a ribeye. Don’t miss the famous steak and potato soup.
Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn (Owensboro)
Try Western Kentucky’s famous mutton barbeque, cooked on custom-designed metal smokers and pulled into long tender strands. Top it off with yummy self-serve sides of mac ‘n’ cheese, stewed apples, sweet corn muffins, and more.
Proof on Main (Louisville)
In Louisville, this hotel-based restaurant is committed to supporting local farms and purveyors. Menu ingredient highlights include bourbon barrel soy sauce, heritage pork, rabbit, guinea fowl, foraged mushrooms, smoked fish, and bison.
Commander’s Palace (New Orleans)
As the leader in haute Creole cuisine and winner of seven James Beard Foundation awards, Commander’s is the go-to choice for a distinctly Southern (and distinctly genteel) New Orleans dining experience.
Dickie Brennan’s (New Orleans)
A favorite of the city’s business set, Brennan’s traditional clubby atmosphere includes a splashy bar and a prime steak-anchored menu that features plenty of New Orleans twists. The big winner, a six-ounce filet, comes with fried oysters and béarnaise. You can also indulge in barbeque ribeye paired with Abita beer barbeque shrimp.
Jubans Creole Restaurant (Baton Rouge)
Juban’s is a unique expression of culinary excellence; a special place for dinner parties, corporate luncheons, cocktail receptions, and weddings. Juban’s distinctive flavor and unforgettable atmosphere make every dining occasion a delicious celebration.
Delta Meat Market (Cleveland)
Owner and Chef Cole Ellis is a 2017 James Beard Award “Best Chef South” semifinalist, and #3 in Southern Living’s “Best Chefs of the South 2019.” Delta Meat Market has been recognized for its butchery program, food service, and catering.
Parlor Market (Jackson)
The restaurant is housed in an 1898 building that once served as a grocery store called Parlor Market. The store specialized in local produce and cured meats. Today, the region’s focus on locally-grown produce, including strong support for local farmers’ markets and curing our own charcuterie, harkens back to this history.
Table 100 (Jackson)
A New Orleans-inspired bistro and piano bar. Dishing up a modern take on Southern fare, Table 100 is known for its thick-cut pork chops and rice grit cake from Mississippi’s own Delta Blues Rice.
Caprice Bistro (Wilmington)
A casually elegant eaterie that makes you feel like you’re in Paris’ fourth arrondisement. Onion soup, escargots in garlic-Roquefort sauce, and steak frites anchor this outstanding traditional bistro menu.
The Dining Room at the Biltmore Estate (Ashville)
Experience expertly prepared cuisine that emphasizes estate-raised and local ingredients, with world-class service inspired by the Vanderbilts. White linen tablecloths, fine china, and crystal add to the elegance, along with sweeping views of the estate.
Lexington BBQ (Lexington)
Southern Living’s “The South’s Best BBQ 2018” winner (one of two). Success here is driven by delivering quality customer service and sticking with great BBQ tradition: they serve pork shoulders only – cooked over oak or hickory coals.
Charleston Grill (Charleston)
Southern soul with contemporary flair. Modern gastronomy and world-class jazz unite in one of the most esteemed restaurants in Charleston.
Circa 1886 (Charleston)
Situated in the original carriage house of the historic Wentworth Mansion in downtown Charleston, Circa 1886 is helmed by Chef Marc Collins who draws inspiration from local ingredients and history to provide a uniquely Southern culinary experience.
Flowers Seafood Co. (Edisto Island)
This is literally a shack behind the seafood market. Despite its unassuming appearance, Flowers has been known for its selection of fresh fish, shrimp, and crab for four generations. Nothing beats a Flowers bucket of crab, shrimp, sausage, and corn. Dig in and don’t be afraid to get messy.
Peninsula Grill (Charleston)
Urbane, yet perfectly accented with Southern charm, the Peninsula Grill offers a creative menu of bold selections and traditional favorites. The Champagne bar menu is not to be missed.
Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog Barbecue (Charleston)
Rodney Scott brings over 20 years’ experience cooking whole hogs at his family’s celebrated restaurant in Hemingway. Now he’s got his own place and boy is it worth a visit. Imagine: Whole hogs cooked for 12 hours over oak coals and finished with a spicy vinegar pepper “mop.” Oh – and he has craft beer on tap, too.
The Bar-B-Q Shop (Memphis)
Voted #1 ribs in America by the Food Network’s “Top five Restaurants.” Known for its real pit barbecue, old fashioned barbecue sauces, and coleslaw made from scratch.
The Barn at Blackberry Farm (Walland)
Enjoy “Foothills cuisine,” both rugged and refined with echoes of haute cuisine and flavors of the nearby region. Situated on a pastoral 4,200-acre estate in the Great Smoky Mountains, The Barn is a must-try.
High Point Restaurant (Monteagle)
Historic circa 1929 mansion with Al Capone history is a quaint setting for gourmet American plates including classic oysters Rockefeller, lobster bisque, Caesar salad, and New York strip steak.
Kitchen Notes at the Omni (Nashville)
Savor traditional Southern fare handed down through generations, prepared with the freshest ingredients and a touch of contemporary flair. It’s like a new twist on your favorite home-cooked meal –and did we mention the biscuit bar?
Midtown Café (Nashville)
Rated one of the 50 best Southern restaurants in America by Open Table. Menu favorites include prime steaks, sustainable seafood, locally grown produce, and more than 40 wines by the glass.
Urban Grub (Nashville)
Elevated Southern cuisine of fresh seafood, house-made charcuterie, and prime dry-aged steaks in a rustically elegant setting.
Bookbinder’s Seafood & Steakhouse (Richmond)
Richmond’s historic steakhouse serving tender steaks and the freshest seafood – nestled in historic Tobacco Row.
Claire’s at the Depot (Warrenton)
Named one of Open Table’s “Top 100 Romantic Restaurants of 2018.” Claire’s features seasonally focused dishes with a Southern flair.
Local Chop & Grill House (Harrisonburg)
This Shenandoah Valley favorite provides an unbeatable combination of modern-day culinary flair and locally sourced, carefully selected, prime-cut steaks. Each one is made with your choice of rub, sauce, and sides. Try the duck fat french fries with peach ketchup, too.
Good Natured Collective Market & Café (St. Martinsburg)
Vegetarians and vegans will delight in this Martinsburg gem. The tempeh “bacon” BLT and organic sweet potato falafel are good enough to convert any meat lover.