We’ve spent the last week eating our way across the South, and I’ve loved almost every morsel. In addition to some great spots in Greensboro, we found some tasty eats in Charleston and Birmingham, and revisited an old favorite in Dallas. If you find yourself near these restaurants, give them a try!
1. Charleston, SC: Jestine’s Kitchen
You’ll find Jestine’s on many “best of Charleston” lists, and for good reason. This cozy restaurant serves up real, fresh, home-cooked soulful Southern food. The macaroni and cheese was baked with just the right amount of cheddary bite, the fried green tomatoes were surrounded with yummy cornmeal crust, the collard greens were bright green and expertly seasoned, and the cornbread was fluffy without being cakey. When the food came to the table, my nine-year-old declared, “I love life!”
The staff at Jestine’s was also incredibly friendly. The restaurant operator came to chat with my kids and when my four-year old expressed his love for the shrimp he’d just eaten, she asked him if he wanted more and came out with a little plate of fried shrimp moments later. The experience here was just great all around.
2. Birmingham, AL: Melt
We hadn’t planned to stop in Birmingham for lunch, but after several days of driving, my husband and I looked at a sign for McDonald’s and said, “No way.” We just didn’t have it in us to do more fries or roadside salads. I quickly checked Trip Advisor and found Melt. It was worth the 10-minute ride from the interstate. As you may have guessed from the name, Melt cooks up inspired grilled cheese sandwiches and the like. My husband enjoyed a grilled cheese sandwich with mozzarella, pesto, and veggies (accompanied by house-made potato chips), while my sons devoured a traditional grilled cheese. I had soup and macaroni and cheese — not as good as Jestine’s but still super delicious — and my daughter had a macaroni and cheese grilled sandwich. That tasty behemoth marries mac and cheese with more cheese on grilled sandwich to produce a carb-tacular creation. After the meal, we all needed to walk around a bit, and luckily there was a great park across the street. The kids rolled down hills, played on the playground, and splashed each other by the creek. Pretty good stop overall!
3. Dallas/Fort Worth, TX: Spiral Diner & Bakery
Any time we’re in the Metroplex, we’re sure to visit Spiral, a vegan restaurant with locations in Dallas and Fort Worth. With its vegan twist on traditional comfort foods — like spaghetti, piled-high nachos, and loaded burgers — Spiral always leaves us feeling full but not stuffed. If you’re more into paleo-style meals, Spiral has you covered with salads and fresh-pressed juices. Their desserts are nothing to sneeze at either. I’m a big fan of the ice cream cookie sundae, and my kids recently devoured a nutty chocolate mousse. Such delectable delights keep us coming back to Spiral again and again!