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Nov 17, 2010 07:23 AM

Road trip - Alabama and Mississippi

Next week I'll be driving from Jacksonville, FL though Alabama to Biloxi/Gulfport, then heading north through MS toward Memphis. Haven't been to either state before, so what are the "don't miss" food experiences along the way?

I have a budget to do a couple of higher-end restaurants, but for the most part I am looking for inexpensive. Am most-interested in local specialties that I won't find anywhere else.

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  1. Ottwa. I guess you have not been through MS and AL. You have missed some fine eating as the Gulf Coast provides some of the best seafood in the country. Canada is my favorite Country. I always wanted to go to Ottawa. I hope to someday. I thought the best food I ever had anywhere in the world was in Quebec City. I went to BC and Alberta also. I love Canada.

    Where do you think you will stop for the night. I guess you will take I 10 to Gulfport/Biloxi, MS from Jacksonville, FL. That's about 8 hours driving time. Don't stop in Tallahasse, FL. Keep driving. You will pass some of the prettiesst beaches in the world before you get to Pensacola, FL. The area near Destin, FL has the most gorgeous water in the world. There are fantastic restaurants there and it's the low season since the tourists take over in the spring and summer. It's a good 30 minutes S of I 10 if you thought you might like to spend a night there. Let me know. There are some fantastic restaurants near Destin, FL.

    There's some good restaurants in Pensacola, FL but you will have to get off I 10 and drive S about 15 minutes to the Bay area. You should stop in Mobile, AL for fresh oysters and seafood at Wentzell's just off I 10 or go to Brick Pit for BBQ. Get off I 10 at Exit 26 A and go W on Canal Steet. Go .4 mile and turn right on S Washington Avenue. Turn right and go .3 mile to Dauphine Street. Take a right and Wintzell's will be on your right. The best BBQ in the area is at Brick Pit. Get off I 10 at Exit 15B and go N on Highway 90 for 3 miles to Demetropolis Road. Take a left and continue on Demetropolis Road which becomes S University Boulevard. Go about 5 miles from the left you took on Demetropolis to Old Shell Road. Take a right and go to Brick Pit for outstanding BBQ.

    What kind of food are you looking for. Do you want Mississippi country food, fresh seafood, BBQ or steaks.

    Wintzell's Oyster House @ 605 Dauphin St., Mobile, AL 251 - 432 - 4605.
    The Brick Pit @ 5456 Old Shell Rd., Mobile, AL 251 - 343 - 0001.

    If you stop in Gulfport, MS then you should go to Vrazell's for the best fine dining. Half Shell is casual fine dining with good seafood and fresh oysters. Blow Fly is a local's joint with good fresh seafood and steaks. Ole Biloxi Shcooner has good po boys and Fillin Station has good fresh oysters.

    Vrazel's @ 3206 W. Beach Blvd., Gulfport, MS 228 - 863 - 2229.
    Half Shell Oyster House @ FL 1st, 2500 13th St., Gulfport, MS 228 - 867 - 7001.
    Blow Fly Inn @ 1201 Washington Ave., Gulfport, MS 228 - 896 - 9812.
    Ole Biloxi Schooner @ 871 Howard Ave., Biloxi, MS 228 - 435 - 8071.
    Fillin Station @ 692 Howard Ave., Biloxi, MS 228 - 432 - 5565.

    The Shed has outstanding BBQ in Ocean Springs and Hattiesburg, MS. The most famous BBQ in MS is Leatha's in Hattiesburg. I know of better but you can't argue about Leatha's. It is good.

    The Shed BBQ and Blues Joint @ 7501 Hwy. 57, Ocean Springs, MS. 228 - 875 - 9590.
    The Shed BBQ @ 126 Mobile Street, Hattiesburg, MS. 601 - 336- 6755.
    Leatha's BBQ Inn @ 6374 Hwy. 98, Hattiesburg, MS. 601 - 271 - 6003.

    The best fine dining will probably be in Jackson, MS at Walker's Drive In. Don't laugh it is outstanding. The Parker House is outstanding fine dining for dinner just N of Jackson, MS at Exit 105B off I55.

    Walker's Drive In @ 3016 North State St., Jackson, MS. 601 - 982 - 2633.
    The Parker House @ 104 Northeast Madison Dr., Ridgeland, MS. 601 - 856 - 0043.

    Just North of Jackson, MS a few miles is Madison, MS. There are good BBQ as well as fine dining in the area. If you like good country cooking plase say so. There's good stops in Jackson, MS. If you need help with Memphis, TN just let us know.

    When you decide where you are going to stop for the night and what style food you prefer I can help you more. Let me know if it's fine dining at Walker's one night or casual country food or BBQ. Good luck.

    1. I would suggest you stop somewhere along the Mississippi Tamale Trail for some Southern tamales. These are usually quite different from Mexican and other Latin tamales. Do a search for "tamale trail" and you'll find an interactive map that will help you plan your trip if you decide to stop for some. Have fun and drive safely.

      2 Replies
      1. re: G200

        Here's a link to The Tamale Trail. Unfortunately most of the tamales in MS come out of the Delta and places along the MS River. Doris' is in D'Iberville and has outstanding tamales. That's about your only stop on the coast. There are more tamale joints in Jackson, MS.

        Doris' Hot Tamales @ 10029 1st Ave., D'Iberville, MS 228 - 392 - 0232.

        Here are two tamale joints in Jackson, MS. Tony's has two locations. The easiest to find is on Woodrow Wilson just W of the football stadium.

        Big Apple Inn @ 509 N. Farish St., Jackson, MS. 601 - 354 - 4549.

        Tony's Hot Tamales @ 230 West Woodrow Wilson Avenue, Jackson, MS 601 - 366 - 9591

        Doris' Hot Tamales
        10029 1st Ave W, Diberville, MS 39540

        1. re: Littleman

          Just so you know, Big Apple has a second location in Triangle Mart on State Street off Northside Drive. Take the Northside exit off I-55 and go west for a couple of miles- turn left on State- 2nd shopping center on your right.

          Pigskin BBQ serves tamales fro Hot Tamale Heaven in Greenville, MS. Take the Ridgeland exit off of I-55 just North Of Jackson, go east, cross the tracks, and when you get to the light, they are in the shopping center across Hwy 51. They also have the distinction of having the best plate lunch, best catfish, best ribs, and as I found out today, the best pork chops available anywhere!

      2. I fyou are passing through Jackson at lunch M-F, I would suggest a stop at Walker's Drive In.

        Greenwood and Oxford both have great restaurants if you deviate off I-55...City Grocery, Crystal Grill, Lusco's, and great tamales in Greenwood.

        TOny's Tamales in Jackson...good as well.

        722 Carrollton Ave, Greenwood, MS 38930

        Crystal Grill
        423 Carrollton Ave, Greenwood, MS 38930

        1. I'm a fan of Vrazel's, which Littleman has referred to. Used to be more fun before they built the Chiquita banana warehouse across the highway--you could look out and see people fishing for flounders at night. Still, it is a good place that is, for me, redolent of memories. The tamale trail is a good idea. If you somehow went all the way over to Hwy 61, I'd suggest stopping at the old store in Lorman..I have not eaten there since it became a restaurant but I have high recommendations of it...from even before the TV people found out about it.

          1. BBares is correct. If you could deviate off I 55 N of Jackson, MS on your way to Memphis, TN and stop by Greenwood, MS you would find some outstanding casual local dining at Lusco's, Crystal Grill and Giardinia's. Giardinia's is in The Alluvian Hotel which is a very high class hotel owned by Viking Range. The Crystal has good plate lunches, seafood and steaks. Giardinia's and Lusco's both have outstanding seafood and steaks. Lusco's is old style in a fairly rough neighborhood but safe with lots of history and famous names that have been there. Everyone dines in a booth with a curtain same as Giardinia's. Spend the night at The Alluvian and dine at Giardinia's or Lusco's for dinner. Head N to Oxford for lunch at City Grocery on your way to Memphis, TN the next day.

            Alluvian Hotel @ 318 Howard Street, Greenwood, MS 662 - 451 - 1500.
            Crystal Grill @ 423 Carrollton Ave.,Greenwood, MS 662 - 453 - 6530.
            Giardinia's @ 314 Howard St., Greenwood, MS 662 - 455 - 4227.
            Lusco's @ 722 Carrollton Ave., Greenwood, MS 662 - 453 - 5365.
            City Grocery @ 152 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS. 662 - 232 - 8080.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Littleman

              As to the "don't miss" food experiences, I would say this:

              In Pensacola and along the Gulf, we eat mullett (best fried) which is a fish under-appreciated in other parts of the country. Granted, it's not extraordinary in flavor, but is a regional thing.

              In Mobile and that area, West Indies Salad is the regional dish. You don't find this much elsewhere. You can get it at Wintzell's or any number of other local seafood restaurants. Definitely try it.

              Fill yourself up on po boys in this area as well - fried oyster, shrimp, catfish, any number of other proteins. Best on Leidenheimer bread from New Orleans. You can search this board for the best of those spots.

              In Biloxi, there's a custom to put French dressing on pizza but trust me, don't waste your tummy space eating pizza when you can have so many other wonderful things here. If you like root beer, Biloxi is the home of Barq's which is one of the finest of that genre anywhere.

              Going up Mississippi: if you've never been to a revolving table restaurant, this is an experience **not to be missed**. Basically you eat at a very large communal table (you will sit with strangers and leave as friends) with a huge lazy susan in the middle. The lazy susan will be populated with a lovely variety of foods (think Sunday dinner at your grandmother's). In McComb, MS you'll find the Dinner Bell, a great revolving table restaurant.

              Further up Mississippi, if you pass through Jackson you can have a pig ear sandwich at the Big Apple Inn, which Littleman mentioned above for tamales. I'm not huge on pig ear sandwiches (the texture and all...) but if you're adventurous and want to tell a great story when you get home, you're set.

              Going up the Delta to Memphis, definitely hit as many spots as you can on the Tamale Trail - and that's a terribly small percentage of the great ones.

              Littleman is also right in suggesting that you dine at one of the restaurants like Lusco's and Giardina's where a custom is to sit in a curtained booth where there is a buzzer to call for service. Another great, great experience.

              Doe's Eat Place in Greenville is also not to be missed. How many times do you enter a restaurant through the kitchen, where you can watch the steaks being prepared? In the center of the main dining room there are stoves at which the fries are made, and salads are prepared there as well. In most cases, one steak there easily feeds two.

              ...then you're off to Memphis, a great barbecue mecca.

              Have a wonderful time!

              Giardina's Restaurant
              314 Howard Street, Greenwood, MS 38930

              722 Carrollton Ave, Greenwood, MS 38930

              Big Apple Inn
              4487 N State St, Jackson, MS 39206

              1. re: deepfriedkudzu

                Good report Kudzu. The OP will miss Dinner Bell. It's off I 55. The OP will be going up 49 through Hattiesburg from Gulfport to Jackson most likely. And Greenville may be too far off the OP's route. Greenwood would be a slight detour on Highway 49 but not too far out of the way. You can go E from downtown Greenwood on Carrollton and hit Highway 7 N to Grenada and get back on I 55. If you get to the Delta please let me know. I will show you some good joints for you to visit.

                1. re: Littleman

                  Hi Littleman - I know the relation of all the different restaurants to each other (since I've been to them all) but figured that since the question was for "don't miss" food experiences I'd offer some not exactly on the route. Goodness knows I (and I'm pretty sure you too!) have gone well out of the way for something fantastic. We'll see.

                  BTW, I'd love to meet up some time when I'm next in the Delta - have been planning another trip to McCarty Pottery in Merigold. Have you ever been to their little restaurant?

                  1. re: deepfriedkudzu

                    Kudzu....First of all I was not correcting you I just did not think the OP would want to deviate too much on the trip coming from Canada. Oh well. Sorry about that. Dinner Bell is outstanding and Doe's too.

                    FYI I live about 5 miles from Merigold, MS. I have been to that little Pottery cafe several times. I am a fan of Crawdad's which is around the corner. Have you been there.

                    I go to church with Mr. McCarty's nephew who runs the restaurant. The steaks at Crawdad's get my attention but my house if full of McCarty pottery. By the way he's still around and comes to church every Sunday.

                    Crawdad's Restaurant @ 104 Park St., Merigold, MS. 662 - 748 - 2441.

                    I live in Cleveland, MS. There are a few joints here you have not been to. There's an Italian place about 100 years old in Leland, MS called Lillo's. Greenwood, MS is 40 minutes. Rosedale is 20 miles and has a nice joint. Come on up soon.

                    1. re: Littleman

                      Hoo-boy, this thread has me determined to alter our upcoming road trip from Nashville to New Orleans. Will the vegetarian one of us make out alright at any of these great sounding places?

                      1. re: round2

                        The vegetarian will be fine. Enjoy.