If, after reading my recent blog post titled “The Immortal Live Oaks of Coastal Mississippi”, you decide to take the very scenic drive along U. S. Route 90, you will most likely want to stop to take in the views of the Gulf Coast and enjoy some local cuisine. Unfortunately my own trip to Mississippi did not leave much time for sightseeing, but I DID find time to eat, so I came back with a few recommendations! These are not in order of preference, but in order of location from Gulfport westward through Long Beach to Bay St. Louis:
- Great Southern Club: This is a bit fancy for a road trip pit stop, but if you are staying in the area and want to experience something a little more elegant than typical beach fare, I can recommend this restaurant on the top floor of the Hancock Bank Building in downtown Gulfport, about a block from the beach. The panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico are breathtaking. I was there for lunch and didn’t feel out of place in shorts and a nice top. For dinner there is a dress code: “Evening Wear or Coastal Casual”. The food is what I would call traditional Southern: beef roast, fried catfish, greens, macaroni and cheese, salad bar, and a selection of standard cakes and pies (think apple, cherry, New York cheesecake) for dessert.
2510 14th Street, Gulfport
Lunch Buffet Monday–Friday 11:30 am – 1:30 pm (Friday features a seafood lunch buffet!)
Lunch Menu Service Monday–Friday 11:30 am – 2:00 pm
Dinner Menu Service Wednesday—Saturday 6 pm– until close
Happy Hour Wednesday—Friday 4 pm–7 pm
- Harbor View Café: This is a charming café that looks like an old coastal Southern home, with seating indoors and on the inviting wraparound porch that features views of the Gulf about a block away. The online description of this place is “Cajun/Creole Restaurant” but the menu is eclectic. Locals tell me the Sunday brunch is very good. I had a wonderful solo dining experience there, due in no small part to the down-to-earth friendliness of the wait staff. Of the places I ate in Mississippi, this is my favorite and I will definitely return when I am in the area. I enjoyed the fish tacos, one of the specials that day, and the dessert counter was not to be ignored! I feel I should either thank or apologize to the kind server who patiently described in detail every gorgeous confection on display so I could make an educated choice. I wish I had taken a photo, but was so overwhelmed by the splendor of it, that I forgot! The luscious pies and many-layered cakes are all homemade, and feature flavors like hummingbird cake (pineapple, coconut, banana, pecans), carrot cake, Italian cream cake (coconut, walnuts), key lime pie (of course!) and much more.
504 Jeff Davis Ave., Long Beach
Mon: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Tue – Fri: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sat: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sun: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
- Darwell’s Café: Darwell’s was on my list of must-try restaurants before I even arrived in Mississippi, due to the glowing reviews it has received online and the fact that it was featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives (DDD). This is another Creole/Cajun restaurant, but with a very different vibe from the Harbor View, above. With the slogan, “Real Food for Real People”, Darwell’s has a very laid-back atmosphere with seating indoors and out, Mardi Gras themed décor, and, unusual for a restaurant, is BYOB (Bring Your Own Bottle)! The dry-erase board menu included étouffée and other Creole or Cajun classics as well as build-your-own sandwiches and salads. I mightily enjoyed the red beans and rice, which included a small piece of sausage and a simple square of plain cornbread. The red beans, with their complex layers of flavor, were SO good that I’m glad I didn’t eat here first or I may not have tried any of the other restaurants in the area!
127 E. 1st St., Long Beach
Mon – Tues Closed
Wed – Sat 11:00am – 9:00pm
Sun 11:00am – 8:00pm
- Trapani’s Eatery: Located in Bay St. Louis (BSL) Mississippi, west of Long Beach, Trapani’s Eatery was described to me as a local favorite beach front bar and seafood restaurant. To get here, take the first left after the bridge between Pass Christian and BSL for a very short, scenic detour from U. S. 90. Trapani’s website proclaims, “One of Jimmy Buffett’s Favorite Beach Bars!” – high praise indeed among the beach-going crowd! As is my habit, I ordered one of the daily specials, which that day happened to be Wasabi Tuna Nachos. They were very good, though a little sauce-heavy in my opinion, so if I’d had the foresight to order the sauce on the side, they would have been perfect. I am a bit of a seafood purist, and I don’t think seared ahi tuna needs any sauce at all. Some people may enjoy more sauce, which was delicious, so you can look at the picture I took and decide for yourselves. Either way, due to location especially, I will certainly revisit this restaurant when I return to charming Bay St. Louis for a more leisurely stay.
116 North Beach Blvd., Bay St. Louis
Mon – Thurs, and Sunday 11:00am – 09:00pm
Fri-Sat 11:00am – 09:30pm
- Dan B. Murphy’s Restaurant & Bar (or Dan B’s as it is known locally): While I ran out of time before I could stop here, I wanted to mention Dan B’s, a local favorite since before Hurricane Katrina devastated the area, including this restaurant. They have since rebuilt and feature good food, great drinks, and gorgeous views of the Bay St. Louis harbor. It was recommended to me by local residents whose other recommendations were spot on. The next time I am in Bay St. Louis, I will definitely pay them a visit!
109 S. Beach Blvd, Bay St. Louis
Hours: Mon – Sun 11:00am – 10:00pm