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Travelers visit Georgia for a wide variety of reasons – to visit family and friends, see the historic sites, attend business conferences in Atlanta, and explore the beautiful waterfalls in state parks. But by far, one of the most popular things to do here is to seek out traditional Southern cooking for a delicious meal of comfort food favorites.

Southern cooking means something different to everyone but often features fried foods, barbecue, and hearty vegetables. A few dishes that always top Southern cuisine lists are fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, collard greens, rib tips, mashed potatoes, cornbread, and pecan pie. And don’t forget the sweet tea to wash it all down!

Incredible Southern food restaurants are plentiful all throughout the state, but here are 10 of our favorites to check out when you visit!

Traditional meal at Gladys Knight’s Signature Chicken & Waffles
Traditional meal at Gladys Knight’s Signature Chicken & Waffles

Gladys Knight and Ron Winan's Chicken & Waffles, Atlanta (Nearby Hotels)

It just doesn’t get much more Southern than chicken and waffles. Ironically, the chicken and waffles concept was created in Harlem, New York, but the South has embraced and adapted it to become its very own. This iconic restaurant is the local expert in comfort food and a must-visit spot in Atlanta. It’s located at 529 Peachtree Street Northeast and typically open for lunch and dinner every day.  In addition to the restaurant’s namesake, omelets, appetizers, wings, and salmon are also on the menu. There’s a kids’ menu for little ones under 12, and catering and private dining options are also offered. For dessert, save room for the famous sweet potato cheesecake!

Southern food with a view at The Dillard House
Southern food with a view at The Dillard House

The Dillard House, Dillard (Nearby Hotels)

While Atlanta has a huge culinary scene and many of the top restaurants are based here, amazing Southern food restaurants are located in other parts of the state too. For example, The Dillard House is located in North Georgia and near the North Carolina border. This restaurant has been around for a long time and has a menu that changes regularly. Fried chicken is the local favorite here, and there’s even a bed and breakfast if you want to stay onsite and enjoy a couple meals here.

Traditional meal at Paschal’s Restaurant
Traditional meal at Paschal’s Restaurant

Paschal’s Restaurant, Atlanta (Nearby Hotels)

Paschal’s is a truly fascinating place to dine in Atlanta because it has top-notch Southern/soul food cuisine, an upscale atmosphere, a retro vibe, and Southern hospitality. The restaurant is located in the historic Castleberry Hill neighborhood has a history that dates back over 60 years. It was once the meeting place for politicians, business people, and entertainers during the Civil Rights movement. It’s most famous for its fried chicken, mac and cheese, collard greens, black-eyed peas, and fried catfish. Paschal’s is open for lunch and dinner on Mondays through Saturdays and for brunch and dinner on Sundays. This is also a wonderful place to come for hand-crafted cocktails. For the all-you-can-eat brunch, you’ll find featured favorites like an omelet station, salad bar, fried chicken, herb-roasted baked chicken, and lemon herb tilapia. There are also assorted desserts and tempting mimosas too.

Abundance of desserts at The Blue Willow Inn Restaurant
Abundance of desserts at The Blue Willow Inn Restaurant

Blue Willow Inn, Social Circle (Nearby Hotels)

The small town of Social Circle is home to the Blue Willow Inn, which is located between Atlanta and Athens, Georgia. This is a great place to come for buffet-style Southern food so you can try a little bit of everything. Prime rib and baked ham are local favorites here, and the come to the Blue Willow Inn, which is located between Atlanta and Athens, Georgia. This is a great place to come for buffet-style Southern food so you can try a little bit of everything. Prime rib and baked ham are local favorites here, and the desserts are simply to die for.

Various options at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room
Various options at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, Savannah (Nearby Hotels)

Savannah is definitely one of the best places in the state to come if you love Southern cooking, and when you visit, don’t miss Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room. This restaurant was once a boarding house in the historic city, but today it is a restaurant with an inn and store onsite. Come here to enjoy a buffet-style meal of fried chicken, meatloaf, vegetables, and other tasty side dishes. The restaurant is open from 11am to 2pm on weekdays, but it is closed in January. The lunch price is $22 per person and half price for kids under 10.

Traditional meal at Mary Mac’s Tea Room
Traditional meal at Mary Mac’s Tea Room

Mary Mac’s Tea Room, Atlanta (Nearby Hotels)

Savannah is definitely one of the best places in the state to come if you love Southern cooking, and when you visit, don’t miss Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room. This restaurant was once a boarding house in the historic city, but today it is a restaurant with an inn and store onsite. Come here to enjoy a buffet-style meal of fried chicken, meatloaf, vegetables, and other tasty side dishes. The restaurant is open from 11am to 2pm on weekdays, but it is closed in January. The lunch price is $22 per person and half price for kids under 10.

Prime rib at Southern Soul Barbeque
Prime rib at Southern Soul Barbeque

Southern Soul Barbeque, St. Simons Island (Nearby Hotels)

While you might expect island cuisine to be all about seafood, this barbecue joint excels in meat. Open for lunch and dinner every day, Southern Soul Barbeque has been voted “The South’s Best BBQ” by Southern Living magazine and serves up traditional sides like baked beans and mac and cheese with all that meat. The restaurant used to be an old gas station but it’s been transformed into an awesome restaurant near the beach. There’s a small dining room inside where you can pull up a barstool at the counter, as well as an outdoor area with wooden picnic tables to enjoy the warm, coastal air with your meal. It’s been wildly popular among both tourists and locals because of its beachy vibe and top-notch barbecue meats.

Mac & cheese at K&K Soul Food
Mac & cheese at K&K Soul Food

K&K Soul Food, Atlanta (Nearby Hotels)

Soul food is a special kind of cuisine in the South that has its roots in African American cooking traditions. There are quite a few overlaps between soul food and traditional Southern food, and K&K Soul Food in Atlanta specializes in local favorites. The restaurant is located at 881 Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway Northwest in the city and has been serving up home-style cooked meals for over 40 years. The restaurant began as a former pool hall with a couple bar stools and a small food window. But now it’s become one of the most famous places in the city for foodies. Come here for the best cornbread, collard greens, candied yams, and of course, fried chicken. On the desert menu, you’ll find delicious peach and apple cobblers, sweet potato pie, and banana pudding. K&K Soul Food is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Tuesdays through Saturdays, but it closed on Sundays and Mondays.

Turkey, dressing and gravy Pearly’s Famous Country Cooking
Turkey, dressing and gravy Pearly’s Famous Country Cooking

Pearly’s Famous Country Cooking, Albany (Nearby Hotels)

The town of Albany is also a good place to check out if you’re curious to learn what Southern food is all about. Pearly’s has been around for over 50 years and grown a lot since then. This is an ideal place to come for Southern-style breakfast food, because breakfast is served all day long. Some of the favorite dishes here are chicken and dumplings, lima beans, and turkey with dressing. Regular diners also rave about the famous biscuits for breakfast, the lunch platters, and the buttermilk pie. It’s open on Mondays through Fridays from 6am to 2pm and on Saturdays from 6am to noon. Pearly’s is closed on Sundays and holidays. Come to 814 N. Slappey Boulevard in Albany to experience some of the finest and freshest culinary creations that you’ll find anywhere in the South!

Soft-Shell Crab Gumbo at The Lady and Sons
Soft-Shell Crab Gumbo at The Lady and Sons

The Lady and Sons, Savannah (Nearby Hotels)

One of the most well-known Southern chefs in the world is Paula Deen, and she has a restaurant on Congress Street in Savannah. The Lady and Sons’ history dates back to June 1989, when Paula started a lunch delivery service out of her home. Her sons, Jaime and Bobby, helped to deliver the meals, and a full-service restaurant called The Lady was established in 1991 in the Best Western Hotel on Savannah’s south side. The Lady and Sons opened up in downtown Savannah in 1996 and has won many culinary awards since then. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner typically every day and takes reservations up to one year in advance. You’ll need to find on-street parking when you arrive. The best way to taste a bit of everything is to get Paula’s Southern Buffet with fried chicken, homestyle veggies, a salad bar, and even desert. The featured buffet foods change daily.