From Memphis and Kansas City-style barbecue to the Lowcountry fare of South Carolina and Georgia to the Cajun and Creole of Louisiana, the Southern states offer some of the most amazing, unbelievably delicious cuisine this country serves up.
If you’re unable to hop on a plane whenever you have a craving for hot links, brisket, grits or gumbo, fear not; these comforting, delectable, stick-to-your ribs dishes can be found within driving distance — and we spent several nights savoring this Northeastern-cooked Southern sustenance.
Bring your appetite.
7 Places to Dig In
Inspired by chef Jason Cheek’s childhood in North Carolina, the fare at Southern Proper is bright and bursting with bold tastes and textures. Once you sink your teeth into the moist fried chicken, breaking through the crunchy coating, you won’t be able to stop. As for the sides, I could not get enough of the fried okra, topped with sweet raisins and tossed with a big dash of curry. Items are a la carte and the portions are substantial. They are wonderful for sharing, but once you taste that first morsel, you won’t want to.
600 Harrison Ave., Boston
The food at Southern Kin is not focused on a single geographic location, so you can experience many, quintessentially Southern dishes: crisp chicken and waffles, plump shrimp and grits, catfish enveloped in cornmeal, and pork ribs that fall off of the bone. Pair your meals with a variety of sides like macaroni and cheese, cornbread, Brussels sprouts, and my personal favorite, braised collard greens.
500 Assembly Row, Somerville
Barbecue enthusiasts will be in their happy place over at The Smoke Shop, helmed by chef and pitmaster Andy Husbands. Want to wet your whistle with an appetizer? Order the fried green tomatoes topped with spicy pimento cheese and pork belly — it’s a meal in itself! As for entrées, you cannot go wrong with the brisket. Perfectly seasoned and served over buttery, garlicky Texas toast, it’s just waiting for you to pour on one or all of the house-made sauces that are perched right at the table. Craving dessert? Grab a spoon and make your way through the Banana Nilla Puddin’!
325 Assembly Row, Somerville
343 Congress St., Boston
1 Kendall Square, Cambridge
Situated in Providence’s Federal Hill district, you’ll want to circle around the block to find parking for Bucktown. The relaxed atmosphere with counter service gives you a bird’s eye view as the chef prepares Po’ Boys stuffed with lightly breaded shrimp, catfish or oysters, fully dressed with plenty of condiments. For a little something extra with your sandwich, the mustard-laced potato salad and smoky collard greens are sure to please. If you can’t get down to Rhode Island, don’t worry! A second location is coming to Mission Hill in Boston late this fall.
471 West Fountain St., Providence
If you’re over at Fenway Park to see the Red Sox, pre- (or post) game it at chef Tiffani Faison’s Sweet Cheeks Q. With a piquant crust, the fried green tomatoes are even better when you dunk your chunk in the accompanying dip. Next, slather plenty of honey butter on some fluffy biscuits. Add a little more sauce to your pulled pork or brisket with an array of choices housed in apothecary bottles set on every dining surface. Together with the savory broccoli and cheese casserole and potato salad that’s tossed in a light and creamy dressing, it’s a home run.
1381 Boylston St., Boston
On the list of casual counter-service establishments, Blue Ribbon BBQ could take first prize. If you enjoy ribs, but can’t decide on quantity, both one-third and one-half racks are available as part of a platter, which includes two ample portions of yummy sides and a great big piece of moist cornbread. Be sure to try the rich potato salad that’s loaded with lots of celery and mustard, and stop by the condiment bar for an abundance of sauces. Grab plenty of napkins before you hunker down and dig in.
908 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington
342 Washington St., Dedham
1375 Washington St., West Newton
I’ve visited New Orleans and to this day, the cuisine of Louisiana is my absolute favorite. Once you arrive at Buttermilk & Bourbon, you’d swear that you just went through a portal that transported you to The Crescent City. Chef Jason Santos takes some of the most beloved ingredients in Cajun and Creole cooking and weaves them into such creative dishes, they are just as gorgeous to hear about as they are to eat. You’ll love the classic Oysters Bienville, filled with leafy spinach and a kick from the heat of the andouille sausage.
160 Commonwealth Ave., Boston