Best Local Southern Food 

Readers' Pick

click to enlarge Velma Johnson, cake baker and owner of Mama J’s.

Scott Elmquist/File

Velma Johnson, cake baker and owner of Mama J’s.

First Place:

Mama J’s

415 N. First St.
225-7449
mamajskitchen.com

Second Place: Lunch/Supper
Third Place: Lillie Pearl
Honorable Mention: Shagbark

For the third year in a row, Style readers have deemed Jackson Ward’s Mama J’s the Best Southern Food in all the land – or, at least, in the city of Richmond.

Since 2009 this family-owned and -operated spot has been serving up comfort food like fried chicken, pork chops, candied yams, collards – you know, all the good stuff. Mama J’s decided to shut down indoor dining during the pandemic and today the restaurant is still only open for to-go and delivery: Order over the phone or online.

Its current hours are 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. While you can’t yet enjoy packing into the dining room, you can follow Mama J’s on social media to catch mouth-watering glimpses of its famed desserts. Recent featured baked goods included lemon blueberry cupcakes, fluffy strawberry cake and buttercream and yellow chocolate cake.

Since 2012, popular Scott’s Addition spot Lunch.Supper! has been whipping up in-your-face, hangover friendly Southern comfort dishes like pickled and fried chicken, pimento cheese with pork rinds and Krispy Kreme bread pudding. The restaurant is currently open for dine-in and takeout Tuesdays-Fridays 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

Southern-influenced newcomer Lillie Pearl hit the ground running, opening its Grace Street restaurant in winter 2020 and filling up its spacious dining room with eager guests ever since. Chef and owner Mike Lindsey, former executive chef of Eat Restaurant Partners, told Style that the first two weeks of notoriously bad-for-business January [2021] “have been back-to-back our busiest weeks. It’s been crazy.”

Lillie Pearl is currently open for lunch Tuesdays-Saturdays, dinner Tuesdays-Sundays and Sunday brunch. Reservations are recommended for lunch and dinner.

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