Check Yes or No: NYC’s Crush on Southern Food Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments
Even the most hardened New Yorkers need a taste of comfort every once in a while. Fortunately, Southern food is having a real “it” moment in the Big Apple with more and more restaurants serving up classics like catfish, collard greens, pimento cheese, and slow-smoked barbecue.
“There are a lot of restaurants cooking Southern food at a high level with great ingredients,” said chef Carolyn Bane when asked about the growing number of Southern-inspired restaurants in the city. “I like cooking all kinds of food, but I love eating Southern food in New York.”
She’s not the only one. New Yorkers can’t get enough of the flavors of the South.
Perhaps the cuisine’s rise in popularity stems from the fact that so many different types of cooking can be classified as “Southern.” Memphis barbecue couldn’t be more different from the Creole flavors of Louisiana seafood, but they both fall under the umbrella of Southern cooking.
“I think Southern food is the best food there is,” said Christen Hagan, Dallas transplant and owner of Double Wide Bar and Southern Kitchen. “It’s comfort food: cheeses and meats. I think that’s what draws people to it. And New Yorkers aren’t afraid to eat. That’s what I love about this city.”
But comfort food doesn’t always have to be deep fried or covered in barbecue sauce. Arkansas native Robert Newton of Seersucker in Carroll Gardens bases his menu on what’s in season, and sees a real connection between the growing national appreciation of locally-sourced ingredients and New York’s crush on Southern cuisine.
“I don’t think it’s any coincidence that there’s been such a rise in the popularity of Southern food,” he said. “I think it coincides with the education of the American palate. People are waking up to the idea that Southern food is the original market-driven cuisine.”
So whether you’re looking for an elegant plate of locally-sourced quail with chocolate gravy, fried chicken with a side of hushpuppies, or a cold glass of sweet tea, this city has something for every Southern taste. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, here are our favorite Southern restaurants in NYC.
Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter
94 Avenue C, b/t 6th & 7th Streets
Bobwhite Counter’s Avenue C location may be a bit off the beaten path for some tourists, but the fried chicken is worth it. Brined overnight, then dredged in milk, flour, and a blend of spices, the bird pairs well with creamy coleslaw and a cold glass of sweet tea. Pull up a seat at the counter for a quick lunch or order the fried chicken supper for four to bring home to the fam.
329 Smith Street, b/t President & Carroll Streets in Brooklyn
When asked about Seersucker restaurant’s moniker, Chef Robert Newton said, “You never wear seersucker and have a bad time. It sums up celebration, hospitality, having a good time. It just seemed like the perfect name for a restaurant.” We couldn’t agree more. Market ingredients shine at this “cleaned-up Southern” space with a focus on seasonal, mindfully-sourced products.
Pies ‘n’ Thighs
166 South 4th Street, at Driggs Avenue in Brooklyn
Pies ‘n’ Thighs chef and co-owner Carolyn Bane may hail from Boston, but she and her team know Southern cooking. (See waffles photo above.) Fill up on fried chicken and sides like hushpuppies, cheese grits, and smoked pork collards, but be sure to leave room for the resto’s namesake pies. Bourbon Pecan is a personal favorite.
Smorgasburg, East River State Park
Few Dixie exports are more beloved than a flakey biscuit, and Beehive Oven does the South proud. Catch the husband-wife duo every weekend at Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg food market selling their “heritage biscuits” with tangy pickles, crispy fried chicken, and a sweet honey mustard sauce.
Double Wide Bar and Southern Kitchen
505 East 12th Street, b/t Avenues A & B
Homesick Texans find a taste of the Lone Star State at Double Wide in New York’s East Village. Roll out of bed for the Southern kitchen’s weekend brunch—think fried chicken and waffles, biscuits with sausage gravy, and vanilla bourbon French toast—or stop by Sundays for their weekly crawfish boil. If a late-night fix is more your style, tip back one of the bar’s 20+ whiskeys or a signature cocktail served in a Mason jar.
645 9th Avenue, at 45th Street
Justin Timberlake’s name may get you in the door, but you’ll stay for Southern Hospitality’s friendly staff, Memphis-style ribs, and rockin’ décor. Try their signature fried dill pickles, or liven up your weekend with a bluegrass brunch.
Caroline Hallemann is a freelance writer specializing in Southern culture, fashion, and cuisine. Follow her adventures as a Nashvillian in NYC on Twitter: @challemann.