Alton Brown’s Favorite Southern Road Eats

From po’ boys in New Orleans to glazed doughnuts in Memphis, these are his favorite Southern places to grab a bite

Photo: Miller Mobley

If you are hitting the road and looking for recommendations on where to eat, Alton Brown has a few suggestions. The Atlanta-based bestselling author, James Beard Award winner, and television personality travels (and eats) for a living. His traveling variety show, Alton Brown Live! The Edible Inevitable Tour had him crisscrossing the country and, as you might imagine, he had many good meals along the way.

For G&G, he picked seven of his favorite Southern places to grab a bite—from glazed doughnuts in Memphis to a family-style Southern feast in Savannah.

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room (Savannah, GA): “This is everything I love about food in the South. Big platters of Southern classics served family-style. Fried chicken, barbecued pork, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, biscuits, sweet potatoes, creamed corn, peach cobbler and banana pudding. And they’ll keep refilling the bowls until you’re stuffed. If you’re lucky you’ll sit with total strangers, but therein lies the true charm of Southern hospitality. If you come here, don’t plan on eating for hours before or after.”


Beefy King (Orlando, FL): “When I asked locals for recommendations while I was in town, they said a trip to Orlando wouldn’t be complete without Beefy King. They’ve been serving roast beef sandwiches for over 40 years and I agree with the locals. It’s a simple sandwich done right … get the tots too.”


Sally Bell’s Kitchen (Richmond, VA): “A friend of mine said I couldn’t leave Richmond without trying Sally Bell’s. This eatery has been serving patrons for almost nine decades, and while you might think the small, boxed lunches that are their trademark are jewel boxes of simplicity … a Southern bento box. I ordered three different boxes (because how could I try just one) — ham, turkey and chicken salad — and enjoyed them all. My personal favorite is the homemade potato salad. The ladies are a riot.”


Gibson’s Donuts (Memphis, TN): “I’ve been around and I’ve eaten my share of doughnuts … and probably your share and your mom’s share, too, and I am fully prepared to pronounce the Gibson’s glazed doughnut to be the finest doughnut in the South. The best part? If you’re new, they throw a doughnut at you the second you walk in the door. (Heaven, are you listening?)”


Hot Joy (San Antonio, TX): “Everything that is good and holy in the culinary firmament in one mouthful: their migas fried rice. I had to fight off some of my Edible Inevitable Tour crew to actually share this with me. Next time I’m ordering my own.”


Parkway Bakery and Tavern (New Orleans, LA): “This might be the king of po’ boys and it’s no hidden secret. Everyone knows about Parkway but it’s still on my list. I’ve had every po’ boy they offer and I’m convinced the shrimp version is the ultimate Southern sandwich … and gosh, do I hate that word [ultimate].”


Steel City Pops (Birmingham, AL): “Getting my hands on these (dare I say, ‘artisanal’) pops was a surprise and I couldn’t be more grateful. These guys are coming up with flavors way beyond chocolate, cherry and orange. Try, instead, Arnold Palmer, Sweet Potato Pecan, Buttermilk, Pineapple Jalapeno and Cherry Sour Cream. On a hot summer day … perfect.”

Hungry for more? Brown keeps a full list of his favorite #ABRoadEats on his website.