The exterior of The Grey restaurant in Svannah
Dylan Wilson—The New York Times/Redux

The Grey

Savannah, Georgia

Born in the Bronx to a Georgian mother, Mashama Bailey grew up calling herself “one-generation-removed Southern.” But even after her co-workers inspired her to attend culinary school—they often complimented her sweet potatoes and roasted chicken—she never toyed seriously with the idea of moving south to open a restaurant. Then venture capitalist Johno Morisano heard about Bailey through her mentor, chef Gabrielle Hamilton, and reached out to her about a long-abandoned, once segregated Greyhound station he’d bought. The duo clicked, and Bailey eventually abandoned her more traditional concepts (“the inspiration of the early menu was purely Italian,” she says) in favor of blending African, European and classic Southern flavors they now serve (foie and grits with red-wine gravy, or tuna crudo with okra and pickled peppers). Those efforts paid off: in 2017, the Grey was named Eater’s Restaurant of the Year. —Kate Rockwood

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