SEC grub and drink: Media members share their go-to restaurants and bars

There are plenty of great things about the SEC besides football.

Sure, that is what most people think of when the conference name is mentioned, but there are a plethora of other great characteristics. One that stands out is food.

Southerners know good cooking. That is just a fact. Some of the best restaurants in the country reside in the 14 college towns scattered across the SEC.

Media members were asked about some of their favorite bars and restaurants located close to the campuses. Here’s what they had to say:

Alabama — Tuscaloosa, AL

Marq Burnett

Chuck’s and Five are good restaurants. Both are hot spots in Tuscaloosa with good food and drinks. Innisfree is probably the go-to bar for the college crowd. If you want a little more mature crowd, check out Rhythm and Brews.”

Ryan C. Fowler

Dreamland is the most historic place in town and is a must visit if you are in Tuscaloosa for an Alabama football game. Coach Bryant arrived in 1958, and so did Dreamland with its world famous ribs. City Café is another unique place, located in downtown Northport, just 1 mile over the downtown Tuscaloosa bridge. The prices are perfect for a college student’s budget and the meals remind you of your grandmother’s Sunday afternoon dinner. Best ‘meat and three’ in the state of Alabama.”

Arkansas — Fayetteville, AR

Eric Bolin

Hugo’s — it’s the best burger place around and has a unique atmosphere. Theo’s is more on the ‘upscale’ side, but it has a penchant for good eats and cocktails. Cafe Rue Orleans is a hole-in-the-wall you’ll miss if you’re from out of town, but it’s Cajun heaven.”

Jimmy Carter

JJ’s on Dickson has live music, good food and cheap margaritas. West End has a great rooftop area and fun atmosphere — one of the go-to spots later in the night. 21st Amendment is also a solid bar.”

Danny West

“The owner of Sassy’s, Allen Brumett, is a good friend of ours and I think he’s got the best deck in Northwest Arkansas. Sassy’s is a BBQ place but has a huge variety of food options, and it’s simply better food than you can find anywhere else in our area. The service is outstanding and there’s a family feel when you walk in. JJ’s, which is still relatively new to Dickson, has a covered outdoor seating area that is tough to beat when there’s a good game on and the weather is nice. They’ve got great televisions, a walk-up bar, live music, solid bar food and great service.”

Auburn — Auburn, AL

Justin Ferguson

The Hound is an all-around MVP when it comes to food in Auburn. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but anything that features finely grilled beef is a hands-down winner. Get the skirt steak entree and thank me later. If you’re coming to Auburn for a football game, be aware that Pannie George’s isn’t open on Saturday. But if you’re here for the weekend, go there for lunch at least one day. It’s the best fried chicken in Auburn (they have it every day), and the pickiest of eaters will still find at least two comfort food sides to enjoy. (The Holy Trinity, as I call it, of mac n’ cheese, green beans and fried okra, is the peak.) Get the Kool-Aid for your drink and sit outside if the weather is cooperating.”

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Florida — Gainesville, FL

Ben Murphy

Salty Dog is the best hole in the wall in the state of Florida. Good classic rock and country music, cheap beer, cheap food, a great time. Rowdy Reptile is where Gainesville meets south Florida. Loud music, beautiful women and even a place to shoot hoops.”

Georgia — Athens, GA

Dan Matthews

“I would go with South Kitchen & Bar. Great food! The shrimp and grits entree is unreal. … The shepherd’s Pie and the beer selection are great at the Royal Peasant.”

Jake Rowe

“South Kitchen and Bar is a foodie paradise with great drinks. They have diverse cuisine from steak to soul food, and it’s an awesome place to grab a craft beer or your favorite cocktail. Also, South Kitchen and Bar is a bit of a hidden gem. It’s fairly new, so not a ton of people know about it, but it’s as good as you’ll find in any college town in America. Last Resort is contemporary soul food. It’s tremendous for lunch or dinner and another excellent place to sit at the bar and get just about anything you could want. Their cake/pie selection is also off the charts.”

Kentucky — Lexington, KY

Jeff Drummond

“There are plenty of good choices in Lexington, but my favorite is Suggins on Romany Road in the heart of the city. It captures the local atmosphere and “home-style” cooking familiar to the Bluegrass State. Meals are served in huge portions with more side items than most can even finish, and the price is very reasonable. Malone’s steaks are out of this world. The walls are lined with photos of hundreds of athletes and celebrities who have popped in during their time in Lexington.”

TJ Walker

If you’re 40 or younger, Two Keys is the place you have to stop by after a football game. It’s right next to UK’s campus and about a 15-20 minute walk to Kroger Field (formerly Commonwealth Stadium). Two Keys has gold fish races during the week, which is a fan favorite among college students. There’s always an electric atmosphere on the weekends. The Local Taco is right next to Two Keys and is home to some of the best, and most affordable, food in Lexington. They always have specials and creative ways to make tacos great again.”

LSU — Baton Rouge, LA

James Bewers

Ivar’s is a popular neighborhood dive bar with a backyard patio that’s perfect for watching a game. Though it can get crowded, the atmosphere is what you might expect from a Louisiana watering hole: lively. Another local staple that’s gained national recognition, Walk-On’s is in walking distance from LSU’s campus and maintains a crowd before, during and after games. It has all the Louisiana menu items you would want, and the service is top notch.”

Jim Kleinpeter

Sammy’s Grill has an outstanding menu with a good range of dishes from local to traditional, a good match of portions and pricing. The bar has all the local brews. Lots of TVs and a willingness to change channels. Pastime is the old reliable Baton Rouge establishment with great pizza, seafood and sandwiches.”

Bryan Lazare

“Walk-On’s is your typical sports bar/restaurant. It is walking distance from Tiger Stadium and always packed on game days, with outside entertainment sometimes. Mike Anderson’s is one of the best seafood/steak restaurants in Baton Rouge. It has a small bar as it is more of a sit-down restaurant.”

Mississippi State — Starkville, MS

Paul Jones

“I would go with Restaurant Tyler, mainly because of their plate lunches, which feature great vegetable choices. I also love Cappe’s for their steaks and also good plate lunches.”

Logan Lowery

“Restaurant Tyler is a little pricey but really good, and they use all local ingredients. Little Dooey is not my favorite but it’s probably the most famous place to eat in town. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, but BBQ is BBQ to me.”

Missouri — Columbia, MS

Tod Palmer

Booches Billiards may seem like a strange place for some grub, but the burgers there are legendary. Just remember to bring cash (no credit cards) and come hungry. Shakespeare’s Pizza is maybe the most revered joint in Columbia. If you’re craving a pie, you won’t be disappointed.”

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Blake Toppmeyer

Coley’s has my favorite burgers and fries in town. You really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, and you rarely have to wait for a table despite the downtown location. Flyover‘s food is excellent, and I like the ambiance. They serve Midwestern fare in a small-plate fashion, so try a couple options.”

Ole Miss — Oxford, MS

Dylan Rubio

The Library is the best place to watch games. They also have great live bands and drink specials.  It’s where everyone goes. Ajax Diner on the square is great comfort food. It’s Archie Manning’s go-to spot. They have the best green bean casserole and country fried steak ever.”

Chuck Rounsaville

Proud Larry’s for bar/restaurant combo. They have the best music in town, and their pizzas, burgers, salads and pastas are excellent.”

South Carolina — Columbia, SC

David Cloninger

Village Idiot is best place to go for NY-style pizza and a laid-back atmosphere. Lot of TVs to watch the game (and games are always on), good drink specials and a great mix of college kids and Generation X-ers. Their wings, salads and calzones are criminally under-rated. Rockaway Athletic Club is a great restaurant that you have to know where it is, because there’s no sign out front advertising it (once you eat there, you’ll memorize it because you’ll want to come back). Known for their outstanding burgers and to-die-for pimento cheese fries, Rockaway’s has plenty of room, a long bar and is far enough away from the main college district to where you’re not overrun by students.”

Pete Iacobelli

“Two come to mind. One is Yesterday’s down in Five Points, which is the main campus hangout area. The food is good, lots of Southern fried variety, and the decor is rather SEC like. Another that is a good hangout/burger joint is Rockaway’s, which is about a mile from Williams-Brice Stadium and, I think, has the best cheeseburgers in town.”

Tennessee — Knoxville, TN

Charlie Burris

“Honestly I would say Aubrey’s is my favorite place. It’s just like a southern upscale family restaurant. Get the lemon-lime chicken with the cheese spinach. That is one of my favorite meals in the world.”

Cody McClure

Calhoun’s On The River is pretty standard for food here. But if you want to “branch out” a bit, I’d probably go with Sweet P’s BBQ. Cool Beans is the No. 1 college bar for sure.”

Texas A&M — College Station, TX

Travis L. Brown

Harvey Washbangers is by far the best burger in College Station. Enjoy a few different burger options, including the Cajun Burger that comes with fried crawfish on top. Also, best queso and craft beer selection in town. Oh, and you can also get some laundry done in the up-scale washateria in the back. Blackwater Draw, in Northgate, is a cool place to hang out and sample beer from a brewery located here in Bryan. Also, it might have the second best burger in town. If you’re here on the weekend, it has the best brunch in town, which includes French toast that has Cinnamon Toast Crunch baked into the bread.”

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Sam Khan Jr.

Fuego is probably my favorite place in College Station. They have great tacos and they’re massive. If you order two, you’ll probably be down for the count. They make all the tortillas in house and they’re wonderful. So if you were like me, and you covered some night kickoffs at Kyle Field and you wanted something better than standard fast food after hours, Fuego would be there waiting for you with an El Presidente (which has grilled chicken, bacon and fried avocado) or a Dr. Pepper Cowboy (brisket, chipotle creamed corn, jack cheese and a barbecue sauce that will forever change how you think about your tacos). If you get their queso, be forewarned: it’s addictive.  There’s a reason Myles Garrett included Fuego in his farewell letter to College Station on The Players Tribune. It’s that good. Fargo’s in Bryan is my favorite barbecue and it’s definitely one of the better places in the state. Their brisket is on point and if you come early enough on Tuesdays or Saturdays, you can grab some rib tips, which are excellent (I stress get there early, because I’ve arrived at noon and they’re gone). Even if you miss out on that, you can’t go wrong with any of their meats.”

Vanderbilt — Nashville, TN

Jesse Johnson

Hattie B’s is the pace to go for all kinds of chicken, especially Hot Chicken. It’ll be very busy because of how famous it is, but it is worth it. And really, if you want more of a burger or sandwich or finger food, Rotier’s on Elliston right off West End is a classic. Cafe Coco is a place I worked at for about three years when I was in my early 20’s, and it was the hangout to be at before that. It’s basically an old house that was converted into an Italian cafe and restaurant in the ’90s with great hot Italian sandwiches, small and versatile pizzas and even some pastas. It’s open 24/7, and it’s just across the street basically from Vanderbilt. Mason’s is another place with southern food ranging from all different regions it seems, and for those who want a soul food breakfast. I’ve never been big on fish or fish tacos, but people I know really talk up Mason’s thrown-together, crazy fish taco menu. The place also has a big bar with every form of liquor and ale one can think of if.”

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Adam Sparks

“If I had to pick one, it be Hattie B’s. If you’re willing to wait two hours on the weekend, it’s worth it.”


Source: Saturday Down South

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