By: Author Jeanine Consoli
The rich history of Biloxi began with the native Biloxi people, who inhabited the area before the arrival of Pierre Le Moyne Sieur d’Iberville. When he arrived on Ship Island in 1699 to claim the territory for France, he never met the Biloxi until he landed on the mainland a short time after that. France controlled the region until they ceded it to England in 1770, who ceded it to Spain nine years later. Mississippi eventually became America’s 20th state in 1817.
In the 1800s, the hospitality industry became a huge draw. Biloxi restaurants and hotels started popping up because of the fantastic climate, the gorgeous waterfront, and the abundant seafood. After the Civil War, when much of the interior of the south was devastated, Biloxi was slowly able to get back to the business of hosting folks who wanted to return to normal after the war. The L & N Railroad brought northern guests, and wealthy southerners built summer mansions along the shore.
Biloxi was unique. There was always a blending of cultures from the beginning. This made the coast different than other parts of the south. The Spanish, French, English, Irish, African, Cajun, and Native American cultures worked in the seafood industry, harvesting, canning, or shipbuilding.
Due to their hard work, Biloxi became the Seafood Capital of the World by the turn of the century. New immigrants were always arriving, looking for a job. It started with Polish and Croatian, and eventually, in the 1970s, Vietnamese people joined the workforce. That’s why the cuisine is so diverse. You’ll see global influences on menus and served during festivals. It starts with the bounty of oysters and shrimp Biloxi’s always been known for.
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5 Best Biloxi Restaurants
1696 Beach Boulevard //+ 1 (228) 207-0885
Austin Sumrall, the chef-owner of White Pillars, is a Mississippi native. Growing up on a cattle and horse ranch in McComb, he learned to respect the land and its resources. A graduate of the University of Mississippi with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management, Austin followed his passion for cooking.
He received classical training at the CIA in Hyde Park, New York. He met his wife Tresse, also a Mississippi native, at Ole Miss. After working for three different James Beard award-winning chefs, the couple moved home to open White Pillars. Once there, he earned the James Beard Foundation Semifinalist title “Best Chef: South.”
Sumrall’s concept for White Pillars is to showcase Mississippi artisans – in cuisine and handiwork. Gulf seafood, produce, protein, handmade artisan plate ware, and furniture are all used in the stunning historical building. Historic pieces decorate the tastefully updated rooms; even the mahogany bar is legendary.
Originally from the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago, frequent visitors like the Vanderbilts and icons like Lena Horne and Nat King Cole, or mobsters “Lucky” Luciano and Al Capone perched there to sip cocktails. In 2015, the property earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
My friend and I started with the multi-tiered Gulf Seafood Tower. On top were eight plump briny oysters. On the second tier were small dishes of swordfish Kokoda, smoked Gulf fish dip, Mahi Crudo, shrimp ceviche, and four large peel and eat shrimp along with various sauces. The accompanying homemade crackers were wafer-thin, crisp, and delicately sprinkled with salt.
This feast for the senses and tastebuds was incredible. The oysters were so fresh. I topped them with all the different sauces – with the classic shallot mignonette as my favorite. We sipped our craft cocktails and savored the dips and views of the Sound from the terrace as we watched the sunset.
We headed inside to continue our meal. Next, we nibbled homemade bread with three small dollops of flavored lards sprinkled or drizzled with honey or salts. These were divine and served in a vessel and a board crafted by local artisans. Our main dishes of Confit Rabbit Pappardelle with saffron pasta, Benton’s Country ham, Deckle farms roasted squash, cured lemon, and Grana Padano were delicate but satisfying. It was the ultimate comfort food. The rabbit was light and flavorful, and the squash was sweet, which played beautifully against the backdrop of the saffron pasta.
My beef wellington wasn’t wrapped in pastry so that it could be wood-grilled to order and placed over a bed of crisp potatoes, creamed spinach, and foie gras mousse. Then it was topped with a sky-high square of puff pastry. We shared both entrees and could not stop eating all the sumptuous flavors.
Sadly, we skipped dessert as we had no room, but I am sure it would have been mind-blowing in keeping with the previous courses. White Pillars is a casual but one-of-a-kind place to enjoy a date night or meal with special friends. A lovely experience for fine dining in Biloxi.
280 Oak Street //+1 (228) 436-0850
When Sue Nguyen-Torjusen’s family immigrated to Biloxi from Vietnam in the early 1980s, she was in second grade. They came for the American dream and opened an Asian grocery store. Sue helped run things and taught herself to bake. Her parents added a small counter of baked goods in their grocery store.
When her father passed away in 1999, she decided to close one chapter and begin another. She opened Le Bakery, her true passion. In 2004, Sue purchased the building on Oak Street and focused on French pastries and bread, but when Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, the storm wiped out her store. After about six months (when power was restored and supplies could be reordered), she was up and running again, feeding volunteers. Her crisp baguettes, desserts, and Vietnamese Po’boys, French bread stuffed with Asian-inspired fillings, gained a cult following which hasn’t stopped since.
Le Bakery is open six days a week, and everything is made fresh on site. French pastries, tarts, bread, cookies, and wedding cakes, plus Asian desserts and smoothies, attract a steady stream of customers. There’s also a loyal following for her Vietnamese Bánh Mi. It’s a Po’boy in the Vietnamese style, and they are delicious.
I stopped in to order a coconut curry chicken Po’boy. It’s served on an eight-inch baguette dressed with garlic mayonnaise, julienned carrots, marinated daikon, onions, cilantro, and slices of hot jalapeño. There are at least ten different kinds you can modify in any way you like, as they are made fresh to order.
The prices are reasonable, and the sandwich is hearty. I wish I lived there because I would try each one and then start over. For baked goods and Vietnamese food in Biloxi, this is your place.
404 Porter Ave // +1 (228) 327-0579
It started with a greenhouse in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and grew to a second location in Biloxi. Greenhouse on Porter – Biloxi is a welcome location on GE Ohr Street that offers outstanding coffees, teas, scratch-made biscuits, jams, butter, and biscuit sandwiches.
Strangers Kait Sukiennik and Jessie Zenor met through friends. Their mutual acquaintances thought they might pair well in business because of their similar outlooks, and they were right. Their simple concept was to pull people together over food and coffee, specifically those amazing, scratch-made biscuits. Anything can be made from that base, including sandwiches or desserts. I wanted to keep it simple and ordered a sweet potato biscuit with honey butter and a cup of coffee.
I could’ve ordered eggs and bacon, but I wanted to taste the biscuit. I was thrilled at my choice and was in flavor heaven. A flaky biscuit with sweet butter to bring out the hint of the potato in the dough was perfect. My coffee was excellent too. The charming artwork on the walls and little vases on the table with sprigs of baby’s breath started my day off with a smile. Make sure to try this one-of-a-kind Biloxi breakfast restaurant.
124 Main Street //+1 (228) 207-2628
Restauranteur Ron Savell wanted something different for his new restaurant concept in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. His friends Josh and Crystal Rogers were restaurant managers and menu developers. They helped him nail down the idea of a chef-driven menu with an extensive wine and cocktail selection that included premium choices crafted locally and from around the world. It worked, and he expanded into Biloxi and Gulfport. The alfresco patio in Biloxi is in the heart of town but feels private. The classic creole menu has favorites and a fresh take on seafood and steaks for lunch or dinner.
I joined my friend for some starters and cocktails as dinner. The signature cocktails from the bar were all inventive and had fresh-squeezed juices if the ingredients called for it. I opted for the Bees Knees – Bar Hill gin, agave, lemon juice, and ginger ale, which was refreshing.
We ordered crab claws with garlic butter because blue crabs are local. Sauteed with garlic butter sauce, we found them fresh and so sweet. Next, we devoured the pea sauté, field peas, applewood bacon, okra, tomatoes, and roasted garlic aioli, over sweet cornbread. I can’t explain why this dish is so good, but it’s fantastic, and the flavors work well together. It’s hearty and filling but addictive.
Finally, we selected the blue crab fondue with three kinds of cheese and a toasted baguette because we had to devour more crab. The patio at Patio 44 is lively and fun. Perfect for outdoor dining, it’s casual yet elegant at the same time. The food is delicious with plenty of options from sandwiches to filet mignon. No matter your taste, this Biloxi restaurant will satisfy you.
692 Howard Avenue // + 1 (228) 435-2522
The Ole Biloxi Filling Station is not fancy. In fact, it’s an old, converted gas station with a patio outside and a small indoor seating area with a lively bar crowd inside. They are famous for Cajun food, including Po’boys, crawfish boil, and crawfish nachos. But, they have a full bar including specialty cocktails, and the menu includes seafood choices, burgers, and daily specials, all in a funky gas station on the corner of Howard Avenue. We stopped in for a local lager, a Fly Llama made in Biloxi.
We sat outdoors and ordered the famous crawfish nachos. Crawfish are very popular in Biloxi due to the proximity to Louisiana and the Cajun influences in Mississippi. They were boiling crawfish for customers all night.
When our order showed up, it was enough to feed ten people. There are layers of tortilla chips with melted cheddar cheese, Pico de gallo, sweet and spicy sauce, plenty of crawfish, jalapeños, and scallions. The colossal platter won awards for being the best in the city. There was no way we could finish it all, so we struck up a conversation with a table nearby and offered them the rest.
They were only too happy to polish it off. The food is excellent, the servers are friendly, the patrons are regulars, and the vibe is fun—a must-stop restaurant in Biloxi.