19 Restaurant Items Southerners Never Order

Southern cuisine is known for its bold flavors and rich ingredients and is dominated by large portions of (typically) hot and hearty meals. Given this cultural trend, there are a few things you’ll rarely see a southerner order at a restaurant or diner, particularly when visiting the northern states. Here’s a look at 19 dishes an average Mississippi or Alabama native will never choose.

California Roll

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These famous sushi rolls are a colorful mix of sushi rice and nori seaweed sheets filled with crab, avocado, and cucumber, served with sesame seeds and spicy wasabi. According to Ibis World, the highest number of sushi restaurants are found in California and New York, with sushi rarely served in rural areas of the South, where tastes tend to be for less delicate cuisine. 

Clam Chowder

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New England-style clam chowder, with its milky base and chopped clams, is a beloved and hearty soup in its native state and surrounding areas, but it originates a bit too far north for most southerners to have encountered and embraced it. In the more southerly parts of the U.S., residents are accustomed to richer seafood stews like shrimp and grits or she-crab soup.

Hot, Unsweetened Tea

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Forget your fancy rooibos or green tea. There’s only one tea in the South, and that’s a tall, chilled glass of strong, black tea sweetened to perfection. Here, tea is a sweet, refreshing beverage, not a bitter palate cleanser. Hot tea might be offered at some restaurants, but a southerner is very unlikely to order it unless it’s cold out, and they can add several packets of sugar!

British Fish and Chips

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Southerners love their fried seafood, but it usually arrives in a light batter, not a thick, greasy one like traditional fish and chips from the U.K. They are also unlikely to be fans of soft, mushy chip-shop-style chips. Southerners like their potato sides fully creamed (like mashed potatoes) or golden and crispy (as with cheesy fries and onion rings).


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This tiny, trendy grain might be a popular health-food choice elsewhere, but its popularity hasn’t reached the South. Quinoa lacks the comforting texture and familiar flavors that make rice and grits popular grainy accompaniments to many southern meals. Forget your quinoa salads and quinoa-based vegetarian burgers—these menu items won’t tempt your average southerner! 


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Outdoor Life asserts that freshwater eels are native to 36 U.S. states, including the Mississippi basin, yet the thought of a long, slender food fish is enough to make most southerners head for the nearest plate of fried catfish or shrimp. Eel and other snake-like creatures belong in aquariums in the South, and no typical southerner would order one willingly!

Plant-based Lasagna

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In the South, lasagna is a dish meant to be enjoyed in all its cheesy, meaty glory. A vegan version, devoid of ricotta and ground beef, is borderline offensive to most southerners, who love their lasagna rich and decadent. Vegan options might be popular in the trendier cities of the North, but they haven’t infiltrated southern cuisine just yet, and probably won’t for some time.

Cauliflower ‘Mashed Potatoes’

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Dieters may be familiar with the trend of substituting good ol’ mashed potatoes for slightly less calorific creamed cauliflower. In the South, mashed potatoes are a quintessential side dish that you don’t mess with. Southerners won’t be ordering it unless the mash on offer is a creamy, buttery, scratch-rich bowl of potatoes, preferably served with gravy.


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Fancy French snails aren’t a popular culinary choice despite the French influence in the southern states (cities like New Orleans spring to mind). Southerners are more used to shellfish like plump, juicy shrimp boiled in a pot with Old Bay seasoning or crispy fried oysters on a po’boy sandwich. Escargot is just an expensive way to eat something gritty and slimy.

Grilled Tofu

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In general, plant-based alternative proteins aren’t popular in the South, and most southerners wouldn’t order grilled tofu anywhere! Tofu might be a versatile ingredient for vegetarians, but it can’t replace a perfectly seasoned pork chop or a blackened piece of catfish in a culture that leans heavily towards animal-based dishes, bold flavors, and meaty textures.

Mashed Rutabagas

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Rutabagas originated from northern Europe and possibly Russia, and, according to The Land Connection, they’re called ‘Swedes’ in the U.K. and commonwealth. In the South, mashed potatoes are not to be messed with. These turnip-like vegetables might be a distant cousin of the potato, but their sweeter taste and softer consistency just don’t cut the mustard!

Elk or Bison Burgers

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Don’t get us wrong, southerners love meat. But they prefer to stick with animals they’re used to, like chicken, pork, and beef. Large northern animals like bison and elk aren’t native to humid southern states, and they aren’t familiar with or keen on the intense flavors. Most southerners wouldn’t order them, and you definitely wouldn’t find them at a traditional southern barbeque!


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This savory French tart is made by filling shortcrust pastry with eggs, meat, vegetables, cream, and cheese. It might be a popular brunch staple further north, but southern breakfast is all about fluffy pancakes covered in syrup, savory sausage links, or a plate of steaming grits. Quiche seems a little too pretentious and fussy for a laid-back southern breakfast.

Veggie Burgers

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There’s a time and place for vegetarian options, and a backyard barbeque simply isn’t it. In the South, burgers are popular, but they are almost always juicy, ranch-reared beef cooked on a grill with all the trimmings and a side of onion rings. If you’re dining out with a southerner, don’t suggest the veggie burgers—they may find the very idea mildly offensive!

Foie Gras

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Southerners might be known for their love of fried chicken livers as an appetizer, but the rich flavor and unnecessary cruelty involved in producing foie gras is a step too far. The New York Times reports that the fancy French dish made from fattened goose liver angers animal activists nationwide and is deemed excessively decadent by most southerners.

Avocado Toast

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This trendy breakfast item might be all the rage on social media and among young urbanites, but it hasn’t quite taken hold in the South. Southerners are more likely to reach for a plate of bacon and eggs, a steaming bowl of grits, or a stack of pancakes. Despite the high-calorie content, avocado toast may seem a bit too light and insubstantial for a southern appetite.


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Soups, in general, aren’t favorites in the swelteringly hot climate of the deep South, and this beet-based Russian soup shares an unfortunate resemblance with a bright-red southern dish of limited popularity—tomato aspic. The chilled, jiggly texture and slightly sweet flavor of borscht don’t help matters and just aren’t something that would tempt your average southerner.

Mincemeat Pie

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This sweet, festive pie doesn’t actually contain any meat nowadays, but it remains a mystery to most southerners, who are more familiar with pumpkin or pecan pies. The mixture of dried fruits, suet, and spices makes mince pies sound like leftover fruit cake filling rather than a delicious dessert. Southerners prefer their holiday sweets to be more straightforward and familiar.

Corned Beef Hash

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This breakfast hash of chopped corned beef, potatoes, and onions is a classic diner dish in the northern U.S., but most southerners wouldn’t order it for breakfast or at any time, come to think of it! For a savory start to the day, southerners might opt for fluffy biscuits with sausage and gravy or creamy grits with cheese. In general, beef isn’t featured on southern breakfast menus.

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