This beautiful town in the Mississippi Delta is famed for its significant role in blues history. The countless monuments around Clarksdale are testament to this, paying homage to the many blues musicians that have played, passed through, or even met their demise in this little corner of the world. As with any music town worth its salt, you can expect a vibrant nightlife and foodie scene. Read on to read about the best restaurants in this Delta Blues town.
Nothing beats a good old fashioned barbecue and few restaurants showcase this spirit better than Abe’s BBQ. The restaurant first opened its doors in 1924 and has gained a reputation for being one of Clarksdale’s most popular restaurants consistently over its 90 year lifespan. It is popular among locals and even celebrities, with past patrons including ZZ Top, Conway Twitty, Charley Pride and Paul Simon. From famous clients to famous taste, Abe’s’ sauce has gained national renown, with its special sauce being shipped across the country daily. For fans of barbecue food, you will be hard-pressed to find somewhere more tasty, or indeed popular, than Abe’s.
For Mexican food in the Delta, there’s one place that rises above the rest. Atzimba Mexican Restaurant serves up authentic Mexican dishes, though patrons are equally eager to come along for the atmosphere. The interior is bright, with walls painted in bold colors and the exposed brickwork adorned with fun, Mexican-inspired memorabilia. The party spirit is kept alive at the bar, and there’s also a chance that you could procure a sombrero. The dishes include traditional Mexican fare such as burritos, tacos, and chili, all made fresh and with Atzimba’s own special twist. The burrito macho and pico de gallo come highly recommended.
The Dutch Owen
For your baked goods fix in Clarksdale, there really is only one option. Locals regularly recommend visitors to make a trip to The Dutch Oven, and return visitors to the town often make a beeline for this bakery and lunch spot. The food is cooked on the premises daily, and you can definitely taste the difference. There is a wide selection of sandwiches and wraps as well as salads, casseroles and soups, with the butter horns adorning the side of many people’s plates. Diners should always try and save room for their famous desserts in the form of a selection of pies or a slice of the cake of the day.
Ground Zero Blues Club
Ground Zero Blues Club, owned by renowned actor Morgan Freeman, has been Clarksdale’s prime destination for over a decade. With live music on offer every Wednesday through to Saturday night, this is one of the liveliest establishments in the Blues Delta. The restaurant is situated within a 100 year-old cotton grading warehouse, and when you step inside, you will see what draws people to this colorful hotspot, with high, exposed ceilings littered with fairy lights, and the exposed brick walls covered in flags, posters and other memorabilia. On the menu, you are spoiled for choice in terms of sandwiches and burgers, and entrées include tamales, BBQ plates, and catfish.
Hicks Tamales & BBQ Shop
Since 1960, Hicks Tamales & BBQ Shop has been enticing the people of Clarksdale with their famous hot tamales. Eugene Hicks, the owner and founder of the restaurant, first learned to make tamales by hand as a teenager and has never written down his secret recipe – bad news for his competitors, but an understandably closely-guarded secret. The restaurant is still run by Eugene and his wife Betty, and the menu now extends far past the tamales, with many other Southern style dishes including hickory-smoked barbecue meats, catfish, and traditional Mississippi hog maws. Don’t be afraid to ask for a dish or serving recommendation.
Rest Haven is the place to go if you’re in the mood for something a bit different on the Delta. Whilst it undeniably takes influences from Mississippi, the menu’s Lebanese and Italian inspiration is what makes it one of Clarksdale’s more interesting restaurants. With one of the most extensive menus in town, patrons can expect to try anything from Southern fried catfish, home-made lasagne and ravioli to authentic kibbie, cabbage rolls and gyros. The ownaers first came to town in 1954 and in this time have really learned what customers value most. In addition to their sumptuous dinners, the restaurant serves up hearty Southern breakfasts from 6am daily, and their chocolate cream pies with ‘mile high’ meringue have been giving people something to write home about for nearly three decades.
Stone Pony Pizza
Located in the heart of Clarksdale’s historic downtown is Stone Pony Pizza, the place to go for the town’s perfect slice of pizza. The owner and head chef Matthew Lewis first came to Mississippi from Tennessee as part of the Teach For America program, but thankfully for the state’s culinary scene, he managed to find his talents as a pizza baker. The attractive dark wood floors, exposed brickwork and bar area results in one of the best interiors in the town. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, there’s also a number of Southern-style entrées and salads on offer.
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