A Taste of Southern Cuisine in San Francisco

Crispy Deep Fried served in a pile on a plate. A southern U.S. specialty, fried chicken is an iconic local regional food of the United States.

Juicy fried chicken and fluffy cornbread dipped in jambalaya… are just a few of many iconic Southern dishes. Southern cuisine originated as homemade cooking in the rural South, using inexpensive and local ingredients like cornmeal, rice, molasses, pork, and the like. Today, Southern soul food restaurants have taken San Francisco by storm, attracting a diverse community because of the comfort & decadence it offers in every bite. Here are some of the popular dishes you can try and enjoy in San Francisco if you’re looking to get a taste of the South!

Southern Fried Chicken

Southern Fried Chicken is one of the most iconic dishes in Southern cuisine. Crispy pieces of hot fried chicken coated in a crunch flour batter. In your first bite, you’ll be met with a signature loud crunch, followed by juicy meat drippings rolling down your chin. While fried chicken is emblematic of Southern cuisine, its origins are said to have been influenced by Scotland. It is said that the Scottish might have brought their fried chicken recipe upon settling in Southern US in the 1700s. While we have Scotland to thank for the original recipe, it is Southern US cooking we can thank for the transformation of fried chicken as a symbol of comfort & soul food.

Many say the secret ingredient to amazing Southern Fried Chicken is buttermilk and a unique blend of seasonings in the flour mixture batter. The buttermilk gives the chicken a richer flavor while breaking down its proteins for a tender and flavorful result. If you want to try making buttermilk fried chicken, start by tossing chicken pieces in your favorite seasonings. Afterward, stir in the buttermilk until all the chicken pieces are evenly coated, then let your ingredients refrigerate for six hours or overnight. Prepare your flour mixture by mixing flour, cayenne, paprika, salt, pepper, and other preferred seasonings in a dish. Remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk to dredge in the flour mixture and immediately fry in a large Dutch oven filled with oil for ten minutes on each side. Place your fried chicken pieces on a cooling rack and allow it to sit for ten minutes. Serve and enjoy!

No time to make fried chicken? No problem! If you’re in San Francisco and craving this comfort food, try Shef Nikki’s Southern Spicy Fried Chicken! Growing up in the Midwest, Shef Nikki grew up learning to cook thanks to her wonderful Southern mother and grandmother. You can expect a ton of delicious soul food dishes from her, ranging from her crispy, juicy Southern fried chicken to her soul-comforting jambalaya.

A bowl of delicious cajun style jambalaya with shrimp, chicken and sausage.


Jambalaya comes from Louisiana with its historical origins rooted in Spain and France. This one-pot dish has different variations depending on who’s cooking, but generally, consists of rice, meat, and vegetables. It’s a complete meal in one pot, known for its affordable, filling, and flavorful features! Jambalaya is said to have been influenced by Paella, a Spanish rice dish, but with added influences from the French, African, & Creole cultures. Many believe its creation stems from Louisiana, though its exact creator is unknown. Through years time, jambalaya has become a staple in church fairs, weddings, family reunions, and other huge events. Over time, the recipe has evolved, and each household has its own take on this Southern classic.

There are two major variations of Jambalaya, which are:

Creole Jambalaya uses tomatoes as a base, which lends its alternative name, red jambalaya. To make this, cook onions, peppers, and celery with your chosen meat or seafood. Afterward, add tomatoes, stock, and rice to boil before being left to simmer until the rice has absorbed the stock. The result is a tomato-rich stew that infuses deep flavors from all the simmering ingredients.

The second variation is Cajun Jambalaya which does not use tomatoes in its recipe. To make this, you must first cook the meat caramelized through. Then, you add your vegetables to the same pot, followed by rice and stock — allowing it to simmer until the rice has absorbed the stock. This cooking method results in a caramel brown-colored Jambalaya and a smokier flavor as the meat was rendered and cooked until it infuses with the broth.

If you’d like to try this amazing Southern recipe, Shef Michael is a Louisiana native, born and raised in a true Cajun country. He’s been cooking since he was a child, specializing in Southern cuisine. Thanks to his cooking experience and life in the deep South, his dishes are authentic with passion & soul. His Cajun chicken and sausage Jambalaya is a local hit — packed with fresh andouille sausages, chicken, and aromatic spices for that flavorful Southern kick.

Classic Southwestern Chili in a Cast Iron Dutch Oven with Corn Bread and Cheddar Cheese

Southern Chili

Southern Chili is a delightfully spicy stew said to have originated in Texas. In 1850, Everette Lee DeGolyer, Dallas oil executive & historian, suggested that chili was a popular campfire fare among cowboys on cattle trails and gold-seekers. There are many other theories on how chili came to be, but regardless of its origins, it became a Texas staple in the 1860s. Chili then became extremely popular all across the US, making its way west to San Francisco. Today, it’s a popular dish in many San Francisco restaurants, which many people order during the cold winters to warm the soul.

The process of making chili is quite simple. Place fresh ground beef in a large pan with garlic and onions, sweating over medium heat. Drain excess fat and add tomato sauce and your choice of aromatics. Allow it to simmer for an hour, draining occasionally to keep the chili clean & clear. Afterward, mix corn flour and water in a separate bowl, then add it to your chili, stirring until it’s reached your desired consistency. As the last step, add a can of beans and allow your chili to simmer for ten more minutes, then top it off with fresh shredded cheese & serve!

If you’re a bit short on time but have cravings to try Southern Chili in San Francisco — Shef Brittni saves the day! Home cooking is her passion, and she’s learned the Southern style of cooking from her grandmother. Her meals only use locally sourced ingredients and are seasoned with love & known to come in large portions! Shef Brittni makes an appetizing ground beef chili dish topped with a large handful of cheese and a dash of chili pepper to bring on the spice!

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