Tasting Table Asks: What Is Your Go-To Southern Food? - Exclusive Survey

In the categories of regional cuisines, Southern food has amassed quite the fanbase, not to mention a laundry list of dishes. Southern cuisine includes everything from the ubiquitous shrimp and grits to state-specific specialties. New Orleans, for example, boasts red beans and rice, while Texas claims chicken-fried steak (via Southern Living). Other foods — biscuits, pimento cheese, and collard greens — remain mainstays throughout the region, characterizing the culinary genre with cheesy, buttery, and crispy features.

Granted, you don't have to go down south to try Southern food for yourself. Restaurants with classic Southern menus crop up all over the country, letting Americans far and wide get their fix of grits and biscuits.

Given the cuisine's geographic range — and subsequent variety of foods — it's not surprising that Southern dishes leave plenty of room for personal preferences and creative twists. Southern Living points to a range of meals like tomato pie, okra soup, and congealed salad, which aren't quite as popular nationwide but have distinctly southern origins — and, therefore, a spot on Southern menus.

However, a few particular dishes have the widest-reaching appeal. Tasting Table recently asked 588 people about their number one Southern food, only to find that the vast majority of those surveyed associate one particular dish with the region. This is a dish best served fried.

Fried chicken is a Southern fan favorite

In the rankings of Southern foods, we have a clear victor. Fried chicken received 342 votes, amassing 58.16% of the preference. More than half of those who responded to Tasting Table's survey savor this Southern meal, which can come simple and crispy or complex and creative.

You can make fried chicken with all kinds of techniques, seasonings, and, of course, sides. Taste of Home refers to fried chicken as the Holy Grail of fast food items — and for good reason. On-the-go eateries like Chick-fil-a, Popeyes, and, of course, Kentucky Fried Chicken each offer their own spin on the dish, contributing to the popularity of fried chicken.

Trailing significantly behind, deviled eggs received the second-highest number of votes. About 12% of people — 73 voters — favor the take on hard-boiled eggs, which makes for a great hors d'ouevre. 

Roughly 9% of voters cited gumbo as their go-to southern meal, while 8.17% of people favored the tomato sandwich. These percentages break down to 53 and 48 voters, respectively.

Rounding off the rankings are the final two dishes — red beans and rice and grits. The former earned 6.63% of the favor, with 39 people opting for the Louisiana staple. Meanwhile, grits received 33 votes; 5.61% of people favor this Southern hallmark. Yet no matter what you choose, Southern food allows you to mix and match, so why not pair your fried chicken with even more Southern goodies?