No doubt it, the South loves its food, whether its regional specialties or well-known favorites perfected southern-style. Not only are there annual festivals devoted to certain delicacies, but also food trails accessible year-round.
On your next getaway, tantalize your taste buds as you set out on a culinary adventure exploring the South's tastiest food trails.
Dining in San Antonio, Texas, one of the two U.S. cities designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy, is a tasty experience. From taco (never can go wrong with a puffy taco from Henry's Puffy Taco) to barbecue to margarita trails, the city's culinary heritage shines bright.
And those looking to eat a healthy meal or two while on the road will enjoy the city's ¡POR VIDA! Healthy Trail.
Between San Antonio and Austin is the Texas BBQ Trail. Made up of five cities, it focuses on family-owned places that produce award-winning, mouthwatering barbecue.
One of the stops on the trail is Lockhart, a.k.a. the "Barbecue Capital of Texas," a title bestowed upon the city by the Texas Legislature in 2003. It's home to such places as Kreuz Market and Smitty's Market, serving up brisket, sausage, pork and more. Order what you want, how much you want and any sides. Meat is served up on butcher paper, making it an easy cleanup.
For those unfamiliar with this specialty sausage, boudin (pronounced "BOO-dan ") is a mixture of rice, pork (however, sometimes crawfish, shrimp or alligator meat is used instead), onions, parsley and dry seasonings, and is steamed to warm it up. Boudin is enjoyed as a snack or meal.
You can even add a side of cracklins with Steens as a dipping sauce for the ultimate flavor experience.
As for the trails, the Cajun Boudin Trail highlights meat markets and local shops in Lafayette and the surrounding area. Among those include Johnson's Boucaniere, where you can sink your teeth into a Parrain Special, a boudin ball grilled cheese sandwich
Similarly, the Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail hones in on over 30 spots throughout Calcasieu and Cameron Parishes. One is Famous Foods in Lake Charles, whose boudin lineup includes a cornbread boudin (cornbread is substituted for rice), served cold.
Authenticity is what the Cajun Bayou Food Trail is all about. Highlighting Lafourche Parish, 'Louisiana's Cajun Bayou,' about 45 minutes south of New Orleans, introduces you to food and the area's culture and traditions.
Featuring over 15 restaurants off-the-beaten-path and in the communities, enjoy such delicacies as Thibodaux's Fremin's Seafood Napoleon or Catfish Chips at Spahr's Seafood in Des Allemands. The culture part comes in when you added to your itinerary experiences such as bayou tours and nods to food festivals and food-related events the parish hosts year-round.
Things are "hot" in the Mississippi Delta and that isn't a nod to the weather but the Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail.
It may seem odd that "the most southern place on earth" has quite the reputation for tamales, but it does; in fact, the food has been immortalized by blues singers in songs (yes, tamales have their own Blues Trail marker.) While there isn't a firm consensus on how the tamale got to the Mississippi Delta, many believe Mexican migrant workers in the early twentieth century introduced the food to locals, who adapted it.
Mississippi Delta tamales differ from its Latin counterparts in size (they are smaller) and preparation (simmered instead of steamed.)
The trail, created by Southern Foodway Alliance and Viking Range Corporation, makes its way from Tunica to Vicksburg, and along the way, you can discover spots like Abe's Bar-B-Q in Clarksdale and try an order of their tamales.
Hattiesburg knows there are times when a good, juicy burger hits the spot. HATTIES[BURGER] Trail features 33 restaurants where you can wrap your hands around and take a big bite of some goodness (be sure napkins are handy.)
The burgers highlighted on the trail elevate the road trip treat taste-wise, like Brass Hat's "Brass Hat Burger," a house-blend patty topped with house-made pickles, yellow cheddar, romaine and black truffle aioli.
Mississippi Seafood Trail stands apart from the others because it covers the entire state instead of honing in on a particular area. A brainchild of the Mississippi Hospitality and Restaurant Association, the trail's primary purpose is to focus on the 80-plus restaurants across the state that serve fresh Gulf Seafood.
If you have yet to try barbecue in Alabama, here's your opportunity to sink your teeth into some 'cue at such eateries like Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur as you travel along the North Alabama BBQ Trail.
Whether you are a rib person or prefer pulled meat; or crave a BBQ stuffed baked potato, you are guaranteed to find ample amounts at any of the over 20 locally owned establishments.
They also have an on-farm dining pavilion serving lunch featuring White Oak products. Burger fans, this is the place to get one. Finish up your experience by heading to their general store and purchasing some items to take back home.
Create a progressive dinner (or lunch) along the South Carolina Pecan Trail.
The trail emphasizes restaurants in Florence and the surrounding area that uses pecans in their dishes or drinks. Start your journey with a pecan scone at Top Hat Special-Teas and end at Victors with a Pecan Pie Martini.
The South Carolina Pecan Trail awards you for your efforts, too. Pick up a passport at any of the participating places or the Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau, receive a stamp and turn it in or send it in to collect swag. Pecan-flavored dishes and a t-shirt or pecan-related item, it's a win-win.
For the dessert lovers out there, the Surry Sonker Trail in Surry County, North Carolina, is for you.
Now, you may ask yourself, "what is Surry Sonker?" Like a pot pie or a cobbler, it's made by blending fruit or sweet potato and unshaped dough.
The trail includes six places throughout the county, including a smokehouse and brewery in Mount Airy that makes and serves this sweet treat.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is home to three Culinary Trails: cookies, chicken pie and sugar cake. Each trail guides you to places that keep the recipes and traditions alive in the 21st century.
Along the cookie trail, you can pop in Mrs. Hanes' Moravian Cookies in Clemmons. Selected in 2010 as one of Oprah's "Favorite Things," the old family recipe makes six flavors: ginger (the most popular), lemon, chocolate, butterscotch, black walnut and sugar cookies. All cookies are handmade and packed by hand.
There's ham, and then there's Kentucky ham; and yes, there's a difference for the uninitiated out there.
The Country Ham Trail features a mix of restaurants and general stores that sells and produces the Bluegrass specialty.
Even though oysters may come from the same state, they aren't all the same. The Virginia Oyster Trail highlights eight oyster regions along the eastern and western shores with taste profiles ranging from salty to creamy to sweet.
The trail also features oyster companies with facility tours and other agri-artisans such as wineries/breweries/cideries/distilleries that include oyster pairing and more.
For a small state, West Virginia provides a cornucopia of various tastes. It is possible to enjoy Appalachia, Italy, Germany and more dishes in the Mountain State.