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  • Oysters on the half shell in New Orleans, Louisiana
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    Savory Seafood and Sweet Treats in New Orleans, Louisiana

  • Waterfront views in Gulfport, Mississippi
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    Go Gourmet on the Gulf Coast in Gulfport, Mississippi

  • A Vietnamese po’boy sandwich at Le Bakery in Biloxi, Mississippi
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    Southern Seafood Meets Asia in Biloxi, Mississippi

  • Platters of seafood at Wintzell’s Oyster House in Mobile, Alabama
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    Mobile, Alabama: Some of the Freshest Seafood in the Country

  • The Alley Entertainment District in Montgomery, Alabama
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    Microbrews and Local Eats in Montgomery, Alabama

  • Upstairs bar with a skyline view of Atlanta, Georgia, at JCT Kitchen
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    Steaks, Seafood and Cutting-Edge Culinary Creations in Atlanta, Georgia

In Biloxi, Mississippi, savory serving of Southern seafood gumbo
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Savory Southern Cuisine

  • Route distance:
    778km
  • Suggested Time:
    4 days

A menu of sumptuous, savory and delectable delights

Prepare for your taste buds to be wowed – and to pack on a few pounds – as you embark upon a culinary adventure through some of the South’s most famous foodie destinations. Whether it’s your first po’boy, sticky jambalaya or freshly caught Gulf shrimp, these dining experiences can’t be missed.

01
Oysters on the half shell in New Orleans, Louisiana
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Savory Seafood and Sweet Treats in New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans Cajun and Creole cuisine is as famous—and as festive—as its Mardi Gras, and there’s no shortage of places serving it up. After landing at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, introduce yourself to the land of gumbo and grits at one of the classic establishments like Commander’s Palace, a local favorite where the weekend Jazz Brunch is legendary. Breakfast is a high art in this city, a tradition that goes back 100 years to morning menus that were more robust and full of variety: You might be eating jambalaya for breakfast one day and a sweet beignet the next. To experience this incredible range, head to Elizabeth’s, where the Banana’s Foster Stuffed French Toast is a heavenly way to start your day, but you can opt for fried chicken livers and eggs, too. One place to explore the city’s delicious obsession with beignets is La Petite Grocery, where you can get them stuffed with crab. Dining later in the day plunges you into the heart of Cajun and Creole cooking: rich, dense flavors; roux and red beans and rice; grits and grillades. Try award-winning Cochon, where the Cajun-Southern approach is applied mostly to pork, for a sense of how much depth can be brought to food here. As for oysters, Peche Seafood Grill’s raw bar is an excellent place to start. For some of the best Cajun fried chicken around, stop in to Coop’s Place. And before you roll out to Gulfport, sample one of the region’s most beloved desserts, bread pudding; get the Krispy Kreme version at Boucherie.

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126 km
1 hour by car
02
Waterfront views in Gulfport, Mississippi
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Go Gourmet on the Gulf Coast in Gulfport, Mississippi

Just an hour away from New Orleans, Gulfport’s take on classic Gulf Coast cooking is easy to love. The friendly beach town, with its Old Florida waterfront district, cute cottages and scores of independent shops and restaurants, is all about its position along the Gulf. There’s a strong Southern influence in the food here, but this is also coastal cuisine. Try fresh-caught shrimp, catfish and oysters, best eaten dockside, at sunset. Southern favorites like fried dill pickles and green tomatoes pop up frequently in starter and small plate menus at places like the Blow Fly Inn. If you ask locals where to go for a Gulfport-style po’boy sandwich, they’ll likely point you to Lil’ Ray’s, where the motto is “South in Ya Mouth.” Breakfast lovers can drive 10 minutes to Long Beach to sample the white chocolate raspberry pancakes at the Harbor View Café. Eat them while overlooking Long Beach Harbor, mimosa in hand. Grab coffee from Southern Grounds Coffeehouse to fuel your drive to Biloxi.

21 km
1 hour by car
03
A Vietnamese po’boy sandwich at Le Bakery in Biloxi, Mississippi
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Southern Seafood Meets Asia in Biloxi, Mississippi

Seafood might be king in Biloxi, but it’s the city’s interest in fusing it with other flavors that makes the food scene so appealing. It’s not just catch-of-the-day here; it’s that catch done Vietnamese-style, with a dash of Southern technique thrown in for good measure. International flavors are on the plate alongside the comfort food, barbecue and crawfish. Le Bakery & Café is a prime example with a menu that blends local and Asian flavors in dishes such as the Vietnamese po’boy or the curried coconut chicken. But you can also get good old-fashioned barbecue from restaurants like Slap Ya Momma’s BBQ Smokehouse –don’t let the name intimidate you – and feast on ribs or pulled pork to your heart’s content. Crawfish connoisseurs will like how their plate arrives here; restaurants like Taranto’s Crawfish do a true boil, dishing up piles of the crustaceans with corn and potato mixed in. Trying all of the variations of bread pudding throughout your trip is a must, so get to-go boxes of Mary Mahoney’s Old French House’s version, topped with rum, to hold you over until Mobile.   

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52 km
1 hour by car
04
Platters of seafood at Wintzell’s Oyster House in Mobile, Alabama
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Mobile, Alabama: Some of the Freshest Seafood in the Country

Peach pies, hole-in-the-wall barbecue joints and boiled peanuts: Mobile’s culinary scene is lively and varied, but there is no doubt seafood rules here. The industry is a major employer, and the Gulf of Mexico is just beyond Mobile Bay. Locals are fiercely proud of their city’s tasty reputation, and the number of eateries devoted to crabs, shrimp, fish and oysters reflects it. Wintzell’s Oyster House, a flagship restaurant in the heart of Mobile’s downtown entertainment district, is a good introduction into how Mobile does oysters; try the Carnival preparation, with lump crabmeat, spinach and hollandaise. Everywhere you’ll see fun iterations on the usual, such as the One-One and One – cups of gumbo, crab soup and turtle soup – from Felix’s Fish Camp Grill or Spot of Tea’s Cajun Seafood Omelet, stuffed with blackened shrimp and covered with a sauce made with Mexican grouper with crawfish. The only thing you will take away with you is a bag of fresh-roasted peanuts from A&M Peanut Shop, since there’s even more eating to do in Montgomery.

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272 km
3 hours by car
05
The Alley Entertainment District in Montgomery, Alabama
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Microbrews and Local Eats in Montgomery, Alabama

Many of this capital city’s most interesting restaurants can be found in one area, the Alley Entertainment District, which is suggestive of Montgomery’s fun approach to food. You’ll find top-notch barbecue sold in smoke shacks with nicknames like “The Butt Hut” as well as a 100-year-old hot dog joint. To dive right into the pit-culture here, indulge in hickory-smoked sausage and ribs with sides of okra and Brunswick stew at Dreamland Bar-B-Que. There are counterpoints to traditional Southern fare, too, including Japanese, Italian and Mexican restaurants. Just a few steps from the Alley, you’ll find something to whet your palate. Railyard Brewing Company’s microbrewery serves its burgers on a pretzel bun with pimento cheese fries and craft beer in a building that unites the area’s past and present. It’s good preparation for Atlanta’s modern food and brew scene.  

259 km
3 hours by car
06
Upstairs bar with a skyline view of Atlanta, Georgia, at JCT Kitchen
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Steaks, Seafood and Cutting-Edge Culinary Creations in Atlanta, Georgia

This metropolis does all the classics well, but it’s the combination of modern American fare with a Southern twist that makes Atlanta an emerging food city. Yes, it has its peaches and berries, chicken and dumplings, and hosts more than one Creole jazz brunch, but Atlanta is also a prime destination for steak, menus inspired by locally sourced food, and international flavors. At Buckhead’s KR SteakBar, small-plate steaks won’t overwhelm your appetite for the pasta on the menu. For Southern ingredients given an urban gloss, head to Decatur’s Cakes + Ale Restaurant, just 20 minutes away, which offers arancini and squash dip before you’ve even thought about round two. If you want to really see what Atlanta does with its Southern roots, get to JCT Kitchen, set in the hip Westside Urban Market. Start with a drink upstairs, then move to the dining room for truffle Parmesan fries, shrimp and grits and a side of heirloom tomatoes. If you still have room left for more, stop at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport’s One Flew South before you board the plane home. The “Southernational” cuisine is the perfect end to your food tour of the South.

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Spring cherry blossoms in Dunlap Park
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Destination

Macon