From a retro food truck serving delicious dips around Atlanta to scrumptious Yucatan-inspired fare in Austin, these eight new restaurants bring something new to the South’s diverse culinary landscape. Pack this list of our must-go restaurants during your travels, and be sure to arrive with an empty stomach!
Inspired by the Yucatán Peninsula, chef Gabe Erales’ two-story neighborhood restaurant, Bacalar, delivers authentic Mexican cuisine steps away from Lady Bird Lake in Austin. Named for Erales’ recollections of family trips to Pueblo Magico Bacalar in Quintana Roo, the restaurant’s symbolic walls are a tapestry of community, culture, and authenticity.
“I am excited to honor and showcase the food diversity of the Yucatán region of Mexico, which is currently not as widely known as other places like Mexico City or Oaxaca,” says chef Erales. “Our vision for Bacalar is for it to not only serve as a restaurant where food memories are created, but also an institution where guests are educated on ingredients, techniques, and the many diasporas that provide a foundation for the cuisine.”
Bacalar celebrates comida milpera, the relationship-based Mexican agricultural system where chefs use native ingredients sourced from small communities. Honing in on this concept, the menu highlights include bacalao—crunchy salt cod fritters served with Yucatan salsa, and Tikin-Xic—light golden tilefish topped with recado rojo and smoked plantains. Bacalar offers an interconnected culinary journey with flavors of the Yucatán, Lebanon, and Caribbean.