In Atlanta: BoccaLupo
Ever since I left New York to come home to Atlanta, I have missed the awesome Italian food at Babbo, so you can imagine my delight when one of Babbo’s former chefs opened up BoccaLupo right here in the ATL. Now I can nosh on 20-yolk tagliatelle with mushrooms, kale, and kimchi or chicken liver ravioli with peas and green tomatoes whenever I want.
In Tennessee: The Dogwood at Blackberry Farm
The newest addition to the Blackberry Farm dining options is a relaxed bar that will shake up your ideas about bar food forever. In addition to Southern-inspired small batch cocktails and the farm’s own beer, you can put together an amazing meal with seasonal options like chicken liver pate on grilled bread with preserves or an out-of-this-world patty melt made with pimento cheese and Tennessee chow-chow and served with crisp-tender tater tots.
In Richmond: L’opposum
Frankly, the quirky name and eclectic decor (which includes Star Wars plates, punk paintings, and stuffed possums) would be sufficient reason to check out this Richmond eatery. But the inventive food is the real attraction, with Southern-French mash-ups like a ham biscuit topped with escargot in garlic butter or seared foie gras with corn and butterbeans and smoked blackberry mousse.
In Charleston: Leon’s Oyster Shop
Scoop up a generous portion of char-grilled oysters swimming in a velvety butter-Parmesan sauce, and you will know exactly why Charleston welcomed another chicken and oyster joint—because it’s so darn good. You can’t go wrong with any of the fresh fried or grilled fish and chicken, but be sure to order the minty-chocolatey Grasshopper milkshake for dessert.
In New Orleans: Shaya
New Orleans’ first Israeli restaurant is one of the city’s hottest reservations. You could make an entire meal sharing plates of freshly charred pita with pitch-perfect baba ganoush, Israeli salad, tabouleh, wood-roasted okra, pickled vegetables, and a dazzling variety of hummus. But if you want something you don’t have to share, try the Louisiana shrimp shakshouka, a tastebud-tingling fusion of Creole and Israeli flavors.