I am a northerner who currently resides in the Midwest but that doesn’t mean I do not have a deep appreciation for foods from the south. I am no “damn Yankee!” In fact, I fell in love with low country cuisine in places like Savannah, Georgia and, in more recent years, I learned how to eat like a southerner in Chicago. There are quite a few places in “The Windy City” where you can indulge in some traditional dishes, as well as some updated versions of southern classics. Save up your appetite and hit the rails because amazing southern food in Chicago can be found at the following spots:
This friendly and casual restaurant in the Lincoln Square neighborhood is not only one of the best places for southern food in Chicago, it has some of the tastiest dishes on the north side of town.
Chef/Owner Darnell Reed has created a casual environment that is big on heart with dishes inspired by his great-grandmother. You cannot go wrong with any of the menu items here whether your taste runs more sweet or savory. Chef Reed’s barbecue shrimp ‘n grits are my favorite in Chicago, to date. The fried green tomatoes are pretty special, too, as well as the chicken and waffles and gumbo. Don’t forget to order a jar of sweet tea!
I will have to return soon with some friends, during the winter months, in order to dive into their pimento cheeseburger and the sweeter brunch items which are available on the weekends.
Bonus! Luella’s Southern Kitchen is BYOB!
Luella’s Southern Kitchen is located one block south and 3 blocks east of the Western ‘L’ stop, along the Brown Line at 4609 N. Lincoln Ave.
Delicious southern food in Chicago can also be found in Andersonville, one of the most adorable neighborhoods. I love the sense of community and pretty houses in this part of town. Big Jones is a place you will want to take a load off and settle in for some of the best gumbo in Chicago. I don’t believe I have seen a roux this deep, dark and luscious, since the last time I visited Savannah!
I really enjoyed the comforting shrimp ‘n grits at Big Jones as well. It’s no secret that, as far as southern food goes, this is one of my favorite classics.
The space at Big Jones has a pub-like feel and the staff is lovely. Grab some friends and relax with a drink or three 😉
Big Jones is located 10 blocks west and 3 blocks north of the Berwyn ‘L’ stop, along the Red Line at 5347 N. Clark St.
If you are looking to sink into some southern comfort food on the south side, then you definitely need to head over to Pearl’s Place. This Bronzeville restaurant is open every day from 7am – 8pm (8am start on Sundays).
You must try Pearl’s shrimp with cheesy grits topped with super crispy bacon and scallions. This cheesy bowl of wonderful can turn your awful day around!
I so wish this spot was in my South Loop neighborhood but I don’t mind hopping the rails a few stops to dig into the extremely awesome eats at Pearl’s Place . I highly recommend coming here for a combination of southern and soul food classics with a few twists, like these fried green tomatoes with spicy sauce. Believe me when I say that these fried green tomatoes are a “MUST DO” when you visit Pearl’s Place. Seriously.
Another tasty treat at this south side spot are the salmon croquettes which are a classic southern dish. They were moist, tangy and, definitely, a winner.
I can usually pass on dessert, as I have more of a savory palate. However, I could not resist the house made pies at Pearl’s Place. Their sweet potato pie was light, smooth and earthy with just a bit of sweetness. Loved it!
Pro Tip: Breakfast is served all day at Pearl’s Place and you should try the breakfast and lunch buffet deals from $11.99 – $14.99. They are a great bang for your buck, versus ordering off the main menu.
If you leave Pearl’s Place hungry or with anything less than a smile on your face, it’s your own fault. Pearl’s Place is my “happy place.”
Pearl’s Place is located one block north and one block west of the Indiana ‘L’ stop, along the Green Line at 3901 S. Michigan Avenue.
The Bucktown neighborhood on Chicago’s north side has a plethora of different cuisine and vibe from which to choose when dining out. However, if you are looking to replicate the type of romantic southern charm which is found in Georgia and the Carolinas, you absolutely must check out Dixie.
Dixie stands out like a beacon along the busy stretch of Damen Avenue because it is a small white house with a porch and rocking chairs. It could not be any cuter! In keeping with the custom down south, the entrance to Dixie is in the side alley.
I loved Dixie’s deviled eggs with lemon, chili and cherry bomb peppers. They were topped off with crispy sunchokes and chives. Lovely!
I also recommend the crab beignet and the hush puppies with white pepper sauce.
Dixie is located a few blocks north of the Damen ‘L’ stop, along the Blue Line. The #50 Damen bus stops here as well. – 1952 N. Damen Ave.
I hope I made you hungry with these recommendations for amazing southern food in Chicago. Now, ditch your car and ride the rails (and buses) to enjoy these great plates!
In keeping with the spirit of Feeding Off The Rails, I encourage you to leave your car at home and hope the rails to these spots for some amazing southern food in Chicago . Save on gas. Avoid traffic, road rage and parking. Reduce pollution. Don’t drink and drive!