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Jul 24, 2013 08:43 AM

Move to Mississippi - Initial Impressions - Long

I've been here for two weeks now and done a lot of exploring. I was pretty active on the Los Angeles Chowhound board, so I'll try to keep that up here in my new home (Clarksdale.) Some of these impressions will be obvious to those of you who live here, but hopefully they might prove useful to visitors. I've also been having most of these meals alone, so I haven't been able to try as many different things as I'd like. To prevent this from becoming too long, they will be brief.

Mr. Chen's was surprisingly good for Chinese lunch. I had xiao long bao (juicy pork dumplings, soup dumplings, called "small steam bun" on the menu) which were good, though not excellent. About half of them had soup in them - which is good - and half didn't. The wrappers were good and the filling was tasty. I also had pea shoots (dao miu) which were perfectly cooked, fresh and delicious. The Asian market in which the restaurant is found, is also very good, very reasonably priced, and surprising to me in Jackson.
The Mayflower was excellent, basic Gulf & local seafood, simply and nicely prepared. I had the grouper, one of the two blackboard specials of the night.

Lusco's was great for dinner. My friend had the grilled pompano for which they are justifiably famous. I had redfish which was every bit as good and differently cooked. The broiled shrimp were very fresh gulf shrimp, but not all that interesting. The place itself is fantastic and interesting.
Delta Bistro was a great, light lunch. Blackeye pea cakes are sort of a Southern falafel and were superb with Comeback dressing. The fried chicken sliders were simple - they could have maybe used a little cole slaw or something - but also very good.

Doe's Eat Place - what can I possibly say that hasn't been said. This is my very favorite steak house on the planet for the quality of the steak and its cooking as well as the atmosphere. (At least the Greenville location. I'm not as crazy about the Little Rock branch.) The fries are perfect. The broiled shrimp are also superb. The salad, overdressed and icebergian, somehow is perfect. There's beer, but if you want wine, bring your own.

McCarty's is a famous pottery studio - some of its work is in museum collections around the world, including Japan where pottery is taken very very seriously. They also have lunch in their gallery, served on their pottery. It is a beautiful, elegant place with a nice outdoor dining area as well as the indoor restaurant. White table cloths, great service, limited menu but made from locally sourced ingredients. The day I was there, there was an excellent vegetable soup, then a plate with chicken salad, stewed Merigold tomatoes and a cold green bean salad. It was all delicious.

Yazoo Pass has really upped the food game in Clarksdale. Great, fresh soups, sandwiches and salad bar, as well as excellent dinner entrees. I had some of the best fish tacos I have ever had anywhere there - grilled redfish. I've had great gazpacho and one of the better pozoles I have had anywhere. There was a simple grilled tuna salad that was superb. Very garlicky seafood angelhair pasta is very tasty. They have very good espresso and other coffee drinks. Beer only, so bring your own wine if you want it with dinner. I only wish the bakery made enough bread to sell loaves.
Stone Pony is a long time downtown staple. It's good, some of its items verge on being great - Boston Pops (?) which are delicious marinated, bbq porkloinsicles. It's dependable and has a full drinks license and is open when a lot of other places around town aren't.
Atzimba Mexican Restaurant is better than I would have expected in Clarksdale. Huevos rancheros are pretty good - though unless you want your eggs cooked hard, ask for them runny. They have a very good spicy hot sauce that you have to ask special for. The sauce they bring you is tasty, but doesn't have much heat to it. Mixing the two works pretty well. The chile verde is good. The tortillas are all thick, not very fresh, flour tortillas - which is, I think, a shortcoming. (Good corn tortillas are not easy to come by around here.) 706 S State St,
Abe's BBQ is Clarksdale's famous bbq place at the crossroads (of Highways 61 and 49.) Nice scene, nice people, the sauce is good. For my money the thing to order is the pulled pork sandwich. I get the excellent cole slaw - very tangy, no mayo, just the way I like cole slaw - on the side.

I don't know what got into me but I was craving Chinese food. Looking on my phone I found the Big Bowl Asian Bistro that seems to get good reviews. Well, it isn't repulsive, but I sure won't be going there again. Nothing had much flavor, it was all overcooked and glutinous. It also makes the mistake that a lot of Asian restaurants make in places where there aren't a lot of them - it tries to do too much. It tries to be too many types of Asian restaurant to too many people and fails to do a particularly good job. I am looking forward to going back to Oxford and trying more local cuisine - City Grocery, for instance.

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  1. Two weeks and no tamales? The horror, the shame.

    Stop by any shack with a sign. Or Google Tamale Trail for the ones on the map.

    3 Replies

      I've had tamales a lot in the Delta before. I plan to have more. Just before leaving Los Angeles a good friend - who makes my very favorite tamales on the planet (though much more in the style of central Mexico than the Delta) made me a lot of them, a whole lot of them. I'm sort of tamale'd out for a little while more. Then, Larry's here in Clarksdale is number one on my list of local places to try. So, not to worry, tamale-eating it will be.

      1. re: estone888

        Sorry, thought you were new to the area. Those tamales were the reason for a 400 mile detour one trip. Doe's, Abes, and a couple of catfish dinners were icing on the cake.

        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

          I am new to living in the area, but I've been here numerous times on scouting expeditions before taking the plunge.

    2. Welcome to town! I hope you're settling in well. Yazoo Pass and Stone Pony are big favorites in my house. In the fall/winter, YP does a creamy zucchini soup that is my 2nd favorite soup of all time. If you haven't been to Oxbow, I do suggest you drop in. Good things happening there. And the Dutch Oven, as well, for baked goods as well as lunch. And Ramon's for deep-fried everything.

      I really can't in good conscience recommend any Chinese food around here. And I feel bad about it, because the families that run the 2 main places in C'Dale are so nice.

      In Oxford, besides City Grocery, I heartily recommend Ajax Diner, Big Bad Breakfast, Snack Bar, Boure, well, there are lots of good places there.

      Try to stay cool!

      2 Replies
      1. re: tracytrace

        Thanks, I'll be hitting all those spots before long. Until I find my own place I'm staying relatively near Ramon's, just haven't quite got there yet, will do so soon. I've been struggling to settle in with healthier eating habits at first, figuring to work up the habit of fried food, etc. slowly. I know myself - if I succumb too fast I'll be contributing too many pounds to the state statistics before long. I do figure that for Chinese I'll have to visit Jackson, or maybe Memphis, or mostly just cook for myself - same with Thai, Indonesian, etc. It seems that between the local Kroger and the occasional trip up to Winchester Farmers Mkt. ingredients aren't going to be a problem. (I did look for the International Grocery in Oxford the other day, but either it has closed or I couldn't find it.)

        1. re: estone888

          Yeah, I think the International Grocery has closed. Shame. Memphis is the way to go. Oh I did just pick up a chunk of really good manchego at Miss Del's, across from the library. They have some surprising things in there from time to time.

      2. Where in Miss are you (generally)?? How close to Oxford??

        1 Reply
        1. re: kariin

          In Clarksdale, but coming from Los Angeles I tend to drive around a lot.

        2. Gotta say, Yazoo Pass in Clarksdale continues to impress me. Since this initial post I've had a couple more dinners there. One night it was their mahi mahi special and it was as good and interesting and fresh as anything I've ever had back in Los Angeles. The salad bar was its usual excellent self as well. Last night I had the penne with grilled chicken and a variety of stuff in the pasta sauce and it was also spot on - everything cooked perfectly, served hot and all the ingredients complemented each other as well as one would hope for. It was a bit heavier - with fontina cheese - than I normally eat at Yazoo Pass, but I have no complaints.

          Otherwise, I was looking for somewhere that was open on Sunday for lunch and ended up driving to Tunica to the Blue & White. Had the buffet for $11. The fried chicken was excellent and they don't put out too much at a time, so it was nice and hot. I went on a vegetable binge and had green beans, greens, brussel sprouts and blackeye peas and everything was tasty, fresh, a little overcooked but you expect that sort of thing in a place like the Blue & White, and porky.

          While driving around I noticed a Mediterranean restaurant called Watson's Green Olive, or something like that. Anyone been? Any comments? I'm figuring I'll go back and give it a try.

          4 Replies
          1. re: estone888

            I've not heard about Watson's Green Olive, but will certainly look/listen for it! I love the Blue & White. When I was a tiny child, we lived in Lula and my dad worked in Tunica, and my mom and I would often meet him there for lunch. In the cooler seasons, their potato soup is divine. I had lunch at Yazoo Pass today! Grilled pimento cheese and tomato sandwich. So good.

            1. re: tracytrace

              They do have an excellent grilled pimento cheese and tomato sandwich. I just had chicken salad at Oxbow for lunch. It was okay, nothing to write home about. One of these days we're bound to run into each other - if we haven't already. We'll have to have some secret signal so we recognize each other.

              1. re: tracytrace

                Oh, the Green Olive is on the northeast corner of Prichard Rd. at the north end of town along Hwy 61. It's in the H.R. Watson & Sons Bldg. I saw something online about it, which is the only reason I'm even calling it Mediterranean, but I can't recall where I saw it.

                1. re: estone888

                  Oh, Watson's Cash Store! I used to teach at Rosa Fort High School right next to that place. I imagine we will run into one another. Maybe, if one of us suspects, we could "cough-cough-chowhound?" Lol.
                  I've never had Oxbow's chicken salad, but their tuna tacos are the best I've ever had. And, csb, I was in there getting some a while back and Andrew Zimmern was there, too. He got himself some, and later tweeted that they were the best he'd ever had as well!
                  It's so hot here right now, We are hardly getting out at all. I bought a plastic chair to put in our pool. My kid splashes and plays for hours on end, and I sit there with my iPad in a ziploc bag, trying to stay a little bit cool.

            2. Rather than starting a new thread every time I have a meal, I am just going to add to this one. Undoubtedly the onslaught of meals in restaurants will cease as soon as I have my own place and can actually start to cook at home again. At that point, trips to Winchester Farmers Market will become regular features of my life here.

              Meanwhile: yesterday, here in Clarksdale, I had lunch at Guadalajara - the new Mexican restaurant in the shopping center that has Sears and a tire store in it on State St. across from Kroger. It's gigantic. They really should hire a large mariachi band and open up a dance floor. It was about on par with Atzimba - good under the circumstances - the circumstances being that it's opened in a place without a huge, demanding of great authentic, even regional Mexican food population. I asked if they had a salsa that was "mas picante," and they did and it was very good. The enchiladas verde that I had were good and not at all too glopped up with cheese. It does have an enormous menu so I'll be going back to try different things.

              Then tonight I was out and about taking pictures in the evening light and found myself near Marks, knowing that it wasn't really all that far to Como, where I have been told there is a good steakhouse - the Como Steakhouse. It was pandemonium in there, jam packed. Somehow I squeezed onto a stool at the bar and managed to order dinner. The salad was simple and fine, the baked potato was perfectly cooked though they were out of sour cream and it was rather drenched in butter. The 14 oz ribeye was cooked to a perfect medium-rare as I like. It tasted good and was an excellent piece of meat, but it also tasted a little too much of either the wood smoke from the grill or some sort of slightly sweet marinade. I tend to like my steaks seasoned with salt and black pepper and not much else - to taste of steak and pretty much only that. This was, in my humble carnivorous opinion, a good steak but not a great one. By comparison with Doe's, it wasn't a contender. Still, it was a fun place and I do want to go back and try some of the other restaurants along the strip of downtown Como.

              Tomorrow I'm off to Memphis and then St. Louis for baseball games. I might post something on the Tennessee and Missouri boards about ballpark food, or I might not.

              2 Replies
              1. re: estone888

                Ooh, I noticed a whole bunch of trucks in the parking lot and thought Sears must be having some sort of sale LOL, didn't realize Guadalajara finally actually opened! We will check it out in the next few days. If you're heading to Autozone Park, I highly recommend the bbq nachos! Rendezvous is not my favorite bbq by a long shot, but the nachos are good.
                Our dinner last night was fried chicken from the Double Quick convenience store at the corner of 2nd Street and Lee Drive. Best chicken in town! Sides are not good, though, we get those from Popeye's, if we have 20 minutes to wait for them.

                1. re: tracytrace

                  Good to know. I've been looking for good chicken and I'm not far from there at all.