Southern Flavors Dominate America’s Foodie Scene

When most people think of the South, familiar soul food favorites like fried chicken and barbecue may be the only things that come to mind. However, ask any burgeoning chef with a culinary certificate and they will tell you that the South is a pretty exciting place to be when it comes to cuisine.

Students taking online culinary classes may already know of cities like New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Portland, Ore., as must-see foodie experiences. However, according to Zagat, five of the top seven up-and-coming foodie towns are located right below the Mason/Dixon Line. Here are few highlights of these foodie Southern cities:

Charleston, S.C.
Located right on the Atlantic coastline, Charleston’s seafood options are outstanding. In fact, many chefs are dubbing Charleston the “Portland” of the South. Big-name American chefs like Sean Brock and Mike Lata call this beautiful beach town home.

Athens, Ga.
Athens is a hip college town that boasts a lot more than just football games on Saturdays. People are flocking to this great city because of Hugh Acheson, a James Beard-award-winning chef who is also a judge on Bravo’s “Top Chef.”

Louisville, Ky.
With an American classic like bourbon being made by the gallon here every day, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of fantastic restaurant options to pair with Kentucky’s famous liquor. By balancing old traditions with a young and hip creative scene, Louisville is now earning a place on the map for Southern cuisine.

Nashville, Tenn.
Nashville may be known for hot chicken and country music, but the food scene here is certainly starting to become a household name as well. With new-wave restaurants like Cat Bird Seat – which is poised to earn Music City’s first Michelin star – Nashville is booming when it comes to food.

Birmingham, Ala.
This sprawling city has kept things accessible for locals by fully embracing the food truck movement. Restaurants on four wheels are popping up everywhere, and Birmingham is also embracing a burgeoning ethnic food scene, making this a city to watch in the coming years

New Orleans
Although the Crescent City didn’t make Zagat’s list of up-and-coming cities, New Orleans’ one-of-a-kind flavors make it a standard when it comes to Southern foodie towns. In 2011, Travel + Leisure magazine ranked NOLA as the overall best city for foodies – which means it outpaced traditional favorites like New York and San Francisco.

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