The Mississippi Gulf Coast restaurant scene is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Is it French Creole like the first European settlers? Pascagoula is home to the oldest verified French house in the coastal Mississippi valley. Is it in the deep south? You’ll find the Jefferson Davis Presidential Library in Biloxi. Do you come for seafood? About 70% of the domestic shrimp and oyster production comes from the Mississippi Sound. Maybe it’s farm-to-table fare from Mississippi’s fertile fields or artisan eateries in charming coastal towns?
The truth is that coastal Mississippi restaurants are all of these things mixed together in sweet harmony. Our Mississippi Gulf Coast restaurant guide lets you experience this region like you were there. We put you inside each restaurant eating one of their signature dishes. It’s part wanton food porn and part travel muse. If you don’t find this piece at least entertaining, we’re not doing our job.
Miraculous Mornings at the Mockingbird Café
We start our coastal Mississippi restaurant coverage at the Mockingbird Café in Bay St. Louis for no other reason than it’s the westernmost restaurant in this piece as we take you through coastal Mississippi’s culinary delights from west to east. That and, if you are going to start anytime, you may as well start in the morning .
The café is just off Main Street in this quintessential coastal community, around the corner from Ruth’s Roots community garden and the Shops and Century Hall community art store.
Mockingbird Cafe’s website provides this store description – “The bird is the preferred hangout of anyone with an easy spirit. We’ve been called the Living Room of the Bay, and that is true. When the Mockingbird was born, out of the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, locals and volunteers alike found the bird to be a welcome and comforting presence in the trying, chaotic times after the storm.”
We found the ‘spirit of Bay St. Louis’ to be absolutely uplifting. Who cares about transatlantic flights when you have local communities like this? Of course, we had to order a lavender latte made with Coast Roast Coffee from this small coffee shop, with a big love for the local community. It’s also an excellent lead-in for a coastal Mississippi coffee trail.
Fields Steak and Oyster Bar
In many ways, Bay St. Louis is like a little New Orleans, without the pretense and debauchery. Instead, you get all the flavors and fixings of the Big Easy, but it’s actually easy. Fields Steak and Oyster Bar is a high-end chop shop with a flair for fresh-shucked oysters.
When we went to Fields, we couldn’t decide between steak or seafood. Luckily for us, we didn’t have to. They offer succulent wagyu beef with a range of steak toppers from crab, shrimp, lobster, caramelized onions, and Demi mushrooms. Our filet was cooked to perfection and well seasoned on its own. Combined with a fresh soft shell crab topper, it was a taste treat so rich and complex that we forgot all about that other bayou city by the bay.
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Thorny Oyster claims to be a celebration of local ingredients and creative dishes made to excite the senses. Maybe I’m not mature enough to say that name three times fast, or maybe that’s what they wanted me to think. Either way, Thorny Oyster is a new southern seafood restaurant located inside the Pearl Hotel.
We followed Lauren Joffrion, Chef de Cuisine, to Thorny Oyster because we love her cooking that much. Apparently, we’re not alone since she was the recipient of this year’s Country Roads Magazine Small Town Chef Award! Alex Perry, the Executive Chef of Vestige in Ocean Springs, says, “Lauren is one of a handful of young chefs in Coastal Mississippi who is striving to change the way people perceive a traditional Southern dish.” Her recipes defy the ordinary and challenge the boundaries of traditional culinary offerings.
Since we were on the Gulf, we had to have the Bouillabaisse filled with fresh seafood. However, it was Lauren’s Campfire dessert that thrilled and delighted us. Imagine an oversized s’more with homemade graham crackers, chocolate ganache, toasted meringue, and vanilla bean ice cream. Now double how delicious that sounds and pair it with an over-the-top presentation. That’s classic Chef Joffrion for you!
There was a time when Pass Christian was considered the Newport of the South. Now, it’s quieter, quainter, but still so charming. Henderson Point, where the Bay St Louis Bridge crosses over to Point Christian, starts 26 miles of Mississippi beachfront. Since the Army Corps of Engineers built these beaches to protect US-90, there is almost no commercial development along the entire stretch. One notable exception is Sea Level; a beach cottage tucked in a beachside cove located in Pass Christian Harbor.
They serve fresh takeout fare with a coastal flair. Stop in for a burger or shrimp taco and stay for the cornhole and sand toys. It’s a seaside picnic and provisions all in one. We had to try one of their 45 Snoball flavors, a southern staple created in New Orleans in 1934. It was the perfect pairing with a beach umbrella and oversized chair. We even got to see dolphins frolicking in the bay.
Shaggy’s Biloxi Beach
Welcome to Biloxi Beach y’all. The unofficial seafood capital of the Mississippi Coast was once considered the seafood capital of the world. About 70% of the nation’s oysters and shrimp are harvested from the Mississippi Sound as well as other succulent seafood delicacies. The first Biloxi stop is Shaggy’s, home to funky family fun with breathtaking beachside views.
They offer southern favorites like fried green tomatoes, gator bites, shrimp and grits, country fried chicken, and slow-roasted pulled pork. They also work in some west coast flair with poke stuffed avocado, lettuce wraps, and mahi-mahi tacos. Your mouth and your eyes will have a hard time deciding if you’re in So-Cal or So-Miss.
We decided to keep the dichotomy rolling and ordered a premium lobster mac and cheese side—half southern cooking, half seafood, and entirely delicious. We didn’t go for the full order of seafood mac-n-cheese with grilled shrimp & crawfish in a creamy lobster cheese sauce because we had to save room for the blender drinks .
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The Blind Tiger
The Blind Tiger shares some similarities with Shaggy’s. They’re both oceanfront restaurants with fresh breezes and blazing sunsets. However, there are some key differences too. TBT Biloxi is very accessible, with ample parking, a boat dock, and a direct walkway to Harrah’s casino and hotel.
The owner, Thomas Genin, studied under Emeril Lagasse and wanted to build a restaurant where his guests would feel they were tucked away in a bar in the Bahamas, feeling the tropical breezes while sipping that frozen concoction that helps them hang on.
Despite the island vibe we were feeling, we went with a triple southern treat- shrimp po’boys. These sandwiches were born in New Orleans and prepared with gulf shrimp. What’s the third southern specialty? Why they’re breaded and fried, of course.
Patio 44 features steak and seafood but claims to be the ultimate in casual dining. That’s what we love about dining in southern Mississippi. No matter what’s on the menu, they always make you feel at home. Patio 44 started as a Hattiesburg restaurant, in Mississippi cattle country, but spread down to the Gulf Coast and its seafood.
They serve classic and new Creole-style dishes utilizing only the finest ingredients from the Delta and Gulf Coast regions. They have a chef-driven menu loaded with flavorful creations like seafood gumbo, shrimp and grits, and Mississippi farm-raised catfish.
We wanted a little Cajun kick, so we opted for blackened chicken in a Cajun cream sauce. If you haven’t had a Cajun cream sauce, you just aren’t living. It’s a little spicy, a little saucy, and a lot like heaven. In many ways, kind of like Coastal Mississippi.
The Wilbur Bar
Our coastal Mississippi restaurant tour now crosses over the Biloxi Bay Bridge and into the adorable town of Ocean Springs. During Prohibition, Al Capone used Ocean Springs as his illicit port of call. He maintained a home here and distributed the liquor by rail when it arrived. His home and hotel have since passed, but The Wilbur Bar pays homage to The Big Fella with a speakeasy hidden behind a sliding bookcase and a wall-sized mural of Big Al.
We enjoyed The Wilbur’s speakeasy-inspired craft cocktail, but we loved their BBB Burger. The first two B’s are bacon and brie, but the third B was as surprising as a secret bookshelf – Mississippi-grown blueberry pepper jelly. The sweet and salty flavors danced together in a mysterious tango that left us wanting more and fully satisfied simultaneously. It was our best burger experience in a long, long time!
Maison De Lu
We headed into the heart of Ocean Springs historic downtown for our next culinary adventure, Maison De Lu. The restaurant features contemporary French bistro fare in a homey setting. We loved dining on the covered patio and watching the storms rage in the night. It’s the sort of place you could go for an evening with friends or a romantic dinner.
We had company with us that night, so we opted for a small plate spread. After all, when you’re eating with three, variety is on the table. Our favorite flavor was the goat cheese torte layered with sundried tomatoes and pesto. So complex and so simple, all at the same time.
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Mosaic Tapas and Restaurant and The Beer House
We loved the concept of Mosaic because it was like two restaurants in one. You could eat under century-old oak trees on the patio or head inside and hang out at their newly renovated wine bar. Either way, you’ll enjoy the same great food, so you might just base your decision on where the live music is playing.
They specialize in local and international cuisine and culture, so picking just one thing off the menu was hard. Our first choice was their shrimp and grits because the rich roux perfectly blended southern cuisine and Cajun cooking. Only, we couldn’t find it when we looked at their 2021 menu, so we’re going with the international flavors of pork belly tacos: juicy, succulent pork belly, red onion, and chipotle aioli on flour tortillas. It’s definitely worth an extra lap on the Live Oak Bike Route to enjoy these naughty babies.
Scranton’s in Pascagoula was the final stop on our Coastal Mississippi local food tour. Sometimes, Pascagoula gets a bad rap between half-crazed Mississippi squirrels and the state’s largest oil refinery. However, gems are buried in this enigmatic town waiting to be discovered, like nearly 3-miles of beachfront, the oldest home in the Mississippi delta, and a charming historic Main Street District.
Scranton’s is the historic district’s most unique restaurant. This 1920’s building once housed the town’s firehouse and city hall. Guests can peek inside the old town vault and touch the bars of the town’s original jail cell.
With all this history, we opted for a southern coastal classic, she-crab soup. This creamy seafood bisque has small amounts of crab roe, which adds thickness and a nutty flavor. Scottish immigrants brought a similar recipe to Charleston in the 1700s. Today, the crabbers in the Gulf provide one of the few reliable sources of that elusive roe that’s critical to this low country masterpiece.
Wrapping up our Mississippi Gulf Coast Restaurants
You can’t leave without tasting the local flavors, no matter what brought you to Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. If you’re coming for a romantic getaway, let the flavors awaken your palate and ignite your dreams. If you’re only cruising down the interstate, pull off and taste the land you’re driving through. Better yet, make it a little coastal Mississippi road trip where you discover the history and nature of these coastal towns captured in their culinary masterpieces.
Disclosure: A big thank you to Coastal Mississippi for hosting us and setting up a fantastic itinerary! For more travel inspiration check out their Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.
As always, the views and opinions expressed are entirely our own, and we only recommend brands and destinations that we 100% stand behind.