The SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE, or SEC, describes itself with four words: It Just Means More. This mantra applies to more than just the football.
For almost a century, folks in the southeast have had a football tradition that’s ingrained in the area’s culture. When you think of Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and the other great states in the American South, you think of enormous state schools and football Saturdays. You think of perfect fall weather, you think of locals wearing the colors of their team, and you think of delicious tailgates.
But tailgates only last for a few hours before kick off. And if you’re walking around any of these charming and scenic college towns, you’re gonna work up an appetite. We’ve traveled throughout the Southeastern Conference to find the best bite in each SEC town – see our full list below, along with coverage for every city in the conference.
University of Florida
231 NW 10th Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601
With one of the best brunch menus in Gainesville, Saturday and Sunday brunch crowds are always bumping at Afternoon. Try the Dutch Baby pancake with Florida Oranges and thyme for something sweet, or the Shakshuka – tomato, baked eggs, za’atar seasoning, sourdough toast and herbs – for something new. Click here for more of Gainesville’s best restaurants.
University of Georgia
1427 S Lumpkin St, Athens, GA 30605
This authentic Latin kitchen is a hit with broke college kids and celebrating families alike. The food is no-frills and delightfully fresh and unique. The quesadillas, burritos, and fish tacos are all great, but the Cuban sandwich might be the best thing on the menu. It’s only 6 bucks and they should honestly charge more. Click here for more of Athens’ best restaurants.
University of Kentucky
26 Walton Ave, Lexington, KY 40502
Lexington doesn’t mess around when it comes to BBQ, so you know Blue Door Smoke House has to be tasty since it’s been in business for nearly a decade. Like any good BBQ joint, it’s all about the Plates, allowing you to enjoy a nice variety: one of their succulent smoked meats, white bread, pickle, onion, and two sides. Might we recommend you get a Sliced Beef Brisket plate with Potato Salad and Collard Greens? Click here for more of Lexington’s best restaurants.
University of Missouri
212 E Green Meadows Rd STE 9, Columbia, MO 65203
Despite the name, Flyover would be right at home in New York City’s Greenwich Village or LA’s Silver Lake neighborhoods, but luckily it’s right in the heart of Columbia, MO. With a chef driven approach to the menu, they’re focusing on the best things in Como – excellent local produce and game – while ignoring the “ranch-obsessed, deep-fried and filled with casserole” tropes of the Midwest. With less than 20 items on the menu, they’re able to focus on making every dish memorable – everything from Midwestern Carnitas to Crispy Tofu and Duck. Click here for more of Columbia’s best restaurants.
University of South Carolina
2617 Devine St, Columbia, SC 29223
Cinnamon Roll Deli, or CRD, is known throughout the country as one of the best breakfasts you’ll ever eat. They have creative and delicious sandwiches, like The Big Max, topped with two eggs, cheddar, black pepper thick bacon, and slathered with whole grain mustard. While they’re all delicious, it’s all about the specialty cinnamon rolls, made from a special Hawaiian recipe in-store every single day. You can get the Original, or go bolder with options like the Black Pepper Bacon Maple Glaze, Apple Cobbler, or the Bananas Foster. Click here for more of Columbia’s best restaurants.
University of Tennessee
16 Market Sq Knoxville, TN 37902
For fabulous Italian food in the heart of Knoxville, head to Emilia. The menu is filled with delicious Italian/Italian American favorites like artichoke fritters, fussili carbonara, and warm focaccia bread. The atmosphere is lovely, with cozy lighting and a handful of patio tables outdoors too. Click here for more of Knoxville’s best restaurants.
410 4th Avenue South Nashville, TN 37201
This barbecue restaurant is located downtown near Music City Central and is a large, casual restaurant with a full-service bar, wood tables and chairs, and a beer garden with an open roof when it’s warm out. In the colder weather the beer garden has a covered roof and heaters. The beer garden has outdoor picnic tables, TV’s, games, a bar and live music. The menu has appetizers like BBQ nachos and brisket chili. For the main course, try their pulled pork or brisket sandwiches that come with a side. For tons of great BBQ options and a fun atmosphere, check this one out. Click here for more of the best restaurants near Vanderbilt.
University of Alabama
508 Greensboro Ave, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
This is a classic upscale T-Town spot. If you’re looking for the tastiest seafood, sushi, and more, Chuck’s Fish is your place! Start off with some chicken spring rolls, kimchi brussels sprouts, or smoked tuna dip. Then enjoy dozens of tasty sushi options or other seafood entrees, like the gulf fish of the day, hickory-grilled, gronzed, or sauteed. You can also opt for the sesame-seared tuna or the shrimp stuffed with crab meat and wrapped in bacon. Click here for more of Tuscaloosa’s best restaurants.
University of Arkansas
110 S College Ave, Fayetteville, AR 72701
Explore the world from Arkansas with Feed & Folly’s ‘Destination Cocktails’. Travel to Greece, Korea, Brazil, and more from the comfort of the bar. A cultural getaway experienced through your tongue. Click here for more of Fayetteville’s best restaurants.
210 E Glenn Ave, Auburn, AL 36830
Acre is a big city metropolitan restaurant hiding in plain sight in Auburn. With a focus on local ingredients and food served with produce grown in the restaurants gardens and orchards, a dinner at Acre is truly a five star dining experience. The menu also has a distinctly Southern bent, with dishes like the Redfish on the Halfshell with Okra and Brabant potatoes, house made Pimento cheese, Cornbread and more. Click here for more of Auburn’s best restaurants.
Louisiana State University
3225 Perkins Rd, Baton Rouge, LA 70808
If you haven’t been able to tell, seafood is king in Baton Rouge. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Parrain’s Seafood Restaurant is extremely popular. After over two decades of serving LSU students and beyond, they’ve secured a loyal fanbase for anybody with a hankering for something fishy. Click here for more of the best restaurants near LSU.
University of Mississippi (Ole Miss)
110 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655
Yet another concept from John Currance brings “up-scale down-home” fare to Oxford. While the menu is clearly influenced most heavily by Creole cuisine, it goes much deeper than that. The atmosphere is classy yet comfortable, and the food is particularly creative and elevated. Click here for more of Oxford’s best restaurants.
Mississippi State University
702 University Dr, Starkville, MS 39759
Bulldog Burger Co has been a fixture of the Mississippi State universe for decades, starting in the 1980s. Take one look (and more importantly, bite) at any burger you order and you’ll see why. The Freshman 15 is a perfectly-named creation, loaded with fried mozzarella, crispy bacon, and their special Sassy Sauce. The Smokehouse is another staple, dubbed as “an entire tailgate spread stacked between two buns”, containing: smoked pork belly, an onion ring, smoked gouda, and mango habanero BBQ sauce. No matter your burger order, don’t forget an order of Truffle Tots or Sweet Potato Fries. Or both. Click here for more of Starkville’s best restaurants.
Texas A&M University
1802 Texas Ave S, College Station, TX 77840
This restaurant might have one of the most unique concepts ever and we are here for it. Did you forget about that load of laundry that needs to get done but you were just on your way out to go eat lunch with some friends? Bring the laundry with you! This spot is half laundromat and half burger joint. Bring some quarters with you and throw your laundry in the wash, while you’re waiting go grab a burger and some beer. Start off with some chips and queso, chili, or wings. For the main course go for the the chorizo burger or patti melt. Some other options include hot dogs and quesadillas. Make sure to wash your hands after you eat so you don’t get your clean laundry dirty! Click here for more of College Station’s best restaurants.