I'm from Mississippi and now live on the Alabama Coast. I have 2 places to recommend: Jazzeppi's (tn: 228-374-9660) or Mary Mahoney's (marymahoneys.com). Both are in Biloxi, but it's hard to tell where Gulfport ends and Biloxi begins-it's so close. There are actually several great restaurants on the MS coast that I'm sure they will find, though some of the best spots are no longer standing. I hope they enjoy their time in Mississippi!
Hi, I live in Gulfport and have been here for 12 years. Here are two great places I'd recommend, although I don't know whether they have gift certificates available. Vrazel's (228-863-2229) is sorta the granddaddy of fine dining in Gulfport. Their menu has some wonderful old school seafood dishes as well as seasonal adventurous offerings. A side dish which EVERYBODY loves (and one I dreamed about after the storm, for fear I'd never have again) is the Spinach Touffle (that's right, Touffle). Vrazel's is on Hwy 90, next to the Island View casino (old Grand Gulfport). I also recommend ConFusion on Tegarden Road in Gulfport. There is no sign for it, but it's in a gray building (you can tell it used to be a house) on the right side if you're coming up Tegarden from Hwy. 90. Their phone number is 228-604-4617; address is 162 Tegarden, but they're really the first standing building you'll see if you're coming from the beach. As their name suggests, they do fusion with a definite Coastal influence. Hope this gives you some ideas.
Oh, hey, me again. I thought about some others. Vrazel's and ConFusion would be good celebratory or date night options, but to kick back and have a little fun with friends, there's High Cotton Grill on Pass Road, near the Pass Road intersection with Courthouse Road. Again don't know about gift certificates. High Cotton has good food and a comfortable atmosphere as well as live music several nights a week. I believe they just started doing brick oven pizzas, too. Plus, a local brewery has at least one of their beers, Southern Pecan, on tap there. Phone: 228-867-6006. There's also Li'l Rays on Courthouse (228-896-9601), which I haven't been to since the storm, and Port City Cafe, 2418 14th St., in downtown Gulfport (228-868-0037). Port City has delicious, generous lunch plates and was one of the first local restaurants to reopen after the storm.
I recently moved to Gulfport, and agree with Sadiesmom that High Cotton Grill is a nice option for good, casual food. If your brother is an Americorps, he is probably more into that environment than some of the other, fancier restaurants mentioned. That said, I've heard good things about Confusion and Vrazel's. I've eaten at Mary Mahoney's, and, although it's a great little building, I found the food to be not so great. It felt like what fancy American food used to be like when we thought we had to be French to be gourmands, and instead made heavy, bland food.
Ocean Springs is always a good option, too. There's a great tapas place called Mosaico, and Fuze sushi. Also, the restaurants at the Beau Rivage (casino) are pretty good. There is an Asian restaurant called Jia that is expensive but good, and Todd English recently opened an Olives there.
Would love to hear other folks recommendations for area restaurants, since I'm still new. I'm desperate for anything that is not deepfried and on a bun. (There are only so many po' boys a girl can take.)
Two other recommendations I would make for lunch food here are Le Bakery for awesome Vietnamese banh mi (also refered to as po' boys down here), and Schooners for great crab cakes.