A meat-and-three restaurant meal is the next best thing to homemade. Here are nine Southern standouts:
Antlers Restaurant & Bar
Though few in Acadiana may refer to it as a “meat-and-three,” Antlers embodies the similar Lafayette plate-lunch tradition of a hearty midday meal of meats, rice and gravy, and two vegetables. Plus you can get a cocktail. Think of it as the genre’s good-times-rollin’ French cousin.
Must-Eat: Pan-browned chicken smothered in grilled onions.
Arnold’s Country Kitchen
In this meat-and-three capital, Arnold’s is king. For over three decades, this family-run restaurant has served a rotating from-scratch spread of five meats and eight or nine sides to a steady queue of steam-table supplicants.
Must-Eat: Meat loaf ladled with rich tomato gravy.
At this robin’s-egg-blue mainstay, regulars and in-the-know tourists line up for Styrofoam clamshells loaded with fried whiting, red rice, purloo, and limas stewed with turkey necks.
Must-Eat: Okra soup, a Lowcountry staple.
“Mama Louise” Hudson made sure the not-yet-famous Allman Brothers stayed fed by letting them pay whatever they could afford. Years later, H&H still turns out rock-star comfort food, though Mama Louise is no
longer behind the stove.
Must-Eat: Extra-juicy slices of roasted turkey over cornbread dressing with chicken gravy.
This tidy, lunch-only spot serves a mixture of Hellenic and Southern staples: fried catfish, purple hull peas, lasagna-like pastitsio, and
meatballs called keftedes. A cousin to the clan that operates Birmingham’s famous Niki’s West, Timothy Hontzas rotates his chalkboard menu according to what local farmers deliver.
Must-Eat: Squash casserole, a glorious combo of crooknecks, caramelized onions, rice, and cheese under a buttery blanket of Ritz crackers and Parmesan.
Little Easy Express Lunches
“Big Tim” Woodard runs Little Easy in a BP station on Highway 30. And he takes local to the extreme, sourcing produce from Woodson Ridge Farms, just two miles down
Must-Eat: Perfectly spiced sweet potato pie.
Martin’s has filled plates for Alabama politicos since the 1930s. In addition to excellent meat loaf, fried green tomatoes, and cornbread, you’ll find surprises, too—fried oysters or pineapple and cheese casserole.
Must-Eat: Fried pulley bones, a cut of chicken that includes meat from both breasts.
Inside Peggy Webb’s white house on Bay Street, family photos cover the walls and a makeshift counter holds a buffet of fried pork chops, beef tips, and vegetables ranging from creamed corn to butter beans. Fix your plate, locate a seat, and put your money in the basket by the door. Make your own change.
Must-Eat: Fried chicken, served on Tuesdays and Fridays.