FIG's pan-roasted cauliflower with mustard butter
Listicles are only as good as the people making them which is why we generally ignore them. That's not the case however when Bill Addison, food mensch and Eater's roving restaurant critic, pulls together a team of experts to weigh in on the food of the South.
His latest list, The South's 38 Essential Restaurants
, was just published, and it's a worthwhile guide for anyone interested in Southern foodways.
As Addison explains in his intro,
"Southern food is a mosaic. A constellation of culinary influences came together over the last 300 years to give us defining pleasures like skillet fried chicken, cornbread, cheese grits, collards in porky potlikker, and caramel cake. This was a cuisine built on Native American acumen, colonialism and the spice trade, adaptive farming in fertile soil, and on the sheer resilience of Africans sold or born into the horrors of slavery. The food of the region constantly evolves, its repertoire extending far beyond the Antebellum pantry. A constant influx of immigrants makes the South their home. Newcomers adapt regional standards to their tastes; their foods become indelible to our collective identity."
And so, to determine the very best 38 places in the region, Addison pulled in 13 foodie heavy hitters to analyze the best in the South's 12 states. There's Jennifer V. Cole, the former deputy editor of Southern Living
. There's author of Victuals: An Appalachian Journery
, Ronni Lundy. Not to mention Atlanta Magazine
restaurant critic Jennifer Zyman, and, of course, Addison himself.
So who are the big winners from South Carolina. Only two made the cut and both are located in Charleston — FIG and Bertha's Kitchen. No surprise there, but we were a bit taken aback to see Charleston only got two names on the list, especially when New Orleans has five. Eh, c'est la vie.
Take a look at the rest of the 38
and decide for yourself if they're all deserving.