By Alison Bailin Batz
There’s home cooking, and then there’s Southern home cooking. Bursting with butter, cream and carbs, Southern dishes are some of the most flavorful and fabulous around. And thanks to many local chefs, tasting true soul food classics is easier than ever. Here are some of the most delicious dishes reflecting the comforts that only the South can provide.
PNPK Craft Sliders + Wine Bar
As the Texas-born owner’s favorite menu item, you know this Southern take on a slider is a must. The breading is much like Nashville hot chicken, made with cayenne pepper, brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder, and salt. Once fried, the chicken is sandwiched between a traditional or gluten-free bun – or lettuce wrap – and is topped with a dill pickle, coleslaw and spicy aioli. Two for $11, four for $20, or six for $29. www.pnpkaz.com.
Indulgent yet gluten-free, this entree features grits topped with spicy shrimp, hearty sausage, smoked onions, oven-dried tomatoes, braised greens, and a mustard-tomato jus. There is also an appetizer version with all the same goodness, just half the size. $25 (or $13 for the appetizer). www.beckettstable.com.
These may sound simple, but they’re so amazingly good that they sell out every night. The kitchen bakes its own Southern-inspired biscuits for this dish daily, which are married with a crispy piece of mouthwatering fried chicken and then topped with mustard-honey sauce and local pickles. They serve a little extra sauce on the side for those who like to dip, too. $5. www.themacintoshaz.com.
While there are plenty of crave-worthy Southern options at this Central Phoenix hot spot, the fried green tomatoes really shine. The tomatoes, grown locally at Abby Lee Farms, are marinated in pickling liquid and then breaded with panko breadcrumbs, cornmeal and Cajun seasoning before being fried to order. They’re served with a creamy housemade pimento cheese. $11. www.southernrailaz.com.
High & Rye
Like Southern Rail, High & Rye specializes in all things Southern, creamy, spicy and spectacular. For something off the beaten path, try the blue crab hushpuppies, which are corn fritters made with lump blue crab meat and served with a zesty Creole aioli and house-pickled peppers. $13.50. www.highandryeaz.com.
This homestyle steakhouse features two varieties of ribs: beef back ribs on Tuesday night and pork spareribs on Sunday night. Both are slow-smoked over pecan wood and slathered with homemade barbecue sauce. The ribs are paired with a pickle spear, sliced onion, a salad, choice of potatoes, and white bread to sop it all up. Beef, $19; pork, $15. www.texazgrill.com.
Pecans are the obvious star here. This award-winning pie combines butterscotch custard filling with candied pecans in a graham cracker crust. It’s topped with whipped cream and more candied pecans. For the holidays, order a whole pie until Dec. 22 at Sweet Provisions (Twisted Grove’s sister concept just a short walk away) for $24. A slice at the restaurant is $8. www.twistedgrove.com.
Just like Mom used to make – or, perhaps, just like you wish Mom used to make. Two boneless chicken breasts are breaded and fried, then covered with creamy gravy. A heaping portion of mashed potatoes are standard, and we recommend the mac and cheese as your second side. $17.50. www.bobbyq.net.
Proof at Four Seasons Scottsdale
Slow-cooked for five hours, pork is piled high with Carolina-style barbecue sauce, coleslaw and red onions. It’s layered on a soft pretzel bun with a side of housemade potato chips, more coleslaw, or mixed greens. You can also sub the side for hand-cut fries or sweet onion rings for $2 more. $18. www.proofcanteen.com.
Pig & Pickle
This artistic, modern twist on a savory favorite is an intoxicatingly flavorful blend of crispy fried chicken, vegetables and potatoes smothered in rich, creamy gravy – much like the filling that makes up a traditional potpie. Rather than being served in a pastry shell, this version is topped with crisp, flaky, golden sheets of puff pastry. $23. www.pigandpickle.com.
The Larder + The Delta
Hoe cakes are a Southern take on cornbread that get their name from being cooked on an iron pan called a hoe. These are amped up in a big way with king trumpet mushrooms, salami, corn, cured egg yolks, and a striking black garlic jus. $11. www.thelarderandthedelta.com.
Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles
Founder Larry “Lo-Lo” White has been perfecting scratch-made soul food for more than a decade. He’s even developed his own waffle mix, seasoning salt, maple syrup, and hot sauce. Opt for a classic: option No. 3 on their “Hood Classics” menu, which is three pieces of Southern-style chicken served with two golden waffles. $15. www.loloschickenandwaffles.com.
Mississippi and Alabama produce the most catfish in the United States. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s a regional favorite, especially blackened or crusted with cornmeal and fried. At Switch, you can get your catfish po’ boy either way topped with housemade tartar sauce, lettuce and tomato. It’s served on a soft white roll. $13. www.switchofarizona.com.