Ahh food diaries, an account of my latest trip through the medium of my stomach! Now usually I literally tell you everywhere I ate, good or bad, the whole shebang. But on my latest trip to the Deep South USA with Trek America, we ate at SO many places that I figured I would just tell you about my absolute favourite ones. Don’t worry, there’s still A LOT of ground to cover…
So here you go, the culinary delights of Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana!
Best Eats In Alabama
Bottega Restaurant – Birmingham, Alabama
I’m starting off with a fancy one, guys. You’ve been warned.
It was a warm evening when we visited Bottega Restaurant so we dined al frescoe on a large table out the front and there was just such a lovely atmosphere. But by far the best part was the waiter, Chris. He was clearly very passionate about the food and I could literally listen to him talk about food all day long. I had a fantastic cocktail, a Pecan Old Fashioned, followed by grilled asparagus to start and a really beaut steak for my main. Dessert was a word I couldn’t pronounce, but Chris made it sound amazing as per, so I went with it. It was like a chocolate and peanutty bar that was all of the heart emojis.
This is by no means a cheap eat, y’all. But if you wanted a special date night or something, it is totally worth it. I’m just saying.
Wildflower Cafe – Mentone, Alabama
Holy moly. This place was a bit of a random find. We’d actually just been abseiling in Fort Payne and the instructor recommend the Wildflower Cafe for lunch. The locals know best, right? Well this place was a total dream. It was straight out of Pinterest in a little log cabin covered in fairy lights, with pieces of artwork everywhere. Rocking chairs on the porch, that kind of place.
I noticed a theme on the menu, half of it included a tomato pie. The waitress explained that this was their speciality so I figured I’d give it a go and chose a large slice with a salad. I really didn’t know what to expect but it wasn’t what I got. This was like a layer of soft pastry topped with marinated tomatoes in a tomato sauce, then topped with a shitload of cheese. And boy oh boy was it delicious. The photo doesn’t do it justice.
We hadn’t intended to get dessert but the owner brought out a couple for us to try, a carrot cake (yum) and the most amazing peanut butter cake that we collectively ate in about 30 seconds. It was insane.
I can’t recommend this place enough. It’s also a cute shop with handmade crafts and they have live music nights which would be totally amazing. I mean, it’s in the middle of nowhere, but I would quite willingly drive an hour out of my way to visit it again.
Best Eats In Tennessee
Crockett’s Breakfast Camp – Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Crockett’s Breakfast Camp may just be the most American place I’ve ever seen. This cabin-like themed restaurant has an open fire, shotguns on the walls and stuffed wolves and bears all over the gaff. Plus, their portion sizes are off the chain. America, am I right?
We went there for breakfast one day in Gatlinburg, up in the Great Smoky Mountains, and our host started us off with some cinnamon rolls for the table. Yes, our breakfast had starters. And of course, they were the size of my head.
I was already craving veggies after a few days in the States so opted for a vegetarian omelette. Well this omelette also came with sides of hash, grits, a biscuit and corn pone. Literally all of the most Southern things ever. Personally I’m not a fan of grits (like oatmeal) but that hash was crazy good.
And that was a regular sized breakfast.
Another gal on the tour went for one of the ‘Skillet’ breakfasts which included a full fried breakfast with sides of grits, hash biscuits, and a SIDE of pancakes (which was a whole plate full). Absolutely mental. I mean, if you want bang for your buck, this is the place.
Party Fowl – Nashville, Tennessee
Well you can’t come all the way to the Deep South and not get yourself some Southern Fried Chicken now, can you? So that’s exactly what I did at Party Fowl in Nashville. Party Fowl is kinda like a sports bar, that sells craft beer and fried chicken, but is actually a nice place to be, you know?
I got myself some Southern Fried chicken strips with fries and a side of mac and cheese. Don’t you just love places that serve mac and cheese as a freaking side? Genius.
I should mention I made a bit of a fatal error in my meal selection and followed the heat rating I normally go for at Nandos – Medium. Well Medium spice is fucking spicy in the South. Too hot for my blood, y’all. So moral of the story? Err on the side of less spicy.
Otherwise I had a real decent meal at Party Fowl so do give it a go.
Crema – Nashville, Tennessee
Another place we stumbled across, Crema in Nashville, was a lovely spot we discovered by accident when looking for breakfast and coffee one morning. It’s a bit hipster and would totally be at home in East London, but it didn’t feel super pretentious.
And best of all, after fried breakfasts and filter coffees for a few days, it was so good to have a normal breakfast (jam on toast) and an actual real-life Cappuccino. Cappuccinos don’t seem to be a thing in this part of the world and usually when you find them, they’re a weird syrupy version. So I was v happy about this find!
Charlie Vergos Rendezvous BBQ – Memphis, Tennessee
When in Memphis, you eat barbecue food. FACT.
Well, word on the street is that the best BBQ in town is at Rendezvous BBQ, so that’s obviously where we went. Now straight off the bat, I should tell you guys that this isn’t somewhere you come if you’re a fussy eater. They don’t accept substitutions and there’s very little for vegetarians. It’s also pretty bad service. The guy walked off half way through taking our order and questioned some of our choices.
But, it’s all about the food. If you want ribs and brisket, covered in seasoning, then this is the one for you. It’s also frequented by lots of celebs and the waiter told us Justin Timberlake is a close, personal friend. Well if it’s good enough for JT…
The Beauty Shop – Memphis, Tennessee
A beauty shop turned into an instagrammable brunch spot? Yeah The Beauty Shop was such a good find. Inside it retains a lot of cool features like old-fashioned hood dryers on some of the tables, so it still has salon vibes. But on this visit, I decided to sit outside in that hot Memphis sun!
We actually had a free day in Memphis, so I ventured to the Cooper-Young area of town with Sabina off of Girl VS Globe for a tasty Sunday brunch with a cocktail or two. I had a ‘Beautini’, an orange blackberry infused vodka martini, chosen purely for the name, and it was so good. Then I decided to go for lemon ricotta pancakes with a side of yukon gold, sweet potato and apple hash. Basically all carbs, but seriously SO amazingly good.
We had to wait a while for service and then for our food because it was so busy in there but it was totally worth it for this meal. I’m jealous I don’t live in Memphis otherwise I would go every Sunday to try the whole menu.
Cafe Ole – Memphis, Tennessee
Right after our visit to The Beauty Shop, Sabina and I had totally planned on going back to the hotel, until we heard some glorious live music over the road at Cafe Ole. We decided to go in for a drink and it was such an awesome place. It’s a mexican restaurant with a large outdoor beer garden-type area and there was an acoustic guitar duo playing glorious covers. It was delightful.
Best of all? $2.50 Bloody Marys and Bloody Marias. This was actually my first Bloody Maria, which has tequila instead of vodka. It was real spicy but so delicious!
We didn’t actually eat here but the menu looked really good and it had such a lovely atmosphere I thought it was worth mentioning. Plus we only ordered two drinks and they gave a giant bowl of complimentary nachoes and dips. Winning.
Beale Street Music Festival Street Food – Memphis, Tennessee
I was lucky enough to attend the Beale Street Music Festival whilst I was in Memphis this summer and watched some epic performances from the likes of Kings of Leon and Ziggy Marley. And I love a good food truck at festivals so I had a lengthy look at the options, but I was so full from all the Deep South cuisine I’d eaten that day that I just wanted something small. Not like me I know…
So I decided this was a prime opportunity to try my very first corn dog!
A corn dog is a hotdog covered in a corn batter and it’s the kind of thing I’ve seen in loads of films and TV shows so figured I needed to try one! The lady at the kiosk asked if I wanted mustard and I said yes thinking there would be a bit poured on, but she literally painted the whole thing in mustard! But it was actually really nice, I’m glad I tried one!
I was sitting near some Memphis girls at the time who were laughing at me for being such an American cliche haha.
Best Eats in Louisiana
Bayou Beer Garden – New Orleans, Louisiana
We arrived in New Orleans after a long drive from Natchez, Mississippi and honestly I would’ve eaten anything at that point, I was so hungry. Jack, our tour leader, took us to a place he knew did good food and would suit everyone, Bayou Beer Garden. And it really hit the spot. There was so much choice and you go up to pay so no trouble splitting the bill.
I split the Disco Fries with Milly from Mini Adventures, as it was only available as a two person portion and I just HAD to try them – fries topped with cheddar cheese AND roast beef gravy. Holy shit. They were bloody epic.
I had a burger to go with it but went for their smaller sized burger because I knew I would load up on the fries. Very good as well though. Great little spot if you’re in NOLA and want a casual but delicious meal.
Red Fish Grill – New Orleans, Louisiana
I don’t eat seafood. So when Trek America organised a dinner at a fancy fish restaurant, Red Fish Grill, I was a bit nervous about finding something to eat…
But huzzah they did steak! Fillet mignon to be exact. Told you it was fancy. It was such an amazing steak, I loved every bite. But the best part was dessert. At Red Fish Grill they have a special dessert that has to be pre-ordered with your main as it takes a while to cook, and as it’s their speciality, I went ahead and ordered it. It was a double chocolate bread pudding, with white and dark chocolate ganache and a chocolate almond bark. It was divine.
I also got pretty tipsy (read: wasted) on their Hurricane cocktails. A friend told me I had to drink them when in New Orleans and I’m glad I did, they’re freaking delicious.
The Court Of Two Sisters – New Orleans, Louisiana
When in NOLA, you gotta go to a jazz brunch, right? And that’s what we did at infamous joint The Court Of Two Sisters.
This ivy-covered courtyard in the French District has a buffet of goodies available to eat as you please, whilst a lovely jazz band plays music in the background. It’s all about the experience here – relaxing al frescoe, listening to the nice music and feeling very New Orleans, you know? The food is decent but not crazy good – buffets are always like that I think. But it was a great chance to try a few classic dishes famous in the Deep South, and particularly in this city, without committing your whole meal to it. Think: King’s Cake, Turtle Soup, Gumbo and Jambalaya.
Rum House – New Orleans, Louisiana
Rum House was our last meal in New Orleans and was another one of tour guide Jack’s recommendations, a taco place in the Garden District. I was massively craving vegetables after 10 days of fried chicken and steak and corn dogs, so I ordered a couple of deliciously veg-heavy items on the menu.
I had some ‘Rasta’ tacos made with jerk veggies and sour cream which were lovely and not as spicy as I thought they might be. I also had a really good ‘Rum House Salad’ which had sweet potato, beetroot and goats cheese in it. It was fab and this was easily the healthiest meal I had in America!
Totally recommend stopping by if you’re craving your 5 a day, y’all.
Cafe Du Monde – New Orleans, Louisiana
When in New Orleans, you’re meant to try the beignets at Cafe Du Monde. It’s a thing. But as we were so low on time, my visit to this infamous establishment involved getting beignets and coffee to go and enjoying them in the back of the Trek America van on the way to the airport!
Honestly, beignets weren’t really what I was expecting though. They were kinda like donuts but in a big unidentifiable shapes. And smothered in icing sugar. Like so much that you cough as you try to eat them because you’re inhaling so much of the stuff.
Either way, it’s an experience you have to have when in the dreamy world of NOLA.
There you have it, the places on my Trek America trip to the Deep South USA that I really enjoyed. Have you been to any of these places? Any other restaurants you’d recommend?
Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!
Total Blogger Transparency: Some of these meals were complimentary as part of the Trek America press trip, but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I wouldn’t play you like that, shorty.