Ria’s Bluebird, Atlanta
Don’t be put off by the crowds of brunchers milling around a rather unprepossessing parking lot. Grab a coffee – or some sweet tea – and head out to wait with them. This down-to-earth Atlanta café is famous for its buttermilk pancakes, served with Georgia pecans, but the almond-crusted French toast with local honey and sweetened cream cheese is also not to be missed. And, at just $15 for two, you can afford a side of the fantastic buttermilk biscuit as well.
421 Memorial Drive SE, Atlanta, GA 30312; +1 404 521 3737; riasbluebird.com
Where better to celebrate southern ingredients than in an old Charleston mansion? One of Sean Brock’s award-winning restaurants, Husk is a great place to spend an evening – and cheaper than his upmarket McCrady’s. The menu ranges from a skillet of cornbread with bacon to a pig ear lettuce wrap. The delicious catfish BLT will ruin regular sandwiches for you for ever.
76 Queen St. Charleston, SC 29401; +1 843 577 2500; www.huskrestaurant.com
Vic’s on the River, Savannah
Savannah is one of the busiest ports in the US and the ever-popular Vic’s, located in an old shipping company warehouse, is a monument to this history. You can have a drink by the bar and watch container ships the size of mountains drift past on the river. The menu is similarly nautical in theme: try the pecan-crusted local flounder and delicious crab cakes.
26 East Bay Street, Georgia 31401, +1 912 721 1000, www.vicsontheriver.com
The Savannah College of Art and Design pops up all over town, and Gryphon is its culinary offering. The big book-lined room sports a piano and a feeling that the genteel society ladies of the past might be in for tea at any moment. Earnest student waiters serve up deconstructed salads and sandwiches that offer lighter takes on local flavours. For those on the gracious-living trail, afternoon tea is on offer.
337 Bull Street, Savannah, Georgia; +1 912 525 5880; web.scad.edu/experience/gryphon/index.cfm
Planters Tavern, Savannah
Ignore the fine dining going on at the Olde Pink House upstairs and head down to the old inn in the basement. You’ll find low beams, fireplaces, a raucous bar and the sense that you have just travelled back to the 18th century. Once your eyes get used to the dark, try the local seafood specialities – if ever there’s a place for shrimp and grits, this is it. Other highlights: the so-sweet-your-teeth-might-fall-out lemonade and the incredibly moreish bread.
23 Abercorn Street, Savannah; +1 912 232 4286; www.plantersinnsavannah.com