Food for Thought
Traditionally recognized as the “tailgating capital of the world” and home to the Ole Miss Rebels, Oxford, Mississippi is making a different kind of name for itself these days: One of America’s best foodie towns. With one of the most diverse and exciting collections of restaurants in the Southeast, Oxford is the perfect destination for the food lovers who crave a cocktail of small-town charm and world-class dining.
Whether planning a much-needed night out with friends or a weekend girls’ trip, Oxford’s restaurants are guaranteed to satisfy the pickiest eater, the food connoisseur and every palate in between. So, pack your bags and bring an appetite – a culinary-packed road trip to Oxford may be the perfect recipe for a relaxing getaway.
Breakfast of Champions
With its delectably downhome-style cooking, Big Bad Breakfast is the go-to spot for breakfast in Oxford. Boasting the best Bloody Mary in town, Big Bad Breakfast offers a menu chock-full of custom-cured meats, made-from-scratch biscuits and signature skillet dishes loaded with an accoutrement of mouthwatering, fresh ingredients. James Beard Award-winning chef John Currence serves up a true breakfast of champions at this longstanding Oxford establishment.
Have a hankering for something sweet? Try Oxford’s breakout newcomer, High Rise Doughnuts. Here, the artisan croissant-dough edibles are thoughtfully and lovingly prepared with a fusion of delicious and unique flavors, such as banana puddin, sweet corn and blueberry crisp, garden basil and the kid-friendly favorite, milk and cookies.
While it may be tempting after a hearty breakfast, don’t skip lunch. The blue-plate specials at Ajax Diner are worth every satisfying, quintessentially Southern bite. Chicken and dumplings, country-fried steak, Mississippi pot roast and gravy – yes, please!
Undeniably, there is no shortage of good food – of every variety – in Oxford. Other places to try include Volta Taverna, Proud Larry’s, South Depot Taco Shop, the Oxford Canteen and Handy Andy BBQ.
Dinner and Drinks
Perhaps, nothing epitomizes Oxford dining better than dinner, though. Whether indulging in aperitifs from a balcony overlooking the historic Square or enjoying a sumptuous white-tablecloth experience at one of the town’s Michelin-worthy restaurants, visitors partake in the penultimate culinary experience when the sun goes down.
Among the most noteworthy are two best known for their James Beard Award-winning chefs, both under Currence’s “dine-asty.” City Grocery is the flagship restaurant, where one can feast on perennial favorites like spicy shrimp-and-grits and the OGCG Caesar salad, while also enjoying the ever-changing specials and seasonal meus. And just off the Square is another Currence brainchild, SnackBar, where mixologists pour creative takes on classic cocktails (like an Old Fashioned with bacon bitters) alongside an ever-changing selection of seasonal options that feature ingredients as fresh as their quirky names.
Likewise, Saint Leo, with a knack for melding seasonal, locally-sourced foods into authentic woodfired Italian cuisine, was a semifinalist for the James Beard “Best New Restaurant” Award in 2017, as well as the “Outstanding Bar Program” Award in 2019. At Saint Leo, the only thing rivaling the outstanding food and service is the list of luscious libations including the Starting Pistol which combines bourbon, fresh citrus, egg white and bitters. Some menu staples include the marinated olives, a chopped salad that can be a meal in itself and a variety of wood-fired pizzas. Look out for their ever-changing seasonal menus which feature additional antipasti, pastas and entrees.
Another destination for elevated, creative Southern dishes and craft cocktails with a delightful atmosphere, is McEwen’s Oxford. If you’re looking for a robust menu that will have something for everyone, McEwen’s is sure to please. The sister restaurant of Memphis fame offers a selection of signature seafood options including salmon, sea bass and scallops, with seasonally changing menus. McEwen’s likes to show local love and have recently added a dessert featuring High Rise Doughnuts in their bourbon bread pudding and vanilla ice cream from the Oxford Creamery. Don’t miss out on their cocktail list which includes a nod to Ole Miss’s tailgating mecca, “The Grove” in a Glass made with Markers Mark, Grand Marnier, lemon and mint.
When you are ready to travel again, we will be ready. For help planning your epicurean escape, as well as for information about Oxford’s Covid-19 protective measures, click here.
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Hannah Lee Leidy
- by Hannah Lee Leidy
- by Julia Miller