This is a continuation of my food fare posts. I’ve already discussed New Orleans, Baltimore and Wilmington, Laurel, and Natchez, Mississippi. Go back and take a look if you like. In this post I’ll be discussing a few places along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
I’ll admit that I do not know that much about The Coast, as I once did. There have only been a few, random trips since Hurricane Katrina hit back in 2005. There is so much progress there that I feel overwhelmed and I don’t even know where to begin. So, this list is not to say that these few places are the only wonderful places to eat while down there. They are simply all that I know and they are very worth the effort of getting to and savoring something from there. So, we’ll start near New Orleans and work our way right towards Alabama.
Bay St. Louis was founded in 1699 by the French. It has always been relatively small and quaint. There are two bridges spanning over bays, dissecting The Coast into three portions. Bay St. Louis on the other side of one of these bridges in the direction of New Orleans. This is where my parents first lived after they were married. In a tiny little apartment on St. George Street. We were forever visiting this town because of my parents past there, and we’d always drive down the little alley to stop in front of their old residence and hear their tales of yesteryear. Most of what was there before 2005, simply isn’t there anymore. But there are lots of new places.
This is an adorable little coffee place the resides just off the main road in Old Town. There’s charm in the rural, quaintness of what was someone’s former home, complete with local artists work displayed on the walls. This is a place my parents discovered on one of their previous jaunts to their former town, and they, in turn, introduced my sister and I to it.
The sandwiches and baked desserts are superb. The coffee excellent and the atmosphere relaxing. I have visited three of the newer coffee places along The Coast since 2005 and this is by far, more along my lines.
Gulfport is the first destination you will see, if like me, you drive down US HWY 49. There are several places that are gone, that I can not blame the hurricane for. Places that commerce or casino’s took away long before that. Baricevs in Biloxi, Fisherman’s Wharf in Ocean Springs, or yes, even the chain restaurant out of Atlanta, Po Folks (which was basically a more rustic and much better version of Cracker Barrel). But there is one place from my childhood that is still kicking.
The best one, as far as location and interior was the one in Waveland,which was the original one, but it was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. There is one now located in Long Beach, but the one in Gulfport holds my heart. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s just about everything to me. The nautical maps, the fish tank, the glass-topped wooden tables. It just feels comforting.
Lil’ Rays is known for poboys and that’s pretty much what you should order on your first visit there. For all you non southerners yes, it’s basically a sub or a hoagie, but it really is so much more than that and different. And don’t call it anything but a poboy (poe boy) Any fried seafood poboy will do. My dad always preferred soft shell crab, my sister and I always preferred shrimp. You really can’t go wrong. All the seafood is fresh (I mean, it would be a crime if it weren’t with the boats so close, right?), the toppings are fresh, the traditional poboy bread delivered daily from New Orleans is fresh. Best po boys I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Sure you could add a beer to that poboy, but personally I’d add a bottled Barq’s root beer. The Coast is that soda’s birthplace after all, and in a bottle, it’s the perfect thing to drink with this meal.
Biloxi, which is always and only pronounced buh-lux-ee, is the last city of the mainland before crossing a bridge into a different part of the Mississippi Gulf Coast that heads towards Alabama. My favourite part of Biloxi wasn’t really the food, it was the J.L. Scott Marine Education Center, which was basically an aquarium. Every single trip to the coast would have me begging to go there. They rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina, in a different spot, but now you need an appointment to go. Anyways…
I’ve added Mary Mahoney’s because of the history. Eat here. Enjoy the ambiance of the building, and definitely stroll through the area with all its historic charms. There’s not a lot of this old French atmosphere on The Coast. This is your chance to experience it.
I have eaten here all of two times, both when I was older. My dad doesn’t go out for fancy things, so we never ate here in my childhood. I honestly don’t even remember the food. It wasn’t the most glorious thing I have ever tasted, but it was good. I’m thinking the food isn’t rubbish or they wouldn’t get so many good reviews. On our next foray to the coast, I do intend to eat here and actually remember what I’ve eaten. But you’ll forgive it if I tell you that the last time I was here was over ten years ago, yes?
Compared to the main section of The Coast; Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, and Pass Christian, there isn’t a whole lot by way of commercial growth on the far ends. Bay St. Louis, Waveland, and Diamond Head on one side and Ocean Springs, Gautier, and Pascagoula on the other. Ocean Springs actually is pretty bustling, but it is also over the bridge to the east.
Trips to the coast rarely ever involved going past Ocean Springs to the East or Bay St. Louis to the west. I’m not even sure if we would have been in Bay St. Louis as much as we were, had it not been for my parents wanting to revisit their past. Once on a family trip we drove to Pascagoula and ventured into The Singing River Mall, which has since closed down. The other time a friend and I decided to traipse along this uncharted, to us, territory and happened upon something pretty great.
Yes, another dive. Another burger and shake stand. I can’t help it. I’ll blame my dad. I’ve been to a lot of these types of places (and certainly not because of my mother!), and they’re mostly mediocre at best. When I take notice then it’s pretty damn good if you’re in the mood for just a simple burger and milkshake that are really hitting the spot. They’ve opened a second one fairly recently, but I recommend the original from 1953.
Sadly my list on The Coast is very sparse. Any non-chain recommendations I should try next time I’m there? Definitely let me know!
My next entry, we’ll hit my hometown of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. We’re the Hub City and home to USM, chances are you’ll find yourself here at some point, even if it’s just driving through to somewhere else. You’re bound to be hungry, this list will help.