The Southern Foodie Shares Recipes from the Best Regional Restaurants

Take a culinary trip without leaving your kitchen.

Story and photos by Chris Chamberlain

When it comes to regional food, arguably no part of the United States is more evocative than the American South. When someone says, “Southern food,” images of fried chicken, shrimp & grits, pecan pie and/or country ham spring to mind and can immediately make your mouth water.

Your mind’s eye probably looks like the cover of the The Southern Foodie, 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die and the Recipes that Made them Famous. Yes, that title is a mouthful, but so is this travel guide/cookbook that profiles 100 of the South’s most notable restaurants and shares recipes directly from the cooks and kitchens that create that amazing food. Covering 13 states from Texas to Virginia, this is the sort of book that you might want to buy two copies of: one to cook from in your kitchen and another e-book version to keep with you on the road to use as a guide for traveling restaurant recommendations like a trusted foodie friend who lives in your pocket.

The book’s restaurant profiles include fascinating stories of the chefs and how they find inspiration as well as recommended dishes to order and insider tips. If you’re only going to visit Strawn’s Eat Shop in Shreveport, Louisiana, once in your life, it would be a shame if you didn’t know to order the icebox pies. And it sure is nice to know that there’s a hidden parking lot behind The Waysider in Tuscaloosa so you don’t give up while everyone else is circling the block looking for an open spot.

Here are some of the restaurants and recipes featured in The Southern Foodie:

  • Jalapeño-and-Cheese-Stuffed Grit Cakes from Mason’s Grill, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Roasted Heirloom Pumpkin with Mulled Sorghum Glaze from Capitol Grille, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Country Ham Fritters from Proof on Main, Louisville, Kentucky
  • Blue Crab Cheesecake from Old Firehouse Restaurant, Hollywood, South Carolina
  • Apricot Fried Pies from Penguin Ed’s Bar-B-Q, Fayetteville, Arkansas

The 134 recipes in the book have been scaled down from restaurant quantities to amounts more appropriate for the home kitchen. This is really important, and not always the easiest thing for an author to get out of a chef. Chamberlain recalls asking the owner of The Sands Soul Food Diner in Nashville exactly how many hot water corn cakes his recipe would make. Thinking like a restaurateur who never wants to run out of this key dish during the busy lunch rush, the owner scratched his head and replied. “I reckon that’s about an hour’s worth!” Fortunately, Chamberlain made the conversion from time to quantity for the home cook.

The Southern Foodie and Chamberlain appeared on the “In the Kitchen with David” show on the QVC shopping network twice, selling close to a thousand copies per minute during the segments. The book is available on Amazon and in retail book stores across the country.

Chris Chamberlain


Chris Chamberlain is a food, drink and travel writer based in Nashville, Tennessee.