On America’s Best Cook, Sundays at 9|8c, home cooks battle it out for the chance to win the title of America’s best cook, all while representing their specific region of the United States. The cooks are split into teams from the North, South, West and East. Each of these regions has its characteristic foods that make up an integral part of its identity. To celebrate the competition show, each week FN Dish has featured the top 10 reader-recommended eats from one of the regions. This week it’s all about the South.
When it comes to describing Southern cuisine, “flavor” is not a word that can be left out of the vocabulary. Just think of the deep richness of classic dishes such as gumbo, biscuits and gravy, and barbecue. The South wouldn’t be the same without barbecue ribs, pulled pork and everything in between. There you’ll find all these traditional dishes, with particular specialties and styles in each state. You may even come across some Southern twists on burgers, quesadillas and more. Check out Food Network’s listings to find all the top-rated restaurants from Nashville to New Orleans.
Take a look at the top 10 reader-recommended eats, in no particular order, from Food Network On the Road and vote in the Regional Foods Face-Off, the show’s bracket challenge, to make your favorite regional food known.
Jake’s Good Eats — Charlotte, N.C.
Brothers Jake and Gordon Stegall converted an old gas station into a restaurant that has become a local favorite. Their twist on Southern cooking is what keeps customers coming back. Try the blackened flounder with ham grit cakes, the maple-glazed pork chop or the venison quesadillas, which the locals adore.
The Glass Onion — Charleston, S.C.
The Glass Onion serves five-star-quality Southern food at one-star prices. Local ingredients inspire its menu, which includes classics such as fried chicken with collard greens and mashed potatoes. The Smoked Pork Loin Po’ Boy with Creole mustard is a customer favorite.
Marlowe’s Ribs — Memphis
You might not find Memphis locals at Graceland, but you sure will find them lining up at Marlowe’s Ribs. If you can’t find a way to get to the restaurant, don’t worry; just call Marlowe’s for a free pink-limo ride. While you’re there, try Elvis’ favorite, the ribs smothered in Marlowe’s tangy barbecue sauce.
Arnold’s Country Kitchen — Nashville
Arnold’s is a family-style restaurant in Nashville cooking classic comfort foods like Southern greens, cornbread, black-eyed peas, country-fried steak and chess pie.
Twisted Root Burger Co. — Dallas
This eatery serves more than 2,000 burgers a week, and all are made with a gourmet twist. Try the Western burger, with barbecue sauce, pepper Jack cheese, bacon, onion strings and jalapeno. Also look for the venison and bison burger, and don’t leave without ordering a side of spicy fried pickles.
Pecan Lodge — Dallas
Located in the Dallas Farmers Market, Pecan Lodge is no larger than a shack, but it serves barbecue to hordes of adoring customers. It’s only open for lunch from Thursday to Sunday, so plan ahead. Try the smoky brisket, the pulled pork sandwich or The Hot Mess, a sweet potato stuffed with barbacoa, cheese, chipotle cream and butter.
Joey K’s Restaurant & Bar — New Orleans
Joey K’s, a family-owned eatery located in a centuries-old building in New Orleans, is the place to go for a taste of Louisiana. Many of their menu items are named after local streets, like the Shrimp Magazine. While you’re there, try the classic red beans and rice, oyster po’ boy and jambalaya.
Blow Fly Inn — Gulfport, Miss.
Every dish at Blow Fly gets garnished with a fly, but don’t be alarmed — it’s only plastic. The restaurant features bayou specialties, including jumbo lump crab cakes, hamburger steak, smoked sausages and gumbo.
Matthew’s Cafeteria — Tucker, Ga.
With an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, Matthew’s has been making the same exact dishes for more than 50 years. The biscuits and gravy, Brunswick stew and sweet potato souffle are must-try dishes.
Tampa Bay Brewing Company — Tampa
With an on-site brewery, this family-owned spot proves that beer is for more than just drinking. The kitchen infuses many of its entrees with one of its 12 house-made beers, including the crispy wings with Red Eye Ale cider sauce and the Thai curry mussels with Wild Warthog Weizen.
Get the Barbecue St. Louis Pork Ribs recipe pictured above.