Published On: Fri, Aug 1st, 2014

Morgan Murphy in Lewisburg for ‘Off the Eaten Path’

Morgan Murphy visited Jim’s Drive In to try their famous big ranch burger. With him are Kathy Massie (right) and sisters Lynn and Elizabeth Massie (left)

Morgan Murphy visited Jim’s Drive In to try their famous big ranch burger. With him are Kathy Massie (right) and sisters Lynn and Elizabeth Massie (left)

When Morgan Murphy heard about the big ranch burger at Jim’s Drive In, he knew he had to visit.

“I am constantly searching the South for the most inventive and creative fare – and hot damn, does Jim’s Drive In have it,” joked Murphy. The Southern Living food critic and TV personality was in town July 8 for his series.

Murphy is known for his hilarious stories and the amazing recipes he pries out of mom-and-pop restaurants. His books include the best-selling Off the Eaten Path series and coming this fall: Bourbon & Bacon.

“When you cook as badly as I do, you’ve got to have a sense of humor,” cracks Murphy, who describes his four Southern food groups as, “bourbon, salt, bacon and PIE.”

“Jim’s is a drive-in serving all things American,” said Murphy.

How did he choose Jim’s Drive In? Murphy says he picks all his restaurants based on three criteria: the food, the service and the ambiance, “But shoot, the ambiance and the service can be broken if the food is good enough,” says Murphy, “Who doesn’t love a great BBQ shack that looks like it might fall in on you?”

The Southern food writer says he gets his restaurant tips mainly through fans to his website, morganmurphy.co or directly on Twitter @ morganmurphy. “I love to get tips from readers. They’re the ones who know the best spots,” says Murphy. And Murphy always follows up in person, often driving his huge 1956 Cadillac, “I research restaurants the old-fashioned way: I go there. Google just can’t take the place of actually being there.”

Murphy’s work has been read by millions, and he has been featured on many popular television programs, including the TODAY Show and Fox & Friends. He’s become a regular on QVC, and this summer, he’s making his Travel Channel debut as a judge on “American Grilled.”

“They’re just lucky I didn’t accidentally burn down the set,” Murphy said with a laugh.

How did the Bama boy and Navy reserve officer become one of the most popular food critics? “I just write about the food people really like to eat. Who cares about whether the coriander was milled by Polynesian virgins during a lunar eclipse? Does that dish taste good?”

You can order signed copies of his book directly from www.morganmurphy.co.