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Abe Davis emigrated with his family from Lebanon in 1913 at the tender age of thirteen and they soon migrated to Clarksdale. Abe opened a barbecue restaurant in 1924 called the Bungalow Inn and moved the restaurant to its current location, at the Crossroads on Highways 49 and 61, in 1937. These days Abe’s sons, Pat and Abe Davis, Jr. run the restaurant that was rechristened as Abe’s BBQ in 1960, in honor of their father. . Notice the hand-painted mural on the wall inside of a pig with a fiddle in his hand and nearby is a pork sandwich and beer. Abe’s is an eating establishment with a lot of history because to some, it is representative of Civil Rights struggles. The white community didn’t always accept the Lebanese community members into their society and, the Davis’ always welcomed anyone, whether they were black or white, to sit and eat in their restaurant. There is no doubt its place is entrenched as a prime example of a Delta establishment whose heritage helps define and moreover, bond the converging immigrant culture with the local flavor of the region. Oddly enough, barbecue isn’t the main reason people stop by, although it’s a popular fixture on the menu along with the bottles of barbecue sauce. One of the main attractions is the pork-filled hot tamales, which Pat remembers rolling by hand at the age of ten, and admits is very similar in nature to rolling grape leaves. Abe got the tamale recipe, now a family secret, in the 1950s from a Mexican man who sold his tamales on the street corner out of a copper pan. Abe’s tamales come served in bundles of three with crackers and slaw on the side. Many Mississippi folks have the interesting habit of spreading their tamales on Saltine crackers. The cracker acts as a bland ballast – a firm foundation, so to speak – that contrasts the soft, fine texture of the tamale. At Abe’s, modern day experimentation has morphed the regular hot tamale into a popular menu item called the “Tamaco,” a salad with tamales on top then covered with chili and a piece of cheese. Nowhere else can you find food variety like this!
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