How to Eat Your Way Through Southern Music History

Food and music: It’s what the South does best. If you haven’t made the pilgrimage to the following holy sites of Southern music history, you better get yourself to church. From the birthplace of jazz to the studios that saw recordings from such legends as Otis Redding and The Rolling Stones, this is where you need to go and where you should eat when you’re there.

Memphis, Tennessee
Visit: Stax Museum of American Soul Music
Eat: Hog + Hominy

Yes, we know, Sun Studios is legendary, but Stax Records was a Memphis music powerhouse. In 15 years, Stax had 167 songs on the Top 100 on the pop charts, and 243 hits on the Top 100 R&B charts. Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and Big Star, all recorded albums at Stax, which is now home to the Museum of American Soul Music.

While you might think BBQ when you think Memphis, the Italian-Southern food at Hog + Hominy is putting The Bluff City on the national culinary map with dishes like biscuit gnocchi.

Muscle Shoals and Florence, Alabama
Where: Fame Recording Studio and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio 
Eat: Trowbridges

It might not look it, but this tiny town in Alabama is where bands like the Rolling Stones and The Black Keys have come to record some of their best albums. In fact, so many incredible albums have come out of this town that the Muscle Shoals Sound is its own genre of music.

The best way to process all of Muscle Shoal’s mind-expanding history? A pimiento cheese sandwich and an “Oh My Gosh” sundae at lunch counter Trowbridge’s in neighboring town Florence.


New Orleans
Where: Congo Square
Eat: Willie Mae’s Scotch House

Congo Square is something like the Garden of Eden when it comes to American music. This spot in Louis Armstrong Park is the birthplace of jazz, the musical form that started it all. Blocks away is the NOLA institution, Willie Mae’s Scotch House, which is home to what many consider the best fried chicken you’ll find anywhere. Make sure to add on red beans and rice.


Willie Mae’s photo by

Greenville, Mississippi
Where: Delta Blues and Heritage Festival
Eat: Doe’s Eat Place

The amount of music history sites in Mississippi is mind-blowing, but one of the best places to celebrate the state’s contributions to American music is the Delta Blues and Heritage Festival, which has seen the likes of B.B. King, Bobby Rush, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters. The shrimp and tamales at Doe’s have become nearly as legendary.


Clintwood, Virginia and Asheville, North Carolina
Where: The Ralph Stanley Museum
Eat: Early Girl Eatery

Before you head toward Clintwood, Virginia to check out the home of a true American treasure, make sure to fuel up on grits, eggs and trout (trust us) for breakfast at Early Girl Eatery in Asheville, also known as Beer City, USA. A short drive up in the mountains, and you’ll be at the home of Dr. Ralph Stanley, the high priest of bluegrass.






  1. Stephanie

    Also Athens, Georgia for the REM/B-52s indie scene, with a stop a the Grill for feta fries —

    July 6, 2014 at 2:31 pm

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