New Southern Cuisine

New Southern Cuisine Standing Strong

Today’s New Southern Cuisine is a very broad array of traditional Southern styles, driven by regional influences, a strong connection to regional BBQ and inspired by flavors from the north, East, West and across the globe. The cuisine is gaining traction and proving that rules are indeed made to be broken. Food-obsessed Millennials continue to be considered palate pioneers and with over half of them willing to spend money on such experiences, they often receive credit for pushing a cuisine forward. According to Technomic, 67% say visiting restaurants is one of the top activities they enjoy with friends and over 50% are more interested in trying new or ethnic flavors than they were just a year ago. It’s all about sharing experiences and actively discovering new flavors. The experience is as valuable as the food itself.

“I am more willing to visit a restaurant that offers something I haven’t had before… it’s even better when it’s from somewhere I haven’t been. Discovering and sharing with my friends is as important as the food.”

Southern Cuisine

A Global Mash-Up Contender

“Sometimes when we go out, we’re not thinking of any actual food style – just a fun place with great new flavor combinations and real food.”

As innovative chefs move into hot trendy food-driven Southern cities like Asheville, Charleston, Nashville and Atlanta, we’ll see the influence continue to spread. These chefs are folding in their experiences and ideas—from global flavors and cuisines that they love to local ingredients and flavors of the region. In the 2017 Trends Report from Datassential, it is predicted that Southern Mashups will continue as chefs get more playful and adventurous. According to the report, Southern/Asian concepts may experiment with ingredients like pork belly or fried chicken, topping them with Asian-inspired flavors like fish sauce, hoisin, or togarashi. Southern/Latin spots may feature sweet potatoes, chicharrones, tomatoes, corn, and beans. At Hog & Hominy, Memphis, TN, Italian dining is combined with Southern roots in dishes like biscuit gnocchi and “grits al forno” topped with an amatriciana sauce.


While mash-ups are getting attention, the darling of southern cuisine remains in the tried-and-true chicken and biscuit duo. Biscuit shops, such as Biscuit Love in Nashville, TN, are opening up to lines of millennial fans while the fried chicken sandwich continues to make mouths water with options like the Three Alarm Chicken Sandwich at Artisan Meat Share in Charleston, SC.


* Datassentials New Healthy Keynote study of 2016