Mississippi from The Best Food and Drink in Mississippi for 2018 Gallery
The Best Food and Drink in Mississippi for 2018 Gallery
The American South is known for its grandiose hospitality, perhaps nowhere more so than in Mississippi. The place is so friendly that it calls itself the Hospitality State — Mississippians know how to welcome guests into their homes. They also know how to welcome guests at the state’s many excellent restaurants, bars, and barbecue joints, the best of which we’ve rounded up as part of our first annual guide to the best food and drink in every state.
While Mississippians have their pleasantries on lock, they also know that the best way to welcome any guest is with delicious food. As with Southern cuisine in general, Mississippi owes much of its culinary tradition to the trans-Atlantic fusion of African, European, and Native American foodways. The fertile delta that stretches along the state’s namesake river made brutal plantation agriculture very profitable, and Mississippi still has a higher percentage of citizens of African descent than any other state. In fact, the Magnolia State had a black majority until many people moved north in the twentieth century to escape the state’s cruel Jim Crow laws.
The state’s history means it is still home to some great traditional Southern and soul food joints; Jackson’s oldest restaurant, the Mayflower Cafe, serves a mean gumbo, and Arthur Davis of Lorman’s Old Country Store has been hailed as no less than the “King of Fried Chicken.” Mississippi cuisine is more than just black-eye peas and boiled peanuts, however; John Currence runs an updated Southern food empire out of posh Oxford, and curious eaters can find everything from authentic Chinese food at Mr. Chen’s in Jackson to a fantastic no-nonsense steak and tamales at Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville.
City Grocery Online
Best Bar: The Upstairs Bar at City Grocery, Oxford
Since 1992, James Beard Award-winning chef John Currence has been crafting a conglomerate of eateries and bars in Oxford, Mississippi. The French-inspired Southern fare at City Grocery draws diners to its fine dining room, and the more casual upstairs bar, aptly titled The Upstairs Bar at City Grocery, has become a destination as well for its extensive wine list, short list of classic cocktails, and snacks. Try the Jesús María (Patrón tequila, Cointreau, orange juice, lime juice, and simple syrup) and the Oxfordian (Maker’s Mark bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup topped with prosecco) and pair them with bar snacks like crispy fried hot chicken with honey; the fried bologna sandwich with America Cheese Whiz yellow mustard, and toasted white bread; and the shrimp and grits made from spicy Original GritGirl grits, sautéed shrimp, garlic, mushrooms, scallions, white wine, lemon juice, and Big Bad Bacon.
Courtesy of Southern Prohibition
Best Beer: Hex Clouds by Southern Prohibition Brewing, Hattiesburg
Southern Prohibition Brewing’s Hex Clouds pours cloudy and hazy. It has a malty taste up front, but then the hops really hit you with flavors of pine and tropical fruits. This beer is dank, perfect for serious hop lovers.
Yelp / Elizabeth V
Best Chili: Big Bad Breakfast, Oxford
James Beard Award-winning chef John Currence is the culinary king of Oxford, as the chef/owner of the legendary City Grocery, but when he decided to shift his attention to breakfast, he did so in a major way. At Big Bad Breakfast, he’s turning out a killer chili, made with ground beef, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and coffee. We suggest you get it on a hot dog, but if you’re there for breakfast, get it ladled atop your waffles and eggs.
Rachel L. via Yelp
Best Chinese Restaurant: Mr. Chen’s, Jackson
Real-deal Chinese food is tough to come by in Mississippi, but not at Mr. Chen’s. The sprawling menu may look like any usual Chinese spot’s at first glance, but look closer and you’ll find Chinese specialties including spicy beef tendon, steamed buns, seafood clay pot, salted crispy frog legs, six varieties of pork intestines, braised beef belly hot pot, and ma po tofu. The restaurant also has a market with traditional Chinese ingredients, as well as whole Peking ducks to take home. Find more details on Mr. Chen’s here.
Yelp/ Samantha B.
Best Cupcakes: L’Oven Cupcakes, Southaven
L’Oven Cupcakes is dedicated to making the best cupcakes in town. From chocolate cheesecake to Death by Chocolate and Pretty in Pink, their tasty cupcakes, baked fresh every day are sure to be a treat for your taste buds. For more Death by Chocolate, check out these 12 choco-tastic recipes.
Best Dive Bar: Gil’s Fish Camp, Ocean Springs
Best Doughnuts: Monroe’s Donuts and Bakery, Jackson
Mr. Monroe of Monroe’s Donuts gets up at dawn every day to bake the doughnuts fresh for all his hungry, sweet-toothed customers. This favorite local doughnut spot specializes in perfecting the ever-popular classics such as Bavarian creams, chocolate glazed, and French crullers. For more information on Monroe’s Donuts and Bakery, click here.
Best Farmers Market: Mississippi Farmers Market, Jackson
This year-round market is the largest of its kind in the state of Mississippi. While it’s always fun to simply take a stroll and see what’s on offer, the market also has an app for patrons to check in on what they can find each day at the market. Click here for more information.
Brewventures in Food
Best Fried Chicken: Old Country Store, Lorman
According to the Food Network, when Alton Brown wants fried chicken, he will eat only his own or the fried chicken at the Old Country Store. Located in a century-old general store, this comfort food buffet includes fried chicken that is well-seasoned and crispy, but doesn’t have that hard, manufactured shell of breading you’ll find in many chains. Arthur Davis, the owner, is known to break out of the kitchen and sing a song or two to diners while they feast.
Michelle N. via Yelp
Best Grocery Store: Rainbow Co-op, Jackson
Best Italian Restaurant: Stalla, Biloxi
Located inside Biloxi’s Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Stalla is an unpretentious Italian spot specializing in traditional Italian fare prepared with quality ingredients, served in a beautiful dining room. Florence-born chef Paola Bugli has been with the restaurant since it opened three years ago, and is bringing some serious skill to the kitchen. Carpaccio with Grana Padano, horseradish, lemon aïoli, and arugula; Tuscan shrimp and grits with pancetta and smoked gouda; pizza topped with béchamel, mozzarella, pancetta, cippolinis, roasted peppers, and oysters; handmade seasonal ravioli; Gulf shrimp fra diavolo; and veal cheeks piccata with capers, parsley, and spaghetti are just a handful of the standouts on Bugli’s menu.
Best Mexican Restaurant: Green Ghost Tacos, Jackson
This Jackson newcomer has already emerged as the winner of Mississippi’s taco game, with two locations opening in the past two years. It’s run by San Luis, Mexico, native “Mama Yolanda,” and her recipes have been passed down for generations and cooked in small batches. Burritos, tortas, empanadas, enchiladas, quesadillas, chile rellenos, and nachos are all spectacular, and tacos are served in corn tortillas, hard-shell tortillas, and flour tortillas. We suggest you stick with the classic corn tortillas, and use them as a vessel for Mama Yolanda’s spectacular homemade chorizo, not coincidentally our choice for best taco in the state.
Most Expensive Restaurant: Char, Jackson and Memphis
This popular steakhouse with a New Orleans spin is a great spot in both Jackson and Memphis to drop some serious coin. A 16-ounce rib-eye for $36 is a relative bargain; the New York strip costs $49, the filet is $51, and the cowboy rib-eye costs $54. If you’re not planning on ordering steak, you should still expect to spend around $30 per entrée.
Yelp/ Ryder T.
Best Pasta Dish: Tri-Color Cheese Tortellini at Bravo!, Jackson
This Jackson hotspot is a must-visit for traditional Italian classics as well as creative Creole-inspired fare. There are 11 pastas on the menu, but if you love tortellini you need to order the tri-color cheese tortellini, which is served in a creamy tomato sauce kicked up with shiitake mushrooms, baby spinach, red onions, roasted red bell peppers, and artichoke hearts.
Yelp/ Kim T.
Best Pizza: TriBecca Allie Café, Sardis
This no-reservations, family-owned neighborhood gem is the little pizzeria that could; it actually won second place in last year’s American Pizza Championship in Orlando. You should definitely order the pizza that won them the prize (the Magnolia Rosa, with red onion, mozzarella, and Mississippi pecans), but you really can’t go wrong, especially if you also order the Patate, with olive oil, thin-sliced potato, mozzarella, cheddar, bacon, chives and sour cream. Yes, they went there.
Best Restaurant: City Grocery, Oxford
The tight-knit city of Oxford, Mississippi, opened its arms to New Orleans-born chef John Currence when he launched City Grocery in 1992 and never let go. Snag a table on the second-floor balcony if it isn’t too warm outside and dine on Southern comfort favorites like shrimp and grits or a muffaletta (offered only at lunch, when you’ll struggle to decide between that, the burger, and the roast beef po’boy), or indulge in delicious dishes like Mississippi pork osso bucco, smoked and grilled sumac duck breast, and Mississippi rabbit ragù. Don’t forget that Currence has created the best of both worlds for himself, something that you’ll probably want to take advantage of when it comes time for a nightcap: a chef’s restaurant downstairs, and the kind of bar where a chef would want to hang out after work upstairs.
The Shed Ocean Springs
Best Ribs: The Shed, Ocean Springs
The Shed’s founders are a young sibling duo who turned their love of good “bayou” barbecue into full-time careers for themselves and their family. The Shed is family-owned and -run, and, moreover, has a loyal following of customers who call themselves “shedheds.” Described as having a “junkadelic atmosphere,” this quirky barbecue joint features old-school, sweet Southern barbecue. Using pecan wood-burning smokers, The Shed’s pitmasters slowly smoke the meats daily and slather on the signature homemade sweet sauce to finish it off. It’s even won the World Grand Championship in Memphis.
Big Bad Breakfast
Best Sandwich: Southern Belly at Big Bad Breakfast, Oxford
When it comes to dining in Oxford, John Currence knows what’s best. The renowned chef and restaurateur started his career with the casually elegant City Grocery, located in the heart of town. Since then, he’s opened a catering company along with six other restaurants, one of them being a popular brunch spot with the intimidatingly cool name of Big Bad Breakfast.
Though breakfast here is certainly amazing (as the name might imply), the true star of the menu is the Southern Belly sandwich, loaded with house-made pimento, house-made bacon, bread and butter pickles, local tomatoes, and fresh slaw, piled onto buttery white or wheat bread, and then seared on the griddle. The final result? A crispy, gooey, zesty, and cheesy sandwich that defines what the South is all about.
Yelp/ Heide R.
Best Soup: Mike’s Seafood Gumbo at Mayflower Café, Jackson
The oldest-operating restaurant in Mississippi’s capital, Mayflower Café has been feeding hungry locals since 1935. Owned by generations of the Kountouris family, the restaurant is perhaps best known for its comeback sauce (similar to rémoulade), but its seafood gumbo is absolutely outstanding; it’s rich, thick, and loaded with shrimp and okra, and with some rice mixed in every cup, it can count as a full meal.
Yelp/ Dan P.
Best Steakhouse: Doe’s Eat Place, Greenville
Founded by Dominick “Doe” Signa and his wife, Marnie, in 1941, this Mississippi legend got its start as a honky tonk that sold great tamales. Over time, the honky tonk gave way to a full-service restaurant, but the tamales are still legendary. Even more legendary are the steaks. Doe’s might be the most downscale and shabby steakhouse in America (guests enter through the kitchen), but that’s all a part of the charm; the restaurant is even listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s not a gimmick, however: These enormous steaks are rubbed with proprietary seasoning, cooked under a ripping-hot broiler, and served with a ladle of rich jus. Doe’s isn’t just a restaurant — it’s an experience. Find more details on Doe’s Eat Place here. For more states, check out our ultimate guide to the best food and drink in every state for 2018.