MISSISSIPPI

Food Finds Along the Mississippi Gulf Coast

From beignets to oysters to shrimp potatoes and more, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is carving out a name for itself in the culinary world. With a diverse selection of local places that not only serve delicious dishes, but have some interesting characters and stories as well, it’s guaranteed that every meal you enjoy along the Mississippi Gulf Coast will be authentic and memorable.

Here are a few places that should be on everyone’s radar when visiting the area:

The Shed

"People come here because it's the best barbecue in the South," says Gus Boeckman, one of two "Shed Pimps” at the Ocean Springs location.

It may sound unusual to stop at a barbecue joint in a destination known for its seafood, but once you try The Shed, you’ll understand why. Family-owned and ran, it's a great place for all ages to kick back, enjoy some music and eat some finger-lickin’ barbecue.

As for Boeckman’s favorite, it’s the ribs. However, you probably can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. If you can’t make your mind up, check out the Shed Sampler Platter with a little of everything including sides a bread. It’s enough for two, or possibly three to split.

If you like sandwiches, don’t miss the pulled pork sandwich that won the “Ultimate Hometown Grill Off” on “Regis and Kelly.”

Frenchie’s Bistro and Wine Bar

It was a dessert created by chance.

During the competition at Taste of Ocean Springs a few year back, Kay Shafer, owner of Frenchie’s wanted to do another dish using the fryer. First thought was strawberry beignets, but because the event was outside and warm, no one would want fried dough. Then it came to her. She rolled the strawberries in crushed Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, lowered them in the fryer and voilà, deep fried strawberries.

Even though the dessert won, Shafer found the cereal too sweet and cinnamony, so she decided to use crushed graham crackers to coat the Ponchatoula, La. strawberries.

If you want a meal to go with the dessert, there is The Frenchie, which is similar to a pressed po’boy. The house speciality features coffee rubbed, slow smoked brisket (cooked on the Green Egg and finished in the oven) with caramelized onion and smoked gouda.

You can’t go wrong with Frenchie’s dark roux Crispy Seafood Gumbo, topped with a fried shrimp.

There is something for every taste on the menu like the Ritz Cracker Crab Cakes, Sisters of the Sea Combo Platter complete with fried oysters, shrimp and a cup of gumbo; Voodoo Shrimp, or The Eye Opener bistro burger with a fried egg and hash browns.

Mary Mahoney’s Old French House

It’s one of Denzel Washington’s favorite dishes, as well as John Grisham’s. In fact, both of them have had gallons of it FedEx to their homes, respectively. Grisham enjoyed the dish so much that it’s mentioned in two of his books, “The Runaway Jury” and “The Partner.”

The dish happens to be gumbo served at Mary Mahoney’s Old French House in Biloxi. Situated in one of the oldest homes in the city, is more than just place to enjoy gumbo or broiled or fried crab claws (and that’s just some of the appetizers), it’s a tradition.

On any given night, it isn’t unusual to see Bobby Mahoney, Jr., chatting up the clientele. Because, as he says, “I enjoy spending time with the customers. It’s what my mom did; and it’s what I do, day and night.”

Come hungry, because Mahoney jokes that the chef think everyone is a lumberjack, and because of the large servings, many don’t make it to dessert. Not recommended because you don’t want to miss sampling something like their signature dessert, bread pudding.

LuLu’s What for Lunch

Nancy Moynan calls it natural progression when asked how did she ended up in Bay St. Louis. The former New Orleans resident says she enjoys the Bohemian side of the town and the fact that it’s close enough to New Orleans.

Owner and chef of Lulu’s What’s for Lunch, Moynan’s background includes running a catering business, working at Commander’s Palace and as a private chef; so one day she decided to come to Bay St. Louis and open up a restaurant.

Located inside of Maggie May’s Art Gallery, Lulu’s blends in seamlessly with the pottery, jewelry and paintings. And as for the food, try the roast beef po’boy, which Moynan says she slow roast the meat for 12 hours. Other popular dishes include chicken salad, fish tacos, crab and corn bisque, and pear pecan salad.

200 North Beach

A phrase that could be used to describe chef Mark Daniels’ style would be “in house.” Everything from the Bay St. Louis restaurant’s butter to the soups and more are created in-house. Admitting he’s a “steak guy at heart,” he even cuts filets, ribeyes and New York strips in-house as well.

Hailing from New Orleans, Daniels says he “loves it over here in Bay St. Louis.” 

And patrons love the charbroiled oysters and blackened redfish served over andouille hash and étouffée. Daniels also whips up a blond and dark étouffée and gumbo once a week, as well. Be sure to save room for fudge pie, bread pudding or Miss Ann’s pecan pie.

Mindy’s Cafe

Even though owner Mindy Feverston doesn’t eat any seafood herself,  she still serves it at Mindy’s Cafe in Bay St. Louis

The fairly new (opened in March 2014) cafe-slash-diner offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Come for shrimp ’n grits in the morning, or enjoy a shrimp sandwich or po’boy for dinner.  If you aren’t in the mood for seafood, there’s plenty of other options.

If you need a quick bite or meal, check out the gator bites, boudin bites or shrimp bites, served with Rynole sauce (Feverston’s own recipe named after her three grandchildren.) Even though the bites are appetizers, pair it with a salad or fries (or both) for a meal.

J’s Restaurant

A Stuffed Fried Shrimp Potato at J’s Restaurant in Waveland is exactly what it says. It’s one of those dishes, along with their Stuffed Mountain Potato (meat and cheese), in life that you have to see (and try) to believe.

Owner Richie Santiago says they serve around “30-40 stuffed potatoes a day.”

But don’t worry if you want something a tad bit lighter, because another favorite here is the gumbo. The menu features everything from sandwiches to salads to wraps and more. Check out their specialities, like Shrimp Tyler, named after family members.

Don’t forget dessert. Santiago recommends Death by Chocolate.

Dempsey’s

It is reported that Dempsey’s in Kiln (former moonshine capital of the world and home of Brett Favre) goes through nearly 40 gallons of gumbo a week. Given that number, there just may be something to their gumbo.

Order the gumbo as an appetizer, and enjoy a steak or pasta dish. Want to stick with seafood? Try their popular 3-Way Broiled Seafood, which is shrimp, oyster and redfish topped with crab meat Au Gratin. There is also fried seafood platters (the Dempseys Seafood Plater for Two includes crawfish pies), po’boys and more.

Dessert, if you dare, should be Dempsey’s homemade tiramisu.

Whats for Breakfast: Tale of Two Beignets

Start your day off the right way with a serving of beignets at either McElroy’s in Biloxi or Triplett-Day Drug Company in Gulfport. Make it a point to hit up both during your visit to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, because like the gumbo in the area, the beignets aren’t alike either. For old-school beignets, McElroy’s is your place. For something chewier, Triplett-Day, where they use biscuit dough for their beignets.

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