Food & Drink

DC's best Southern food, according to actual Southerners

Published On 10/15/2014 Published On 10/15/2014
Laura Hayes
Florida Avenue Grill
Marvin
Scott Suchman
Laura Hayes
Kyle Martell
Laura Hayes
Michael Harlan Turkell
Laura Hayes
Laura Hayes
Laura Hayes
Laura Hayes
Eatonville
Jelila Mohammed
Georgia Brown’s
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1. Florida Avenue Grill 1100 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20009

When Lacey and Bertha Wilson opened Florida Avenue Grill way back in the 1940s, they envisioned a home-style cafe where you could get a meal any time of the day without selling out big bucks for it. With heaping plates of Southern dinners like smothered fried pork chops and all-day breakfast with options like fish & grits, smoked sausage, eggs, and hotcakes, their vision is still living on past their era of ownership.

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2. Marvin 2007 14th St NW, Washington, 20009

This DC mainstay is exactly what you think it is: a bistro that pays homage to Marvin Gaye and serves up Belgian and Southern cuisine. OK, maybe it's not exactly what you thought. A little history lesson: the legendary soul singer-songwriter was born in DC and later spent a period of self-imposed exile in Belgium to rehabilitate and reflect. At Marvin, you'll find dishes like Belgian moulles-frites and southern-style shrimp, plus grits and fried chicken over Belgian waffles. There's a roof deck perfect for sipping cocktails on, too.

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3. Southern Efficiency 1841 7th St NW, Washington, 20004

James Beard Award nominated bar owner Derek Brown’s Shaw’s Southern Efficiency specializes in southern whiskey and eccentric southern recipes. Inspired by the concept of lazy southern Sunday afternoons with bourbon in hand, the beverage program encompasses seasonal whiskey cocktails, julep concoctions, beer, cider, and wine. The food roster is separated into appetizers and mains, boasting southern classics like a fried chicken sandwich, buttermilk biscuits, and Louisville chips and dip, which are accompanied by charred peppers, pickles, caramelized onions, and roasted garlic.

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4. Oohh's & Aahh's 1005 U St NW, Washington, DC 20001 (U Street)

Conveniently located on U Street and open until 4a on weekends for your late-night soul food satiation, Oohh's and Aahh's (cash-only) delivers on delicious fried chicken, wings, and mac n' cheese.

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5. Evening Star Cafe 2000 Mt Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301 (Alexandria)

The most Judas Priest-inspired restaurant name since You've Got Another Wing Coming Chicken Shack, Evening Star (third track on Hell Bent for Leather, look it up) is now back after renovation with a 60-seat dining room done up 1950s diner-style, and serving mod American entrees like buttermilk fried chicken with braised collards, crispy black drum and sautéed Brussels sprouts, dry-aged duck breast, and dirty rice with chicken livers.

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6. Vidalia 1990 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036 (Downtown)

Led by James Beard Award-winner Jeff Buben, this upscale restaurant in Downtown DC dresses up comforting Southern cuisine with Buben's famous shrimp & grits and reimagined dishes like chicken-fried veal sweetbreads, which sit atop a waffle with bacon fondue and lemon caper veal jus.

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7. Jackson 20 480 King Street , Alexandria, VA 22314 (Old Town)

Fuel up for a romantic King St stroll by first hitting J20's sidewalk seating for a 64oz pitcher of Port City Optimal Wit or Porter, and/or a 32oz pitcher of cane rum, peach schnapps, bourbon, assorted fruit, and a Cabernet float. If you're looking to coat your stomach as well, you'll never go wrong with their chile-lime cracklins or three-day ribs.

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8. Acadiana 901 New York Ave NW, Washington, 20001

Head to Acadiana for a blast of the bayou. Chef Jeff Tunks not only worked in New Orleans for a number of years, but he also continues to do research. A bowl of Acadiana’s Louisiana seafood gumbo is like gulping the gulf, because it’s loaded with jumbo lump crab, shrimp, crawfish, oysters, redfish, and mahatma long-grain rice. Go for lunch to try six different po’boys, all on bread flown in from Leidenheimer Bakery in New Orleans.

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9. Beuchert's Saloon 623 Pennsylvania Ave SE , Washington, DC , DC 20003 (Eastern Market)

A reborn western saloon with the upscale hipness of Eastern Market, Beuchert’s takes “farm-to-table” fare to the next level. Everything on the market-driven menu is sourced from local coops and farms, resulting in an abundance of fresh flavors. We suggest you sip on a specialty cocktail and order the roasted bone marrow -- a verdant combination of pickled pistachios and mustard seed, served with a parsley salad -- to fit in with the local herd, providing the taxidermy Buffalo (mounted above the cherry wood bar with lifelike expressions) haven’t done so already.

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10. Barrel 613 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003 (Capitol Hill)

If you're in Capitol Hill and you like bourbon, this Southern bar is for you. The bar menu features two full pages of bourbon varieties, and if brown water is too strong for you, there are also 16 domestic beers on tap, and a few wines. The two-level space includes a downstairs hideaway called Elixir Bar, where you can scan shelf after shelf of the impressive whiskey collection. Though Barrel is definitely a drinking spot, the kitchen serves a menu of Southern comfort-inspired food like fried chicken, mac & cheese, and bacon fried rice.

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11. DCity Smokehouse 8 Florida Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001 (Noma)

DCity Smokehouse hosts a four-seat BBQ joint led by pitmaster Rob Sonderman. You’ll find menu items like the chicken and red velvet waffles and Sondermans’ smoked meats, and you can get a protein grand tour with a smokehouse meat platter. As far as we are concerned, DCity is one of the best places to get BBQ in Washington DC.

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12. Eatonville 2121 14th St NW , Washington, DC 20009

Inspired by author Zora Neale Hurston, Eatonville brings classic Southern food (like gumbo and jambalaya) to DC.

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13. IOTA Club and Cafe 2832 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22201

IOTA is great for live music, and of course, their classic Southern-style food. Must-try items include Carolina fried chicken and collards, plus any of their "smashers", a.k.a sandwiches. They also do brunch, and the star of the show is their "Generous Breakfast Bread Pudding".

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14. Georgia Brown's 950 15th St NW, Washington, 20005 (Downtown)

They do Southern fare right at GB's, which such fine foods such as ham, shrimp, grits, bacon, home fries, and more, which are all available in their delectable buffet.

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