May 22, 2024

Leslie Leftridge

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Going Beyond Barbecue, Fried Chicken and Grits in the South

Introduction

Fried chicken, barbecue and grits are just some of the Southern staples that people know and love, but there are so many other foods — some traditional dishes, others not — that you should try while visiting these states. Here’s a list of some of my favorite Southern dishes that may not be as well-known but will give you an experience like no other:

The South is known for barbecue, fried chicken and grits, but there are so many other foods — some traditional dishes, others not — that you should try while visiting these states.

The South is known for barbecue, fried chicken and grits. But there are so many other foods — some traditional dishes, others not — that you should try while visiting these states.

Here are just a few:

Alabama

Alabama is known for its barbecue, but the state’s signature dish is actually pulled pork. The traditional way to prepare this Southern staple is by smoking a whole hog over hardwood coals, which gives it its unique sweet and smoky flavor. Alabama barbecue is usually served with white bread, sauce and slaw (a mayonnaise-based dressing). If you’re looking to try something different while visiting Alabama’s major cities like Montgomery or Birmingham–or just want to make your own version at home–here are some tips on how best to achieve that signature flavor:

  • Use only quality meat; avoid over-processed cuts like those found in grocery stores or fast food chains
  • Brine your pork shoulder overnight before cooking it low and slow until tender enough that it falls off the bone when shredded with two forks

Barbecue sandwich with slaw and sauce at Bama BBQ in Carrolton.

The best way to eat a barbecue sandwich? With your hands, of course. Barbecue is meant to be messy and you should not be afraid of getting your fingers dirty (or at least as dirty as they can get by eating delicious food).

You can find some of the best barbecue sandwiches in Alabama at Bama BBQ in Carrolton, which serves up pulled pork, brisket and smoked chicken on fresh-baked rolls with slaw on top. The sauce is also amazing–it’s sweet but spicy enough to give you that kick that makes everything taste better.

Barbecue pulled pork sandwich at Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur.

The pulled pork sandwich at Big Bob Gibson’s in Decatur, Alabama is no ordinary barbecue sandwich. The meat is slow cooked for 12 hours, then hand pulled and piled high on a bun with slaw and barbecue sauce.

The restaurant was founded in 1925 by Robert Gibson who wanted to share his secret recipe for barbecued chicken with the world. Since then it has become famous for its unique methods of cooking food–including whole hogs over an open pit fire–and has been featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives multiple times.

Fried green tomatoes with smoked gouda and artichoke spread at OKRA Charity Saloon in Montgomery.

The OKRA Charity Saloon is located in downtown Montgomery, Alabama. The restaurant serves up Southern-inspired comfort food with a twist. The smoked gouda and artichoke spread on fried green tomatoes is what makes this dish unique. You can order it as an appetizer or add it to a burger for $4 extra.

You’ll want to pronounce “charity” like “char-ity,” not like “car-ity.”

Croissant doughnut from Southern Accents Bakery in Mobile.

Croissants are a traditional French pastry, but they’ve been adopted by Southern cooks and made their own. Croissant doughnuts are deep fried and served with a variety of toppings, including powdered sugar and cinnamon sugar. They’re a great way to enjoy one of your favorite pastries without having to worry about eating it for breakfast!

Curry goat patties at Artizone Caribbean Cuisine and Catering in Mobile.

Curry goat is a traditional dish from the Caribbean. It’s made with goat meat, which is slow cooked in a spicy sauce and served with rice and peas. Curry goat patties can be eaten as an appetizer or main course.

Georgia

Georgia is known for its peaches, peanuts and pecans. But there’s more to this Southern state than barbecue, fried chicken and grits.

  • Peaches: The peach was adopted as Georgia’s official state fruit in 1995 due to its importance in agriculture and culture. The state hosts the annual National Peach Festival at Stone Mountain Park each summer, where you can sample hundreds of varieties while enjoying live music performances or watching fireworks displays over Lake Clara Meer on July 4th weekend (free admission).
  • Barbecue: Everyone knows about North Carolina’s pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw piled high on top–but what about Texas style brisket? Or Memphis dry rub ribs? There are plenty of styles represented here too!
  • Fried Chicken: If you’re looking for something lighter than fried chicken then try some pan-fried trout with blackened corn salsa; if it’s breakfast time then try one of their biscuits topped with sausage gravy – yum! Or maybe even some catfish fritters…
  • Grits: A staple dish found throughout most parts of Dixie cuisine, grits are made by cooking dried ground hominy corn until soft enough for consumption but still retaining some texture from being boiled into a thick porridge-like consistency (often served alongside eggs).

Shrimp and grits at Watershed on Peachtree in Atlanta.

Shrimp and grits is a Southern staple that can be found on menus across the region. It’s also one of Watershed’s most popular dishes, so if you’re looking for something to sink your teeth into while exploring Atlanta, this is it.

The dish consists of shrimp cooked in butter and served over creamy stone-ground grits with a tomato-based sauce made from shrimp stock and cream. The result is an indulgent treat that will leave you feeling satisfied–and maybe even full enough to skip dessert!

Fried chicken from Fox Bros BBQ (various locations) in Atlanta.

One of the most popular restaurants in Atlanta, Fox Bros BBQ (various locations) is known for its barbecue and fried chicken. This Southern staple has multiple locations throughout the city, including one in Decatur. The menu features a variety of sandwiches and plates that showcase their famous slow-smoked meats along with sides like macaroni and cheese or collard greens. Of course, no trip to Fox Bros would be complete without trying out some of their famous fried chicken–it’s been called “some of best in America.”

Sticky buns from Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House (various locations) in Savannah and Charleston, South Carolina.

If you’re looking for something sweet, sticky buns from Mrs. Wilkes’ Boarding House (various locations) in Savannah and Charleston are the way to go. The restaurant is a southern institution that was started by Martha Wilkes back in 1945. They’re famous for their fried chicken — so much so that it has its own Facebook page! But don’t worry if you can’t get your hands on some of their famous bird: Their sticky buns are just as popular, with locals lining up daily just to order them fresh out of the oven at breakfast time. These cinnamon-brown sugar treats come warm with whipped cream on top and will have you feeling like a true Southerner in no time flat!

Maine Lobster Roll from Red’s Eats (various locations) at Kittery Point, near Portsmouth and York Beach.

A lobster roll is a Maine-style hot dog, a New England specialty and one of the region’s most popular foods.

It consists of chunks of fresh lobster mixed with mayonnaise and seasonings on top of a split-top hot dog bun (also known as a “bun”). The bread is lightly toasted or grilled before being buttered and griddled; this process adds flavor without making it soggy or greasy.

The lobster meat is then added, followed by lettuce and tomato if desired; finally, the whole thing is drizzled with melted butter just before serving so you get some extra richness in every bite!

Conclusion

So go ahead and try something new. The South has a lot more to offer than barbecue, fried chicken and grits. There are delicious sandwiches, Caribbean dishes, Southern-inspired desserts and more — all of which can be found in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. And if you want to try some traditional Southern fare while visiting these states? Don’t forget about our list!