The Best Southern Style Diners in London

Emma Cooke

The soul train has officially landed in London. Following in the wake of the American burger boom, Southern diners are popping up all over the place, dishing up grits, shrimp po’boys, and of course, chicken and waffles dripping with syrup. Read our guide to the best places to get your soul food fix in the city.

Gooey Corn Spoon Bread and Devilled Eggs

Joe’s Southern Kitchen

Bar, Restaurant, American, Gluten-free

Whisky Sours
Jackson + Rye © Emma Cooke
One of the original and best Southern-style restaurants in London, Joe’s Southern Kitchen recently capitalised on the success of their Covent Garden location (their Beer Can Chicken boasts a major cult following) by opening a second branch in Kentish Town (bringing a taste of the South to London’s Northerners). The menu is a mix of Joe’s beloved classics. Think sumptuous Mac n’ Cheese and moreish popcorn shrimp, with a few newcomers that more than live up to standard. The Gooey Corn Spoon Bread is a creamy, cheesy mouthful of heaven, and Joe’s infamous fried chicken is now available with waffles, chilled watermelon, and bourbon maple syrup.

Jackson + Rye

Restaurant, Diner, American

Jackson + Rye is a diner that manages to find the sweet spot between comfy Southern Food and the plush design of the American diners that lie further North. The menu is packed full of comfort eating classics, with steak, lobster, and buttermilk fried chicken featuring heavily. You can order lobster as a side dish (always a plus), along with all your favourite old faithfuls. The mac n’ cheese and cajun spiced sweet potato fries are both glorious. The real winner here however, is the solid selection of rye whiskies, Jackson + Rye’s namesake. Big, bold, and complex, they’re available neat, or perfectly served up in an Old Fashioned or Whisky Sours.

Stax Diner

Restaurant, Diner, Bar, Bakery, Sandwich Shop, American, Halal

One of the first American diners to turn its attention to the Deep South, and to the deep fried, Stax Diner is the place to go for really good Southern food in an informal setting. If you like fried, you’ll love it here. The Chicken and Waffles are some of the best to be found, the Fried Green Tomatoes are warm and zingy, and the Po Boy is overflowing with crisp, cajun-spiced Popcorn Shrimp. The sweets are done just as excellently, with ‘proper’ milkshakes, Duffin Sundaes that feature a doughnut-muffin hybrid, and the Dough-Bro, a deep fried brownie, all slathered in ice cream and fudge sauce. Be aware that you’ll need to be rolled out of the building afterwards.

Rita’s Dining

Restaurant, American

Fried Chicken
© Bird Restaurants
Originally a pop-up in a Dalston restaurant, Rita’s Dining proved to be so popular it opened up its own location. An homage to American classics, the deeply-brined fried chicken here is reputedly some of the best in London. We highly recommend trying yours with their soft, stout waffles and honey and sausage gravy, although served in a roll is also incredible. There are plenty of unexpected twists hiding in the menu too, with Vietnamese Iced Coffee and Burnt Aubergine Pappardelle lurking between the BBQ pulled pork and patty melts. Make sure you finish it all off with a ‘Fixer’ of either a gin and sriracha bloody mary, or tequila-laced Maria Verdes.


Restaurant, Halal, American

Buffalo Blue Burger at Bird
© Bird
Forget greasy chicken shops, Bird is elevating fried chicken to an art form. And no, that doesn’t mean fancy schmancy takes on poultry, but rather free range chicken fried to perfection and served in finger-licking combinations. Chicken and waffles is on the menu, naturally, as well as Nashville sliders and the gorgeous Chicken and Waffle Burger, fried chicken, thick cut bacon, American cheese, crispy shallots, hot sauce, and Canadian maple syrup, sandwiched between two cheddar & onion waffles. Or, just order your chicken straight up, with sauces that include the unusual additions of Tonkatsu and Sweet plum, alongside Hickory BBQ and Buttermilk ranch, or tossed in honey and ginger or buffalo glazes.
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