Seeing the world led Mississippi-born chef Ty Thames to appreciate the pecans, blackberries, and sweet potatoes grown in his own hometown, said Carolanne Griffith Roberts in Southern Living. After serving an apprenticeship in a Michelin-rated inn in Parma, Italy, and at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, D.C., he opened Restaurant Tyler in Starkville, Miss., less than a year ago. Among the unusual entrées offered is a sweet-potato gnocchi braised with wild boar sausage and topped with truffle sauce, wild mushrooms, and Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan beer. At the more casual Barrister’s Room upstairs, the menu ranges from po’ boys to Black Angus burgers. 100 E. Main St., Starkville, Miss., (662) 324-1014

Another Southern delight is Noble Fare, an intimate space in Savannah that has only 12 tables, said Annette Thompson, also in Southern Living. Proprietors Jenny and Patrick McNamara are devotees of the local food movement, and they use such fresh ingredients that the kitchen does not even have a walk-in cooler. Specialties of the house include sea scallops on an edamame succotash, crispy sweetbreads in a balsamic reduction, and homemade star anise ice cream. 321 Jefferson St., Savannah, Ga., (912) 443-3210