Get a taste of the many flavors of Mississippi this fall
Words by Paige Townley
The unique tastes of Mississippi go well beyond what you may think. They are more than fresh seafood straight from the Gulf, mouth-watering barbecue, and Southern comfort food that always pleases the palate. Menus all across the Magnolia State today offer so much more thanks to an increasing number of Mississippi chefs focusing on farm-to-table offerings and seasonal ingredients. This fall is an ideal time to take a culinary tour of the state and taste the many flavors of Mississippi.
An Ocean Springs institution Vestige is led by Chef Alex Perry, a two-time James Beard Foundation nominee and semi-finalist in The Best Chef: South category. Along with his wife Kumi Omori, Chef Perry blends local ingredients with Japanese flavors and techniques to create a truly unique and delicious menu.
Big Apple Inn
Big Apple Inn is known for its tamales, and its roots in the city of Jackson can be traced back decades when Mexican immigrant Juan Mora first began selling tamales out of his car in the 1930s. Today, the popular venue on historic Farish Street in downtown Jackson is owned by Juan’s great grandson, Geno Lee. In addition to tamales, other popular menu items include pig ear sandwiches and sausage sandwiches.
The Tomato Place
While the best tomatoes may be found at The Tomato Place—its signature tomato sandwiches are a must when visiting—the Vicksburg restaurant offers much more. The family-owned restaurant and produce stand also offers Mississippi delights such as po’boys, salads, barbecue smoked ribs, vegetable plates and even breakfast with as much of its produce as possible grown close to home.
Two Brothers Smoked Meats
Burgers, barbecue, sandwiches, and tacos are always on the menu at Two Brothers Smoked Meats. Located in Starkville, the restaurant specializes in smoked meats, all of which are cooked in the restaurant’s pecan-fueled outdoor smoker before making their way to many of the restaurant’s most popular dishes.
Fan & Johnny’s
For anyone looking for a contemporary twist on traditional Southern comfort food, it can be found at Fan & Johnny’s. The restaurant was founded by Taylor Bowen-Ricketts, an artist and chef who learned a love for food and cooking thanks to her grandparents (they also inspired the restaurant’s name). Fan & Johnny’s features a variety of traditional Southern dishes with Taylor’s unique twists and even a variety of healthy and vegetarian options as well.
Taylor Grocery has been a Mississippi favorite for decades. It all started out in 1889, when it was originally a dry goods store. Over the years it changed hands many times and today it’s serving up some of the best fried catfish in all of Oxford. Along with delicious catfish, visitors can also enjoy live music while they dine.
Farm-to-table truly shines at Elvie’s. Located in Jackson, the upscale restaurant focuses heavily on utilizing only the freshest ingredients as it modernizes traditional Southern cooking with each dish. A highlight of Elvie’s is the seven course tasting menu, which is available for group reservations.
Mary Mahoney’s Old French House
Mary Mahoney’s has been a coastal Mississippi mainstay for three generations. The Biloxi establishment is famous for its seafood, particularly the crab-stuffed fish and broiled crab claws. A must-try for any first timer of Mary Mahoney’s is the Queen Ixolib, the restaurant’s signature dish (named after its home city spelled backwards) that includes a fish fillet stuffed with shrimp and crabmeat au gratin.
Doe’s Eat Place
Another longstanding Mississippi eatery is Doe’s Eat Place. Established in 1941 by Dominick “Doe” Signa and his wife Mamie, the classic hole-in-the-wall restaurant is the go-to for steak. Doe’s serves up massive steaks as large as the dinner plates themselves.
Espresso, pastries, breads, and other breakfast items can be enjoyed at Bottletree Bakery Oxford’s classic café and bakery. The bakery is owned by a Portland, Oregon transplant, Cynthia Gerlach, who attended the University of Mississippi and fell in love with the South. All of the bakeries offerings are made from scratch and baked fresh onsite daily.