IF YOU’RE FROM THE SOUTH, then you likely grew up frequenting the local meat-and-three. Even the smallest towns have at least one of these throwback joints serving up classic Southern mains and an array of hearty sides to satisfy the locals’ comfort food cravings.
This regional staple thrives on classic family recipes passed down from generation to generation, keeping the soul of the South alive feast after feast. In some places, though, the traditions we know and love have been reimagined for the 21st century with surprising success. New or old, these are our 10 hand-picked favorites.
Photo courtesy of Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau


Tunica, Mississippi

More than 90 years have passed since this historic restaurant opened its doors, but it’s not slowing down any time soon. The unique colors that cover this old filling station have been a beacon to regulars and travelers alike for decades, drawing them in to one of the cozy booths for a home-cooked meal just like your grandmother used to make.

Photo courtesy of Comfort


Richmond, Virginia

Nestled on a picturesque corner in the heart of downtown Richmond, this dinner-only meat-and-three takes a fresh approach to classic flavors while still honoring its roots. With a menu geared toward a more eclectic crowd, Comfort has created a modern space for good Southern eats and also dedicates all its net profits to a local hunger-relief organization.

Photo courtesy of Arnold’s Country Kitchen


Nashville, Tennessee

This fixture in Nashville’s food scene has been serving all the best Southern staples for 30 years, but it’s the fresh ingredients and the care with which they’re prepared that attract the near-constant line out the door. Don’t worry: if you’re in a hurry, the friendly staff keeps the line moving at a steady pace.

Photo courtesy of King’s Kitchen


Charlotte, North Carolina

Classic Southern hospitality meets delicious offerings at King’s Kitchen, where all the restaurant’s profits are donated to local organizations that feed and educate the area’s underprivileged. Whichever plate of Chef Jim’s signature “new local Southern cuisine” you choose, you’re helping improve the life of countless people. That’s the power of meat-and-threes.


Homewood, Alabama

Locals flock to this Homewood staple six days a week to sample Chef Tim Hontzas’ beautiful blend of modern flavors and traditional style. Serving up tried-and-true Southern specials with only the freshest locally grown produce, Johnny’s is an homage to the original restaurant opened by Tim’s grandfather in Jackson, Mississippi, back in 1954.

Photo courtesy of Denny Culbert


New Orleans, Louisiana

Taking inspiration from traditional bar-style food from Southeast Asia, the lunch menu at Marjie’s Grill is packed with plenty of fresh, funky flavors unlike any other eatery in the Crescent City. The casual cafeteria-style atmosphere fits right into the city’s bustling culinary scene, but the food is in a league all its own. We’re partial to the cornmeal fried chicken and coal-roasted sweet potatoes.


Macon, Georgia

Since 1959, the H&H has been synonymous with Macon and the city’s diverse history—and there’s no better place for delectable soul food. This iconic spot is packed with story after story tying one of the original founders, Mama Louise, to the legendary Allman Brothers Band and many other Southern rockers in the Peach State.

Photo courtesy of Moonhanger Group


Locations in Georgia and Florida

When the business of every day gets to be too much, escape to one of Barbara Jean’s two locations for classic sides paired with deliciously fresh seafood entrees. For 20 years, their fresh, home-style cooking and cozy beachside atmosphere have attracted visitors and locals alike—and you’ll understand why after just one bite of their signature Crab Cakes.

Photo courtesy of Barbara Jean’s Restaurant & Bar


Locations in Southwest Louisiana

This family-owned restaurant serves some of the best down-home food this side of the bayou. With a menu boasting delicious Southern fare, Mama Reta’s is the place to go for your comfort food fix. We’re partial to the fried catfish available on Fridays, but you can’t go wrong with any of the specials.
(337) 656-2798

Photo courtesy of Parker Brand Creative Services
Photo courtesy of Ramsey’s Diner


Locations in Lexington, Kentucky

You can always count on this small Kentucky chain of diners to bring a taste of the Blue Grass State to the table. With 14 country-style entrees and 23 fresh veggie sides daily, Ramsey’s offers countless combinations at a price that makes us want to go back for seconds.


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