Special to Mississippi Clarion Ledger
I often compare a trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to stepping into a different world. That’s especially true than when one drives over the stunning Biloxi Bridge and enters the oak-lined streets of Ocean Springs.
Blessed with interesting art galleries, a quaint downtown filled with shops and one of the most beautiful beaches on the Coast, it’s truly other-worldly. Knowing there are over 100 restaurants in the city makes a trip to this artists’ paradise even more appealing.
One of my favorite buildings is affectionally called “The Mary C.” It was built in 1927 as an Ocean Springs school building. Today, it maintains impressive architectural features from the bygone era, including panels painted by famed artist Walter Anderson. In 1998, the building was renamed for Mary C. O'Keefe, Mississippi’s first female school superintendent in Mississippi.
Its school days may be over, but The Mary C still serves as a place for visitors to learn courtesy of classes in cooking, art and pottery and programs in the old auditorium.
While there’s much more to see and do, Ocean Springs is perhaps most well known for its art scene. The crown jewel is the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.
Opened 30 years ago, the museum celebrates the works of the American master, whose depictions of the plants, animals and people of the Gulf Coast have placed him among the forefront of American painters of the 20th century.
Paying homage to his brothers, Peter Anderson, master potter and founder of Shearwater Pottery, and James McConnell Anderson, noted painter and ceramist, is another goal of the innovative space.
The museum's amazing watercolors, drawings, oils, block prints, ceramics and carvings created by the three Anderson brothers are all represented in its permanent collection. But don’t expect to only see the Andersons’ work. The museum offers an eclectic mix of changing exhibitions throughout the year.
The museum’s sky lit interior of warm southern yellow pine includes a main galleria and two additional galleries, which echo the natural beauty and simplicity of its setting. Adjacent to the museum is the Ocean Springs Community Center, home of Walter Anderson’s largest mural.
Walking through downtown and viewing artwork can work up an appetite, so a simple stroll over to Mosaic Restaurant is the easiest remedy.
Known for its tapas and “small plates,” Mosaic’s menu is filled with a variety of unique offerings. Selections include Asian lumpia rolls, Argentinian empanadas, chicken skewers and sweet and sour pork belly ($9-$13 range).
Other house favorites are pork belly tacos, mahi mahi tacos, shrimp and grits, fettuccini alfredo and curry chickpea samosas ($11-$14).
Quesadillas and gyros ($11-$12) are another popular menu section, filled with delicious offerings like pulled pork or shrimp remoulade quesadilla and gyros filled with beef, lamb or vegetables.
Selecting one of Mosaic’s handmade burgers and sandwiches ($9-$14) is another frequent choice. The pimento cheeseburger, crispy chicken sandwich, black bean or cowboy burger and the juicy Cuban are highly recommended by Mosaic regulars.
Other selections are a variety of salads, ranging from Greek to keto hamburger to chicken Caesar to Mediterranean falafel ($11-$13 range) to name a few.
Kara Kimbrough is a freelance food and travel writer from Mississippi. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If You Go
- Where: 510 Washington Ave., Ocean Springs
- Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sunday
- Admission: $10; AAA, military, seniors, $8; children, $5; free for those under 5.
- Contact: 228-872-3164
- Where: 1010 Government St., Ocean Springs
- Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday.
- Contact: 228-818-9885