Emily Saliers—otherwise known as one half of the Indigo Girls—and friends launched this terrific southern-comfort-food restaurant in what used to be a gas station in 2000. The building's original rolling glass-paned garage doors and pipe-covered ceiling now look over a cheery dining room painted in citrus colors and lined with capacious wine racks (the first-rate wine list is heavy on boutique and hard-to-find labels). Chef Scott Peacock (a 2007 James Beard award-winner) whips up a menu of down-home favorites using seasonal, local (and often organic) ingredients: whole-roasted chicken with wild mushrooms and stone-ground grits; salmon croquettes; juicy grilled pork chops with collard greens and—natch—mac-'n'-cheese. Under no circumstances should you skip dessert; the cream-cheese pound cake and shortbread-crust pecan tart might make you gain 10 pounds just by looking at them, but they're worth every extra hour you'll spend at the gym.
Tip: Peacock makes his classic southern fried chicken—salt brined and buttermilk soaked—only on Tuesdays, and if you don't reserve a table, you'll be out of luck.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.