In 2008, a young Floridian chef named Josh Novak took over the boxy structure at the bend in the road in Madrid and turned it into The Hollar, an upscale Southern food kitchen with plenty of class—but that retains plenty of the sass that makes Madrid, Madrid. The restaurant hits its 10th birthday in November, which means this writer has been addicted to the crispy chicken and grits with lavender bechamel ($13.50) for a decade, and that it's been that long since Novak sent out his first steaming biscuit burger with green chile and Swiss ($12.75-$16.75); stacked fried green tomatoes and crispy shrimp ($20.50); perhaps with a massive helping of fried okra ($6.75). In addition to the cozy yet sophisticated dining rooms by local design firm French & French Interiors (his sister Heather is one of those Frenches), enjoy the huge tamarisk-enshrouded patio. The smoker churns out tender brisket ($19) that comes slathered with Len's BBQ Sauce, named after the late town marshal, Len Self. While Novak's pedigree is solid—he's a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu and, when he bought The Hollar while still in his 20s, he was already serving fine meals that showed skill beyond his years—he's created a hangout that's anything but stuffy, and food that's anything but forgettable.

Lunch and Dinner

The Hollar
2849 Hwy. 14, Madrid,

Twitter: @thehollarnm
Instagram: @thehollarrestaurant