Report on 10 days in AL and MS (longggg)
- Joanie May 11, 2011 09:31 AM
So I made my trip to the deep south and here's where I ended up. Landed in Mobile Fri. afternoon and felt a bit off (when was the last time anyone had to use the bag in the pocket in front of you?) so after checking in at the fairly new Candlewood Suites on N. Royal, wandered around and ended up at Wintzell's for an oyster po boy which may not have been the smartest thing to eat but the great bread helped and overall, it was a good early meal w/ nicely fried oysters and good slaw. Loved the other half of the room with the old counter. Was super tired but stayed out late to see some (not so good) music at the Alabama Music Box on Dauphin, nice people there. While that street is slightly reminiscent of New Orleans, it's very quiet most of the time. Breakfast the next day was at the Tiny Diny where I forgot to order biscuits and gravy but did enjoy their excellent biscuit w/ eggs & bacon, good hash browns and stuffed in a piece of lemon ice box pie cuz I'd never had that before, very cheap. Nice people working at Serda's coffee, saw interesting stuff at the Museum of Mobile, happened upon the very short and ill attended gay pride parade. Drove out to Fairhope which was cute but the shops were closed then ate at Ed's Shed with its nice view of the sunset. Had an excellent cup of crab bisque at the bar and a side of cheese grits. Ended with a drink at the Renaissance Hotel bar.
After a quick zip thru the flea market in North Mobile, I drove to Montgomery and stopped at the Huddle House which is more depressing than Waffle House (which I kind of knew but various reasons why I went there). Got a pecan waffle which could have been worse although the non butter spread was a bummer. Couldn't believe how quiet Montgomery was, to be expected on a Sun. I guess but even on a workday. Thankfully the Hampton Hotel was located where a few things were open and after walking around in the hot sun, I stopped into Dreamland BBQ where I really needed some food and drink but no one would wait on me until I asked the bartender if I ordered from her. She got someone over there and apologized but this waitress kind of sucked. Part of the combo meal was great ($11.95), exc. chopped pork and cole slaw but after eating one good rib, another had a very weird consistency that I can't explain and their mac n cheese was blah. But the rest hit the spot and I liked the sweet tea. Next morning I went to the Civil Rights and Rosa Parks museums but hard to find much open for a simple muffin (Cool Beans café had had a fire) so I grabbed a heath bar cookie at the Alley Deli and started the drive to Tupelo.
I did hope to go to a record store in downtown Tuscaloosa but the roads off the main drag were closed and I didn't bother trying to find another way into town. Sad to see the destruction along Rt. 82. I did have City Café in Northport on my list, a crowded townie spot where I got a meat and 2: fried chicken breast (boneless and slightly prefab feeling), mashed and good slaw. Very cheap meal, around $6 with tea. Wandered around Main St. of Tupelo a bit before checking into the Clarion on N. Gloster. They had a weird hotel happy hour and an amusing crowd was taking advantage of their two free drinks. I just had a tiny plate of food from their breakfast buffet but they had surprisingly good biscuits and sausage gravy. My real food consisted of a good cheeseburger on a boring roll at Johnnie's Drive-In which was an interesting place with nice people working there. Later had a decent cocktail at the Fairpark Grill on Main St. which had a fun "cooler" vibe (but not as fancy as its sister restaurant the Park Heights). Had a nice chat with a man from Sweden and ate an excellent crab and crawfish cake but the salad with it was overdressed. Drink and app were about $14 which is what we'd pay for one of those items in Boston. Dessert was another heath bar cookie from Atlanta Bread which looks just like Panera Bread. Are they related or is one ripping off the other? The next morning was a donut taste test between Connie's blueberry donut and a honey dipped at Shipley's both on S. Gloster. Connie's won by a long shot, didn't bother eating all of Shipley's and was disappointed with donuts in general down there.
After a stop at the Elvis Museum in the cold raw rain, it was a quick drive to Oxford where the weather improved and I walked into town and down to Handy Andy, a bare bones lunch spot where I just got a hot dog but everyone else had BBQ plates. High Point iced coffee was decent and a cute spot open fairly late. Walked up to the university and back around to stop into Ajax Diner, a cool looking place. They say they have happy hour on their web site but don't (you can find tons of deals in Oxford at http://www.thelocalvoice.net/ or pick up the paper) so I got a couple sides, an okay hash brown casserole and green beans w/ bacon which she said were fresh but def. canned, only $2.25 each tho. Waltz in the square has various deals for happy hour until 8PM so I took advantage of the 2 for 1 apps. Great oysters w/ remoulade and roasted cauliflower plus she made a good cucumber martini (2 for 1 wine if you wanted that nite too). Nice bartender and fun people at the bar but I felt I had to move on to City Grocery, esp. since I'd just watched their chef on Top Chef Masters. I wasn't even hungry and figured I'd just get dessert at the upstairs bar but that bartender said they had a limited menu, in not the nicest way so I went downstairs which was dead and that guy wasn't overly friendly either. But two nice waitresses were working and let me have a taste of port before ordering it with my pistachio cake. It was fine but I should have stayed at Waltz. As I mentioned in another thread, Downtown Grill is now closed. Breakfast at the 512 B&B was pretty basic, I expected more than plain scrambled and overdone bacon.
Start driving again and stopped in Greenwood and walked around that depressed downtown. Seems to be the case in many of these cities. Was still full from breakfast but got a piece of banana merengue pie at the Crystal Grill (see pic), very good. Wish I could have taken advantage of their meat + 3. Finally got to Vicksburg and unloaded my bag at the very nice Bazsinsky House B&B and walked the 2 blocks into town where again, many stores were closed up. Washington St. is a nice main drag tho with jazz and R&B playing outside all the time. Took the hike up to little Solly's Tamales where I got 3 for cheap. Later went to the lovely Cedar Grove for a mint julep (pic below) at the bar and talked to folks who love Boston and think we're really friendly (we get a bad rap) then to Rusty's for a good app of fried green tomatoes with crab "hollaindaise" which was more like a cheesy mornay sauce to me. It was good but a bit too much sauce, $10.95. It sounded like the Bazsinsky breakfast was as unexciting as 512's so I skipped it (and saved $$) to head out to the Battlefield Museum then an early lunch at Walnut Hills for a meat + 3 of good fried chicken, slaw, mac n cheese and glazed carrots along with banana pudding (or gloppy peach cobbler) for $9 (see pic). A nice old house and popular place. Highway 61 coffee and art was cute. Dinner later was at Monsours which was very quiet w/ people smoking (we forget about cigarette smoke in restaurants and clubs in the northeast) where I got an odd salad and decent catfish fingers for about $9. Ended with a cold beer at Duff's cuz the guy working there had told me earlier they had the coldest in town and he was very friendly as were others at the bar from the UK and CO.
Hattiesburg was the next stop and got lunch at Rose's BBQ which I found very disappointing. Although for $6.99, I didn't feel too bad about the unexciting pork, watery greens, and oddly sweet potato salad. Checked into the Best Western across from the Beau Rivage and Hard Rock casinos in Biloxi. Took a drive down Beach Blvd but no one was on the beach. Walked around "downtown", that took two minutes and ended up at the cool Fillin Station for a shrimp po boy where he let me have a little of two sides instead of just one, decent handcut fries and good slaw along with a freezing Corona which I think was a $1 off during happy hour. Later I went to the bar of Ruth's Chris in the Hard Rock planning on a fancy cocktail but couldn't resist banana white chocolate cream pie w/ caramelized bananas. That was amazing and could feed a small army so I offered the rest to two guys on their way to Jazzfest and they bought me a pear martini. We had a fun time even tho the service was pretty lackadaisical. A May fair was going on in Ocean Springs on Sat. so I first stopped at their farmer's market then got beignets at Al Fresco's on Washington St. These were way larger than I expected (more like fried dough than Café du Monde style) so I gave one to some people at the restaurant and one to a guy at the fair. Some fun stands and music at the fair, tried a donut again at Tato-Nut on Government but subpar. Lunch was a good and huge catfish po boy at BB's on Rt. 90, nice folks there (pic below). "Dinner" was all messed up so ended up with an ice cream cone at the shop in the Beau Rivage while people watching.
Back to Mobile and stopped in Pascagoula on the way at Monica's who were open for Mother's Day and had a buffet w/ drink for $10. Some good fried chicken, baked ham, stuffing, mac n cheese, fried okra and green tomatoes, excellent peach cobbler and pecan bread pudding and a nice guy doing the cooking. Their downtown had a similar look to Biloxi with a few more things that hadn't closed up. Stayed at the Drury closer to the airport back in Mobile and they have a free happy hour buffet that didn't look great but could fill you up if you so desired. I opted for a couple bites from the free crawfish boil at the Alabama Music Box then an okay patty melt on rye at Butch Cassidy's on N. Florida.
So lots of eating not splitting things like I normally do, not sure what the weight damage is. Glad I went to Tupelo and Oxford where it felt a little more lively than the other towns. A northern city gal through and through I guess. Thanks to Littleman for his help
152 Courthouse Sq, Oxford, MS 38655
Downtown Grill Restaurant
110 Courthouse Sq, Oxford, MS 38655
118 Courthouse Sq, Oxford, MS 38655
Butch Cassidys Cafe
60 N Florida St, Mobile, AL 36607
Tiny Diny Restaurant
2159 Halls Mill Rd, Mobile, AL 36606
423 Carrollton Ave, Greenwood, MS 38930
Park Heights Restaurant
335 E Main St, Tupelo, MS 38804
Well Vicksburg was def. the downtown with the most potential it seemed but yes, too many closed shops. Greenwood was sad, I don't think you can really even call Main St. and Howard a real downtown in Biloxi (but the Fillin Station is a lot of fun). Thankful that Oxford and Tupelo (and Ocean Springs on May Fair day) had a bit more life to them to not make MS a total wash.
Main St Cafe
100 S Main St, Yazoo City, MS 39194
Joanie, unfortunately for you, you could not have come at a worse time with the recent tornadoes which left everyone here a little shaken at best and much worse for many. I haven't been to most of the places you visited except Wintzell's and agree it's fine if not exciting. I am glad you enjoyed at lease some of your trip and we appreciate the great write-up.