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Gulf Coast Recs. for Upcoming Trip

Greetings from "sunny" Arizona,

We are looking to put together a trip to the Gulf Coast, later in the year. Though I grew up in Gulfport, most of what I once knew is now gone.

I am looking for some "must-do" recs. in Gulfport, Biloxi and Long Beach. While we are both into "fine-dining," I am not looking for that specifically, though any such recs. will be greatly appreciated. Way back, "fine-dining" meant a trip to New Orleans and to Galatoire's or Antoine's.

What I'd love to hear about would be restaurants, that do local fare very well. While I grew up on fried seafood, that is not a requisite, though the greater the local influence, the better. Neither of us is into "steakhouses," though a great cut of beef, prepared well is always an option. Still, we'd much rather support a local, chef-driven restaurant, than some corporate restaurant, even if the absentee, celebrity chef has 3 Michelin stars back in Paris. We are both also heavy into wines, so a decent wine list is a big plus. I know that the Coast was never known for wine lists, but am hoping that some restaurants understand how to select wines for their list, that match the fare from the kitchen, rather than just rely on the distributor to fill up the cellar with "the usual suspects."

With but one exception (wife, who is from NOLA, but cannot do bi-valves, so no oysters, clams, mussels or scallops for her), we eat almost anything, so long as it's good. We have no issues with fried food, or even double doses of foie gras. While we love NOLA fare, whether Creole, NOLA, Cajun-influenced, or similar, we do not have to have that, as we will have been in NOLA a month before. Still, if a great restaurant has a NOLA bent, there is no issue.

One dish, that I would love to find, would be fried Gulf flounder. Going back to my youth, a very local restaurant, Benny's on Pass Road, in Handsboro (or maybe it was officially in Mississippi City?) had the best. That is a dish that I cannot find. Bruning's in NOLA had a good version, but Hurricane Katrina got them too, so no longer an option. Just had "Fried Flounder" at Wilton's in London, and it was horribly disappointing. Benny's had set the bar far too high, and I was foolish of me to think that a restaurant, even a very high-end seafood one, in London, would have even a clue. Had their wine list not been so good, I would have cried in front of all of our guests.

Price is no object, and we are probably more focused on dinners, than on lunches. Still, if you have a great lunch spot, with a local flavor, please do not hesitate to mention it.

We will have an auto, driving over from MSY, and both of us once knew the Coast very well, so short travel (remember those wines!) is not an issue. We will be staying in Gulfport, as it stands now, though the exact location has not been chosen.

We have plenty of time, and look forward to your thoughts and suggestions.

Thank you,

Hunt

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  1. Here's a link to the best and biggets burgers on the coast. I would put Darwell's on my list.

    http://www.beachblvdmagazine.com/arti...

    Mary Mahoney's is still great. Half Shell is outstanding. Back Bay is fun. Vrazel's is the best fine dining on the coast.

    Mary Mahoney's Old French House @ 116 Rue Magnolia, Biloxi, MS 228 - 374 - 0163.
    http://www.marymahoneys.com/
    Half Shell Oyster House @ FL 1st, 2500 13th St., Gulfport, MS 228 - 867 - 7001.
    http://halfshelloysterhouse.com/
    Vrazel's @ 3206 W. Beach Blvd., Gulfport, MS 228 - 863 - 2229.
    http://www.vrazels.com/

    1 Reply
    1. re: Littleman

      Littleman,

      Thank you for the recs.. Have not been to Mary Mahoney's post-K, so hope to get back. Considering the damage in Biloxi, I am glad to hear that they were able to get open.

      We've done Vrazel's, post-K (they got open rather quickly), and it WAS very good.

      One of my old favs (well, not THAT old) was The Chimneys in Gulfport (East Beach), and I understand that they have re-opened, as well. Not sure who the chef is, or anything about their new iteration. Last I had heard, they were not going to rebuild, but apparently had a change of heart.

      Do not know Half Shell, but have heard of Back Bay.

      Greatly appreciated!

      Hunt

      -----
      Half Shell Restaurant
      1106 Saint Mary St, Thibodaux, LA 70301

    2. I await the responses with interest and pen at-the-ready.

      Sorry I couldn't have helped you avoid flounder at Wilton's..never noticed it there but then I stick to other basics and have for almost fifty years. Don't let the flounder put you off the place.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hazelhurst

        Well, it was one of the "specials" that night, and I did ask a bunch of questions. The answers seemed to be the correct ones, but then the flounder came. Imagine a Mrs. Paul's large, flat fish stick. Edible, but that was about it. However, my wife's Dover Sole was very good (not the best, but in the top-10), as were all of the other dishes. The flounder, was just not up to my expectations.

        No biggie, as I got to order most of the wines that I wanted, due to the guests that we had (wife opened the purse a bit on that one), so all was not lost.

        I'll definitely give them another go, but will avoid the flounder. Hoping to get my "flounder fix" on the trip to the Coast.

        Hunt

        1. re: Bill Hunt

          Here's my two cents: good wine selection at French Charlies overlooking the harbor in Pass Christian and at Confusion in Gulfport. Agree that Vrazel's is the top spot on the coast.

          -----
          Vrazel's Fine Food Restaurant
          3206 W Beach Blvd, Gulfport, MS 39501

      2. Bill, a friend of mine, Maria Mavar, just sent me a bunch of vintage pics of the Gulf Coast - man, did it spark memories of the good old days. If you'd like, I could fw them to you, they're priceless. Let me know @ my email address belle_7017@yahoo.com. Even the old Alamo is in there!

        4 Replies
        1. re: bayoucook

          That would be absolutely wonderful.

          Just use info@huntphoto.com and place "Gulf Coast" in the Subject, so MailWasher does not ashcan them.

          Thank you for the kind offer.

          Hunt

          1. re: Bill Hunt

            Hunt, I just forwarded them to you, and you're welcome.

            1. re: bayoucook

              Then I need to get the "thank you" out immediately! Where were my "Southern Manners?"

              Not sure of the details of the gathering, but am still trying to plan some dining. Unfortunately, due to the dates, we will have fewer nights, than originally anticipated.

              Appreciated,

              Hunt

              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Oh no! My *you're welcome* was in response to your pro-offered thank you. Your Southern manners have not suffered a bit!

        2. My wife had the flounder at Blow Fly Inn a couple of weeks ago. I didn't try it, but she certainly enjoyed it- and the damn thing was huge!

          But for something really good, you should try Anthony's under the Oaks in Ocean Springs. Great food, great service, wonderful view, and even a decent (for the Coast) wine list. I *know* that the seafood is fresh, as they buy some from my brother in law!

          -----
          Blow Fly Inn
          9415 Highway 49, Gulfport, MS 39503

          2 Replies
          1. re: Clarkafella

            I'll put Anthony's on my list. I am trying to work up a Get Away in the fall....

            1. re: Clarkafella

              I recall some mention of Anthony's, but wonder if this trip will have enough time for Ocean Springs.

              I've always had the fried shrimp at the Blow Fly, and it sounds like I have missed a good dish. Maybe I can correct that.

              Thank you,

              Hunt

            2. Hunt.........Palace Casino has been renovated and now it's non smoking. Actually the only casino in the state I think. Mignon's is a great fine dining stop. I like the location on the back bay as it's a little quieter there but Biloxi is quiet anyway. Go to Shaggy's in Pass Christian and dine outdoors at the marina. Good luck.

              Palace Casino @ 158 Howard Avenue, Biloxi, MS 228 – 432 – 8888.
              http://www.palacecasinoresort.com/

              Shaggy's Harbor Bar and Grill @ 120 S. Hiern Ave., Pass Harbor, Pass Christian, MS. 228 - 452 - 9939.
              http://www.shaggys.biz/

              1 Reply
              1. re: Littleman

                Littleman,

                Thank you for the Palace rec. I seldom look to casinos, but do have to admit that the steakhouse at the Grand in Gulfport (forget the name now) was very good, and the wine list surprising, at least to me. The wine service was excellent.

                Appreciated, and I will check things out. We have not localized on our accommodations, so Biloxi, and maybe the Beau Rivage, would be an option, though I am thinking more Gulfport, or Long Beach. Time will tell there.

                Hunt