No matter how short the trip to sophisticated and busy New York City, Southerners are bound to crave the leisurely pace and friendly banter that’s such a seamless part of the Southern existence at least once during their stay.
Luckily, tapping into a down-South vibe in Manhattan is easier than you might think.
From college bars and soul food restaurants to southern-chic boutiques, there’s enough of Dixie in the Big Apple to make any Southerner feel right at home. And, with Taylor Swift as the city’s tourism ambassador, country is coming to the city like never before.
These five tips will help you connect with your Southern soul whether you call Manhattan home or are just passing through.
1. For Southern Comfort
You can’t get more Southern than fried chicken and Champagne at Birds and Bubbles in the Lower East Side. There’s also spicy deviled eggs and braised collard greens to take the edge off your urban worries.
If you’re craving barbecue, indulge in some Texas with a visit to one of Mighty Quinn’s three locations for ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. With rich and creamy sweet potato casserole and bread pudding, vegetarians won’t feel left out.
Its roots may not have grown in the Deep South, but everything about Tipsy Parson oozes Southern. Just past the freshly potted plants and welcoming bench on the porch (also known as a “stoop,” in NYC lingo) is the drawing room where Southern-themed drinks, like the Hot Buttered Rum made with Mt. Gay black barrel rum, vanilla butter creme and brown sugar, and comfort food dishes, like Rockland plantation grits, are served.
With its dark wood and glowing chandeliers, the Alabama-based designer’s Billy Reid on Bond Street is so graciously appointed you’d think having mint juleps should be mandatory to enter. Reid designs clothing for men and women that feels easy and carefree yet is meticulous in detail and refinement.
From time to time, everyone needs a good honky-tonk and Hill Country is the spot for live music, from hillbilly to swing. It’s always a hootenanny—and a great reason to break out those dusty cowboy boots. For a more intimate blues setting, check out a rotating cast of players in the West Village’s Terra Blues.
Photo via Trust for Governor’s Island
Rolling green hills may not be the first visual when you think of NYC, but truth is the city boasts ample space for connecting with nature. For a country day feel, head uptown. Take the 6 train to 96th Street on the east side and stop by Gourmet Garage’s Upper East Side location to pick up picnic eats including tangy barbecue tofu, potato salad, and roasted beets with herbed goat cheese before leaving the island.
Take the 103rd Street footbridge to Randall’s Island, where wide-open space with views of the city await, and enjoy eight miles of running and biking paths. As you look back on the crowded island, you’ll feel like you’re in on a secret.
From the Financial District, take a short ferry ride back in time to 1700s New York City. Governor’s Island, which is open from May to September, offers a small town feel off Manhattan where independently owned artisan shops surround a massive green space filled with hammocks, mini golf and ice cream trucks. The island’s Jazz Age Lawn Party, which happens during weekends in June and August and challenges guests to channel the 1920s, will truly give you a suburban break from the big city.
College football reigns supreme in the South and luckily most major universities have a dedicated alumni bar in the city. Alabama fans can cheer for the Tide at the Ainsworth while rival Auburn fans scream war eagle at Tavern on Third. At bars like these, you enter into a sea of team-themed clothing, cheap draft beers and fans yelling expletives at the refs on big screens.
is a freelance writer and blogger with a gypsy gene and love for all things art, travel, and outdoors.