When looking for a true Southern experience, get in line behind Roger Mooking, who thinks the restaurant at The Wilkes House makes the best fried chicken, lots of love included. Before being fried, the bird is marinated in evaporated milk, which Buddy Valastro calls “the creamy key to the chicken’s rich flavor.” Crowds have been flocking here for family-style portions of Southern staples since 1943.
At this restaurant, 5-star Southern food inspired by local ingredients is being served at 1-star prices. The fried chicken with collard greens and mashed potatoes is tender and "pull-apart good," according to Guy Fieri. For Buddy Valastro, the shrimp-and-grits plate is a winner. A sausage-studded gravy elevates this Southern staple into a “luscious dish with layers of flavor,” Buddy says.
Head to this spot for sumptuous seafood dishes, including a shrimp-studded pasta plate that Buddy Valastro declared “the best tortellini on the East Coast.” Shrimp and lobster are sauteed in a creamy blush sauce, then mixed with the tortellini and topped with a fresh crab cake. Other menu highlights include fried calamari and a lobster stuffed with crabmeat that Buddy called “outta this world.”
“If you want to have a beautiful coastal feast, The Wyld Dock and Bar in Savannah, Georgia, is your spot,” says Buddy Valastro. This waterfront restaurant offers a seafood-centric menu that changes with the seasons. The fresh catches are simply prepared to let their natural flavors shine through, as Buddy discovered. He enjoyed the flounder topped with a Sungold-tomato sauce for a touch of sweetness.
Tucked away in a space that also houses a laundromat, the Persimmon Cafe was worth a trip for dessert-loving Buddy Valastro and his family. They headed here for the frozen custard in indulgent flavors like Nutella & Toasted Marshmallow. A generous scoop of Nutella is folded into a dense base made with egg yolks, then blended and topped with mini marshmallows that are toasted with a kitchen torch.
With a decor that says pirate hangout, The Crab Shack opens its doors to a full-on crab fest 362 days a year. Rachael Ray ordered "sweet as the South" blue crab, while Buddy Valastro and his family opted for the sampler platter. This all-forks-on-deck dish comes piled high with crab, shrimp, mussels, crawfish, sausage, potatoes and corn. A secret seasoning adds some kick to this seafood feast.
Nothing says “boardwalk beach vacation” like saltwater taffy. When Buddy Valastro and his family were craving this sugary, sticky treat in Myrtle Beach, S.C., they headed to this family-owned spot that has been churning out taffy for 50-plus years. The taffy (made from sugar, corn syrup, salt and water) is stretched on an old-school machine, then given one of many flavors, such as chocolate or pina colada.
Sweets-loving Buddy Valastro headed to this dessert spot to sample fresh-baked treats like the Strawberry Suspension Cake. A filling of mascarpone cheese and whipped cream makes this cake “light but yet a little creamy,” Buddy noted. The strawberry-studded filling is nestled between two layers of rum-brushed chocolate cake, which are drenched in a chocolate glaze. “Salute! I like it,” Buddy declared.