Mississippi’s independent restaurants are ready to provide a dining experience that will make your holidays a little merrier and, certainly, very well-seasoned. Learn more, below, about a few of our favorite establishments for dining and also enjoying holiday spirits of the distilled kind. The holidays are also a perfect time to give the gift of food to those who need it most. Watch the video below to learn more about how your donation can help Extra Table, Mississippi’s homegrown hunger-relief organization, provide nutritious meals for food-insecure families throughout the state.
You can help fight hunger, right here in Mississippi, with your donation to Extra Table. The nonprofit, founded by Hattiesburg-based restaurateur and author Robert St. John, provides food to pantries and soup kitchens across the state, with 100% of donations going to feed families in need.
For many in Mississippi, it’s just not the holidays without tamales. In Jackson, the Big Apple Inn, traces its roots back to Mexican immigrant Juan Mora, who first sold tamales out of a cart in 1939. This tradition continues today with Juan’s great-grandson Geno Lee. During the Civil Rights era, the Big Apple’s Farish Street location was frequented by historic figures including Medgar Evers, who had an office above the restaurant, and Fannie Lou Hamer.
Taylor Bowen Ricketts’ artistic flair can be seen in both the artworks lining the walls of her restaurant and the artisanal approach she brings to her cooking. At her Greenwood restaurant, Fan & Johnny’s, the James Beard “Best Chef South” semifinalist offers food lovers an ever-changing menu of southern favorites with a contemporary twist. Specialties range from duck confit to deep-fried alligator tail with comeback sauce.
Vestige is, without question, one of Mississippi’s most unique culinary finds. The cozy Ocean Springs restaurant offers guests a blend of contemporary American flavors fused with Japanese food traditions. Vestige is owned by Ocean Springs native Alex Perry, a James Beard “Best Chef South” semifinalist, and his wife Kumi Omori, who together refresh their multicourse tasting menu constantly to emphasize seasonality, sustainability, and locally sourced ingredients.
As the name suggests, Two Brothers Smoked Meats specializes in serving a variety of meats cooked low and slow over the restaurant’s pecan-fueled outdoor smoker. Barton Dinkins, the restaurant’s managing partner and chef, serves up street tacos, sandwiches, and burgers guaranteed to satisfy the most ravenous carnivore. It’s not hard to find them in Starkville’s Cotton District. Just look for the building with the two-story bright blue and purple mural.
The Midtowner, located in midtown Hattiesburg, is one of the latests offerings from celebrated Mississippi restaurateur Robert St. John. The restaurant evokes the feeling of a midcentury American diner, with classic breakfast options and hearty lunch plates including fried chicken and other traditional diner fare served up with a variety of vegetable sides. The Midtowner serves breakfast and lunch only, so be sure to arrive before it closes at 2 p.m. daily.
Cathead Distillery, located in downtown Jackson, has the distinction of being the first legal distillery to open in Mississippi, following the state’s repeal of prohibition in 1966. The distillery launched in 2010 with its namesake Cathead Vodka, which was followed by Old Soul Bourbon, Bristow Gin, and their newest concoction, Hoodoo Chickory Liquor. The distillery’s Bottle Shop is open weekdays for those looking for a unique gift or the perfect complement to a holiday meal.