Explore New York City

Southern Comfort: Down-Home Eats in NYC

Big-city diners crave flavors from below the Mason-Dixon Line. Here's where to find the dishes:

New York may be Yankee territory, but that doesn’t mean a Northerner’s belly never grumbles for a taste of the South. NYC chefs give mama’s cookin’ the metropolitan treatment.

Cluckin’ Good

Fried chicken 'n' waffles. It’s not guilt-free, but this marriage of dinner and breakfast is gut-pleasing—and the uncanny combo iseverywhere.  Melba’s (300 W. 114th St., at Frederick Douglass Blvd., 212.864.7777), a Harlem staple, made a splash when founder Melba Wilson bested celeb chef Bobby Flay in a chicken ‘n’ waffle cook-off. Her innovative recipe wows: The waffles (with a moist, cakelike center) are made with eggnog instead of milk, while the chicken is soaked in a mustard-buttermilk mix before being fried. Top it off with strawberry butter, and you’ve made it to that henhouse in the sky. During brunch, The Winslow (243 E. 14th St., btw Second & Third aves., 212.777.7717) does the dish with surprising soul for a British-inflected pub—crisp, coarsely textured thighs and legs sit atop dainty triangular waffle slices, all doused in a medley of black pepper gravy and maple syrup that’s more savory than sweet (pictured).

Fried chicken 'n' waffles at The Winslow
Fried chicken 'n' waffles at The Winslow (Courtesy The Winslow)

Pass the Biscuits

No meal south of the Mason-Dixon Line is complete without a heaping side of biscuits. For the traditionalist:  983 (983 Flushing Ave., at Central Ave., Brooklyn, 718.386.1133), dubbed “Bushwick’s living room,” has a biscuit dish on its brunch menu to sate all Southern cravings. The “SOS”—a mound of golden, house-made biscuits drowning in ambrosial mushroom gravy—may leave you with a soul that needs saving.

Country Goes Contemporary

In NYC, we like to mix things up.  Homey barbecue is fused with East Asian flavors on Fatty ’Cue’s (92 South 7th St., btw Bedford & Berry sts., Williamsburg, Brooklyn) fusion menu. Think: fermented pork ribs with chili-palm sugar glaze (pictured). The décor matches the cuisine: A silver door handle is molded from an actual pig’s foot. 

(Courtesy Fatty Crew Hospitality Group)
Fermented pork ribs with chili-palm sugar glaze at Fatty 'Cue (Courtesy Fatty Crew Hospitality Group)

Fancy Ain’t My Thang

When it comes to down-home eats, it’s all right to get down ’n’ dirty. That’s the idea at Pies ’n’ Thighs (166 S. 4th St., at Driggs Ave., Brooklyn, 347.529.6090), a no-frills yet comfortable Williamsburg spot known citywide for fantasy-fulfilling fried chicken—served, as it oughta be, with hot sauce and honey. Nautical dive bar The Commodore (386 Metropolitan Ave., at Havemeyer St., Brooklyn, 718.218.7632) delivers an equally impressive crispy chicken experience (go for the medium-hot sandwich, topped with coleslaw and pickles), with a hip, young crowd, frozen cocktails and cheap pitchers of beer.  Feel free to kick back.

Pie in the Sky

A Southern eats emporium lies right near the southernmost entrance to the High Line. Bubby’s (73 Gansevoort St., at Washington St., 212.206.6200; and one other NYC location) serves hearty savories—including a tender pulled-pork sandwich—but the true lure is a soda fountain-style, takeout pie window, with offerings from double-crusted apple (pictured) to tangy Florida Key lime.

Bubby's pie (©William Shear Photography)
Bubby's double-crusted apple pie (©William Shear Photography)