Whether you are looking for Southern comfort food that will make you think you have died and gone to heaven or want to get your hands messy shelling crawfish, Mississippi offers an unmatched variety of culinary experiences that are award-winning, farm-fresh and always served with our signature brand of hospitality.
Manufactured in Mississippi
Mississippi’s Coastal Region is known far and wide for its seafood, but many don’t realize one of the nation’s top poultry producers is based out of the charming town of Laurel. Sanderson Farms was founded in 1947 and is now the third-largest poultry producer in the country, distributing fresh and frozen chicken nationwide. The Coast is also the birthplace of Barq’s Root beer. Edward Barq moved to Biloxi in 1897 where he first bottled his distinct root beer formula, still distributed today by the Coca-Cola Company.
The DeBeukelaer Corporation was founded in Belgium over a century ago but now operates in Madison to produce its signature rolled wafers known as Piroulines. Their European quality and influence is evident in each sweet bite.
Cheese straws have cemented their place as an entertaining staple in the South, and in Yazoo City the Mississippi Cheese Straw Factory produces a wide variety of savory straws based on the heirloom recipes of this family-owned company.
Don't leave until you try
Born out of necessity during the Depression, slugburgers became northwest Mississippi’s budget-friendly take on the burger, distinguished by a beef patty mixed with extenders such as flour or crackers. The town of Corinth is the birth- place of this local delicacy, which is celebrated each year with the Annual Slugburger Festival.
Mississippians eagerly anticipate crawfish season (usually March through May), when these regionally prized crustaceans, sometimes referred to as “mudbugs,” are in harvest. Taranto’s Crawfish House in Biloxi delivers an authentic crawfish boil experience. The Annual Crawfish Music Festival at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi is a celebration of crawfish and its best accompaniments: music and beer.
Visit T’Beaux’s in Clinton, a family-owned crawfish house offering a traditional crawfish boil seasoned to perfection.
Mississippi is known for...
Hot tamales are a culinary tradition that are distinctively Mississippi’s and as such, the Mississippi Tamale Trail was created to ensure hot tamales are experienced to the fullest. Visit southernfoodways.org for a complete map of Tamale Trail locations.
The Delta Region gave rise to a particularly unique food tradition, the hot tamale. It is believed tamales were introduced in the region in the early twentieth century when Mexican migrant workers arrived to work the harvest. No matter their origin, tamales are a long-time staple on Mississippi tables and this food is rightfully praised during Greenville’s Annual Hot Tamale Festival.
Lauded as one of the best barbecue joints in the South, Abe’s Bar-B-Q in Clarksdale is also quite famous for its hot tamales. The tamales at Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville are considered legendary, and have been served since 1941 by the dozen or half-dozen with saltine crackers.
Dilworth’s Tamales is a culinary institution in Corinth, known for its pencil-thin tamales, which come by the dozen in spicy or mild.
Solly’s Hot Tamales is a Vicksburg tradition that started in 1939 when Henry Solly started selling hot tamales on a push-cart, eventually moving to a storefront. Solly’s Hot Tamales still operates out of this original location, making tamales according to Solly’s recipe. Another long-time destination for tamales is the Big Apple Inn in Jackson, now operated by a fourth-generation owner.
How to define great barbecue varies across the South and while it is not as contentious a topic in Mississippi, we do take our barbecue very seriously.
The Shed in Ocean Springs is known as one of the country’s best barbecue joints and has the trophy case full of barbecue awards to prove it. Expect award-winning barbecue and live music in an eclectic dive or what they call “junkadelic” atmosphere. In Hattiesburg, Leatha’s Barbecue Inn tops the list of barbecue stops in the region, serving fall-off-the-bone tender barbecue plated with their “secret recipe” slaw.
Located in Jackson’s Historic Fondren District, The Pig and Pint takes barbecue to the next level with entrees such as pork-belly corn dogs, Pepsi-glazed baby-back ribs and a house favorite, barbecue nachos.
After perfecting his barbecue skills in Kansas City, Leroy “Spooney” Kenter returned to Greenwood where he travels with his smoker, serving first-rate barbecue near his home in historic Baptist Town.
With their proximity to Memphis, it’s no surprise barbecue joints in the Hills Region have embraced the Memphis-style approach to barbecue, which usually means pork barbecue prepared with a dry rub and finished with a sweet tomato-based sauce. In Horn Lake, Tommy Leonard’s Barbecue is operated by a fourth-generation barbecue master. In Southaven, Pop’s Smokehouse Barbecue is a perennial favorite.
The Little Dooey has a stellar reputation for serving great “saucy” barbecue, consistently drawing barbecue lovers to Starkville, including celebrities such as Garth Brooks and Clint Black.
“Mr. D’s Heavenly Fried Chicken” is known far and wide as some of the best and is worthy of a road trip to Lorman’s Old Country Store. Just off the Natchez Trace Parkway between Port Gibson and Natchez, the store is in its original 1875 location. Fried chicken steals the show in Vicksburg at Walnut Hills Restaurant where “Southern Plantation Cuisine” is served up family-style.
Cock of the Walk serves heaping piles of fried catfish that New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne called “possibly the best catfish in the nation.” Expect a great meal with all the fixin’s at both the Ridgeland and Pocahontas locations. For great catfish in the capital city, Jacksonians know to go to Walker’s Drive-In, where fried catfish is always the Friday blue plate special.
In the heart of the Mississippi Delta, The Crown Restaurant is known for its top entrée, Catfish Allison, (a whole catfish filet gratinéed in a scallion cream sauce) and catfish paté. This Indianola institution is also a bookstore and gift shop.
For over 100 years, Taylor Grocery has been a fixture in the tiny town of Taylor, just outside Oxford and a destination for some of the best fried catfish around. The catfish is certainly worth the wait and visitors never mind it. Taylor Grocery doesn’t take reservations, but relaxing on the grocery’s front porch is a big part of the experience.
Fine Fare Faves
Known for its rustic Italian fare and chic interior, Oxford’s St. Leo was a 2017 James Beard Finalist for “Best New Restaurant.”
In Tupelo, Park Heights Restaurant offers contemporary American cuisine paired with impressive views from their elegant rooftop dining area.
Chef Jonathan “Ty” Thames honed his craft at The Ritz Carlton and other fine dining establishments before returning to Mississippi to open Starkville’s Restaurant Tyler. House favorites include smoked catfish dip and Vardaman sweet potato gnocchi. In downtown Columbus, J. Broussard’s is known for their New Orleans-style cuisine, offering classic dishes such as escargot bourguignonne and steak au poivre.
Ridgeland’s Seafood R’evolution is the joint venture of internationally acclaimed chefs John Folse and Rick Tramonto. This fine dining establishment serves modern, imaginative reinterpretations of classic Cajun and Creole cuisine.
Boasting over 20 Wine Spectator awards, Jackson’s Bravo! Restaurant is a destination for both fine wine and traditional Italian fare.
Tried and True
Each considered a local icon, these quintessential Mississippi restaurants must be doing something right. Their signature dishes and long track record have often helped define local food traditions that a visitor can’t miss.
The famous “slugburger” was first served at Borroum’s Drug Store and Soda Fountain in Corinth and is still the top menu item today. Latham’s Hamburger Inn cooks its version of a slugburger in a cast iron skillet although this doughburger is listed as “hamburger” on the menu. First built as a saloon in 1892, Phillips Grocery in Holly Springs serves award-winning burgers as well as their signature patty melts and fried peach pies.
Weidmann’s Restaurant in downtown Meridian is the state’s oldest restaurant, first opening in 1870. Weidmann’s is known for its black bottom pie, as well as the crocks of peanut butter on each table that appetize hungry guests.
With over 70 years in business, The Crystal Grill is a fixture in Greenwood and famous for their “mile high pies,” either chocolate or coconut, topped with a tall pile of meringue.
First established in 1924, Tunica’s Blue and White Restaurant was owned for many years by Pure Oil Company, and has included a tobacco and newsstand, Greyhound Bus Stop and service station. Today, the Blue and White is a full-service restaurant serving classic Southern dishes.
The oldest operating restaurant in Jackson, The Mayflower Café, is a Greek-inspired seafood and steak restaurant that’s been in the Kountouris family for generations. Don’t leave this capital city institution without trying the signature “comeback” dressing or redfish entrée.
Mary Mahoney’s is located inside a historic Biloxi home, first built in 1737, making this home one of the oldest in the country. The home was transformed into a restaurant in 1962 and since has become a top dining destination on the coast, having served presidents, celebrities and dignitaries.
Farm to fork
Tupelo’s Neon Pig is a butcher shop, café and market known for its never-frozen seafood, house-cured meats and commitment to sourcing from local farms. Recently, the Neon Pig’s burger was awarded “Best Burger in America” by Thrillist.
In Downtown Jackson, Parlor Market serves contemporary Southern cuisine, which is always locally-sourced. In fact, Parlor Market’s owners Jennifer and Derek Emerson are known for their commitment to using ingredients from local suppliers and farms.
In the Town of Livingston, County Seat has a farm-inspired menu and atmosphere. Snag a table on the County Seat porch during the town’s summer farmer’s markets for an authentic farm-to-table experience.
Robert St. John is one of the state’s top chefs but also a well-known author and restaurateur. His Hattiesburg establishment, The Crescent City Grill is known for its Gulf-fresh seafood, serving over nine tons of fresh Gulf fish each year. In Gulfport, Corks and Cleavers changes its menu seasonally, particularly to take ad- vantage of fresh local produce. With its proximity to the Gulf, fresh seafood is always on the menu.
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