This is a continuation of my food fare posts. I’ve already discussed New Orleans, Baltimore and Wilmington, and Laurel, Mississippi go back and take a look if you like. In this post, I’ll be discussing Natchez, Mississippi.
Natchez was founded by the French in 1716, as a fort outpost. It’s not large, but it has indeed grown since then and is full of charm everywhere you look. I have family across the river there in Vidalia, so like Laurel, Natchez has been one of my stomping grounds all of my life. There’s a lot of history to see here and lots to explore, you’ll need food. Here, I’ll help.
Fat Mama’s Tamales
My entire family will agree that the random woman who sold tamales out of the back of her truck in front of the River Gate Bowl had the best tamales in the world. But she’s not around anymore. We were never allowed to eat at Fat Mama’s, when they were in the tiny cabin across the road, even though I desperately wanted to go. But I grew up, I was older. I could drive the car by myself and I went, just after they opened in their new location and got me some tamales.
These are not typical Latin American tamales. They are based on them, but these are Mississippi Delta tamales. It’s completely different. These type are by far my favourite (this type vs Latin American tamales), though I’ve never had them from an establishment where they were ‘born’.
This is a place where I’m sure it’s all good. But when you go, just get the tamales. My sister enjoys hers with all three extras; the hot sauce, the sour cream, and the crackers. I only enjoy them with the last two. Start out with half a dozen per adult. It’s OK to go back and order more.
The Malt Shop
Another burger and shake place, but it’s so good. Also, this is my dad’s second favourite place to eat in the whole entire world.
There’s not much to say really. They do burgers, fries, and shakes, and that’s pretty much what you should order. It’s typical dive food, but it’s delicious.
Also if you read one of my previous posts, you might be laughing now over “Big Gay Road”. Confused? Go have a look.
Once a petrol station, this lady has been converted into a cafe during lunch hours only. It’s always busy. It’s because there is an attraction to dining in a round room, in a lady’s skirt, in a piece of road-side Americana. And the food is really good.
People will tell you that she’s always been white, but I knew that to be a lie even before researching it on the internet, because I happened to have a vintage postcard depicting her just as she was originally built.
White Americans have been some pretty terrible people. I mean, honestly? Who thought this was a good idea? This one is split on my list. I like that you get to eat in a round room and the sandwiches are freaking amazing on their fresh-baked bread. But I don’t care what colour you paint her or which story you spin, this is who you are really eating inside of, and it’s kind of awkward. And they named it Mammy, hoping people would associate that with old, white grandma? Really?
Anyways, the decision is yours. I won’t judge. I just think one should know. The sandwiches and desserts are amazing and it’s very inexpensive. It’s also road-side Americana, even if it is the worst possible kind.
Pearl Street Pasta
It’s pasta. It’s comfort food. It’s local and it is good. I never found the ambiance or atmosphere all that appealing here, but the food was always good and always just want I wanted and needed.
This place is on my list because it is the oldest building, still standing, in the entire state, built some time in the 1750s or 1760s. When my sister and I first started going, the food was alright, but not super great, but it started to decline in taste and freshness. Though the time we celebrated New Years Eve there with my grandmother and ordered steak, it was a great meal and a great memory. However, we’d been enough and simply ordering a drink and appetizer were not worth the effort. Then they closed.
Apparently since re-opening they’ve swapped the dungeon look for a cleaner trestle table with benches look. They’re also very into flatbreads, as per their website. I’m not even sure if they still allow you to roam the floors of the building, but if they do, take them up on it. I haven’t been to Natchez in a few years and even longer for Kings Tavern, but I’m curious now as to how they’ve changed it all up. I will be going on my next visit.
Natchez Coffee Co.
The thing about Natchez is that, with each visit you’re never really sure what will be there. During my first 32 years, there were multiple yearly visits there to see family and putz around the city. And every year, a place or two would have closed in our short absence and something else sprung up somewhere in the city. Coffee houses were no exception. They were relatively unheard of until mid 2000s, and they’d been through two before the one I’m referring to here. They just couldn’t keep them. There was a really great one across from the Cathedral, but it only lasted perhaps a year. This one has been in business at least five years now.
Apparently there are two others that are currently open since my last visit three years ago. Next time I’m in town I will be trying them out, see what I think. But, besides being the only place you could purchase any type of coffee that wasn’t a petrol station cappuccino or diner coffee, it is actually really good. Better than a lot of places in my own town, where coffee houses have been a staple since 1995.
La Fiesta Grande
If you’ve made it to the Miss River Bridge, then you can’t fail to notice this place. It’s across the road from the River Gate Bowl and right in front of the Natchez Market, which is the grocery store. It’s Americanized Mexican food, but it’s really fantastic. Better than anything in my home town. I keep comparing, because my city is a rather large city by Mississippi standards, and we have a lot of things. Plus, it’s what I know in my daily life. Their food is up there with Superior Grill in New Orleans. If you’re looking for this type of food while in Natchez, then this is the place to go for it. Hands down.
My next entry, we’ll be hitting the Mississippi Gulf Coast; the cities of Pascagoula, Biloxi, Gulfport, and Bay St. Louis.