When it comes to haute cuisine, Oxford, MS may not be the first place that comes to mind, but this college town has a vibrant culinary scene hiding in plain sight. Not only is it home to the Southern Foodways Alliance but it also features several James Beard award winning (John Currence) / nominated chefs and restaurants.
Shakshuka from Snackbar, a John Currence restaurant
The neighborhood bistro offers and ethnic spin on dishes. Oh and the chef, Vish Bhatt also is up for a James Beard award. Think Catfish Bibimbap, Boudain Balls, Keralan fish with Collard Greens. Shashuka has been popping up on more and more menus lately. And the somewhat healthy item made with eggplant, tomato sauce, peppers, eggs, cheese and other spices is so tasty, we can see why. The dish is just the beginning of your culinary adventure at Snackbar.
A burger from the Neon Pig with locations in Tupelo and Oxford
Don’t be fooled by the humble decor of The Neon Pig. They are passionate about being a total farm to table restaurant, using all the of the animal and knowing all the farmers they buy from. Be warned that the famed Smashburger is incredibly smokey and might not be to the taste of some. It is worth giving a try, a blend of brisket, short rib, bacon and more. If you want a regular burger, that doesn’t have all the mish mash of meats, get the Slaw Burger. It is greasy enough to cure any hangover, but done just right to give you a feel for how good the small spot is and topped with their house made curry slaw. Wash it all down with one of the Mississppi beers they have.
Bruleed Grapefruit & the Yardwork Skillet at Big Bad Breakfast
While the outside of many restaurants may not have the austerity factor that other restaurants command, they make up for it with the food. Big Bad Breakfast, a reference to the movie Big Bad Love, is the third on this list that is located in the same nondescript strip mall. If you are going to eat hearty, rich foods for the rest of the day, you can eat least start your meal of light with a vegetarian breakfast. The Yardwork skillet features all vegetables like squash, tomatoes, mushrooms and a sweet potato hash. You won’t miss the meat, we promise. And you must get a side of the Bruleed Grapefruit, the candied top of this fruit is a crunchy, sweet compliment to the tangy grapefruit.
Pastries from Bottletree Bakery
Owner Cynthia Gerlach, originally from Portland, found her way to Oxford, Mississippi and has never looked back. The staff begins baking for the day around 2 am. Everything – biscuits, sweets, bagels and bread are baked fresh daily. The Humble Pie, which is a shortbread filled with sweet blackberries or the fruit of the day, was a must try dish that Food Network loved. However, the berry filled pastries and scones are quite delicious too.
Farinata from from Saint Leo in Oxford, MS
Craft cocktails, pizzas and pastas are on the menu at this Italian spot in the heart of Oxford. Farinata are crepes made of chickpeas. Here, the crepes are thicker than most and served sliced, so they are perfect for sharing. Saint Leo, another spot up for a James Beard award serves theirs with with rosemary and sea salt. Add Georgia caviar to the dish for a small upcharge.