The Weekly Open Thread Asks, What Exactly Is Southern Food, and Where Do You Get It?

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Hot chicken. Yum.
Bruce Barry's post Monday about his experience at The Southern led to one of the most contentious comment threads in Bites history. But amid the criticism of the restaurant, the defense of the restaurant, the criticism of the defenders, and the defense of the critics, a commenter going by Ken Smith brought a moment of calm with a simple question:

I am coming to Nashville in the end of September and am staying down town. I am from Canada and would like to try some good southern cooking. Can you recommend a few restaurants?

Now I know we've had no shortage of posts about certain Southern food items —┬áhot chicken, barbecue, cornbread, the list goes on — but I'm not sure we've ever put forward this (not so) simple question: What constitutes Southern food? Of course, opinions will vary widely, and frankly, my main goal is really to get a list for Ken to use as a starting point for his Nashville Southern dining experience. Truth is, when I have out-of-town company who specifically want Southern food, I'm a little stumped after I get past Arnold's Country Kitchen, Prince's Hot Chicken Shack, Loveless Cafe and Monell's. (Ken, if you're reading, those are all worthy candidates. And regarding the Nashville delicacy known as hot chicken, be sure to read this and this and this and this and this.)

In fact, sometimes I'm surprised there aren't more places that specialize in traditional Southern fare. Or maybe there are, and I just don't know them. What say ye, Bites readers? What do you consider true Southern cuisine, and more importantly for our Canadian friend, where are your favorite places to get it?

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