From Charleston to Miami, These Are the New Southern Restaurants to Know Now
Come for the appetizers, stay for the design.
Here at ELLE DECOR we’ve covered the restaurant and bar scene in New York City, the chicest spots for all-day dining in L.A., and even the Parisian cafés that should be on your bucket list. Now we’re spotlighting a new crop of high-design dining destinations—this time, in the South. Whether you’re local or planning your next best trip, these buzzy restaurants will cater to your palette in more ways than one. Bon appétit!
Where it is: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Who designed it: Alfredo Paredes Studio
Why it’s worth it: Dune by Laurent Tourondel is a beachside destination with interiors by the ELLE DECOR A-List firm of Alfredo Paredes. The Ralph Lauren alum’s first hospitality project since the famed Polo Bar in Manhattan, Dune by LT was an opportunity to create a different kind of social setting, one punctuated by rattan and canvas palm trees rather than wood paneling and leather banquettes. “The materials I chose respond to the relaxed nature of the seaside setting, all crafted into elegant forms,” Paredes says. He and his team broke the space into distinct zones that feel intimate and residential, tied together with a neutral palette and a consistent material language. Ceramic lamps, patterned cushions, and striped hessian seating pop against the enveloping warm white walls. “All-white rooms are highly responsive to lighting, so getting that right was key and one of my favorite parts of designing Dune,” the designer says.
Where it is: Charleston, South Carolina
Who designed it: Architect David Thompson, designers Gil Evans and David Leboutillier
Why it’s worth it: Located in the historic One Broad Building in downtown Charleston’s French Quarter, Brasserie La Banque is named for its storied locale’s former life as a bank. The design grafts refined comfort onto the classic character of the building, featuring eight grand arched windows painted in Benjamin Moore’s Dakota Woods to offset the space’s warm, melon-hued walls and ornate high ceilings. A large bar anchors the main dining room, with seating upholstered in Kravet textiles, lighting from Ralph Lauren Home, and rich leather and brass accents throughout. “I have been lucky enough to dine in many brasseries, and my observations definitely influenced the direction I wanted to go with the design,” Evans, an avid Francophile, says. “Warm, inviting—a place for celebrations, conviviality, and comfort.”
Where it is: New Orleans
Who designed it: Alexander Waterworth Interiors
Why it’s worth it: At the signature lobby-level restaurant of the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans, chef Alon Shaya’s Miss River pays tribute to the city’s grand dining tradition with an ingredient-driven menu that showcases local dishes. The space has been thoughtfully designed to enhance the fine dining experience, incorporating architectural details from the ironwork of the French Quarter and a tonal color palette inspired by the Garden District. A focus on mixed materials yields a plethora for the eye to land on, from the pink quartzite polished marble bar top with brass detailing to the bespoke scalloped floor tile and colored stained glass by artist Lesley Green. Seating is upholstered in leathers by Moore & Giles and cotton velvets by Altfield, Dedar, and Zimmer+Rhode. To top it all off, the restaurant showcases an art collection comprised of local and international works born from and inspired by the Big Easy itself.
Where it is: Miami
Who designed it: Martin Brudnizki Design Studio
Why it’s worth it: Mr. C Coconut Grove may overlook Biscayne Bay, but its signature restaurant, Bellini, features interiors inspired by Venice and the Italian coastline and is designed by the acclaimed firm of Martin Brudnizki. White terrazzo flooring and Murano glass chandeliers are offset by glossy wood paneling and chrome accents, melding midcentury Italian design with nautical flair—and unfettered views of the Atlantic Ocean below, of course. “There aren’t many destinations where you can dine and look out across the ocean,” Brudnizki says. “It feels like you’re sailing on a yacht across the seas.”
Where it is: Nashville
Who designed it: Thomas Juul-Hansen, LLC
Why it’s worth it: Chef Jean-George Vongerichten’s second fine-dining outpost in the South (his first being Marigold in Keswick, Virginia), Drusie & Darr is fittingly housed in downtown Nashville’s historic Hermitage Hotel. The restaurant and bar menus showcase regional produce, much of it sourced from the hotel’s two-acre heirloom garden at the Land Trust for Tennessee’s Glen Leven Farm. The interiors feature restored Beaux-Arts details dating back to 1910, such as the vaulted ceilings and original oak walls. A gilded partition separates the main dining area from the bar, a sight unto itself with its restored coffered ceiling and original stained glass. All of the furnishings are custom to the restaurant, with lighting by L’Observatoire International.