Food & Drink

Where We’re Excited to Eat This Fall

New restaurants from familiar favorites in Charleston, Nashville, Savannah, and more; plus new ’cue, breakfast hotspots, and a well-done steakhouse

Photo: Andrea Behrends [2], Peter Frank Edwards

From left: Nashville chef Tandy Wilson; the barbecue chicken at Wilson's new Mop/Broom; and chef Mashama Bailey of the Grey in Savannah.

New Spots from Familiar Favorites:

Mop/Broom Mess Hall
Nashville, Tennessee
Anticipated opening: Early September

With the Italian-accented City House, chef Tandy Wilson helped put Nashville on the culinary map, bringing home the city’s first “Best Chef: Southeast” James Beard Award in 2016. Now, he’s launching his second act with Mop/Broom Mess Hall, a casual outfit that gets its name from its setting—a former cleaning-supply company warehouse—and its inspiration from Wilson’s own kitchen. “What we’re doing is reflective of my home cooking, not just right now, but going way back in the family as well,” he says. Wilson is a third-generation Nashville native—a rarity in a city where mixed-use mid-rises are popping up like mushrooms after rain. Look for hushpuppy-battered fried catfish, chili-cheese chickpea fries, and barbecue chicken (G&G exclusive: Get Wilson’s recipe here), washed down with straightforward mixed drinks. “Rather than shaking so many things,” Wilson says, “we’re going to be pouring over ice.”


Charleston, South Carolina
Anticipated opening: Early September

With an expanding empire on Charleston’s Upper King Street, Brooks Reitz proves that a restaurateur can be every bit as visionary as a chef. First, he gave the fish camp an Instagram-Age upgrade with Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop. Then, briefly, came St. Alban’s, a quasi-coffeehouse that quickly morphed into Little Jack’s Tavern, with its cheeky dessert-menu burger that everyone loves. Now, get ready for Melfi’s, a dinner-only Italian spot that aims to place a premium on comfort—with the food and the atmosphere. Lean in over a table that’s set and lit just so, and dig into thin-crust Roman-style pizzas, pastas, and elevated cocktails. (Reitz is also the man behind Jack Rudy Cocktail Co., whose mixers likely have a place at the front of your home bar.)


The Grey Market
Savannah, Georgia
Anticipated opening: Late fall

When chef Mashama Bailey and business partner Johno Morisano opened the Grey in a once-segregated bus terminal in Savannah four years ago, they quietly revolutionized what Southern restaurant dining means. There, in Bailey’s hands, a dish like Country Captain became enriched with context, not to mention flavor. For their second act, they’re reenvisioning another location that looms large in Southern consciousness—the lunch counter. At the Grey Market they plan to make everyone feel welcome, whether patrons are staying to enjoy a hot lunch or grabbing a meal to go, bodega-style.


Also this fall:

New Orleans chef Justin Devillier—whose blue crab beignets are one of the tastiest appetizers ever imagined—comes to the French Quarter with his third restaurant, Justine, a Parisian-style brasserie. In Asheville, Appalachian-cooking pioneer John Fleer is also opening his third—Iron and Clay, which will pay tribute to its home neighborhood’s African-American heritage.

Photo: Marianna Massey; Mike Belleme

From left: Chefs Justin Devillier and John Fleer.

What’s New in ’Cue:

Bow and Arrow
Auburn, Alabama
Anticipated opening: October

Like the peach trees that line the parking lot of his Auburn restaurant Acre, chef David Bancroft is a graft—Texas Hill Country upbringing on Alabama root stock. So barbecue is a perfect fit for his second effort, Bow and Arrow, slated to start serving hungry Auburn Tigers in early October. “I cut my teeth doing barbecue,” Bancroft says. “I trained myself—not with Escoffier, but with a smoker.” He aims for the fast-casual eatery to “pay homage to that cowboy culture, where everybody meets around a smoke pit.” There’ll be brisket, beef-back ribs, turkey, and sausages smoked on-site and potluck-supper-style sides: Tater Tot casserole, butter beans, collard greens, and mac and cheese.


Also this fall:

Rodney Scott is hopefully just a few permits away from pumping pork-scented woodsmoke into the skies above Birmingham with the first expansion of Charleston-based Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ. Will the reigning Best Chef: Southeast Beard winner add an Alabama-style white sauce to his pepper-vinegar roster? Anticipation is half the fun.

Photo: Margaret Houston

Pit master Rodney Scott.

New Spots to Start the Day:

Button & Co. Bagel Shop
Asheville, North Carolina
Anticipated opening: Late October

Chef Katie Button.

“The people who live here can only eat so many biscuits,” chef Katie Button says with a laugh. So instead, she intends to help Ashevillians fall in love with bagels. It’s not a far-fetched notion; Button made her name with Cúrate, a tapas bar that paired her Carolina heritage with the Iberian education she received in the kitchens of Ferran Adrià and José Andrés. “We have a lot of makers here,” Button says, “people who are working in some aspect of the culinary world—really geeking out and doing it perfectly.” Among them are the millers at Carolina Ground, whose flours will find their way into Button’s plain, rye, and everything bagels. Instead of cream cheese, the schmears will be a cultured spreadable cheese courtesy of Three Graces Dairy in nearby Marshall. In addition to traditional lox, there will also be two closer-to-home smoked-fish options: sable rubbed with local sumac and trout, courtesy of Sunburst in Waynesville.

Also this fall:

Pancake Social, which is set to start flipping plain, sourdough, multigrain, and no-grain pancakes in Atlanta’s Ponce City Market later this year, features two local favorites: food from Anne Quatrano of Bacchanalia and coffee from Tony Riffel of Octane.

And One Great Steakhouse:

Georgia James
Houston, Texas
Anticipated opening: Late September

Chris Shepherd earned a legion of fans in Houston and beyond with Underbelly, his Beard-winning ode to the city’s multicultural cooking. Then, he closed it in March to make way for, well… that takes some explaining. Last year, Shepherd launched One Fifth, which explores a given cuisine or theme for a time before shutting down and then reopening to explore a completely different one. His first concept there was a steakhouse; cuisines of the Romance-language countries followed, and the restaurant is currently in its Levant phase. But the steakhouse idea stuck. “If I hadn’t opened One Fifth Steak, I’d never know how much I enjoyed running a steakhouse,” Shepherd says. At Georgia James, which trades Underbelly’s rustic look for brass and glass, Shepherd plans to sear the steaks—Angus from 44 Farms—in cast-iron. To match them, he’s building a wine cellar 500 selections strong.