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Gulf Coast Road Trip plus Memphis, Jackson, Nashville, Indy

Gulf Coast Road Trip plus Memphis, Jackson, Nashville, Indy
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  • Gulf Coast Road Trip plus Memphis, Jackson, Nashville, Indy

    Post #1 - March 17th, 2016, 10:29 am
    Post #1 - March 17th, 2016, 10:29 am Post #1 - March 17th, 2016, 10:29 am
    We just got back from a driving trip with 10 days in 10 states, although three of those were merely cutting corners across them (MO and AS to get to Memphis; GA between Talahassee and Montgomery). Our itinerary seems odd, until you realize that we're trying to collect state capitols (photos of us in front of, we're not stealing cities).

    Some of the recs come from here, some from Trip Advisor or other sites. I'm certain we didn't always choose the most wisely, but never had a meal worse than "that was perfectly acceptable" and usually a lot better. One of our lacks of wisdom is not going out for breakfast and lunch often: We drive with a crate of snacks and peanut butter, and cooler of cheese and salami, hummos and carrot sticks. Between that and motel free breakfast, we splurged a lot on dinners.

    Memphis: Central BBQ is quite nice. We got a sampler platter of pulled pork, sausage and ribs, and half orders of the nachos platter with their pulled pork, and a half order of "wet" wings. Ribs were very good, easily torn (but not jello). Pulled pork had a good smoke to it, but the sausage left something to be desired, more like kielbasa, not as smoky or tasty as the ones I've had in Texas. The wings came out late and made a spicy dessert, nicely hot, very big and meaty, with crisp fried skin over smoke. The nachos were not my favorite. Reviews advised getting them with their house-made potato chips instead of corn chips, but it ended up very salty. Side of mac 'n' cheese was quite good, side of pork rinds with their rub sprinkled on them was even better.

    Central BBQ
    2249 Central
    Memphis TN
    (901) 272-9377

    The next day we went through Clarksdale MS. Some musicians were setting up in the Bluesberry cafe around 11AM, so we sat a while, made an exception to our breakfast/lunch rule. Good coffee, OK pancakes, poor fried green tomatoes.
    Bluesberry Cafe
    235 Yazoo Ave
    Clarksdale, Mississippi
    (662) 627-7008 ... 678792724/

    Jackson MS is a bit of a wasteland: there are vacant lots or buildings torn down except for the facades just blocks from the state capitol. However, Manship (named after a nearby estate), was probably the best food we had on the trip, on the order of an Innovasi or Vie with most dishes fired in a wood oven.

    We started with a Bramble for me (sweeter than I expected, but quite a nice drink) and a wine of forgotten vintage for SueF, a quite nice red.

    We had a pork belly app that we forgot to photograph. Sorry. Absolutely fantastic though.

    I had an outstanding "greek-style" grouper with preserved lemon and peppadews peppers, Sue had duck breast. Both were outstanding.

    The side of brussels sprouts was the only miss: a little on the raw side -- some blistering char would have helped a lot.

    We'd had some trouble getting our drinks, so the management comped us dessert - a very nice praline cheesecake. The cheesecake itself was barely sweet, letting the toppings carry that weight.

    I don't know if you'll ever have a reason to go to Jackson, but if you do, seek out Manship.

    1200 North State St.
    Jackson, Mississippi 39202
    Telephone: 601-398-4562

    The following night we got to New Orleans and decided to wander down Bourbon St and surrounding until something caught our eye. Initially thinking of something un-fancy, we got turned off by the endless repetitions of the same Willy's Fried Chicken and shops hawking po-boys, then stumbled into the Court of Two Sisters.

    We both had their prix fixe menu. This was my night for shrimp: BBQ Shrimp as an appetizer, Shrimp and Grits for main. Sue had the gumbo and the veal oscar (topped with shrimp and crab). Everything was delicious: the BBQ shrimp was different from others I've had, closer to the deep spicy roux of an etouffee. My only gripe was that there were actually more shrimp in the app than the entree (probably balanced by the grits, andouille, etc., but still). Desserts of pecan pie and bread pudding. The whiskey sauce was the best part of the bread pudding. The pecan pie was not as good as Sue's (but what is?), but very tasty, with a cookie-like crust. This evening featured my first (but not last) Sazerac. Sorry, no pix.

    Court of Two Sisters
    613 Royal Street
    New Orleans LA
    Phone: (504) 522-7261

    The following day was another rare exception to the breakfast rule - we played tourist and got coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde. I thought I had pix, but evidently not. Be prepared for absurd amounts of powdered sugar -- don't dress in black, and if you sweeten your coffee, the bottom of the bag will certainly be adequate. And then some.

    Cafe du Monde
    800 Decatur Street
    70116 New Orleans
    (504) 525-4544

    After a breakfast of basically sugar, I needed something a little more solid, and we stopped to listen to some jazz and grab a po-boy at Cafe Beignet. Very disappointing: nothing but the fried shrimp, lettuce and awful tomato, lousy bread. We saw their "muffaletta" go by and it resembled something from Subway. Come for the music, don't stay for the food.

    Cafe Beignet
    311 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130
    (504) 525-2611

    Dinner was the only reservation we made the whole trip: Commander's Palace. Note that the Lafayette cemetery across the street closes at 3:30 PM, so it's not a good fit for a pre- or post-dinner tour. The reputation of this place is well deserved: fine, classical service starting with a veritable army of staff you're walked past on the way to the table. Pix aren't great: they're from my phone without flash, probably need some white balance.

    I had another sazerac - more botanical than Two Sisters' version, and I think stronger (hard to imagine for a drink that's basically a big glass of rye). Sue's wine is a Cab from Pays d'Oc.

    The Butcher Block plate made a very nice starter, and showed off some pretty cool charcuterie chops: Antelope chorizo, oxtail terrine, and a chicken liver mousse that escaped photographing.

    Sue started with a romaine, gruyere, shredded egg and bacon salad, which was sort of a nice French riff on a caesar. I had the crawfish bisque, which included a mudbug head stuffed with breadcrumbs, crawfish and other things -- messy to eat, but very tasty, rich and spicy.

    Staying with the crawfish riff, I had the crawfish risotto. Lots of tails among the perfectly wet rice, good spice and very very filling, with a dollop of saffron chantilly.

    Sue had the chicory-lacquered quail, the best taste of the night. Crispy skin, rich meat, perfectly seasoned.

    Their signature bread pudding souffle is a bit of a puzzlement: too heavy for a souffle, too light for bread pudding. I think we'd have been happier with one or the other. Probably the best coffee I had all week finished out the meal.

    Commander's Palace
    1403 Washington Avenue
    New Orleans LA 70130

    The following night found us in Biloxi, MS. We'd seen recommendations for Mary Mahoney's but after two days of fancy, we wanted a little lighter. We ended up at Half Shell Oyster House, for very good (if unphotographed) food. A "cajun bloody mary" had a nice balance of spice with a sweet little oyster. Voodoo Shrimp appetizer was nicely fried shrimp with a sweet/spicy sauce -- tasty but probably not worth getting again. I had the Redfish Orleans, blackened and topped with shrimp and crab. Thankfully it wasn't traditional blackening to the point of drying out, more of a spicy butter saute, quite delicious. Sue had the Filet Orleans, perfectly medium rare and topped with shrimp. So we didn't end up with a light meal, but at least it was more casual and significantly cheaper than the night before.

    Half Shell Oyster House
    125 Lameuse St, Biloxi, MS 39530
    (228) 432-5050

    The following day was the best weather we had, approaching 80 on the coast. We visited the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge (didn't see any cranes but lots of carnivorous plants) and a quick stop on a beach on Perdido Key just into Florida. So as night approached we decided to dine in Panama City Beach. The Wicked Wheel came up favorable in reviews so we stopped there. It sounded kitschy, but came across as a very commercial motorcycle-themed resto. Food was just fine, but nothing special. I had fried catfish, one of their specialties; Sue had fried shrimp. For me the highlight was the collards as a "sidecar." I have to make another post about getting sealed tubs of salad dressing.

    The Wicked Wheel
    10025 Hutchinson Blvd.
    Panama City Beach, FL 32407

    The next day found us at our southeast-most point: Wakulla Springs in Florida, then started back north, ending in Dothan AB. Our hotel was right across the street from a BBQ place that had horrendous reviews, so we tried Rodeo Mexican Restaurant. I'd call it perfectly adequate Norteño. No threat to El Nuevo Leon, but significantly better than Chi-Chi's. Sue had chicken and steak flautas, I had a combo featuring a ground beef chile relleno, a quesadilla and steak taquito. The steak and chicken were much better than their ground beef. I'd have liked a zingier salsa. Cheapest dinner of the week: $20 with a generous tip.

    Rodeo Mexican
    2240 Ross Clark Cir, Dothan, AL 36301
    (334) 677-6677

    The weather finally started catching up to us by the next night: we got to Nashville in a drizzle, driving dark narrow roads to get to Loveless Cafe (and even darker, narrower and rainier to get to our hotel). Feeling like we've been stuffing ourselves all week, we ordered one combo platter (ham, fried chicken and pulled pork, sides of mac 'n' cheese and hash brown casserole), plus a large salad and an extra side of fried okra (one of my weaknesses). Great biscuits with house-made jams, perfect fried chicken (not "Nashville Hot"), decent pulled pork, and I even liked the country ham (I am generally not a fan of any but the long-cured hams such as Iberico and prosciutto).

    Loveless Cafe
    8400 Tennessee Highway 100, Nashville, TN 37221
    (615) 646-9700

    Our last night was in Indianapolis, partly to visit a friend from gradeschool and a cousin. After searching here and elsewhere (and not wanting to dine al trunko or in the back of a supermarket), we decided on Pioneer in the supposedly-hipster Fountain Square (no hipsters seen, a few folks in steampunk gear coming out of the duckpin bowling place). I was surprised we were able to walk in and get a table at 7:15 on a Saturday, but my buddy Bill says, "that's Indy for you." Food was outstanding. "Alpine" small plates with a couple of larger entrees.

    The cider was a local: New Day Craft Johnny Chapman. Not my favorite: too sweet, with a very strong fermented apple flavor. I don't recall what wine Sue had.

    We had four plates: Burrata was served with a crisp herby toast, creamy and just right balanced with the slivered onion, fried capers and arugula.

    Potato cakes are not my grandma's potato pancakes, more of a fried smashed potato, served with (not enough) mustard creme fraiche and a bacon jam (that was more like a bacon rillette -- not sweet). I liked these a lot.

    The Gnocchi with Lamb Ragu and Ricotta was terrific. We dug into it and forgot to photograph. I was hoping for more gamy lambiness, but the right balance of sauce to crisped little gnocchi.

    Mustard-braised pork belly was perfect: Crisp on top and soft below. Served with pureed red cabbage and oyster mushrooms.

    1110 Shelby St, Indianapolis, IN 46203
    (317) 986-6761

    The next day, we met my cousin for brunch at 20 in the Charley Creek Inn in Wabash, IN. Not an elaborate brunch, just ordering off the menu. Sue had eggs benedict, I had an omelet. Good coffee. Reasonable prices.

    20 at the Charley Creek Inn
    111 W Market St, Wabash, IN 46992
    (260) 563-0111
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #2 - March 24th, 2016, 12:10 pm
    Post #2 - March 24th, 2016, 12:10 pm Post #2 - March 24th, 2016, 12:10 pm
    I just did a similar roadtrip recently with the fam. for spring break - Martucky, IL. to Jackson, MS. to NOLA, to Biloxi, MS., and then back to NOLA, Jackson & Memphis -

    Leaving at 1 a.m. last Friday night I knew Jackson, MS was going to be our first stop for lunch on Sat.after driving through the night - a quick 11 hour cruise - research had shown the folks in this town dig crawfish - so do I.

    had a few choices but went with the one that was the best getting back to me regarding questions via social media(tip to restaurant folks if you have a FB page, answer folks questions directed to you there) -

    Mudbugs 047

    Mudbugs 047 is technically located in Brandon, MS, but its esentially Jackson - Indoor and outdoor seating, full bar, etc. fun spot for a Saturday -


    my plate - 1# of the finest bugs around, 1# of snow crab, 1 link of sausage: - bumper crop of bugs this year - cheap prices and tasty bugs.


    with all due respect to Cajun Ron at GNR Cajun Connection(probably the best boils I have attended up here), and other places that do boils locally - the bugs I had at Mudbugs 047 were the best I have ever had(better than any other I ate on the trip as well) - not talking spice level, etc,(as that is up to individual taste) but for the actual bugs - every one was brimming with crawfish butter - not something I find as prevelent in the bugs at northern boils -

    Great stop for lunch before the final push to NOLA for later that afternoon as NOLA is only 2hrs 45 mins away -

    Dug this place -

    Mudbugs 047
    1299 Old Fannin Road
    Brandon, MS.
    Last edited by jimswside on May 2nd, 2016, 8:10 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #3 - March 25th, 2016, 9:32 am
    Post #3 - March 25th, 2016, 9:32 am Post #3 - March 25th, 2016, 9:32 am
    Great info in here . . . I keep coming back to Joel's post . . .but Jim, I feel like you're holding back some . . . I want more! Sounds like a great trip.
  • Post #4 - September 24th, 2017, 2:44 pm
    Post #4 - September 24th, 2017, 2:44 pm Post #4 - September 24th, 2017, 2:44 pm
    JoelF wrote:I don't know if you'll ever have a reason to go to Jackson, but if you do, seek out Manship.

    Mrs Willie & I have wanted to try overnight sleeper train travel for awhile now, so in January we are taking Amtrak out of Union Station to Jackson MS. (departs Union at 8pm & arrives Jackson 11:30am) We also plan to visit National Military Park the civil war site at Vicksburg:

    So both your suggestion and Jim's are on the dining list.

    Some quick preliminary research outside of LTH revealed a Drago's location in Jackson. Drago's was the place in NOLA where I first had grilled oysters:

    Southern Living has it’s 100 best restaurants: ... estaurants
    Restaurants mentioned from MS are
    Walker’s Drive-In – Jackson MS
    Delta Bistro - Greenwood MS
    Snackbar – Oxford MS

    Food & Wine had a list of best Southern food in USA: ... rn-food-us Restaurant in MS mentioned was Big Apple Inn, located in Jackson “A legendary dive on Farish Street (Jackson's equivalent to Memphis's Beale Street, which once pulsated with Delta blues), the Big Apple Inn has served pig's ear sandwiches, "smokes" (ground sausage sandwiches) and tamales since the 1930s.” ... apple-inn/

    When searching for a website for Big Apple Inn, I came across Southern Foodways website, which lists a number of Jackson MS restaurants, quick scan shows lots of reading to do in regards to Jackson: ... post_type=

    For instance the Beatty Street Grocery in Jackson “It’s distinctly Mississippi and distinctly Jackson because of what we serve—fried bologna, smoked link sausage sandwiches, burgers. It’s just basic, inexpensive, easy, fast, cheap country cooking that’s still good.”

    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #5 - January 17th, 2018, 9:09 pm
    Post #5 - January 17th, 2018, 9:09 pm Post #5 - January 17th, 2018, 9:09 pm
    Here’s a recap of our Jackson trip.
    Verdict on the Amtrak sleeper car, expensive & time consuming, better spent on a more scenic route if spending the money & time. Also, bring earplugs as most townships in the U.S. don’t have a cease whistle order like Chicago & Des Plaines, so that train horn is blowing almost the entire trip.

    The national military park in Vicksburg was outstanding, well worth the time.

    Upon arrival into Jackson, we picked up our Enterprise rental car and immediately drove to Beatty Street Grocery. I had a fried bologna sandwich and the smokey link. Both were top notch delicious. Mrs Willie had a roast beef po’ boy, a good sandwich no doubt.
    Beatty Street Grocery
    101 Beatty St
    Jackson, Mississippi 39201

    For dinner we headed to Walker’s Drive In, where chef/owner Derek Emerson has been a James Beard Award semi-finalist as Best Chef in the South. (2008, 2009, 2010) . We split three starters:
    All three were quite tasty, I personally give the nod to the tamales, followed by the pork belly. I thought the lamb ribs while tasty were overcooked so lamb flavor wasn’t as pronounced as I would have liked, the Asian slaw was a wonderful way to clear the palette before another bite of lamb.
    We then split a main stay of entrees: REDFISH ANNA WITH LUMP CRAB MEAT w/ GARLIC MASHED POTATOES, THIN BEANS, CHARRED TOMATO LEMON BUTTER. Wow, what a dish, while yes mashed potatoes are a bit pedestrian, the dish was still excellent both in taste & execution. Fish cooked perfectly & full of flavor, uber fresh lumped crab meat.
    Walker’s Drive In

    Walkers is located in a cool little enclave of Jackson, we walked across the street to Barrelhouse. They seemed to be putting out some really good looking food, we only had some drinks, good mixologists & lots of bourbon choices.

    Did stop by Drago’s for some grilled oysters, friggin amazing, these guys do it right.

    Had dinner with a client and he wanted to go to Char, the local steakhouse. The NY Strip I had was indeed delicious.
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #6 - January 24th, 2018, 8:44 am
    Post #6 - January 24th, 2018, 8:44 am Post #6 - January 24th, 2018, 8:44 am
    Sweet Willie wrote:The national military park in Vicksburg was outstanding, well worth the time.
    Speaking of Vicksburg, we were ready for a late lunch after the Military Park tour, so went to 10 South Rooftop Bar & Grill. The food was ok (my fried green tomatoes with crawfish sauce was not too shabby) but the views from this place are amazing, well worth your time to go up for at least a drink and overlook the river as this restaurant/bar is 10 floors high with stunning views of the Mississippi & surrounding area.
    10 South Rooftop Bar & Grill

    Prior to 10 South Rooftop, we stopped by Walnut Hills Restaurant which is housed in a terrific old home. It was a Sunday so there was a fixed menu of southern fried chicken & other good looking items but Mrs Willie wasn't up for it so we left. The bar area looked like it had a fantastic vibe.

    Both Walnut Hills & the sister restaurant (Roca) of 10 South Rooftop is listed in the this Culture Trip article of 10 best restaurants in Vicksburg: ... ssissippi/
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.
  • Post #7 - July 8th, 2018, 5:30 pm
    Post #7 - July 8th, 2018, 5:30 pm Post #7 - July 8th, 2018, 5:30 pm
    Came across a couple articles about the abundance of tamales in the Mississippi Delta:

    Map of a Tamale Trail: ... trail-map/ ... ale-trail/

    Sorry we missed trying a few on our trip, next time!
    I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be.