In the heart of northern Mississippi, nestled in the charming county of Lafayette, lies the historic Southern college town of Oxford. A seamless blend of genteel sophistication and laidback friendliness defines this town, offering visitors a captivating experience. Renowned for being the birthplace of best-selling author John Grisham and home to the main campus of the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss), Oxford is a treasure trove of cultural richness and culinary delights. In this article, we delve into the vibrant food scene that has garnered national attention, sharing our two delightful days exploring the town's eclectic edibles.
1. Tarasque Cucina: A Hidden Gem
Location: Tucked away behind Kiamie’s Wine & Liquor Store
Overview: Tarasque Cucina, owned and operated by Chef John Stokes and his wife Lauren, stands out as a hidden treasure in Oxford. Housed in a converted ranch-style house, the restaurant boasts a "homey" ambiance complemented by comforting food and friendly service.
- Plump mussels in a white wine sauce with spicy sesame bread butts
- Sunflower sprout Caesar salad with a zesty Caesar dressing
- Capellini Puttanesca with a spicy tomato sauce, capers, and Taggiasco olives
- Unique and scrumptious tiramisu with layers of sponge cake and satiny zabaglione cream
Pro Tip: Tarasque Cucina is BYOB with a $2 per person charge for glasses.
2. Big Bad Breakfast: A Morning Indulgence
Owned by: James Beard Award winner John Currence
Overview: Big Bad Breakfast (BBB) is a morning haven offering creative and flavorful breakfast options made from scratch. The restaurant's signature house-cured Tabasco brown sugar bacon is a testament to its commitment to excellence.
- The Crumble: A lively concoction of crumbled biscuit, grits, tomato gravy, crumbled bacon, poached eggs, and green onion
- Redneck Benny: Two poached eggs, country ham, and sausage gravy on a biscuit, with a side of grits
- The High Lonesome: A fried egg crowns a dish of shrimp and grits
Pro Tip: Explore other popular restaurants owned by John Currence, such as City Grocery, Boure, and Snackbar.
3. Proud Larry’s: Where Food Meets Music
Overview: Proud Larry’s offers an upbeat atmosphere where delectable pizzas, sandwiches, and salads are accompanied by live music. The artichoke spinach dip and the chicken fajita salad are standout choices.
Live Music Experience:
- Eclectic assortment of pizzas, sandwiches, salads, mains, and snacks
- Artichoke spinach dip for sharing
- Chicken fajita salad with grilled marinated chicken breast and a tangy cumin-citrus vinaigrette
Pro Tip: Check the restaurant’s website for information on concerts and ticket prices.
4. Volta: A Mediterranean Feast
Setting: Casual Greek-style taverna in a repurposed service station
Overview: Volta offers a friendly atmosphere and a large outdoor deck where patrons can unwind and savor the flavors of the Mediterranean. From familiar favorites like hummus to new takes like Buffalo Cauliflower, Volta promises a culinary adventure.
- Hummus and pita
- Crunchy falafel balls
- Buffalo Cauliflower
- Frozen margaritas to complement your meal
5. Oxford Canteen: From Gas Station to Gastronomy
Vibe: Casual with an all-day menu
Overview: Oxford Canteen, housed in a repurposed gas station, defies expectations with its anything-but-boring all-day menu. From cheesy chicken ramen to traditional Fried Bologna Sandwich, the options cater to diverse palates.
- Cheesy chicken ramen topped with a fried egg
- Fried Bologna Sandwich
- Beef-Brisket Grilled Cheese with Sriracha Mayo
Pro Tip: Arrive early to secure a taste of the reputed sourdough bread.
6. Ajax Diner: Southern Comfort on a Plate
Location: Charming town square
Overview: A staple in Oxford since 1997, Ajax Diner is synonymous with Southern comfort on a plate. The extensive menu features classic Southern dishes, catering to both meat lovers and vegetarians.
- Chicken and dumplings
- Fried catfish
- Fried chicken
- Varied selection of Po’boys
Pro Tip: Prepare for a generous and satisfying dining experience.
7. Uptown Coffee: A Perfect Pick-Me-Up
Overview: Uptown Coffee is the go-to spot for a quick breakfast or afternoon pick-me-up. Beyond bold and flavorful coffee, the menu offers an array of teas, smoothies, and delectable pastries.
- Sausage and biscuit sandwich
- Breakfast taco with bacon, egg, and cheese
- Assorted chocolate-covered espresso beans for future snacking
Pro Tip: Indulge in a latte or cappuccino for a delightful treat.
Oxford, MS, stands as a testament to the fusion of rich history, vibrant culture, and a culinary scene that captivates the senses. From hidden gems like Tarasque Cucina to iconic establishments like Ajax Diner, the town offers a gastronomic journey that leaves a lasting impression. Whether you're a local or a traveler passing through, Oxford's diverse and delightful food scene is a must-experience, ensuring your taste buds embark on a memorable adventure.