The Southeast is filled with a wide array of dining options. From "mom and pop" meat and threes to international cuisine and five star dining- there is no shortage of award winning restaurants to choose from. Here are owner Nathan Lindley's top picks for dining in the South:
Bottega in Birmingham, Alabama
Bottega has a multi-faceted personality. There is slightly dressy main dining room that is balanced by the slightly raucous café in the other half of the building, with its Pompeii red walls, huge brick wood-fired oven, long bar, and communal table, it is hard not to feel festive here. The café's patio is an ideal destination on a pretty day or evening. People come here to meet, mingle, see and be seen, and the incredible food and drinks don't hurt.
Bustling with the young and the restless as well as our hard-core regulars, the energy of the café revitalizes. The pizzas, salads, pastas, and simple wood-oven roasts keep guests coming back.
Nathan’s Notes: “Bottega is where I got my real start in the restaurant business. I owe so much to Frank Stitt for the lessons he taught me in quality, service and decorum. Whenever I smell a wood burning oven with hickory, I am immediately taken back to my formative years there.”
5th & Taylor in Nashville, Tennessee
5th & Taylor is Chef Daniel Lindley’s homage to the American family meal. Drawing inspiration from Sunday dinners of his childhood, the menu features familiar yet refined expressions of traditional far meant to foster a sense of community among guests.
Nathan’s Notes: “My brother Daniel’s Nashville restaurant serves beautifully executed, upscale comfort food in an environment that makes you think the price should be so much higher.”
JCT Kitchen and Bar in Atlanta, Georgia
In a part of the country where seasonal vegetables and deviled eggs are practically religion, Executive Chef Brian Horn marries masterful technique with a simple approach to bold, balanced flavor. JCT’s serves refined comfort food, like fried chicken, house made bacon mac and cheese, deviled eggs with country ham and Angry Mussels. It’s the kind of place guests can sit back and sip a drink outside while listening to live music.
Nathan’s Notes: “When I went to Atlanta to meet the CEO of Jamestown for the first time, we met at a restaurant I had not heard of called JCT. When I started to show him my menu plans and design boards I had so far, I was afraid he would think I was kidding. They were so similar to the restaurant we were sitting in. I still go there often because I admire the quality and consistency and am reminded to strive for that myself every day."
Great Southern Café in Seaside, Florida
The Great Southern Café is a casual restaurant that fuses international cuisines with southern cooking using local produce from nearby farms and fresh seafood from the Gulf of Mexico.
Nathan’s Notes: “The Great Southern Café in Seaside is another restaurant that is similar in style to Public House. The quality of what they serve is above most for a beach restaurant. I also think it is really cool that they run really aggressive happy hour specials on wine and oysters even though they are always packed.”
Café Roma in Cleveland, Tennessee
Café Roma combines a small town restaurant with big city taste. Café Roma was established in downtown Cleveland in May of 2003 by Shannon and Christy Ritzhaupt. Shannon helped to manage several Chattanooga restaurants before opening his own restaurant, the first five star restaurant in the city of Cleveland.
Nathan’s Notes: “The owner Shannon is a great chef and great guy. He was the first manager at St. John’s and earned the nickname the Eagle, which he didn’t like. We gave him the nickname Striker and he asked if he could add T.R. to it.”