This year involved over 120 days of travel in 8 states and so.much.food. I didn’t visit as many countries as last year, but learned more about the types of food found throughout the south. It’s so much more than fried chicken! Some of my stomach issues have been resolved since last year and I’ve become better about eliminating dairy, even when traveling. It wasn’t easy choosing which eats to include for this post, but I’ve narrowed it down to 10. For more tasty goodness, see my favorite eats from 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Bun cha, Tin Vietnamese Cuisine, San Francisco, California– I was in the city to work a trade show and was staying at a hotel near the convention center while my coworkers went home to their Bay Area pads. I found this Vietnamese place down the street from my hotel for a solo dinner of bun cha, my favorite Vietnamese dish of pork belly in a sweet sauce with rice noodles.
Boiled crawfish, Kim’s Seafood, Bossier City, Louisiana– Despite having all forms of seafood and having crawfish in other ways, this trip to Louisiana was the first time I had boiled crawfish. Thankfully I had an expert to show me how to best suck the heads and get the most meat out of them. And it was smack in the middle of crawfish season!
Delta tamales, Ground Zero Blues Club, Clarksdale, Mississippi– I’d had tamales before at Mexican restaurants but Delta tamales, found mostly in the Mississippi Delta, area different. They have a kick and are usually ground beef instead of pork or chicken. They paired well with blues music and a cold Lazy Magnolia beer.
Whole fried catfish, Taylor Grocery, Taylor, Mississippi– Many people turn their noses up at catfish because it’s considered to be a bottom feeder, but it’s a staple in many parts of the south. No one does it better than Mississippi, specifically Taylor Grocery outside of Oxford. The former grocery store is BYOB with tables covered in Sharpie-d graffiti. The fish is lightly battered and delicious.
Seared catfish with green grits, Kimball House, Atlanta– I don’t dine out at nice Atlanta restaurants very often, but special occasions like my sister’s 21st birthday call for such. We spent a staycation weekend over Labor Day in a hip neighborhood downtown and dined at this award-winning restaurant. It was a totally different take on a familiar dish.
Ratchaburi Crab and Pork dry noodles, Pure Thai Cookhouse, New York City, New York– Noodles in some form or other has become a tradition for my visits to the city. After work this summer, a few of us went to this Thai place that always had a line. It was worth it for the egg noodles with greens, pork and crab meat.
Tonkotsu Ramen, Bone Daddies, London, England– Sensing a trend here? We visited the second location (in a Whole Foods!) for modern ramen and Japanese beer. I went with the tonkotsu ramen with 20-hour pork bone broth. Thankfully it came with a bib because I spilled broth all over myself.
Chicken biscuit, H&H Restaurant, Macon, Georgia– This place is legendary, feeding lanky musicians in The Allman Brothers Band before they made it big. The soul food eatery is still serving hungry visitors on their fried chicken and plate lunches. I went for breakfast and got scrambled eggs (probably cooked in lard because they were so delicious) and the fried chicken biscuit. You can take it up a notch and add pimento cheese, but I didn’t.
Florida Pompano, Ulele, Tampa, Florida– My friends at Visit Tampa Bay set me up with this dining experience, which came highly recommended. After a tour of the restaurant and brewery by the chef himself, I sat down to sample beers, cocktails and this local fish, pan seared, with carrot ribbons, asparagus and a creamy tomato sauce.
Saffron tagliatelle, The Hive, Bentonville, Arkansas– Located in a small town where Walmart is headquartered, The Hive is run by a James Beard-nominated chef at the 21C Museum Hotel. I was deciding between a few items, but I’m so glad I picked this vegetarian option on the meat-heavy road trip. Between the fresh pasta, tomato sauce and addition of fresh chickpeas and raisins, I didn’t miss it!