Top 100 Independents: The Southeast

Historic landmark restaurants, high-performers, outstanding new concepts—meet the best operators in cities that are gaining traction as culinary destinations.


Asheville, North Carolina

The restaurant upholds old-school traditions such as Sunday Supper with specials like Fried Green Tomato and Pickled Shrimp, Fried Hominy, and Lobster Corn Dogs.

Opened ∕ October 2013

Annual Sales ∕ $1–$3 million

Average Check ∕ $45

Chef/Owner∕ John Fleer


Charlotte, North Carolina

With a sustainable, farm-to-fork focus, Chef Barlowe uses the entire animal and also sources everything—from all the beer, wine, and spirits to the Outer Banks sea salt—from within North Carolina.

Opened ∕ February 2014

Annual Sales ∕ $750,000–$1.2 million

Average Check ∕ $66

Chef/Owner ∕ Clark Barlowe

Mimosa Grill

Charlotte, North Carolina

This Queen City eating destination has served artisan- and farmer-sourced food for 20 years, and Chef Thomas Marlow gives the global cuisine a Southern twist.

Opened ∕ 1995

Annual Sales ∕ $3–$5 million

Average Check ∕ $38

Owner∕ Tripp Cagle

Soby's New South Cuisine

Greenville, South Carolina

Housed in a century-old building, Soby’s helped lead the rekindling of historic Greenville into a dining destination.

Opened ∕ November 1997

Annual Sales∕ $5 million

Average Check ∕ $45

Owner∕ Carl Sobocinski

The Lazy Goat

Greenville, South Carolina

The Mediterranean menu reflects influences from Spain, Morocco, Italy, France, Greece, Africa, and the Middle East, while the social dining experience is enhanced by Chef Michael Kramer's open kitchen, convivial communal seating, and comfortable platform bars.

Opened ∕ June 2007

Annual Sales ∕ $2.7 million

Average Check ∕ $28

Owner ∕ Carl Sobocinski

Restaurant Orsay

Jacksonville, Florida

Classic French-American cuisine from Chef Brian Whittington, who was a semifinalist for James Beard Best Chef: South this year.

Opened ∕ 2008

Annual Sales ∕ $3.2 million

Average Check ∕ $43

Owner ∕ Jonathan Insetta

Chef & the Farmer

Kinston, North Carolina

Chef and The Farmer

Located in a historic 100-year-old building that was formerly a mule stable, Chef Vivian Howard has gained celebrity status as a recurring contender for James Beard Best Chef: Southeast, 2011–2014, and starring in the PBS documentary "A Chef's Life."

Opened ∕ June 2006

Annual Sales ∕ $2.4 million in 2014; $3 million projected for 2015

Average Check ∕ $65

Owners ∕ Chef Vivian Howard and general manager Benjamin Knight

The Cypress Room

Miami, Florida

This French-American fine-dining restaurant—the third concept in the Miami Design District from Chef/owner Michael Schwartz—features an elegant, 1920s-inspired atmosphere with crystal chandeliers and daily five-course tasting menus.

Opened ∕ March 2013

Annual Sales ∕ $2.2 million

Average Check ∕ $105 dinner, $49 lunch

Chef/Owner ∕ Michael Schwartz


Tampa, Florida

Guests clamor for a seat at the pizza bar surrounding the handcrafted Acunto pizza oven, where chefs Joshua Hernandez and J. Ward work the magic that earned Ava the first 4-star award given by Tampa Bay Times.

Opened ∕ November 2014

Average Check ∕ $25–$35 estimate

Owners ∕ Joe Maddon and Michael Stewart

Bern's Steak House

Tampa, Florida

This landmark steakhouse features a dedicated dessert room with some 50 desserts, including the secret recipe Macadamia Nut Ice Cream, plus 1,000 dessert wines and spirits—part of the reason Bern's was a finalist for 2015 James Beard: Outstanding Wine Program.

Opened ∕ 1956

Average Check ∕ $50–$75

Owner ∕ David Laxer

Highlands Bar and Grill

Birmingham, Alabama

Southern ingredients with strong French and modern influences characterize the menu, while hospitality, service, and relationships are prioritized. Four employees have been with the restaurant since it opened.

Opened ∕ November 1982

Annual Sales ∕ $3–$5 million

Average Check ∕ $65–$75

Owners ∕ Chef Frank Stitt and wife Pardis Stitt

The Grey

Savannah, Georgia

Casual elegance is unexpected for a space that was originally used as a Greyhound Bus Terminal, but The Grey was a 2015 finalist for James Beard: Best Restaurant Design, and Chef Mashama Bailey continues to elevate traditional Southern cuisine.

Opened ∕ December 2014

Average Check ∕ $75

Owner ∕ John O. Morisano

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