Special Report

The 35 Best Restaurants in the South

Source: Courtesy of Poole's Diner

26. Poole’s Diner
> Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

Opened in the mid-1940s as Poole’s Pie Shop, this modern diner, now in the hands of noted Raleigh-area chef-restaurateur Ashleigh Christensen, tempts customers with a blackboard menu listing things like fennel soup, braised chicken leg, and lemon custard pie. The place remains diner-casual but the quality of the cooking elevates it to serious-restaurant level.

Source: Courtesy of FIG Charleston

27. F.I.G.
> Location: Charleston, South Carolina

A would-be neighborhood restaurant that nonetheless draws diners from far and wide, F.I.G. is known for its straightforward Southern fare with occasional detours over towards the Mediterranean (you might find such traditional pasta dishes as ricotta gnocchi with bolognese sauce, for instance). Unusual fish like triggerfish, mutton snapper, and snowy grouper are often featured.

Source: Courtesy of Husk Restaurant

28. Husk
> Location: Charleston, South Carolina

Launched in 2010 by Sean Brock, one of the most talented and influential modern Southern chefs, Husk — which now has offshoots in Nashville and Savannah — established the standard for turning first-rate Southern ingredients into imaginative elaborations of basic local dishes. Brock is no longer involved with the restaurant, but his style and sensibility live on. Sample fare: slow-smoked pork ribs with pepper jelly and toasted peanuts; cornmeal-fried catfish with baby summer squash, fennel, and green tomato; and North Carolina chicken with house-made pasta, fairytale eggplant, okra, and shishito peppers.

Source: Photo by Chrissy F. via Yelp

29. Peninsula Grill
> Location: Charleston, South Carolina

Charlestonian elegance infuses this romantic dining room, the city’s only Relais & Châteaux restaurant. The menu is short and to the point, offering such things as she-crab soup with sherry, pan-roasted jumbo sea scallops with braised butter lettuce and lobster medallions, and a selection of excellent steaks.

Source: Photo by Lauren P. via Yelp

30. Motor Supply Co. Bistro
> Location: Columbia, South Carolina

The building now occupied by this energetic, eclectic restaurant was once — guess what? — a motor supply shop (the structure is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places). Chef Wesley Fulmer now sells not engine parts but things like locally grown Asian pear salad with Mindoro blue cheese, crispy fried quail with grilled cornbread cake, and a bone-in pork chop with cider-braised greens and pecan butter.

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