Alabama native Frank Stitt oversees four restaurants, with a fiercely loyal society clientele that rotates among them as if playing musical chairs. Highlands Bar and Grill is the Beard-nominated flagship, with dishes like grilled Carolina quail with foie gras dirty rice and local muscadine grapes. But don’t miss Stitt’s more casual Chez Fonfon. This is French bistro fare with Southern warmth; try the salmon, done rare, often over lentils with a sublime broth.
Stitt was an Alice Waters protégé, and he’s paid it forward by mentoring many of the top chefs in the city. Most lauded is Chris Hastings, chef/owner of Hot and Hot Fish Club and winner of the 2012 James Beard Award for Best Chef South. Try the seasonally shifting bouillabaisse, his legendary tomato stack salad (when in season), a Southern-twist dish like rabbit on corn puree, and anything made with small-production Fudge Farms Pork.