Named after the great river, Mississippi is a popular destination for tourists due to its history, heritage and outdoor activities. Mississippi’s cuisine is a category unto itself. Below are our top 10 restaurants in the state.
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Big Bad Breakfast
Crowned Best Breakfast in Mississippi on several occasions, Big Bad Breakfast is proud of its signature food. It aims to make patrons never look at breakfast the same again. With its big bag breakfast plates, it shows what breakfast can really be made of. There are options ranging from shrimp and grits, quesadillas, to big bad skillets, so make sure you come with a substantial appetite. Although you may find yourself saying ‘lard have mercy’, as their slogan goes, the taste of their breakfast will have you crying out for more. For those who want to have something a bit healthier, there’s grapefruit, salad and oatmeal available too.
With much of its menu coming from old family recipes, Ajax Diner serves up traditional soul food that Mississippi and other southern states are so famous for. It has won patrons over since it first opened in 1997, and offers some of the best examples of good old-fashioned southern food in the state. The diner previously won awards for Best Lunch in Oxford, Best Cornbread and Best Soul Food in Mississippi. Equally popular for lunch and dinner, meals include catfish, hot tamale and meatloaf to give you a real taste of down-home cooking. Boasting a view of Oxford’s Courthouse Square, Ajax Diner has charmed Oxford citizens and tourists since its opening.
A Jackson favorite for more than 20 years, Char is an upscale steakhouse that serves USDA Prime and Choice cuts of beef, veal and lamb, all cooked in a char-broiler to ensure peak tenderness and moisture. In addition to their meat menu, there is a good selection of seafood delivered fresh daily. Patrons can rest assured that they are getting some of the best seafood in the city. For an after dinner treat, the dessert menu has won state-wide awards, and their selection of pies, cobblers, crunches and brownies bring in customers from across the state and beyond. Char is definitely high-quality, classic cooking in the state’s capital.
The Little Dooey
‘Come taste the pride’ reads the sign at The Little Dooey, a restaurant that has been slow roasting their barbecue foods to perfection for more than 25 years. This Starkville institution is regarded as being among the best purveyors of barbecue food in the state, which is quite a feat considering how tough the competition is. Guests regularly come from all over the county to get a taste of their time-honored secret recipes and sauces made by the restaurant’s owners. The Little Dooey was originally just homemade sauces served out of gas stations, but demand grew and a restaurant was soon opened. In addition to smoked barbecue meats, diners can also try the Mississippi staples of catfish, shrimp, oysters and chicken tenders. The restaurant is undoubtedly one of Mississippi’s best barbecue joints.
The Chimneys brings fine dining to the Mississippi coast. Unsurprisingly, the restaurant’s specialty is fresh seafood which has the shortest journey from sea-to-table in the state. The stylish, white wooden building adds a touch of finesse to the coastal landscape, and the porch seating gives some of the best views across the Gulf in Gulfport. Inside, the decor has the refinement of any good fine-dining institution. The menu changes depending on seasonal availability of its seafood, but offers filet and ribeye beef all year round. Notable dishes include their fish tacos, which are extremely popular and makes The Chimneys a destination that many beeline for during lunchtime.
Since 1985, Shapley’s has been Ridgeland’s go-to restaurant for fine dining. Particularly renowned for their steak and wine, the owners have always picked the best cuts of meat and used the same producers who are renowned for their high-quality produce. The steaks are prepared in a way that enhances their natural flavor, with the option to add toppings such as mushrooms, artichoke hearts and crabmeat. The restaurant’s wine collection, with its extensive depth and breadth of vintages, has frequently appeared on Wine Spectator Magazine’s Award of Excellence List and once on the Best of Award of Excellence. Shapley’s provides high-quality food and drink for the discerning diner.
While it has recently undergone a makeover, Walnut Hills still retains much of the charm that, for so long, appealed to diners. The house which the restaurant has resided in since 1980 was first erected a century before by the affluent Rogers family, with a wide porch, tall shuttered windows and Vicksburg pierced columns. Its stately, refined appearance has always had a homey and welcoming presence on Adams Street. Historic traditions are respected in Walnut Hills, and minute details such as the hot pepper sauce bottles, rockers and whiskey bottles give the restaurant much charm. The food makes the trip worthwhile, and has won accolades including Best Lunch, Best Dessert and Best Home Cooking from The Vicksburg Post. Their eponymous fried chicken is supposedly world-famous.
Weidmann’s Exterior | © Weidmann’s
First established in 1870, Weidmann’s is one of Mississippi’s historic businesses still in operation. It is listed both as part of the Meridian Urban Center Historic District and on the National Register of Historic Places. After undergoing a momentary closure and subsequent remodel in 2001 and again in 2010, Weidmann’s opened its doors to provide a warm, charming and nostalgic eating experience in a space that stays true to the restaurant’s past. The restaurants specializes in high-quality comfort food, with an impressive selection of fried green tomato dishes and other Mississippi staples such as shrimp and grits, pork chop, trout almondine, and, of course a variety of pies. Wiedmann’s serves up a taste of Mississippi’s past in the heart of the state.
This is best outdoor dining experience in Mississippi. Walker’s is a traditional drive-in which mixes casual dining with upscale experience. The seating in the outdoor courtyard offers views over North State Street and the Fondren Art District. The atmosphere is usually fun and laid-back, and if you happen to visit during a Fondren outdoor event, anticipate a memorable dining experience. The menu was created by James Beard Award-winning chef Derek Emerson and consists of Mississippi fare repackaged to feel modern and fresh. It’s all made with high quality meats and seafood, including sushi-grade tuna. Their options of steak, salads and seafood show that outdoor dining and drive-ins can retain their fun without losing their class.
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