Food & Drink

Ten Biscuits Worth the Drive

Top stops for buttery, flakey goodness in our favorite Southern food towns

photo: Lissa Gotwals

Fresh-baked buttermilk biscuits, a taste of home.

While there is plenty of superior eating and drinking to be had in our best Southern food towns, sometimes you just want a great biscuit. Rise and really shine when you’re in Asheville, Charleston, Nashville, New Orleans, Richmond, or one of our dining destinations on the rise—Birmingham, Greenville, Knoxville, Raleigh, and St. Petersburg—with these perfectly fluffy picks.

 

  • Asheville, North Carolina

    Where to go: City Bakery
    What to order: Cheddar scallion biscuits

    Local biscuit companies seem to have a compulsion to share their wares: Biscuit Head opened a Greenville, South Carolina, outpost, and Tupelo Honeys have sprouted across the country—both, too, have put out cookbooks. But secrecy surrounds the beloved biscuits at City Bakery. Made with a flour that the eighteen-year-old bakery refuses to reveal, these bendably tender rounds provide an ideal setting for bacon and eggs.—Hanna Raskin

  • Charleston, South Carolina

    Where to go: Poogan’s Porch
    What to order: Side of Biscuits

    The reward for placing an order at this forty-year-old guardian of Southern cooking traditions is a complementary golden biscuit, crusty on top and buttery within. Sweetened with sugar, this cakey interpretation varies slightly depending on the baker, but Poogan’s has recipe cards ready for guests who want to try for perfection at home.—Hanna Raskin

  • Nashville, Tennessee

    Where to go: The Beacon Light Tea Room
    What to order: Biscuits with peach preserves

    With a painting of Jesus over the coffee station and scripture on every table, this restaurant just southwest of the city in Bon Aqua has been serving biscuits as the Lord intended since 1936. Rather than behemoth new-school types, they’re two-bite pillows with a soft, low rise. Simple lard, salt, and soda ingredients let the preserves pop—and just one more way of getting to heaven.—Jennifer Justus

  • New Orleans, Louisiana

    Where to go: Willa Jean
    What to order: Boudin + collard green biscuit

    Biscuits often serve as a vehicle to convey deliciousness—think sausage gravy, slow-smoked ham. At Willa Jean, where the menu has a whole section called “The Biscuit Situation,” the situation may be the reverse. The boudin, collard greens, and egg that sit sandwiched within may justifiably wave for attention, but the perfect, buttery biscuit still manages to dominate the stage.—Wayne Curtis

  • Richmond, Virginia

    Where to go: Early Bird Biscuit Co.
    What to order: Biscuit with jam

    In a town with an outsized devotion to biscuits, buttermilk evangelists tip their jampots toward Tim Laxton’s bakery. Laxton makes a variety of flavored biscuits with his great-grandfather’s rolling pin, ranging from Old Bay cheddar to blackstrap molasses, but this classic rendition of his grandmother’s recipe is simply magnificent.—Hanna Raskin

  • Birmingham, Alabama

    Where to go: Alabama Biscuit Company
    What to order: Goat cheese, pecan, and honey biscuit

    The husband-and-wife owners of this four-year-old Cahaba Heights restaurant offer biscuits with a straightforward recipe: buttermilk, butter, flour. But instead of White Lily or Martha White, organic soaked and sprouted whole-grain and ancient-grain spelt serves as their base. That translates into thick, dense, big-as-your-fist rounds, served warm and loaded with local ingredients—in this case, oozing Stone Hollow Farmstead goat cheese, roasted pecan halves, and honey.Jan Gautro

  • Greenville, South Carolina

    Where to go: Southern Culture Kitchen and Bar
    What to order: Fried chicken and biscuits
    Always fun to say, but not as much fun to eat when handled less adeptly, cathead biscuits with sawmill gravy have emerged as a specialty of this lively restaurant. Even when cloaked in sausage drippings and laden with two eggs and a piece of poultry, these flaky, oversized biscuits stand out.—Hanna Raskin

  • Knoxville, Tennessee

    Where to go: Rankin Restaurant
    What to order: Biscuits

    The Rankin has been baking these golden-crusty gems—broad, but not puffed up with doughy fluff—for five decades. They come to the table hot enough to melt your heart, not to mention butter. They’re the right size for nestling a sausage patty, but it almost seems a shame to hide their wonder under gravy—even as good a gravy as you’ll find here.—Ronni Lundy

  • Raleigh, North Carolina

    Where to go: Rise Biscuits Donuts
    What to order: Fried Buffalo chicken biscuit

    While buffalo chicken can be a tired combination, the opposite is true at Rise Biscuits Donuts, a chef-driven North Carolina franchise expanding throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. The fried, breaded, buffalo sauce–slathered chicken breast comes topped with a creamy blue cheese sauce and shaved celery and nestled in a fresh buttermilk biscuit. How fresh? Those rounds always get baked within an hour of being made and sold within thirty minutes.—Andrea Weigl

  • St. Petersburg, Florida (by way of Tampa)

    Where to go: Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café
    What to order: Biscuits and gravy

    Tampa Bay is not exactly biscuit country. But from St. Pete you can scoot just east to Tampa for Ella’s, which rolls up its sleeves to “praise the lard,” as they say, at its Soul Food Sundays (Kansas City–style barbecue, live music, kooky outside art everywhere). Biscuits come as a pair of sturdy monsters under a lava flow of dark country gravy, its color imparted by chorizo for a little slow burn.Laura Reiley

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