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Due South: the GTA’s five best southern dishes

Due South: the GTA's five best southern dishes
(Illustration: Jack Dylan)

Five finger-lickin’ dishes

Torontonians used to drive hours for the gastronomic pleasures of the American South. We’re not Memphis North just yet, but the city’s southern cuisine is gaining momentum as its dishes infiltrate bistro menus and dominate the takeout market. Here, the top imports from the land of charm and excess.

Rack of Ribs, $15 Nobody in the GTA puts a smoker to better use than Buster Rhino’s Darryl Koster. His simple spice rub and peppery secret sauce make these fantastically tender ribs sing. 2001 Thickson Rd. S., Unit 7, Whitby, 905-436-6986.

Fried Chicken, $13.50 The world’s finest finger food rarely lives up to its crunchy, juicy potential. Finally, someone in this town has mastered it: Stockyards brines it for a day, then soaks it in buttermilk for another. Post-fryer, it’s sensationally moist under a seasoned crust. 699 St. Clair Ave. W., 416-658-9666.

Blackened Catfish, $22.95 Harlem’s chefs are almost showing off: the heaping mound of fish, its spicy batter still buttery despite the blackening, could be served on its own. So could the luxurious seafood étouffée that tops it. Together, the two classics make the most decadent Cajun dish this side of Bourbon Street. 67 Richmond St. E., 416-368-1920.

Barbecue Beans, $5 With all the morsels of pork and beef, Lou Dawg’s version is more like a stew than a side dish. Maybe that makes it inauthen­tic, but when it’s this good, who cares? 589 King St. W., 647-347-3294.

Biscuits and Gravy, $8 Like a true southern biscuit, Hank’s crumbly, buttery bombs need no adornment. The creamy, sausage-heavy white gravy, however, is too good to forgo. 9 ½ Church St., 416-504-2657.

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