When you live down South, certain characteristics come to mind that define the culinary culture. Dinner becomes suppertime, ordering tea means it’ll be sweet, and, this time of year, you can tell you’re below the Mason-Dixon line by the smell of barbecue smoke in the air.
Michael's On East
1212 East Ave. S. | 366-0007
Of all the establishments in the area, Michael’s On East might be one of the last that comes to mind to satisfy a craving for Southern food. Yet, in August, a Deep South-themed Epicurean Adventure menu offered soul satisfaction to customers — and it was a hit; enough so that the proprietors decided they should add a comfort-style dish weekly — such as a lobster pot and fried chicken (look for this in coming months).
And they permanently added one Southern dish — Kimmie’s shrimp and grits. The recipe belongs to co-proprietor Phil Mancini’s wife, Kim. Mancini said people kept requesting traditional shrimp and grits, and he thought his wife’s recipe, with sautéed jumbo shrimp, Cajun Andouille sausage, peppers, onion and garlic served over Charleston stone-ground grits, would be the best in town. So, Chef Jamil Pineda went to Kim Mancini’s kitchen to learn how she prepares it. Now, every time Pineda makes it for her at Michael’s, she tells him, “It was perfect!”
Pineda offers another Southern specialty — sweet potatoes. The cube-cut sweet potatoes are roasted in caramel, with bits of caramelized pecans throughout. You won’t need to leave room for dessert if you order these as your side dish.
Michael’s On East Chef Jamil Pineda’s tips for preparing the perfect grits:
- Constantly stir them.
- Use the right amount of liquid for which the brand calls.
- The more al dente they are prepared, the better.
- Flavor them at the end.
Roadside Rib Shack
2045 Bahia Vista St. | 330-9597
Right on Bahia Vista Street is a little unassuming barbecue joint — Roadside Rib Shack. Owner Kevin Mills keeps the smoker running 24/7 (except when he cleans it). The barbecue recipes he uses date back 70 years; each has a special secret ingredient. But, be sure to try the best-seller — the St. Louis-style ribs (spare ribs). The spare ribs cut is meatier, with a higher fat content, which gives an intense flavor when these bad boys come out of the smoker after 12 hours.
This time of year, during football season, he’ll also smoke chicken wings on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — a fried wing is one thing, but these smoked wings would make even a Bucs’ loss sting less. He caters, too, so these are an easy go-to for game day.
Don’t forget to try the creamy mac and cheese, perfectly cut collard greens and melt-in-your-mouth, deep-fried cornbread.
Yoder’s Amish Village Restaurant
3434 Bahia Vista St. | 955-7771
Nothing says Southern comfort like fried chicken — and it’s known around town that Yoder’s Amish Village Restaurant is the place to go, as evident by the line out the door every weekend. Manager Brian Emrich, a third-generation employee at Yoder’s, says that in every table of four, one will order the crispy fried chicken.
And, although it’s a humble establishment, it comes with hungry-man-sized portions. Prepared in a Henny Penny pressure fryer, these huge chickens (no hormones) come from Arcadia.
Leave room for pie — it’s a must. This time of year, through mid-September, the peach pie is the way to order. But, there are more than 20 varieties, such as the Key lime or shoofly. The most popular, ordered 50% of the time, is the peanut butter cream pie. It’s a towering pie with a layer of peanut butter crumbles, topped by a layer of pudding and adorned with a 2-inch layer of whipped cream. Yoder’s sells pies for carryout, too, if you can’t wait for the line to dissipate.
Yoder’s pie-making secrets:
- Use a glass pie plate.
- Prick the pastry after placing it in the pie plate to prevent it from puffing as it bakes, unless it’s a one-crust pie.
- Roll the dough between two pieces of wax paper.
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