A Traveller's Guide to Southern Food in the USA

26 Jul 2019

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The US often gets a bad rep for its lack of culture. In reality, it’s a pretty diverse nation, particularly when it comes to food.

Generations of immigrants from all over the world have made a mark on menus at restaurants throughout the USA. While you’re travelling through the Southern states, you should dive into the local culture by tasting some of the best comfort foods on the planet.

Admittedly, you won’t have time to taste every dish that’s native to the South, but you shouldn’t forget to sample our favourite culinary delights.

Southern BBQ

Let’s kick our list off with something that all Southerners adore – the barbeque. From Memphis-style chicken to the Texas barbeque brisket, there’s a grilled dish in the South that’s bound to tickle your taste buds. We recommend tasting a serving of pulled pork lathered in a ketchup-based sauce. The BBQ pork sandwich of the South really is to die for.

Biscuits and Gravy

The biscuits (what you might call a scone if you’re a Brit) are mouth-wateringly delicious in the South, especially when they’re covered in a creamy sausage gravy. This culinary masterpiece isn’t exactly the healthiest dish in the South; it’s filled with butter and sausage fat. But hey – you’re on vacation. There’s no harm in treating yourself to this breakfast favourite while you’re here.

Shrimp and Grits

Ask any Southerner what they had for breakfast, and the answer is likely to be a plate of hearty grits (boiled cornmeal). While the South’s grits are a sensory gift themselves, they’re even better when paired with fresh shrimp and veggies. If you’re feeling especially peckish, you can ask for additional toppings such as cheese and bacon.

Chicken Pot Pie

The chicken pot pie has been a Southern staple for generations. The best thing about this main course is its flaky, golden crust. You can put just about anything you want in a chicken pot pie, but we recommend filling it with steamed vegetables, fried chicken, sweet potatoes and a creamy white wine source.

Mac and Cheese

You might think you’ve already tried mac and cheese, but you haven’t truly tried it until you order it in a Southern US restaurant. Over here, you can expect about 80% of your meal to be melted cheese, but who says that’s a bad thing? Southern mac and cheese is the definition of comfort food. Try it as an entrée or side dish while you’re sampling one of the other delights on our list.

Collard Greens

Those of you who want to treat your body like a temple while on vacation will likely enjoy a serving of collard greens, a ‘super healthy’ vegetable. In the South of the US, collard greens are steamed or sautéed in either bacon grease or broth (yummy!). If you’re a bit of a health nut, stick to steamed collard greens. But seriously, sautéed greens are exceptional, even if a tad unhealthy.

Fried Chicken

We can’t complete our list of best Southern USA foods without mentioning fried chicken. Southern fried chicken is golden, tender, crispy and juicy. It’s often served with French fries, but we recommend living like a true Southerner by pairing it with mac and cheese or coleslaw (or both). Willie Mae's Scotch House in New Orleans gets a special mention, for having what many claim is the best fried chicken in America!

If you want to experience the best of the Southern states, check out our Adventures across the USA! You can have a browse at the awesome trips here.