The up-and-coming Southern foodie hotspots you need to know about

Carly Williams
Branded Content Editor

This article is brought to you by Travel South, USA. However, all content has been curated by the Yahoo Lifestyle team at our editorial discretion.  

We’ve all scoffed tacos in California and had a slice or two in New York City, but if you’re looking to take your foodie holiday to the next level, these hidden American hotspots in the South are perfect for your next trip.  

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The South has always been prized for its pastoral geography. A mixed bag of warm waterfronts, farmland and swamps that produce a bounty of culinary tradition, there’s a delicious match for everyone.   

Boiling and eating crawfish is a family tradition in the South’s Louisiana. Photo: Getty

From modern spins on classic comfort food and out-of-the-box sensations, here’s where and what to eat at the three US States that’ll have you pining for the Southern native cuisine, long after you’ve finished eating … 

Georgia

Lovingly known as the Peach State, it’s no secret farming is kind of a big deal in Georgia.   There’s a strong paddock-to-plate scene with chef and author Hugh Acheson leading the way using local ingredients in his kitchens.  

Georgia is known for its stone fruit as well as onion and boiled peanuts. Photo: Getty

The fruit from Pearson Farms, Fort Valley is used in his restaurant The National in the college town of Athens. But don’t let the uni vibes throw you off, Athens is ripe with quality eats.  Try The Last Resort Grill for dishes native to Georgia like their pecan crusted blue trout with dijon honey butter, wild-caught shrimp with jalapeno sauce, and the praline for dessert.  

The famous shrimp quesadilla. Photo: The Last Resort Grill, Athens.

For the full peach farm experience, Lane Southern Orchards, Fort Valley will tour visitors on a replica of the first Blue Bird school bus. Peachy indeed.

 About a half-hour-drive out of Atlanta is Doraville, the home of many underrated spots to chow down. El Rey Del Taco on Buford Highway make tortillas and salsas by hand and are famous for their goat-meat tacos. Hit up the Buford Highway Farmers Market while you’re there for gorgeous fresh produce.  

The charming coastal city of Savannah is a bubbling pot for foodies. For a restaurant directly on the water, try North Beach Bar and Grill at Tybee Island. Their crab cakes or jerk chicken marinated in Southern spices, lime, green onions and rum are popular.    

The Fish Taco with pico de gallo from North Beach Bar and Grill at Tybee Island. Photo: Instagram Blavityfoodie

History buffs will love the Olde Pink House. The pastel 18th-century mansion and its chandeliers, lush leather interiors and period portraits will give you all the social media bragging rights you need to impress those back home. The creamy Lowcountry she-crab soup is the showstopper on the menu.

The Olde Pink House Restaurant, Reynolds Square, Savannah, Georgia. Photo: Getty
The dreamy interiors of The Olde Pink House, Georgia. Photo: Instagram Sincerelyyoursevents

Since the 1991 movie Fried Green Tomatoes, the central-yet-quaint town of Juliette has become famous for the sliced, lightly battered and crispy treat.  It is best had at The Whistle Stop Cafe on rye bread with bacon, mayo, lettuce, Georgian onions and Swiss cheese.

The real-life Whistle Stop Cafe where you can eat tasty fried green tomatoes – just like the movie. Photo: Instagram @mcrolley

We can’t forget about Atlanta.  The host city to 2019’s Super Bowl is a culinary giant.  “Top Chef”  finalist Kevin Gillespie’s Gunshow is so cool it doesn’t even have menus.  Tapas items are wheeled around (Yum-Cha trolly style!) and cocktails are made at your table.  An Instagram-famous eating option amongst locals is Krog Street Market’s food hall, set in a 1920s’ warehouse with tons of dining options, wine bars and retail.  Other cute stops in Atlanta include the Chocolate Micro Factory and Condesa coffee for a decent late.  

Louisiana

With more than 400 food festivals to choose from, Louisiana offers the largest collection of uncommon dishes indigenous to the state. Crawfish Etouffee is derived from a French word picked up by the Creoles meaning ‘smothered.’ Blue Dog Cafe in Lafayette serves a thick, almost-gravy stew with big chunks of crawfish.  When the French landed in Louisiana in 1700s’, they ate just about anything that crawled, flew, swam or walked, so, turtle soup is another traditional dish, certainly unique.  

A classic example of Crawfish Etouffee. Photo: Getty

There’s nothing better than barrelling across the highway and stopping to snack on Bourdin, pork meat mixed with spices and rice, stuffed in a sausage casing.  Best Stop Supermarket is easily accessible from the I-10 and serves cracklin’, chaudin, and even alligator meat. Snap.  

Another staple celebrating the state’s multicultural heritage is Gumbo, a stew-over-rice-scenario on bay and sassafrass leaves. Our favourite place to sample the dish is at Boudreaux & Thibodeau, Hauma known for their seafood gumbo or chicken and sausage gumbo.

Monday is red beans and rice day in Louisiana, dating back to the 19th century when ladies of the house would do laundry all day on Mondays while beans cooked on the stove all day.  Grab the iconic meal the Creole Lunch House in Lafayette.

A traditional Louisiana spread. Photo: Getty

But crawfish isn’t just a restaurant thing. One of the longest standing family traditions in Louisiana is boiling and eating crawfish. And what better way to experience the delicacy than a festival full of food and music varieties from Cajun to Delta and even swamp pop.   One of the big festivals coming up in the calendar is Breaux Bridge Crawfish Festival on May 3-5, 2019. Lock it in the diary!

The crab cakes at Little Big Cup in Arnaudville are a great example of Cajun cuisine. Photo: Getty

Kentucky

It may have been Colonel Sanders that made Kentucky famous for food back in the day with his 11 secret herbs and spices, but the sixteenth season of ratings runaway ‘Top Chef’ is dedicated to Kentucky and has cemented the state as contemporary diner’s dream.  One challenge on the show paid homage to the Kentucky Derby, with the winner creating ceviche from local halibut fish, pickled bell peppers and confit potatoes.  

Hugely successful US show ‘Top Chef’ chose its sixteenth season to be in Kentucky. Photo: Top Chef

Another native Kentucky dish to feed the soul is the Hot Brown: Louisville’s iconic open-faced sandwich of turkey, bacon and mornay sauce made from pecorino romano cheese and cream.

The Hot Brown, a take on a turkey open-grill sandwich with creamy sauce and bacon. Photo: Instagram obscure_glas

Finally, you can’t taste Kentucky without bourbon infused food. After all, the area produces 95 per cent of the world’s bourbon.  A pairing found in particularly high esteem is bourbon-infused ham best bought from boutique local chain Paul’s Fruit Markets.

Close your meal off with Kentucky-famous transparent pies – traditionally made from whatever was available in the farm kitchen: eggs, butter, sugar, cream and a touch of flour.  Delicious.

For Southern USA tour packages, head to Intrepditravel.com 

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