50 Best Restaurants 2017: Live Oak

A Southern restaurant in Alexandria

Photo by Aaron Spicer

There’s no fried chicken dinner unless you happen to get there on a Monday ($12 for two pieces, grits and collards), and who can manage that? But there are biscuits and a sweet butter to start, split pea soup with Tennessee ham and shrimp and grits, the latter of which is spicy and almost stewlike. Imagine grits as mashed potatoes with gravy poured over and around and on top, and then the addition of lima beans (or whatever is in season) and andouille sausage. Of course there’s shrimp. It’s a reinterpreted dish but still stems from past the Mason-Dixon Line.

Live Oak, named for the sprawling trees of Charleston, is a catchall Southern restaurant slanted toward higher-end fare. The charcuterie board shuns prosciutto; instead find salty, wispy Benton’s ham and a rabbit porchetta, plus local cheeses, apple butter, pickled okra, crunchy honeycomb and crackers made with benne seed, the revival of the South’s sesame seed. Dessert is a chess pie—because sometimes the classics can’t be improved.

MISC: Starting at 9 p.m. at the bar, guests can order the $5 staff meal for a taste of what the kitchen eats, like sliders and tacos.

Live Oak
Southern | $$$
1603 Commonwealth Ave., Alexandria

(50 Best Restaurants 2017November 2017)