The Hospitality State
8 Mississippi restaurants you can’t miss
Words by Ashley LockeHospitality
The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
Similar: friendliness, helpfulness
Mississippi is well-known for its southern hospitality, but its hospitality industry has flown under the radar for far too long. The culinary scene flaunts restaurants that would be right at home in New York City, New Orleans, or Los Angeles—but the talented chefs behind the state’s food renaissance are proud to call Mississippi home.
Birdhouse Cafe - Katie Dixon - Hattiesburg
Katie Dixon is a spokesperson for the MS UProot Campaign, whose mission is “building a healthier Mississippi from the ground up.” Katie shares in that mission with her restaurant too. The Birdhouse Cafe, opened in 2017, feeds your body, mind, and soul with nourishing powerfoods such as acai bowls, smoothies, salads, and southern favorites with a healthier twist. Katie proves that good-for-you food can taste good too!
Elvie’s - Hunter Evans - Jackson
Named after Chef Evans’ grandmother from New Orleans, Elvie’s is the capital city’s newest all day café. Inspired by French cafés, the restaurant focuses on seasonal menu items made with organic produce and meat from sustainably-raised animals. There’s indoor seating at tables and the bar, and outdoor seating on the side patio and welcoming front porch. From your morning espresso to your evening cocktail, Elvie’s makes you feel right at home.
Fan & Johnny’s - Taylor Bowen Ricketts - Greenwood
The Delta is no stranger to comfort food, but at Fan & Johnny’s, Chef Ricketts takes it to another level. The James Beard Semifinalist whips up specials like duck confit and ricotta ravioli, and mouth-watering appetizers like buttermilk biscuits smothered in garlic cream sauce with oysters and bacon. The menu is always changing, so you’ll want to keep going back for more.
Vestige - Alex Perry - Ocean Springs
Ocean Springs native Alex Perry opened Vestige with his wife, Kumi Omori. Inspired by the flavors and techniques of her home country, Japan, Alex created a contemporary menu unlike any other. The tasting menu changes seasonally, but you can always expect delightful courses like pan seared “ora king” salmon or Japanese A5 wagyu beef with black garlic koji butter. Alex’s skill in the kitchen earned him a spot as a James Beard "Best Chef South" semifinalist in 2019.
Two Brothers Smoked Meats - Barton Dinkins - Starkville
From the smoker, to your plate—Chef Barton Dinkins has been serving up pecan wood-smoked meats in Starkville’s Cotton District since 2014. Creative dishes such as pork rind nachos and pimento cheese fritters are served up alongside the usual suspects—smoked chicken, pulled pork, and brisket. They’re a local favorite—the two story building is always packed—and once you take a bite you’ll understand why.
Big Apple Inn - Geno Lee - Jackson
There’s some history at Big Apple Inn. What began as a tamale cart in 1939, owned by Mexican immigrant Juan Mora turned into a popular brick-and-mortar restaurant run by his great-grandson Geno Lee. Located on historic Farish Street, Big Apple Inn was a favorite of Civil Rights leaders Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer. Though still most well-known for the tamales, the pig ear sandwiches are also highly requested.
Tarasque Cucina - John and Lauren Stokes - Oxford
There’s nothing more cozy than a bowl full of carbs, and the Stokes have perfected that warm feeling with the old world comfort food at Tarasque Cucina. The classic pastas are the main pull, but the rotating small plates means there’s always a delightful surprise—usually with a southern flair. Peanuts boiled in a dashi and chili broth and butter bean hummus are just a couple of dishes that you can expect to enjoy, depending on the season.
The Midtowner - Robert St. John - Hattiesburg
Every city needs a good diner, and Robert St. John made sure he filled that need in Hattiesburg. Midtowner says they serve “everyday food in an extraordinary town,” but don’t let that fool you—the food is done well. Whether you’re eating an omelet and scratch-made biscuits at breakfast or fried chicken and meatloaf sandwiches at lunch, you’ll leave full and happier than you were when you walked in.