Where to get a taste of the American South in SA

If you're hungry to travel to New Orleans because of its culinary scene, you’ll want to check out these local food offerings

24 June 2021 - 11:20
Shrimp and grits from Sweet Tea & Chickadee.
Shrimp and grits from Sweet Tea & Chickadee.
Image: Supplied/Sweet Tea & Chickadee

South Africans are hungry to travel — literally — as is evidenced by the internet searches people have been doing for food tours around the world. Top of our bucket list? New Orleans, Louisiana.

That’s according to research by travel company Trafalgar, which is based on an analysis of 50,000 Google keywords related to food and travel.

New Orleans appeared in more than 15,000 searches between January and March, leading Trafalgar to dub this city “the jewel of food tour destinations” and one which puts “the USA on the map for future travel”. 

Though a trip to the Big Easy could still be a long way off thanks to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, you can still get a taste of the American South right here in SA — just check out these eateries: 

The charming interiors of Sweet Tea & Chickadee in Emmarentia, Joburg.
The charming interiors of Sweet Tea & Chickadee in Emmarentia, Joburg.
Image: Supplied/Sweet Tea & Chickadee

SWEET TEA & CHICKADEE

This charming eatery in Emmarentia, Johannesburg, was started by Natasha Robson-Lovato. She developed a love of southern cooking while spending a few years living in the US, and wanted to bring those flavours home with her when she returned to SA.

On the menu, you’ll find southern classics like heart-warming bowls of shrimp and grits (spicy prawns and polenta) as well as a variety of American-style biscuits.

These savoury, flaky scone-like bakes are served with all sorts of delicious toppings. The Charleston biscuit, for example, is topped with fried chicken, pickles and jalapeño honey, while the Mount Pleasant comes with bacon, egg and pimento cheese.

Hearty as the mains may be, best you save room for dessert: the bakery counter is filled with tempting American treats.

You can’t go wrong with a piece of the beautifully-presented Hummingbird Cake or the tart-like Key lime pie, which goes down well with a glass of the famous sweet tea Robson-Lovato was inspired by when naming her cafe.

Sweet Tea & Chickadee's Charleston biscuit.
Sweet Tea & Chickadee's Charleston biscuit.
Image: Sweet Tea & Chickadee

Sweet Tea & Chickadee is located at 3 Levubu Road in Emmarentia, Joburg. It's open Wednesday to Sunday from 8am-5pm. See sweetteachickadee.co.za

SEAFOOD BOIL SA

You’d be forgiven for not knowing what a seafood boil is. A popular dish in southern US states such as Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana, it’s essentially a mix of seafood that’s been boiled in a bag, often with ingredients such as potatoes and corn, and is served on a platter with a mouth-watering sauce.

It’s also the star of the mukbang trend that went viral last year and saw local celebs broadcasting videos of themselves binge-eating seafood on social media.

These videos inspired the team behind Seafood Boil SA to take a leap of faith and open their own seafood boil delivery service in May 2020. Based in Kyalami, they deliver to selected areas in Joburg and Pretoria from Monday to Sunday but are open for collections from 9am to 6pm as well.  

They have plans of launching in Durban in October, and eventually opening a fully-fledged restaurant in Cape Town.

A seafood boil platter for one from Seafood Boil SA.
A seafood boil platter for one from Seafood Boil SA.
Image: Supplied/Seafood Boil SA
Seafood Boil SA's most popular dish is the trio cheesy mac with shrimp.
Seafood Boil SA's most popular dish is the trio cheesy mac with shrimp.
Image: Supplied/Seafood Boil SA

The delivery menu includes standard platters of crab legs, lobster tails, prawns, shrimp, mussels and vegetables that serve 1, 2 or 4 people. You can also build your own platter by selecting items from a list of ingredients that includes their famous Cajun butter sauce.

The most popular dish on the menu, however, is the trio cheesy mac with shrimp, a creamy mac and cheese dish with prawns.

For more information, visit seafoodboilsa.co.za

HICKORY SHACK AT DEEP SOUTH EATERY

What started as the renovation of the Glencairn Hotel in Simon’s Town, Cape Town, resulted in the opening of a restaurant at the end of last year, which has been rebranded as the Deep South Eatery.

A mouth-watering new addition to this eatery is Hickory Shack, a traditional smoke house headed up by Jay Haupt, the owner of the original Hickory Shack outside Elgin.

Texas-style BBQ with a side of cowboy meaty beans at Hickory Shack at Deep South Eatery in Simon's Town.
Texas-style BBQ with a side of cowboy meaty beans at Hickory Shack at Deep South Eatery in Simon's Town.
Image: Supplied/Hickory Shack

By slow cooking over wood fires in the tradition of a Texas BBQ, Haupt and his team prepare a feast of American-style dishes. Think smoky pulled pork, BBQ chicken wings, beef brisket and huge racks of ribs with generous portions of fries, buttermilk mash, coleslaw and cowboy meaty beans as sides. 

On your way out, pop into the Deep South Supply Co, a wine boutique and gift shop, and keep an eye on the restaurant's website for details of Friday jazz nights, live music on Saturdays, comedy events and kids' Sunday fun days.

• Deep South Eatery is located at 12 Glen Road in Glencairn, Simon's Town. It's open from 12pm—8pm Tuesday to Thursday, 12pm—9pm on Friday, 8:30am—9pm on Saturday and 8:30am—8pm on Sunday (curfew permitting). See deepsoutheatery.co.za


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