South Carolina–born Charlie McKenna is a Southern food emissary. A former competitive barbecue champion, he runs Lillie’s Q in West Town and also tried his hand at fine dining at the short-lived (and unfortunately named) Dixie. Now he’s whistling a different tune at Roux, a diner that’s his best spot yet.
Everything about this counter-service joint — which serves breakfast, lunch, and, on some days, supper — feels right. The bright space nails a certain contemporary Southern aesthetic that’s industrial but homey, with exposed ductwork and antique sideboards. If you’ve been to the New Orleans café Willa Jean, you’ll have a sense of déjà vu, right down to the square-cut laminated biscuits, a must-order.
What else? The fried green tomato tartine on Texas toast with pimento cheese, bacon, and a runny egg is breakfast perfection. Pastry chef Monica Sachnoff makes a bodacious cinnamon bun. Even the requisite shrimp and grits is scrumptious. If you’re a displaced Southerner in need of creamy stone-ground grits instead of the spackling paste everyone else serves, you can get a bowl with Waffle House–style add-ins.
Roux is a great addition to Hyde Park, where many residents trace their families to the South. As a Southerner myself, I just have one issue: Where’s the sweet tea?