Southern Comfort and Class at Southern Rail

What: Southern Rail
Where: 300 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix
By: Laura Stoddard

In 2014 Southern Rail was awarded Phoenix Magazine‘s Critics Choice Award for Best Patio, and having been on that patio several times, I can heartily agree with the decision. The restaurant (its name an homage to both the southern-influenced cuisine and the building’s proximity to the Phoenix Light Rail) is sectioned into a variety of distinct (but complimentary) areas; the expansive but comfortably eclectic dining room, the charming private dining room which seats over a dozen, the open kitchen in which you can witness Chef Justin Beckett and his crew working their magic, and the patio, which nearly rivals the main dining area in size, but wraps around the building with an indoor/outdoor bar, table and bench seating, accents of rich wood and polished metal, a modern pillar-style fireplace, atmospheric market lights overhead, a surround of foliage, and great views of the city skyline.

Southern Rail is one of those places you just want to be. It shares space with The Newton shopping complex, which flared into life several years back. It’s comprised of Changing Hands Bookstore, Southwest Gardner, and consulting firm Christofolo Schermer. And even if you’re at The Newton to visit one of those other three places, inevitably the smells and sounds emanating from Southern Rail will draw you in.

The cuisine can be described as American classics with a Southern twist, refined and perfected by Justin Beckett, the creative force behind sister restaurant, Beckett’s Table. In a 2017 interview we did with Justin (see HERE), he explained the thought process behind the type of food he wanted at Southern Rail.

“I love strong flavors,” he said. “I love to cook things that have time to grow and develop, like stews and things that take a long time. For example, our gumbo here is a six-hour process of layering flavors. Our short ribs, braised meats, smoked meats, anything that really takes time and care and passion, I really like to let that develop and watch it grow.”

Try the gumbo! He ain’t lying. It is a thing of beauty, with creole tomatoes and rice, smoked chicken, Andouille sausage and sautéed shrimp. Other amazing entree selections include the blackened prime flatiron steak, original muffaletta burger, signature meatloaf, and the southern antipasto salad. Don’t forget to start with the locally grown fried green tomatoes or roasted brussel sprouts with bacon dip. And what’s dinner without either a glass of wine or one of their Southern cocktails? The Creole Lemonade is one of their most popular drinks, and the menu description says it all: “A front porch rockin’, screen door slammin’, ice cold refreshin’ kind of drink”. Be prepared for a little kick of hot sauce in this refreshing bevvy that comes in a Mason jar. Or maybe you’re in the mood to try their bourbon flight.

In addition to the incredible food and drinks, Southern Rail is a hot spot for events, various seasonal dinner series, and live music. Currently their bi-annual Jazz and Jambalaya Series is underway. Grab a seat on that award-winning patio any Sunday between now and November 25th to enjoy the smooth tunes of either The Joe Costello Project or the Adam Clark Ensemble. The series features sazeracs and jambalaya, and 1/2 off Arizona wines (of which they have a healthy selection). The regular menu is available as well.

So the next time you’re in the mood for comfort, class, and culture, get thee to Southern Rail. Hours are Mon-Fri 11 am-10 pm, Sat 10 am-10 pm, Sun 10 am-9 pm. Social Hour is every day from 3 pm-6 pm., and they offer a hearty, healthy weekend brunch from 10 am-3 pm and Sat and Sun.

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