No regional fare is trendier right now than Southern food—and it’s about damn time. After years of mediocrity, Seattle now has great fried chicken, fluffy biscuits and well-made grits. And we haven’t even started talking about dessert.
The Wandering Goose
North Carolina Biscuits and Gravy
Chef Heather Earnhardt’s shabby-chic Capitol Hill café is the very embodiment of Southern hospitality, thanks to her North Carolina upbringing and a deft hand with the baked goods—particularly biscuits. The Wandering Goose team uses a Booneville, North Carolina flour with low protein and gluten content for that telltale delicate crumb. Get yours topped with sausage gravy ($12) for a morning dose of stick-to-your-ribs comfort food.
When To Go: Make a reservation for Friday, the only day the Wandering Goose is open for dinner, and sit down to family-style fried chicken, pimento mac ’n’ cheese, collards and, yes, a biscuit.
The Wandering Goose, Capitol Hill, 403 15th Ave. E; 206.323.9938
Kentucky Beer Cheese
Family-owned Northgate restaurant Watershed Pub serves up internationally inspired comfort food the way it’s best enjoyed—with lots of beer. Chef Artie Blenman cooks a diverse assortment of regional foods, from Brazilian snacks to Asian entrées, but the showstopper is his take on Kentucky’s famous beer cheese, made with beer, cream cheese, Gouda and turmeric. Served as a cold spread—true to pub style—it complements pretty much anything on the menu.
What To Order: Have it with the soft pretzel ($5.50), made by popular Lake City bakery Kaffeeklatsch.
Watershed Pub, Northgate, 10104 Third Ave. NE; 206.729.7433
Photograph by Angela Ciccu. Beautiful prawns are just the icing on the cake—RockCreek’s grits are the real deal
RockCreek Seafood and Spirits
Rockcreek, an eclectically inspired seafood restaurant draws on flavors from around the culinary world, and when it comes to grits ($16), it does the South right: a steaming hot bowl that brims with the pure flavor of stone-ground yellow grits, topped with prawns, brown butter and rosemary. “It’s almost like creamed corn,” says chef-owner Eric Donnelly. The grits themselves are the key—Donnelly orders them from McEwen and Sons, a small Alabama company.
Know Before You Go: For a vegetarian version of the grits, head to sister spot (and ironically, meat-centric) FlintCreek Cattle Company in Greenwood, where they come topped with maitake mushrooms and sherry jus.
RockCreek Seafood and Spirits, Fremont, 4300 Fremont Ave. N; 206.557.7532
Georgia Pimento Cheese
According to the enlightening encyclopedia of Southern food on the website of chef Edouardo Jordan’s nationally acclaimed JuneBaby, pimento cheese owes its status as a Southern classic to Georgia. Jordan serves the dish ($9)—a combination of Tillamook cheddar cheese, house-pickled pimento peppers and aioli—true to tradition, with saltine crackers and excellent pickles both made in house.
Where Else To Find It: The pimento grilled cheese ($10) at Pike Place Market’s Cycene on First Avenue is all that is right in the world.
JuneBaby, Ravenna, 2122 NE 65th St.; 206.257.4470
Sisters and Brothers
Nashville Hot Chicken
Bainbridge Island native Jake Manny spent enough time in Nashville to know that a return to Washington was only in the cards if he could bring the Southern city’s signature spicy fried chicken with him. Lucky for us, he did return—to serve Nashville-style hot chicken ($15 for a plate of dark meat, $16 for white) out of Sisters and Brothers, a quirky dive-bar-decorated spot in Georgetown. The lines have died down somewhat since the opening onslaught nearly two years ago; the chicken is still addictive (though approach the heat with caution; even mild can be hot for some).
What To Order: Whether or not you’re a vegetarian, the second-best thing on the menu here is the fried green tomato sandwich ($12) with pimento cheese and slaw on brioche.
Sisters and Brothers, Georgetown, 1128 S Albro Place; 206.762.3767
B’s Po’ Boy
New Orleans Fried Shrimp Po’ Boy
While B’s Po Boy, a beachfront spot, can’t get daily deliveries of fresh Leidenheimer bread—crisper than a Seattleite with a sunburn on the outside, cotton-soft within, it’s one of the signature parts of a traditional po’ boy—it does bring it in frozen from Louisiana, toasting it before assembling the rest of the essential pieces of New Orleans’ most famous sandwich. Crisply breaded fried shrimp spill out from the loaf, served “dressed” with the classic shredded lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and mayo ($9.50, or market price, for half), just as it would be among the best places on Magazine Street.
What To Order: Wash your po’ boy down the way they do in New Orleans: with a pint of Louisiana’s own beer from the Abita Brewery.
B’s Po’ Boy, West Seattle, 2738 Alki Ave. SW; 206.588.2242
Virginia Brunswick Stew
This popular southern dish has no definitive recipe or origin story. Like many slow-cooked meals, its best enjoyed with family and friends around a big table or campfire. But Brileys’ Lake Forest grill shack—which got a major makeover through the winter and now occupies twice as much space, with Lake Washington views—makes a Brunswick stew that, traditional or not, is very tasty. Owners Kyle Brierley and Skyler Riley say theirs involves smoked chicken and pork in a tomato-based stew ($8 a pint), topped with cornbread croutons.
What To Order: If you stop by and don’t see Brunswick stew on the menu, try the similarly comforting brisket chili.
Brileys BBQ, Lake Forest Park, 15030 Bothell Way NE; 206.466.1589