The state of Mississippi is well known for many things — the birthplace of Elvis Presley and the Blues, a beautiful landscape studded with Magnolia blooms, and a concentration of historic Civil War sites. What you might not know is that Mississippi is also home to a significant number of James Beard Award-winning and nominated restaurants! Take a peek at these five restaurants (listed in alphabetical order) to see why a Mississippi food tour is absolutely worth the drive.
5 Award-Winning Mississippi Restaurants to Have On Your Radar
3118 Livingston Rd, Jackson, MS 39213 • (601) 362-0484
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Saturday and Sunday
When folks hear “James Beard Award,” they may picture white tablecloths and tiny portions — but that’s not always the case, as the James Beard Foundation honors creators across a wide variety of categories. Owners Tyrone Bully and Greta Brown Bully received the James Beard Foundation Award for America’s Classics at their long-standing soul food restaurant, Bully’s in 2016. This eatery’s origin story is just as incredible as its menu, as the restaurant was built by hand by Tyrone and his father in 1982. What began as a snack shop beloved by locals for their signature cold-cut sandwiches, Bully’s has evolved into a renowned soul food destination.
Diners flock to Bully’s for their oxtail, macaroni and cheese, and gravy — plus three different greens featured each day, cooked in a pork-infused broth. Tyrone Bully is still the first to open the restaurant’s doors in the morning and the last to lock up at night. Bully’s takes pride in serving incredible food to the entire community, and it’s a gathering place for customers from all different walks of life, from locals to visiting politicians to musicians recording at the nearby Malaco Records Studio. Whether you’re enjoying take-out or dining in on Bully’s cafeteria trays, we highly recommend this stop on your next trip to Jackson!
152 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655 • (662) 232-8080
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m; closed Sunday and Monday
Chef John Currence of the City Grocery Restaurant Group has multiple James Beard wins and nominations under his belt. Most notably, he was awarded the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef South in 2009. Opened in 1992, City Grocery is located in Oxford’s Courthouse Square in a Reconstruction-era livery stable. The lively, two-story brick building features an open patio on the second floor, exposed brick walls inside, and beautiful hardwood floors throughout.
White linen tablecloths and a lineup of signature dishes up the ante on the ambiance factor, making City Grocery a perfect location for date nights or celebrations with family and friends. Offering different menus for lunch and dinner, you’ll find everything from fried green tomatoes to a classic Coq Au Vin. This renowned eatery has become a staple in Oxford Square, and it’s one you won’t want to miss.
Doe’s Eat Place
5502 Nelson St, Greenville, MS 38701 • (662) 334-3315
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, MS, was established by Dominick “Doe” Signa and his wife, Mamie, in 1941 and has been family-owned and operated ever since. After retiring in 1974, Doe passed the restaurant on to his sons Charles and Little Doe. The pair still run the restaurant today and continue to carry on the tradition of greeting guests in the front kitchen — which once served as a honky-tonk!
In 2007, Doe’s Eat Place was recognized as a winner of the James Beard Foundation Award for America’s Classics. With a menu boasting everything from comfort food items like tamales and chili to porterhouse steaks, there’s something for everyone at Doe’s. Though time and a steady flow of foot traffic have taken a toll on the building, the wear and tear only contribute to the charm and authenticity of the dining experience.
721 N Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655 • (662) 236-6363
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday
Another Oxford eatery, Snackbar also falls under John Currence’s City Grocery Restaurant Group and has been serving up a Southern Brasserie menu since its opening in 2009. Chef Vishwesh Bhatt was awarded the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef South in 2019.
From carefully crafted cocktails to raw oysters, Snackbar prides itself on using local Mississippi ingredients whenever possible. Expect dishes like Catfish Green Curry, a “Damn Fine” Burger, and Coconut Panacotta. There is no shortage of creative and delicious items to be had. The relaxed atmosphere at Snackbar is simply the icing on the cake, allowing diners to enjoy the food and the company without any fuss.
715 Washington Ave, Ocean Springs, MS 39564 • (228) 818-9699
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday
The most contemporary option on the list, this downtown Ocean Springs restaurant is helmed by the 2019 and 2022 Semi-Finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef South, Alex Perry, and his wife, Kumi Omori. The pair are inspired by Omori’s Japanese roots, while Perry uses locally sourced ingredients to put his own spin on elements of traditional Japanese cuisine.
Vestige offers a tasting menu that rotates based on the seasonality of local ingredients, using only what is fresh and in-season. While Perry serves up inventive dishes like wagyu beef with glazed Tokyo turnips, Kumi hand-makes all of the bread and desserts offered at Vestige — think twists on old favorites like her carrot cake with black sesame miso, rye whisky butterscotch, and chai spiced nuts.
While the menu is modern and the presentation offers plenty to talk about, the historic charm of the restaurant itself provides a cozy atmosphere. If you’re in Ocean Springs, a reservation at Vestige should be at the top of your to-do list.
Here’s to exploring the South, one dish at a time!
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