Southern Vittles in Prenzlauer Berg offers real Southern US food without the hokum.
When you mention the ‘Southern states’ to people, most people think you mean Bayern and Baden-Württemberg. But it’s not Weißwurst or Spätzle these guys sell – no siree Bob – it’s real Tennessee comfort food.
And yeah, in the last few years Berlin has had a surplus of US BBQ places opening up. Take your plastic tray and wait for your sickly-sweet yet desert-dry ‘BBQ pulled pork burger’ just like Uncle Sam’s blind grandmother used to make. But Southern Vittles won’t be lumped in with these (and slow-smoked for 48 hours till falling off the bone).
Instead, Southern Vittles has shaken off any pretense of being a novelty restaurant. It’s stuck to its guns and humble pie by being just a restaurant that serves the traditional food from chef Craig’s home state of Tennessee.
The best macaroni and cheese in Berlin.
Yes, the menu serves the classics… ribs, beef brisket, fried chicken and waffles, plus what’s been described as the best macaroni and cheese in Berlin, but these are also complimented with many home-spun dishes you’d have to really search for to find in Berlin. Things like hush-puppies, fried green tomatoes with sausage gravy (!) and grits. Together, Southern Vittles’ menu of sharing plates offers a traditional Southern banquet.
Located on Lychener Strasse, just a brief mosey from Prenzlauer Berg’s Eberswalder Strasse, Southern Vittles has only been open a few months. The restaurant came about from Craig’s extensive time living and working around the world. Being far away from the food he loves became a problem, alongside the common perception that American food is only junk food. Craig’s idea was simple: if you can’t find it, make it yourself… and maybe educate people on Tennessee cuisine along the way.
Southern Vittles’ ribs are the best I’ve had for ages. Maybe ever.
They’re moist, rich, flavourful without being cloyingly sweet. You don’t need teeth to eat them. And if you’re a fan of sticky BBQ sauces, you get an extra portion of sauce if their smoke, dry rub and sauce baste wasn’t enough BBQ for you.
Fried green tomatoes lie somewhere on the food spectrum between a poor man’s calamari and a rich man’s onion rings. Either way, they’re damn tasty. Southern Vittles coats them in a decadent sausage gravy, although that can also be substituted for a horseradish cream. We took both. Grits are a new one on me, and Craig can’t properly source the hominy grains he needs to make it, yet a customer from Alabama once told Craig his grits take her right back to her childhood.
For me, fried chicken and waffles with maple syrup proves you can have too much of a good thing. But I can see its allure, and why people go mental for it. And at Southern Vittles, it’s a pared-down version, using strips of well seasoned chicken breast and waffles that are more delicate and light than syrup sponges. Their hot sauce is flown over from Kentucky and almost made me cry.
After eating at Southern Vittles, we were in pain.
But it was a good pain. The kind of good pain which shows you the irony in the term ‘comfort food’. But then, we did eat a lot. And their menu isn’t all as heavy as the things we chose (actually boasting a reasonable selection of vegetarian food too!). So take a few friends, order some sharing plates and find out what real Southern food is all about.
Lychener Str. 6,