2019 Georgia Culinary Guide

Georgia's 100 Plates for 2019

When it comes to selecting 100 outstanding plates from around the state, Georgians know best. With the help of nominations from enthusiastic eaters, we found the tastiest local dishes in each region that speak to Georgia's diverse culinary scene, from Southern specialties to meals with international influences. Whether you're looking for a light lunch, fine dining or a sweet treat, this list has it all.

(Menu items subject to change and seasonality. Call ahead for availability.)

Jump to a region: Atlanta Metro | Classic South | Coast | Historic Heartland | Historic High Country | Magnolia Midlands | Northeast Georgia Mountains | Plantation Trace | Presidential Pathways

Order your free copy of the 2019-2020 Explore Georgia Culinary Guide for more dining ideas!

Atlanta Metro region

The Atlanta Metro region is bustling with events, attractions, and, of course, a vast and colorful culinary scene. Whether you're downtown or in the suburbs, a whole world of cuisine awaits — from Uruguayan to Indian to classic Southern fare.

Farm Egg at Empire State South in Atlanta
Farm Egg at Empire State South in Atlanta

Farm Egg, Empire State South, Atlanta. A recent iteration of this seasonally changing staple and consistently best-selling dish included grilled asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, and spring-onion puree on flash-fried crispy rice — all topped with a coddled egg.

Deviled Eggs, South Main Kitchen, Alpharetta. A Benton’s ham chip brings smokiness and crunch while Dijon mustard lends a note of sharpness to this classic side dish featuring eggs from Georgia’s own Darby Farms.

Comfy Chicken Biscuit, Home Grown, Atlanta. Grab a knife and fork to tackle this Southern-style dream of a breakfast: a buttermilk biscuit topped with fried chicken, slathered with sausage gravy, and garnished with a humble orange slice.

French Toast Sandwich, Le Petit Marché, Atlanta. The best part of this breakfast sandwich—made with vanilla rum–battered toast, scrambled eggs, and your choice of meat (bacon, veggie sausage, or Delia’s chicken sausage)—is that you can order it all day.

Pimento Cheese Wontons, Sweet Auburn Barbecue, Atlanta. Sibling owners Howard and Anita Hsu based this starter on crab wontons they saw guests devour in their parents’ restaurants. House-made pimento cheese fills a classic wonton wrapper, which is fried to perfection and paired with sweet Thai chili sauce.

Southern Marinated Fried Chicken, Twisted Soul Cookhouse & Pours, Atlanta. Chef Deborah VanTrece pairs her grandmother’s recipe— crispy chicken pan-fried in cast iron—with modern twists on classic sides: three-cheese mac with orecchiette, a collard green spring roll, and sweet potato apple chutney.

Shrimp & Grits, West Egg Cafe, Atlanta. A recent winner of Jekyll Island's Shrimp & Grits Festival stars homegrown ingredients: wild Georgia shrimp plus tomato, roasted okra, and a poached egg sourced from local farms.

Matchstick Okra Fries, Chai Pani, Decatur. Four-time James Beard–nominated chef Meherwan Irani credits his mother for masterminding this addictive snack, in which julienned okra is fried crisp and tossed with salt, lime, and chaat masala seasoning.

Oysters, Kimball House, Decatur. The home of Atlanta’s best oyster selection — a tour of mostly small-batch farms from Washington to Maine, with thoughtful tasting notes to enhance your appreciation — also offers the best oyster happy hour: From 5 to 7 p.m. on weekdays, the raw bar is half price.

Braised Short Rib, Carbonara Trattoria, Dunwoody. What diners love most about this elegant entree — rounded out with a flavorful red wine vegetable sauce, sauteed broccolini, and butternut squash mashed potatoes — is the fall-off-the-bone-tender meat.

Dutch Baby Pancakes with Cranberry and Mascarpone Filling, Seven Sisters Scones, Johns Creek. Scones rule at this friendly cafe where everything is made fresh daily, but you won’t regret ordering a giant pancake cooked in a cast-iron skillet, then wrapped around fresh cranberries and sweet mascarpone.

Avocado Cilantro Egg Rolls, Taqueria Tsunami, Marietta. No dish better captures the restaurant’s signature blend of Asian and Latin flavors than this beloved app, lightly fried and suited for dunking in both Santa Fe ranch and sweet-and-spicy Thai sauce.

Wine & Cheese Pizza, 15th Street Pizza & Pub, McDonough. Reasons to try this unique pie: the sauce is a family recipe, it’s the restaurant’s only pizza made with provolone, and, oh yeah, bacon.

Hamburguesa del Plata, Sabores del Plata, Norcross. Every steakhouse needs a solid burger, and this one—seasoned and grilled Uruguayan style, and heaped with bacon, ham, grilled onions, and a fried egg (among other toppings)—more than delivers.

Pimento Cheese Fritters, The Mill Kitchen and Bar, Roswell. Enjoy a melt-in-your-mouth marriage of savory and sweet thanks to locally sourced, house-made pimento cheese and a marmalade of caramelized onions and Heywood’s Provision Company bacon.

Baked Chicken, Matthews Cafeteria, Tucker. Simple ingredients (chicken, lemon pepper, water) and a time-tested cooking method (including 24 hours to marinate) create this comforting classic. Pair with rice and green beans or a salad for a square meal.

Classic South region

Historic small towns with essential comfort food offerings (think Sunday lunch buffets) are a culinary highlight of this eastern region of Georgia — not to mention Augusta, home of the Masters and its iconic pimento cheese sandwich.

Mussels at Frog Hollow Tavern in Augusta, Georgia
Mussels at Frog Hollow Tavern in Augusta, Georgia

Mussels, Frog Hollow Tavern, Augusta. In addition to mussels sourced from higher up the East Coast, this dish showcases regional flavors through the Vidalia onions, Titan Farms tomatoes, and grilled H&F Bread Co. sourdough.

Real Meal, Fat Man’s Mill Cafe, Augusta. The Real Meal is a classic, customizable meat-andsides platter, but try this best-selling combo: pot roast over rice with braised collards and squash casserole, featuring Georgia-grown beef.

The Downtown Augusta Mess, The New Moon Cafe, Augusta. Start with locally sourced grits, add a scoop of pimento cheese, and top with fresh salsa, Cholula hot sauce, bacon, and avocado slices for a big bowlful of deliciousness.

Poutine, Deep South Cheese and Grill, Dearing. You won’t find a more authentic rendition of this north-of-the-border favorite in the Deep South. French-Canadian owner Gina Doucet handcrafts the cheese curds from locally sourced milk using centuries-old methods.

California Club, Cafe 44, Greensboro. This Lake Country eatery has attained club sandwich perfection with the help of all-natural roasted turkey breast, applewood-smoked bacon, Swiss cheese, avocado, and lime aioli on a grilled baguette.

Piggy Stix, Round’s on Winthrope, Millen. Round’s co-owner Christa Jackson Walters fondly remembers her grandmother, who didn’t like tomato sauce but loved bacon on pizza. The shareable Piggy Stix combines the restaurant’s cheesy, freshly made dough with bacon pieces, plus ranch or marinara for dipping.

Sunday Lunch Buffet, The Coleman House, Swainsboro. Each Sunday, Swainsboro's “Painted Lady,” a Victorian mansion that’s now a bed-and-breakfast, unrolls a spread down the center of the hallway, offering — among other items — a salad bar, veggies, casseroles, and the crowd favorite, Southern fried chicken.

Bulldog Burger, Hogie Joe’s Sports Grill, Thomson. Honoring the Thomson Bulldogs high school football team, this burger goes long with the help of perfectly melted, house-made pimento cheese and savory bacon crumbles.

Chicken Salad, Burke Perk Bake Shop & Bistro, Waynesboro. Owner Sarah-Ann Kelly gets the from-scratch recipe from her mother and is particular about the type of chicken (a breast tender), how the celery and grapes are cut, and the mayo (Duke’s only). The kitchen whips up some 50 pounds each week for sandwiches, wraps, and platters.

Coast region

After a day on the shore or an afternoon exploring the Coast’s historic attractions, fuel up with fresh seafood (or burgers and local veggies if you're a land lover) at restaurants across the region — from seaside Jekyll Island to inland Midway.

Jerk Tostada at Indigo Coastal Shanty in Brunswick, Georgia
Jerk Tostada at Indigo Coastal Shanty in Brunswick, Georgia

Jerk Tostada, Indigo Coastal Shanty, Brunswick. No matter the protein (fish, shrimp, or chicken), the attending trio of pineapple salsa, Asian slaw, and house jerk seasoning brings a flavor explosion — and showcases the eatery's multicultural influences.

Fried Shrimp Dinner, B&J's Steak and Seafood, Darien. Inside a nondescript but always-packed building, diners get only the freshest Georgia shrimp, 80 percent of which come from Darien docks. Pair the crispy fried version with two sides such as coleslaw and green beans.

Stuffed Flounder, Driftwood Bistro, Jekyll Island. Atlantic flounder may inform the dish’s name, and a topping of leeks sauteed in white wine and heavy cream doesn't hurt, but the real selling point is the stuffing of spinach, capers, cream cheese, and blue crab.

Crab Legs & Shrimp Pot, Ship 2 Shore Seafood & Steaks, Kingsland. The key to this steam pot, in which local crab and shrimp are cooked together with potatoes, corn, and sausage, is that everything is smothered in garlic butter.

Smokin Potatoes, Smokin Pig the Bar-B-Q Joint, Midway. Pick your choice of barbecued meat for one killer loaded potato (but pork's a favorite). Like any respectable baked potato, it comes with plenty of dairy: butter and cheese on top and sour cream on the side. 

Pimento Cheese Plate, Green Truck Pub, Savannah. The most popular appetizer at this burger-centric pub shows off a family recipe for pimento cheese — requiring top-quality cheddar they shred themselves — along with their famous house-made dill pickle spears.

Green Goat Panini, Starland Cafe, Savannah. All the panini at this lunch-only spot are made with rustic ciabatta bread and cooked on a traditional Italian grill, and many offer fresh flavor combinations — such as this one made with herbed goat cheese, green apple, grilled onions, and honey.

Crab Cake Benedict, The Collins Quarter, Savannah. This classic brunch dish is packed with seafood (crab, butter-poached shrimp, and scallops) and topped with hollandaise, poached eggs, and a citrusy lemongrass oil. Wash it down with a CQ Bloody Mary.

Salted Fish Toast, The Grey, Savannah. James Beard winner and Chef's Table star Mashama Bailey draws inspiration for this plate from the salted cod fish cakes her grandmother cooked. The toast changes seasonally, sometimes accented with spring garlic or, in fall, sweet potato.

Shrimp Roll, Fulford's Fish House, St. Marys. It's a simple, perfect summertime sandwich — fresh local shrimp poached with Old Bay and lemon, tossed with a lemon-thyme aioli, diced, and served on a seared hoagie with celery and scallions.

Buford Highway Burger, Certified Burgers & Beverage, St. Simons Island. Inspired by banh mi, a type of Vietnamese sandwich, this homage to Atlanta’s international corridor comes topped with carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, jalapeños, Napa cabbage, and a savory Korean barbecue sauce.

Butter Cake, The Half Shell, St. Simons Island. Sort of like a chess pie meets a blondie brownie, this dessert — the restaurant's only, churned out by the pan-full each night — consists of a pound cake–like bottom, cream cheese filling, and vanilla bean ice cream on top.

Fish Taco, Tybee Island Social Club, Tybee Island. Concocted by chef-owner Kurt Schumm, this is not your average fish taco. Flaky grilled white fish is accompanied by pear puree, chorizo sauce, a strip of bacon, and cilantro — all wrapped up in a corn tortilla.

Historic Heartland region

This central Georgia region is home to beloved college towns, including Athens and Milledgeville, iconic Southern cities like Macon, and plenty of other small towns with big appetites — so come hungry for local specialties including fried green tomatoes and peach cobbler.

Vegetable Plate at The National in Athens, Georgia
Vegetable Plate at The National in Athens, Georgia

Vegetable Plate, The National, Athens. Acclaimed executive chef Peter Dale, who owns The National along with Hugh Acheson, aims to surprise diners with how exciting this vegetarian entree can be, and he succeeds with a generously portioned, colorful ode to what’s in season in Northeast Georgia.

Swanee Bite, Home.Made, Athens. This unique snack celebrates Southern flavors with made-from-scratch cheese straws sandwiching tangy pimento cheese and rolled in Georgia pecans. Gluten-free diners rejoice: a version is available using Georgia’s own DaySpring Farms corn flour.

Fried Green Tomato Sandwich, Last Resort Grill, Athens. Housed in a former music club, the Southern-with-a-twist spot turned its most popular appetizer into a sandwich topped with grilled onions, crispy bacon, and the signature Vidalia bacon dressing.

PBJ Burger, Tin Plate, Conyers. The letters stand for pimento cheese, bacon, and (pickled) jalapeño, a combo that’s all the more appetizing when paired with beef from White Oak Pastures and an H&F Bread Co. bun.

Everything Mac 'N' Cheese, City Pharmacy, Covington. A reinvented former pharmacy focuses on reimagined Southern fare, including this hearty mac-and-cheese skillet that changes nightly according to the kitchen's whim. Versions have included ham and beer cheese, pimento cheese with jalapeño jelly — even a breakfast rendition with bacon, eggs, and sausage gravy.

Sweet Tea Fried Chicken, Mystic Grill, Covington. Brine that includes sweet tea and local honey gives a decidedly homegrown flair to the juicy fried chicken, which shares the plate with crunchy green beans, buttermilk mashed potatoes, and Andouille red-eye gravy.

Ms. Caroline Lane's Sweet Georgia Peach Cobbler, Lane Southern Orchards’ Peachtree Café, Fort Valley. The sweetest, juiciest peaches are harvested during the peak of the season and frozen, so you can visit the farm’s on-site restaurant and sample this simple Southern favorite year-round.

Fried Green Tomato Salad, The Whistle Stop Cafe, Juliette. Following the 1991 filming of Fried Green Tomatoes, the fictional Whistle Stop Cafe became a real operation specializing in the iconic Southern delicacy. Enjoy it as a starter, sandwich, or salad — in the last case, served in piping-hot chunks over a bed of lettuce along with celery tops and diced Vidalia onions.

Cracked Pie, Dovetail, Macon. The refined farm-to-table restaurant puts its spin on the famed dessert from New York City’s Milk Bar, featuring the essential oat-cookie crust plus salted caramel ice cream.

Shrimp Burger, Kudzu Seafood Company, Macon. All of the breading, seasonings, and sauces are made in house at this land-bound spot celebrating Gulf Coast seafood. You can’t go wrong with a peppery Gulf shrimp patty with remoulade on a brioche bun.

Etouffee, Mint Juleps, Madison. Executive chef Sean Draeger loves a good Cajun roux, and he’s tweaked this dish over time to achieve the ideal blend of spicy and savory. Wild-caught seafood and local, cage-free chicken are more reasons to love it.

Eggs Benedict, The Local Yolkal Cafe, Milledgeville. Seven variations, including a Southern-style riff served on a buttermilk biscuit and a Lowcountry version (swapping the bacon with a homemade crab cake) make ordering a tasty challenge.

Historic High Country region

Located in the mountainous northwest corner of the state, Historic High Country's flavors are best expressed in pastries made with fresh apples from local orchards and beef sourced from nearby farms.

Apple cider donuts at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia
Apple cider donuts at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia

Apple Cider Donuts, Mercier Orchards, Blue Ridge. This impossibly tasty treat, made with the farm's own apple cider, comes in plain, cinnamon, or powdered. Order one at the on-site cafe, and your server will bring it to you fresh off the bakery's donut machine.

Ribeye, Rice House at Barnsley Resort, Adairsville. Chef de cuisine Evan Babb credits grass-fed Brasstown Beef for the meat’s bright flavor and healthier nutrition profile. Look for seasonal, “yard-to-fork” accompaniments— the first crop of potatoes and Swiss chard from Georgia’s Tucker Farms in early spring, for example.

Fried Green Jacket Burger, Ball Ground Burger Bus, Ball Ground. You don't need the novelty of eating on a restored vintage bus (though that's pretty cool) to appreciate a hormone- and steroid-free black Angus burger that nods to two Georgia classics—fried green tomatoes and the famous pimento cheese sandwich served at the Masters.

Lily's Street Tacos, LocoMex, Carrollton. A trio of soft corn tacos come stuffed with chicken, steak, Mexican sausage, or shredded pork, but owner Lily Gimenez always recommends the pork. Freshdiced onion and cilantro are the simple toppings, with two homemade hot sauce options for kick.

Goat Cheese Crusted Grit Cake, Ate Track Bar & Grill, Cartersville. This entree special happens to be vegetarian, but even carnivores will be satisfied with a grit cake that’s topped with grilled tomato and goat cheese, broiled, and served over cannellini beans and sundried tomato–infused spinach.

Prime Rib, Linde Marie’s Steakhouse on the Square, Cave Spring. Diners have rearranged their schedules to get a taste of this entree, served only on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Heavily seasoned, slow roasted for hours, and served with house-made au jus and horseradish sauce, it sells out whenever it’s on the menu.

Peanut Butter Pie, Edna’s, Chatsworth. You’ll have to try a slice for yourself to analyze the complexities (okay, mainly the peanut butter) that landed this dessert a spot on Food Network’s “50 States of Pie” list; only family members know the recipe.

Avocado Fries, Cyra’s, Dalton. Diners are routinely surprised at how the silky green flesh transforms into golden-brown, well-formed fries. Dunk them in the homemade chipotle dipping sauce.

Wonton Burger, River Street Tavern, Ellijay. The tangy vinegar slaw, sweet yum-yum sauce, and salty teriyaki pack a flavor punch, while fried wontons add crunch. For a few extra dollars, upgrade to local Ellijay beef from Bear Creek Cattle Company.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Pimento Cheese, Café 7 at Rock City Gardens, Lookout Mountain. Everything's made in house at this Rock City restaurant, where tables on a terrace are privy to a view of seven states. Pair this foolproof starter with a side of cheese grits for the ultimate Southern snack.

Brisket, Bowman's Restaurant, Resaca. Chef and pitmaster Dewayne Bowman does brisket just like his uncle Ivy Bowman, owner of Rome’s Wagon Wheel restaurant from the 1950s to the 1970s, did before him: slow cooked, hickory smoked, and high quality.

Half-pound Wicked Pimina Burger, Harvest Moon Cafe, Rome. The hot pimento cheese known as “Wicked Pimina” is famous around town, and black Angus beef from Georgia’s Lyons Bridge Farm is a worthy vessel.

El Fuego, Jamwich, Rome. Last year, customers gobbled up more than 15,000 of these unique creations, which are jam-packed with texture, color, and flavor: salty bacon, sweet strawberry jam, creamy avocado, sharp aged cheddar, and spicy buffalo chicken between slices of jalapeño cornmeal bread.

North Atlantic Salmon, The Otherside at Uncorked on Main, Villa Rica. Frigid Atlantic waters lend this fish a richness that’s complemented by sweet summer squash, stone-ground grits, and a house-made Hollandaise.

Lava Cake, Rootstock & Vine, Woodstock. The dark chocolate lava cake, decadent enough on its own with chocolate and raspberry mousse, comes with a bonus dessert: a milkshake featuring Woodstock’s own Flux Ice Cream.

Magnolia Midlands region

Experience farm-fresh cooking with Southern roots in the Magnolia Midlands region, an agricultural hub (and home of the Vidalia onion) stretching from the South Carolina border to Dublin in the north and Alma in the south.

Brisket sandwich at Eagle Creek Brewing Company in Statesboro, Georgia
Brisket sandwich at Eagle Creek Brewing Company in Statesboro, Georgia

Brisket Sandwich, Eagle Creek Brewing Company, Statesboro. It boasts a house-made cream sauce in lieu of barbecue sauce, but this sandwich is undoubtedly Southern, featuring pepper-jack cheese, caramelized onions, and bacon on a freshly baked hoagie.

Gelato, Gigi’s, Douglas. Before you make your pick, sample from half a dozen rotating flavors of authentic Italian gelato. Check Facebook for the current roster, which might include Blue Monster (blueberry cake batter) or the red velvet Georgia Bulldawg.

Brown Butter Sage Gnocchi, Ristorante da Maria at Dublin Farm, Dublin. This classic dish from Italy’s Piedmont region is made from scratch and gets a boost of freshness via russet potatoes and sage grown right on the farm.

Mediterranean Pizza, Hardware Pizza, Lyons. Every part of this dish is fresh, from the daily-prepared dough to the baby spinach, fire-roasted peppers, artichoke hearts, and feta toppings. A wood-burning oven imparts smokiness and depth.

Burnt Ends Special, Papa Buck’s, Metter. USDA Prime black Angus brisket, a 13-hour cooking process, and lots of love and cane sugar go into Papa Buck’s “burnt ends,” which are far from ruined. Both savory and sweet, they melt in your mouth.

Sampler Plate, Boneyard BBQ, Soperton. Taste a little of it all—ribs, chicken, and pulled pork— plus two classic sides, and trust that everything on your plate was made that day (or slow-cooked overnight).

Noche Buena (“GOOD NIGHT”), Chazito’s Latin Cuisine, Statesboro. Get a taste of authentic Puerto Rican cuisine at the Statesboro outpost of the beloved Chazito’s food truck with this dish of rice, beans, roasted pork, a tamale, plantains, and avocado.

Tiramisu, Rialto Italian Eatery, Vidalia. Guests rave about the generously portioned dessert that uses the recipe of the Milanese chef’s grandparents. Each pan takes about two hours to make thanks to the meticulous dipping and layering of ladyfingers.

Northeast Georgia Mountains region

Escape to this Northeast Georgia region located in the southern Appalachians for fresh fish, locally milled grits, and other area specialties in Helen, Dahlonega, Hartwell and more.

Brasstown Valley Shrimp & Grits at Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa in Young Harris, Georgia
Brasstown Valley Shrimp & Grits at Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa in Young Harris, Georgia

Brasstown Valley Shrimp & Grits, Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa, Young Harris. Locally milled grits cooked to creamy perfection and jumbo shrimp simmered in a rich Creole sauce make this a solid crowd-pleaser.

Stuffed N.Y. Style French Toast, Hole in the Wall, Blairsville. Is it breakfast or dessert? Does it matter? French toast oozes with a cheesecake filling that’s made from scratch daily using locally purveyed eggs. Varieties include blueberry, banana nut, and s’mores, but the homemade brownie version is the showstopper.

Bacon Wrapped Scallops, Cotton Calf Kitchen, Braselton. Bacon, sweet scallops, and creamy Parmesan risotto— topped with a delicate scampi sauce—account for this entree’s delectable flavor profile.

Butter Beans, The Smith House, Dahlonega. It may not be the showiest item on the communal table, but these simple, tasty lima beans—simmered with chicken broth, onions, butter, and pork — are good for the soul.

Brunswick Stew, Backstreet Bar-B-Que, Hartwell. The restaurant jokes that it’s “the best BBQ by a dam site,” and while that may be true, it’s the thick, always-fresh Brunswick stew that draws customers from miles around.

Grilled Rainbow Trout, Mully's Nacoochee Grill, Helen. Taste the freshness of streamside cooking — and a bit more — in this dish of woodfire-grilled trout with lemon caper beurre blanc and local grits.

High Tea, Fergusson's on the Square, Hoschton. The clink of fine bone china can be heard throughout the historic building as patrons—some in fancy hats—enjoy a variety of teas, pastries, soups, and sandwiches. The scones are a highlight.

Cheesy Chicken Soup, Sugar and Spice Cafe and Catering, Jefferson. It’s like the chicken soup of your childhood, only with bow-tie pasta and plenty of decadent dairy (a creamy cheese sauce, heavy whipping cream, and more sharp cheese).

Stairway to Heaven, Sheilah's Village Market, Sautee Nacoochee. The ingredients of this sandwich speak for themselves: cream cheese–filled roasted jalapeños, pecan-wood smoked bacon, local blackberry pepper jelly, and four cheeses—all grilled on sourdough bread.

Fried Chicken, Bell's Hamburgers, Toccoa. The restaurant may be named for beef, but the fried chicken is legendary — always fresh, brined before cooking, and breaded with a just-right blend of seasonings.

Plantation Trace region

Plantation Trace, one of the two southernmost regions in the state, comprises picturesque agricultural towns with restaurants that use fresh ingredients straight from local farmers markets.

Hanger Steak Salad at Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop in Thomasville, Georgia
Hanger Steak Salad at Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop in Thomasville, Georgia

Hanger Steak Salad, Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop, Thomasville. Grass-fed hanger steak sous-vided with garlic and rosemary meets one luscious salad: mixed greens with pickled red onion, crushed pistachios, Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved watermelon radish, and a Dijon vinaigrette.

Crab Rice, C&C Crab Shack, Adel. This family-owned spot cooks up a variety of fresh seafood—fish, shrimp, crab legs, Lowcountry boils, and more—but the humble side of crab-flecked rice truly makes the meal.

Shrimp & Gator Po Boy, Albany Fish Company, Albany. An adventurous meat meets a seafood standby: alligator marinated in wine and cilantro joins Apalachicola shrimp on a fresh-baked hoagie with coleslaw, sweet pickles, cheese, and a special sauce known as Gator Juice.

Chorizo Taco, Taco’n Madre, Cairo. Handmade corn tortillas and a chorizo recipe passed down through generations—a secret ratio of meat to fat, seasoned with smoky peppers, garlic, and other spices— make these something special. Top with onions, cilantro, and your selection from the salsa bar.

Blueberry Cinnamon Rolls with Lemon Icing, Sweetly Shealy, Camilla. Owner Shealy Dixon says zesting and juicing fresh lemons makes all the difference in this addictive treat, which features blueberries from nearby Von Glahn Farms.

Apple Cobbler, Farm House Restaurant, Lake Park. Credit Miss Rutha Mae Bivens, a force in the kitchen at this comfort food haven for more than 30 years, for this slice of home-cooked heaven.

The Farmers Pride Omelette, Q Cafe, Thomasville. A customer favorite for years, this wholesome breakfast comes loaded with veggies from Thomasville’s own farmers market—baby spinach, tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms—plus smoked Gouda. 

Blazin Blueberry Breakfast Sandwich, Mi-Lady Bakery, Tifton. One singular sandwich combines three area producers: sausage and bacon from Tifton’s Curtis Packing Company, toasted white Sunbeam bread out of Thomasville, and blueberry pepper jelly by Wisham Jellies, also of Tifton.

Onion Rings, Friends Grille + Bar, Valdosta. A cut above standard pub renditions, this popular starter pairs buttermilk-fried Vidalia onions with pickled shallots and spicy house-made ketchup.

Presidential Pathways region

Located in West Georgia, the Presidential Pathways region is full of history, including the birthplace and lifetime home of President Jimmy Carter in Plains. Here you'll find hidden-gem barbecue joints, meat-and-threes, and other Southern staples.

Cast Iron Seared Pork Chop at 7th Street Provisions in Columbus, Georgia
Cast Iron Seared Pork Chop at 7th Street Provisions in Columbus, Georgia

Cast Iron Seared Pork Chop, 7th Street Provisions, Columbus. This dish dances perfectly between salty (Berkshire pork), sweet (sweet potato hash), bitter (Brussels sprouts), tart (pineapple), and creamy (Gouda Mornay sourced from Georgia’s Udderly Cool Creamery).

Lamb Gyro and Fries, Gyro City Mediterranean Grill, Americus. Juicy lamb, fresh tzatziki, and hot pita bread check all the boxes for a great gyro, while the secret French fry seasoning has earned customer loyalty.

Lemon Pie, Country’s Barbecue, Columbus. The slice is sizable and—like most everything on the menu—made from scratch, using freshsqueezed lemons and an old-fashioned meringue.

Hot Dog, Charlie Joseph’s, LaGrange. This family-owned institution has been home to the world’s best hot dog since 1920. Most folks heap it with toppings like chili cheese, spicy tomato relish, and sauerkraut.

Vegetable Plate, Taste of Lemon, LaGrange. Housed in a former Methodist church built in 1892, this meat-and-sides lunch destination offers a hearty sample of its 10 vegetables, including okra, rutabaga, turnip greens, and a couple of honorary vegetables (macaroni and cheese, pineapple casserole).

Fried Fish, Peachtree Cafe, Thomaston. One of the standout items on this Southern buffet spread is a filet of locally caught catfish, hand-breaded with a secret recipe. Follow with a slice of peach cobbler.

Fried Pork Chop, Marise Country Cooking, Vienna. A pork chop fried just right and a couple of home-style Southern veggies feed the soul at this old-fashioned cafeteria.

Spinach and Tomato Frittata, Lightnin' Bugs Bakery & Cafe, Warm Springs. Vidalia onions and Hudson Farm tomatoes liven up the frittata, while candied pecans and a house-made Vidalia peppercorn vinaigrette accent the accompanying green salad.

Published: July 2019
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