Oxford, Mississippi is famous for a variety of reasons.
The Oxford eateries agree!
Oxford has several literary characteristics and links, in addition to being the home of the University of Mississippi, fondly known as Ole Miss. Oxford has close links to William Faulkner, John Grisham, Willie Morris, Barry Hannah, Donna Tartt, and Larry Brown, and as a result of their presence and impact, many other great authors have visited this relatively tiny Southern town.
Richard and Lisa Howorth founded Square Books in 1979, fittingly called for its commanding placement on the courthouse square. They made reading and literature enjoyable and enticing, and they were the first in Oxford to sell cappuccinos, which were popular among students. Customers were drawn in by its comfortable decor, reading nooks, and balcony overlooking downtown, and its popularity made it a perfect stop-in destination for established and aspiring writers.
Square Books has grown to include two more stores on the square: Square Books, Jr. (with a large variety of children’s books) and Off Square Books, which is a half-block away and hosts the Thacker Mountain Radio Hour for Mississippi Public Broadcasting.
Oxford is where James Meredith made the audacious decision to be the first Black American student at Ole Miss. On campus, a memorial commemorates the feat. Visitors to Oxford will also appreciate visiting Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s old home, the L.Q.C. Lamar House Museum, or one of the town’s five art galleries.
Many autumn Saturdays in Oxford will be crowded with alumni and supporters cheering on the Ole Miss football team and tailgating before and after the game in The Grove, a vast, tree-studded greenspace on campus. You’ll hear Hotty Toddy screams and witness tents with chandeliers and a sea of red and blue-clad individuals of all ages.
Even if you aren’t a sports, history, or literature enthusiast, the food culture in Oxford is incentive enough to come.
Chef John Currence, Emily Blount, Scott Caradine, and others have transformed the plaza and surrounding regions into a food-focused setting with widespread appeal. In no particular order, here are my top 10 choices. They are ALL excellent.
Not in the mood to dine out tonight? Click here to have Grubhub deliver right to your door from the greatest restaurants in town.
Visiting other places in Mississippi? Check out our other tasty guides:
- 5 Best Biloxi Restaurants
- 18 Must-Try Jackson, MS Restaurants & 15 Fun Things To Do In Jackson MS
- 7 Must-Try Bay St. Louis Restaurants
- 7 Best Ocean Springs Restaurants
- 9 Best Pascagoula Restaurants
- 5 Best Natchez MS Restaurants
- 8 Best Tupelo Restaurants
- 7 Must-Try Bay St. Louis Restaurants
- 5 Best Pass Christian Restaurants
- The 7 Best Mexican Restaurants In Jackson MS
- 6 Best Jackson MS BBQ Restaurants
- 1 10 Must-Try Oxford, Mississippi Restaurants
- 2 Which of these Oxford, Mississippi restaurants do you want to try the most? Please share your thoughts in the comments box below!
10 Must-Try Oxford, Mississippi Restaurants
+1 (662) 236-6363721 North Lamar Blvd
The name is NOT representative of reality. This is not a snack bar in the traditional sense, but rather a restaurant with a famous happy hour that serves dinner every night with dishes ranging from oysters on the half shell to burgers, small plates, not-so-small plates, and desserts.
Oysters from all across the nation come daily, and the oyster bar on the restaurant’s lower floor is the primary draw. The costs for the burgers and small plates are student-friendly, whilst the larger meals are more likely to be ordered by the older, established population or when the parents are in town.
Snack Bar shares part of its kitchen facilities with Big Bad Breakfast, its next-door neighbor. Both restaurants are owned by John Currence, and the principal chef of Snack Bar is Vishwesh Bhatt, who was named Best Chef South by the James Beard Foundation in 2019. Make a point of stopping by Snack Bar for some of the greatest cuisine in Oxford.
North Lamar Boulevard, +1 (662) 236-2666719 North Lamar Boulevard
As previously stated, Big Bad Breakfast is located just across the street from Snack Bar in Oxford. It’s a well-thought-out convenience that Big Bad Breakfast provides breakfast and lunch, while Snack Bar has a happy hour and serves supper.
Chef John Currence is a product of New Orleans’ cuisine culture, and he especially enjoys breakfast. He thinks that you should be allowed to have a burger or fried chicken for breakfast and eggs for lunch, or vice versa. Owner
Biscuits are manufactured on a continuous basis from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Diners may order omelets, breakfast skillets, pancakes, French toast, waffles, or a sandwich, wrap, or burger Monday through Friday and from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Or how about combining the best of both worlds with chicken and waffles?
The idea was an instant hit, and by 2013, the potential of extending to additional cities had become a reality. Big Bad Breakfast presently has seven locations across five states. Each is open seven days a week, however the hours vary significantly across cities. Check out this restaurant if you’re seeking for places to dine in Oxford.
THE BRAND NEW OXFORD CANTEEN
+1 (662) 638-3393766 North Lamar Blvd.
The New Oxford Canteen, located in a converted filling station across the highway from Snack Bar and Big Bad Breakfast, has an entirely distinct concept, proprietor, and menu.
The Green Goddess Chicken Salad BLAT (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, and Tomato) sandwich served on an English muffin has been rated the greatest in Mississippi. Or maybe I’ll come back on Crabcake Tuesday.
In any case, I’m certain that owner Corbin Evans is devoted to collaborating with local farmers that practice sustainable agriculture. By the way, the coffee is from New Orleans.
There’s a Blackened Amberjack Po-Boy, Cheesy Chicken Ramen with Fried Egg, Dirty Grains (rice, quinoa, bell peppers, sweet potato, onions, zucchini, spinach, sriracha, Parmesan cheese, and soy sauce), and salted brown butter Rice Krispy treats on the delivery menu. They are currently only available for carry-out and delivery from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The inventive execution
This is the ideal Oxford eatery for grabbing some takeout and heading to The Grove.
LARRYS ARE PROUD
+1 (662) 236-0050211 South Lamar Blvd.
With chips with artichoke dip. Owner Scott Caradine’s main love is definitely music, but the cuisine he serves is also extremely wonderful. Pizzas are the main attraction (after all, he serves hundreds of hungry university students), but there are also lots of sandwich and salad options, pasta, jambalaya, and crowd-pleasers like toasted ravioli or a combination plate with salsa, spinach, and cheese.
Prior to the pandemic, Proud Larrys featured a regular schedule of great musicians, and the majority of the events needed tickets that had to be paid separately from your meal. The walls are adorned with enormous posters of previous events, as well as those conducted in larger locations and sponsored by Proud Larrys.
The restaurant reopened for dine-in and carry-out in mid-June, with rigorous social distancing measures in place. I am certain that when it is safe to do so, the music will return. In the interim, Proud Larrys in Oxford offers casual eating.
SAINT LEO’S DAY
+1 (662) 380-5141922 Jackson Ave. E
To say Saint Leo is an Italian restaurant would be an understatement. In reality, it serves uniquely northern Italian food, including wood-fired Pavesi pizzas.
Depending on the toppings you choose, such pizzas might be average or exceptional. The antipasti and pasta dishes are equally excellent, but the in-house sweets elevate the dinner to a memorable event.
Emily Blount, the owner, is originally from California and traveled to Mississippi via Boston and New York before being enticed by her Southern husband. She like large cities and is utilizing her experience to keep things interesting at Oxford.
In 2017, Saint Leo was awarded a semifinalist for Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation.
They are now in the midst of relocating down the street to a bigger building that is still on the square and converting the current location into Saint Leo Lounge, which will offer beverages and tapas and will undoubtedly be an appealing meeting space.
Visit Saint Leo if you want Italian cuisine in Oxford.
GROCERY IN THE CITY
+1 (662) 232-8080152 Square Courthouse
City Grocery was Oxford’s first John Currence restaurant, opening in 1992. The structure was formerly a 19th-century livery stable, as shown by the exposed brick walls and hardwood flooring. Candles and white tablecloths enhance the ambience significantly.
With just five appetizers, three salads, and six entrees, the menu seems deceptively short, yet each dish is powerful and superb. Consider bourbon-soaked peaches, Caesar salad with fried oysters, or grilled Gulf of Mexico fish with rice grits and asparagus.
In fact, the food has such a superb reputation that reservations are not just suggested, but required if you want to dine there, particularly on the weekends. Include the City Grocery among your Oxford restaurant options if you’re seeking for great dining.
+662 234 1968110 Courthouse Square
Boure is a popular spot for college students to go on a romantic date. The rates are reasonable, and the menu selections vary from the familiar to the somewhat unusual.
This is another creation of John Currence, and it depicts his New Orleans roots with Creole tastes and cuisine. Guests can anticipate terrific burgers, salads with locally produced vegetables, and delicious sandwiches, as well as a fried crawfish basket, a shrimp po-boy, and pasta jambalaya, among other tempting options.
The structure sits on the square and was previously Leslies Drug Store. The dining room has reopened, but there is also a popular eating deck with a superb view of the city activities. Boure is an excellent choice for a family supper in Oxford, with a cuisine that appeals to people of all ages.
North Lamar Boulevard, +1 (662) 236-1871710 North Lamar Boulevard
Volta Taverna is Oxford’s well-known Greek restaurant that serves classic Greek cuisine and is open for curbside to-go orders, dine-in, and outdoor sitting.
The building where Volta is housed, like many others on this list, has a history. It was as a vehicle maintenance and oil change shop in this instance. Locals delight about the cuisine, which is characterized as hip and quirky. Of course, there’s hummus, gyros, and Greek pizza, but what about Hotty Toddy balls? This eye-catching snack is constructed of fried garlic mashed potatoes, bacon, and mozzarella cheese. That alone makes me want to exclaim, “Hotty Toddy!”
Mediterranean phrases like falafel, pita, lamb, and souvlaki dance over the menu, along with the much-anticipated dessert baklava.
There is a kids menu with standard dishes, so the kids may be content while the parents taste delicacies from other countries. Looking for Mediterranean-inspired eateries in Oxford? Volta is a good option.
If you’re searching for good ol’ Southern comfort meals like turkey and dressing or chicken and dumplings, Ajax Diner is the place to go. They’ve been serving Oxford residents for twenty-two years and have served three hundred million butter beans, but who’s counting?
Ajax is located on the square and serves popular meat and three plates, as well as burgers, sandwiches, and The Big Easy, which is believed to be a favorite of football superstar Eli Manning. I recommend that you do not leave Oxford without trying the fried okra, squash casserole, chocolate chess pie, and banana pudding.
If you’re searching for a spot to dine in the south, consider this Oxford eatery.
+(662) 234 70031110 Van Buren Ave.
McEwens’ renown originated and remains about 90 minutes north of Oxford in Memphis, Tennessee, but the dining and cooking style transferred to a prominent position on the courthouse square in 2011.
After a couple of years of attempting to reproduce the Memphis menu in Oxford, the owners and chef felt that a few changes were required in order to be completely embraced by the small-town residents of Oxford, who had different tastes than the big-city inhabitants of Memphis. Such changes paid off, and McEwens in Oxford is now well-known for its outstanding cuisine, good service, and inviting ambience.
A Chilean seabass is a hallmark entree, while the banana cream pie is a must-try dessert.
By midday, though, the local farmers join in on the act. Farmers provide what is in season that day, and the chef transforms it into a Farmers Plate. For example, the Farmers Plate recently had creamy mushroom soup, stewed leeks, sautéed kale, and onion rings.
Guests may expect a variety of additional dishes made from locally sourced ingredients with unique Mississippian tastes.
The Sipp on South Lamar is an additional recommendation. It is an Oxford original that serves small meals as well as wine and bourbon flights. While it is not exactly a restaurant, it is becoming more popular among both residents and visitors.
As you can see, Oxford cuisine spans from budget-friendly college student options to highly polished gourmet tastes. Visitors will benefit from the restaurant’s dedication to offering exceptional meals. The message is clear: in this proud Southern town, your tastes will be satiated. Whichever cuisine you like, Oxford restaurants will always provide a great supper.