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Root & Bone
We had that reaction, too.

Like most cultural cuisines, good Southern food is pretty easy to find in NYC. You can get authentic fried chicken in plenty of places.

Guaranteed, Root & Bone’s is better.

The cozy new spot (which replaced Alphabet City’s beloved cafeteria-style joint, Mama’s) soaks its birds in sweet-tea brine and dehydrates lemons in the oven overnight. After the juicy pieces are fried nice and crispy, the dried lemon rinds are reduced to a powder and dusted all over the chicken. It’s un-freaking-believable.

But everything on the menu is like this--a tradition passed down from chef Jeff McInnis’s Alabama-farm roots but with a subtle modern touch. No reinventing the wheel, no cross-cultural fusion (still love you, Marcus Samuelsson), just damn fine food. (McInnis and fellow chef Janine Booth are both Top Chef alums and James Beard nominees.) Their starter salad involves grilled peaches, pickled tomatoes and fried pimento cheese; their biscuits are Grandma Daisy’s recipe but with a bone-and-honey reduction sauce; their meatloaf is made with mashed short ribs and tomato jam. You get it.

Our advice: Go early (it gets busy), prepare thine Instas (honestly, look at this place) and make yourself at home.

Root & Bone, 200 E. Third St. (at Ave. B); 646-682-7080 or rootnbone.com

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