Southerners have plenty to brag about when it comes to food, and now there are even more reasons to add to the list: These fresh-faced Southern restaurants are serving up ingenious reinventions of regional classics, and torturing those of us who don't live within striking distance. From a whole fried chicken to crawfish beignets to a turbo-charged shrimp and grits, it's easy to understand why they've been winning raves right out the gate:
Whole fried chicken at Birdhouse, Nashville
Nashville's new chicken shack is drawing double-takes for chefs Chris Futrell and Casey Carstens' creations, especially the whole fried chicken they're serving on the dinner menu. Such a simple and beautiful idea, why doesn't everyone do it, like, everywhere, all the time?
Shrimp and grits at Linton’s, Atlanta
At this pretty restaurant inside Atlanta's Botanical Garden, famed chef Linton Hopkins amps up the region's classic shrimp and grits by adding two extra Southern flourishes: she-crab-infused cream and Benton's bacon.
Crawfish and fontina beignets at Trinity Restaurant, New Orleans
The French Quarter got a fun new restaurant this spring, and even though Trinity's name sounds reverent, this is a place where classics are turned on their ear. It's easy to fill up on chef Michael Isolani's rich starters like crawfish and fontina beignets and duck fat hush puppies (and you'll be tempted to get seconds), but remember to pace yourself so you can try dishes like the blackened lamb chops with cauliflower and mustard, and the broiled oysters with cayenne aioli.
Sage fried chicken and waffle tower at Hash House a Go Go, Plano, Texas
The newest brunch bonanza near Dallas (an outpost of a restaurant that originated in San Diego) is getting serious props for its sage-fried chicken breasts, served on a smoked bacon waffle tower with hot maple reduction and fried leeks. This OTT rendition gives chicken-and-waffles a whole new meaning. Hopefully the ladies of the Real Housewives of Dallas have caught wind of this place; it's just half an hour outside Dallas.
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