Food & Drink » Food & Wine

Grits Any Way You Want Them at Sugar Grits

Stephanie Westmoreland's restaurant elevates a Southern staple.



Sugar Grits is slated to get its beer and liquor license at the end of February. So diners can now have a cocktail with their grits.

Say what?

The downtown restaurant  strictly serves dishes that include grits, whether they're one of the ingredients or a grit cake on the side. They do go well with alcoholic beverages, says owner Stephanie Westmoreland.

Stephanie Westmoreland - LAURA LAZAR
  • Laura Lazar
  • Stephanie Westmoreland

It took grit for Westmoreland, who is from Charlotte, North Carolina, to come up with the concept. "What I grew up eating isn't the same as what other people grew up eating," she says. "I put sugar in my grits. And everybody else puts butter or cheese in their grits. Not that I don't eat that, but if you tell someone, 'I put sugar in my grits,' they go, 'Oooo.' But it's good."

She didn't just put sugar in her grits. "Sometimes I put jam in there, but I'd sweeten it up."

Westmoreland came up with the concept after she noticed more people eating breakfast during the pandemic.

Grits were something she "kind of forgot. Every once in a while I would remember grits and I would go make grits, but it wasn't like a staple. I think that's why I'm so excited to have them on the menu every day."

Diners at Sugar Grits, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, get grits "any way" they might like them. "We have sweet grits. We have savory grits. I wanted to have a variety for people."

Westmoreland, who uses Grit Girl grits out of Oxford, says, "Our grit bowls are really awesome. We have one that has greens and fried chicken in it and white gravy. It's quite delicious. And we have the Downtown Donald, which has duck in it with duck gravy."

They utilize all the different types of grits, including white, rice, and popcorn grits. "Every one of our entrée dishes has some kind of grits. It could be just a grit cake with it, but they all have grits."

As for breakfast, she says, "We have breakfast bowls that have eggs on top, but it's all based on a bottom of grits in a bowl."

Sugar Grits also specializes in gravies, including white country gravy, red eye, tomato, and chocolate, which is her grandmother's recipe. "That chocolate gravy is only used in our breakfasts and desserts."

Westmoreland isn't behind the stove at Sugar Grits. "I'm not a chef, and I love to leave that creativity up to my staff 'cause we have some really good talent."

Westmoreland and her husband, Tony, who are partners in Tandem Restaurant Partners, says chefs from their other restaurants — Ben Yay's, Carolina Watershed, Cafe Society, Zinnie's, and Sidecar Cafe — came up with grit dishes.

"We pulled all our chefs from all our locations and asked them to come up with ideas. I had given them recipe ideas and told them my story of eating and growing up. And then I gave them different concepts from around the country. I admire them for this. They came with something that was unique. They came up with their own ideas based off of that and really crafted something new."

The chefs also got in on the biscuit making. "We probably had them make 20 different styles of biscuits to come up with the right ones that we wanted."

So the big question: What alcoholic drink goes with grits?

"Of course, mimosas will go great for the brunch. As far as beer, I'm not going to lie. I've been pregnant for two years."

She and Tony had their fifth child, Jane, seven weeks ago. "I'm just now starting to be able to have a glass of something every now and then."

Sugar Grits is at 150 Peabody Place, Suite 111; (901) 249-5206.

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