To be a true Southern cook, you best know how to devil an egg, fry chicken in a cast-iron skillet, and your shrimp and grits game better be on point. In this part of the country, Southern comfort is more than just a liqueur, it's a way of life. These metro Atlanta restaurants have taken Southern food to the next level.
JCT Kitchen & Bar (Westside)
This Westside outpost was Ford Fry's first, taking its name from the nearby railroad junction. By day, people gather in the bright, chic and stylish bistro downstairs. By night, the energy moves upstairs to the dusky, open-air JCT bar for cocktails and live music.
Southern classics are served with a modified drawl. Deviled eggs are topped with Benton's country ham, creamy grits with grilled Georgia shrimp and tomatoes, and plump mussels are made "angry" with serrano chilies, white wine and house-cured bacon.
Co-owned by Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls, Watershed is heralded for flavors from the Georgia coast to the Louisiana bayou. Towering ceilings and columns lend the feel of a posh barn. A huge wrap-around bar sees folks snacking on the likes of BBQ spiced pork skins.
Blue crab churros are squiggly hush puppies studded with crab and deep fried, served with an avocado-jalapeño mayonnaise. Fried chicken is their calling card; a four piece meal with biscuits, honey and butter. Sundays feature a Creole jazz brunch with dishes like gumbo, shrimp Clemenceau and eggs Sardou.
Greenwood's on Green Street (Roswell)
Tucked away on a side street in Historic Roswell, Greenwood's is a sanctuary of sorts. It's casual, homey and a bit hippie. Quirky peacenik signs and terra cotta planters line the flowery entry. Each dining room has its own persona. The colorful garden patio is an optimal perch on a nice day.
Focused on local organic produce since 1986, Greenwod's serves Southern staples like cornbread muffins, fried green tomatoes and shrimp and cheese grits are front and center. Desserts feature seasonal homemade pies; a decadent wedge of their chocolate cream pie is like a slice of home.
Busy Bee Cafe (Intown)
The Busy Bee came to be in 1947. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. frequented this café back when the drive that now bears his name was known as Hunter Street. Grab a seat along the counter and breathe in history, and the aroma of home cookin'.
The food here has soul and is cooked with love. Deep fryers do yeoman's work, with their Bee-licious fried chicken being a staple for nearly seventy years. Don't dismiss the fried catfish or smothered pork chops either. No visit is complete without a piece of cake or fresh peach cobbler.
South City Kitchen (Midtown, Vinings)
Couched in a century-old two story midtown house, the front patio is embraced by carefully groomed flora growing along with it since its inception in 1993. The open floor plan allows second floor skylights to beam through the space.
Pioneers of contemporary Southern cuisine, South City Kitchen shows no signs of age after 20 years. A layer of goat cheese between green tomatoes oozes once breaded and fried. A velvety she crab soup is rich with chunks of sweet crab, cream and sherry.
Hungry for more? Be sure to catch Atlanta Eats every Saturday and Sunday on Peachtree TV at 10:30 a.m.!