Oxford, Mississippi derives its name from the English university town, and was named thus with a view to establishing a university of its own. It was successful in this regard and is now home to the University of Mississippi or ‘Ole Miss’, as its referred to by the locals. The town boasts a plethora of exciting restaurants that serve an exciting variety of cuisine. This is a guide to some of the top eating spots in this Southern heartland.
Three miles outside of the center of Oxford, and hidden away in a verdant forest sits the Ravine restaurant. The rustic log aesthetic of the restaurant perfectly complements its bucolic surroundings. Stepping through the front door one is greeted by the cozy scent of contemporary Southern cuisine that drifts among ruddy-faced diners. The atmosphere is bubbly and yet the volume is subdued to a level conducive to pleasant dinner conversation. The menu boasts an enlivening array of Southern food with a twist – for example, the succulent duck breast is served on hot wild rice pancakes and finished with a piquant sweet and sour cherry sauce. If the outdoors is your bent, then why not opt for a table on one of Ravine’s two patios. With weekly Tapas evenings on a Wednesday and a special ‘Sunday Supper’ menu, the Ravine dining experience is varied and invigorating. The restaurant is often busy so booking online is strongly advised.
With homely exposed brick walls and majestic tall ceilings, the Oxford Grillehouse is the archetypal Southern steakhouse. Stow yourself away in one of the restaurant’s homely, prohibition style private booths that can seat parties of up to six people. Browse the mouth-watering array of steaks and specialist seafood on offer. Although famed for its steaks, highly recommended is the delightful crawfish and asparagus stuffed redfish, which is adeptly pan seared, crowned with a blacken crawfish cream sauce, and poised atop of the restaurant’s specialty fresh vegetable risotto complete with grilled asparagus. The Oxford Grillehouse is a popular establishment so advance booking is advised to avoid disappointment.
For a taste of the best sushi in Oxford, MS, sidle over to Toyo Japenese Sushi & Hibachi. The gregarious restaurant staff serve customers with charm and flair, making them feel at ease the moment they step inside. Choose between a quiet homely booth or the excitement of perching on stools around the sushi chefs as they chop away with beguiling grace, interacting cheerily with the surrounding guests; this latter aspect makes this the perfect destination for families with younger children. The menu offers all of the traditional Japanese sushi and hibachi items, but also boasts choices that are compelling variations on this theme. For example, try the locally themed Mississippi Roll with spicy tuna topped with delectable, slim slices of white fish, salmon, tuna, crab meat, tempura flakes, roe, scallion, and luxurious eel sauce. Bookings can be made over the phone.
City Grocery is the urban offspring of the regeneration project that took place in Oxford town square in the early 1990s. The building itself exudes the paradoxical clean yet rugged Southern aesthetic, which is echoed on the inside where exposed brick walls and exquisite pinewood flooring exude rustic class. City Grocery is not the most economical of destinations, but the range and quality of the food more than make up for this. Commence the evening with the sumptuous chicken fried oysters that are submerged in a silky bacon white gravy and served with freshly baked sourdough and mustard frills. Wash this delicious fare down with a refreshing drink from the fully stocked bar that is housed upstairs. For an evening of candlelit convivial colloquy, book a table at City Grocery.
Saunter down to Big Bad Breakfast to commence the day with an enormous morning repast. Flag down one of the effusively friendly waiting staff and order a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. The menu is several pages long and offers all manner of choices, including traditional Southern breakfasts like the ‘High Lonesome’ – juicy Worcestershire-grilled steak served with two eggs, cooked to order, a choice of delicious grits or crunchy home fries, toast or freshly made biscuit, and finished with a flavorsome house made steak sauce. In spite of its name, the Big Bad Breakfast also offers an extensive lunch menu, a specialty of which is the bizarrely named Cathead dish. This consists of a buttermilk biscuit constructed from scratch, which is paired with a choice of bacon, patty sausage, andouille, country ham, and topped with a generous slice of cheddar.
Enjoy some of Mississippi’s finest music acts in restaurant and concert venue, Proud Larry’s. Select from the massive array of snack foods the restaurant has to offer. Recommended is the lobster nachos dish – chilled high quality lobster knuckle salad, garnished with an avocado salsa, siracha sour cream, and served on top of crunchy house-fried tortillas. More committed diners can peruse the broad menu that boasts salads, pastas, freshly baked pizzas, calzones, and a helpful children’s menu for all of the ‘little Larrys’. The restaurant is famed for its sandwiches, especially the locally sourced Larry’s Creole catfish – Creole seasoned pan-fried Mississippi catfish fillet on fluffy Gambino’s French bread with fresh lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle, and Larry’s very own remoulade sauce on the side. Once you’ve finished eating, jive the night away to one of the many eclectic bands that Larry’s plays host to each week. For a full listing of upcoming gigs and for details regarding tickets, visit Larry’s website. Tables can be booked over the phone.
Tease open the doors to one of Oxford’s most delicately striking restaurants, McEwen’s. Perfect for first dates, the low ambient lighting and prepossessing simplicity of the interior lends the restaurant a heady atmosphere of unadulterated romance. The buttermilk fried oysters are an ideal choice for a perfect evening – brilliantly tender and perfectly seasoned with a spicy mustard plum sauce and mignonette. Continue with the oceanic theme and order the pan seared Chilean sea bass, which is glossed with an orange soy glaze, miso broth, and perched atop of a Mississippi shiitake mushroom risotto, and served with sautéed spinach. Although not the cheapest of establishments, the quality and charming aura more than make up for the expensive fare.
For the authentic Thai experience, visit Rice and Spice. The simplicity of the restaurant’s decor betrays its gastronomic excellence, with a menu offering both traditional Thai fare, and a melange of expertly made Japanese and Chinese dishes. Order a green tea to cleanse your palate in preparation for the feast that is to follow. Each dish is given a rating from one to five that indicates how spicy they are, enabling discerning customers to make choices perfectly suited to their tolerance. An excellent choice of main is the Thai classic, Pad Thai; a Thai rice noodle dish with egg, tofu, bean sprout, green onion, and ground peanut generously sprinkled on top. Table bookings can be made over the phone.
Located right on the main square of Oxford, MS and hunkered inside the shell of the old Leslie’s drug store building, Bouré is the ideal choice for the spontaneous diner. The restaurant caters for all types of customer, with quiet, secluded booths for those on dates and expansive tables for rambunctious groups. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner with a menu reflecting this – choose from an extensive list of soups, salads, sandwiches or choose to build your own burger. An excellent choice for those looking for traditional Creole fare is the Reuben sandwich – shaved corned beef, homemade sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing served on fresh rye bread. No reservations are taken so be sure to arrive early to avoid a long wait.
Tre Amici offers devious variations on the sumptuous taste of Italy in the heart of the Northern South. The menu offers standard Italian fare, including pasta, pizza, as well as a range of juicy steaks and filling burgers. The Prince Edward Island mussels are an excellent way to kick start the evening – simmered in saffron, white wine and herb broth with Andouille sausage. The restaurant excels in seafood; try the gorgeous, freshly caught trout, which is stuffed with shrimp and crab, served over creamed spinach and finished with a zingy tomato chutney.