Top restaurants in Georgia for true Southern food

Let’s face it, the foods that originated in the South are some of the best and most flavorful you can ever eat! True comfort food, by way of desserts, chicken cooked every way imaginable, drinks such as lemonade and sweet tea — and let’s not forget the famous barbecue served up by the heapin’ helpin’, is readily available all over Georgia.

BBQ ribs

Every good Georgian has their favorites when it comes to restaurants that serve true Southern fare. Here are a few picks from those in the know.

The Colonnade

This Atlanta institution has been in business since 1927, and once you enjoy a meal there you will certainly understand why. Famous for their homemade rolls and over-the-top pies, their veggie plate is a fave of mine and many other local vegetarians. Fried chicken, pot roast and chicken-fried steak round out the choices for meat lovers. The atmosphere at the Colonnade is fun and fascinating and the restaurant is known for the sassy folks who patronize their full bar.

An important tip: The Colonnade doesn’t accept credit cards. Cash and check with proper ID only.

The Pink Pig

Located in Cheery Log, Georgia, the Pink Pig is famous for its barbecue and the dish I dream about, the garlic salad. Fried green tomatoes with homemade ranch dressing, fried chicken livers and huge, juicy onion rings are local favorites. You can get BBQ pork, beef or chicken, and don’t miss their mac and cheese, green beans and coleslaw, all made with classic Southern recipes. The dressing on the garlic salad is some sort of state secret — I’ve asked numerous servers about it as I chowed down on the salad and mum’s the word. They actually sell the secret sauce in jars at the restaurant — if only they sold it on their website, I’d probably just order a case. Open Thursday – Sunday only, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.

The Varsity

The Varsity has a special place in my heart, as I have been going there since I was born! According to the website, the Varsity was opened in 1928 by a man named Frank Gordy, a man with a $2,000 nest egg and “million-dollar taste buds.” Southerners are known for making the finest homemade pimento cheese, and at the Varsity you can get pimento cheese on your burger or in a fabulous grilled cheese sandwich. Nothing says Southern food to me like good pimento cheese!

To add another great perspective, I enlisted the expertise of Southern food lover Broderick Smylie, a photographer and food blogger here in Atlanta. His gorgeous and informative blog, Savory Exposure, is a gift for both the eyes and palate!

Here are his picks for true Southern favorites in Georgia:

Farm Burger

Farm Burger isn’t a traditional Southern restaurant per se, but their food is absolutely Georgia on a plate. Farm Burger sources their meat from farms near Athens, Georgia, and much of their produce locally as well. Although I’m a sucker for the classic burger and fries combo, I can’t go there without trying one of their constantly changing salads, which are really a treat when local blueberries or peaches find their way into the mix. You can also get your fill of Southern sides such as boiled peanuts and top your grass-fed burger with pimento cheese. Once a season they put the burgers aside and prepare a special farm dinner, showcasing their creativity at a fraction of the cost of fine dining restaurants.

Carver’s Country Kitchen

Although it’s in the city, I think this restaurant makes good on its name. It very much feels like a small-town meat-and-three (for those of you not from the South, that’s a meat dish with three vegetable sides), with delicious food in the displays offering a feast for your eyes, and a down-home atmosphere. I always feel like a member of the family when I visit. It gets an eclectic crowd including office workers, Georgia Tech students and neighbors. Some of my favorites are their meatloaf, chicken and dumplings, country-fried steak and sweet potato casserole.

The South offers some of the freshest, most flavorful food available and you can surely find it these restaurants. So go ahead and put a little South in your mouth!

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