Great Grub

Highbrow chefs reveal their favorite low-profile restaurants
Greek meatballs, tzatziki sauce, and macaroni and cheese from Johnny’s.

Elizabeth Hontzas

jc-head-1John Currence
James Beard Award 2009, “Best Chef – South”

Executive Chef
City Grocery – Oxford, Mississippi
Culinary Director
Southern Foodways Alliance,
“There’s this meat-and-three place called Johnny’s in Homewood, Alabama. The chef is this young Greek guy, Tim Hontzas. He does everything fresh with seasonal vegetables and rounds it out with his family’s recipes, like moussaka. His Greek meatballs are sick. And I would crawl on my knees on broken glass from Oxford to Homewood just to eat his yeast rolls.”


Hugh Acheson
James Beard Award 2012, “Best Chef – Southeast” and Top Chef host

5 & 10 and The National – Athens, Georgia; Empire State South – Atlanta; The Florence – Savannah
“There’s a place in Suwanee, Georgia, called Umaido. It’s probably the best ramen in Georgia. The miso ramen that I get there comes with pork belly and different types of pickles on top. They are Korean-owned, so you can get kimchi on the side if you want it, and they make all the noodles themselves.”


Sean Brock
James Beard Award 2014 semifinalist, “Outstanding Chef”

Chef Partner
Husk Restaurant – Charleston and Nashville
“When I think about a place I love so much that I pack up a bunch of friends in the car, that’s Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, South Carolina. It’s the best pork barbecue that’s ever been made. They do whole hogs by cooking the wood down to coals and staying up all night with it. Order the belly meat.”

sue_chefcoatSue Zemanick
James Beard Award 2014, “Best Chef – South”

Executive Chef
Gautreau’s – New Orleans
“There’s this little place off the beaten path in New Orleans called St. Roch Seafood. It’s next to a gas station, and they have the best fried shrimp po’boys in the city. I am passionate about seafood, and I think the freshness of the seafood they serve is what makes it stand out. It’s totally worth the trip.” 504.940.0118


John Fleer
James Beard Award three-time finalist, “Best Chef – Southeast”

Executive Chef/Owner
Rhubarb – Asheville
“My longtime favorite is Bandidos Latin Kitchen in west Asheville. They make caramelized plantain ice cream, which is one of the best ice creams I’ve had in my life. They caramelize plantains in brown sugar and butter and fold it into housemade vanilla ice cream. It’s that combination of sugar, salt, and ice cream.”