The Mississippi Delta is known as ground zero for American music, especially blues music. But there are some unique dishes only found in the Delta and its surrounding areas.
Everyone has recommendations for you, no matter who you ask. There are many must-eat dishes, but these are just a few that visitors can’t miss. What is your favorite dish in the Mississippi Delta? Let us know in the comments!
Now found on menus and at state fairs throughout the country, one particular restaurant in Mississippi claims to be the inventor of the fried dill pickle, although another in Arkansas also claims the title.
Everyone has their own version in terms of type and size of pickle as well as batter ingredients. Buttermilk ranch pairs best with the snack.
Where to Eat It: The Hollywood Cafe near Tunica is the best place to try the fried pickles, sliced and battered, served with a dipping sauce. Theirs have been featured on the Travel Channel’s Deep Fried Paradise.
Enjoy the pickles alongside fried green tomatoes and onion rings. The restaurant is also referenced in Marc Cohn’s song “Walking in Memphis.”
Tamales are mostly associated with Mexican cuisine, but the Mississippi Delta has its own version. The dish was brought to the region in the 1920s through the work of immigrant farmers.
The ingredients vary but are usually made of pork or beef. Some are eaten straight from the corn husks and their spicy sauce while others are topped in cheese and eaten with a fork. You might find them in donut shops, gas station stands, or at sit-down restaurants.
Where to Eat It: There are dozens of places to eat hot tamales around the state. A few of our favorites are the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, The Donut Shop in Natchez, and Scarlet’s Donuts in Tupelo. The Southern Foodways Alliance even has a Hot Tamale Trail.
Made famous by Elvis Presley, who enjoyed them at a restaurant in his hometown of Tupelo, the slugburger does not contain any insects. Instead, it’s a beef patty fortified with flour or soybeans as a way to get more use out of the protein when financial times were tough.
Where to Eat It: Weeks Diner in Booneville is considered to be the original creator of the burger, which they call a Weeksburger. White Trolley Cafe in Corinth and Johnnie’s Drive-In in Tupelo are great too.
Chess pie is a dessert that traces its origins back to England in the 1800s but made its way to New England and later the South. Similar to buttermilk pie, the filling is similar to custard, made of eggs, butter, and sugar. There are also lemon, chocolate, and pecan versions.
Where to Eat It: Often eaten at homes and special events, visitors to Indianola can also eat the dessert at The Crown Restaurant. The lunch menu changes weekly and the restaurant is down the street from the BB King Museum.
Catfish is the most common ingredient in the state as it’s farm-raised. The town of Belzoni claims to be the “catfish capital of the world.” Simmons Catfish is one of the most well-known producers of catfish.
But they are also wild-caught in the river and can weigh hundreds of pounds. The fish is mild in flavor and can be prepared in a number of ways, including whole fried and blackened.
Where to Eat It: Like with barbecue, there are hundreds of places to eat catfish. Taylor Grocery outside of Oxford is one favorite of ours for its cornmeal breading and live music. In the Delta, you can’t miss the catfish at Fan and Johnny’s in Greenwood.
Sausage and Cheese Plate
Considered to be a Memphis tradition, the appetizer of sausage and cheese has made its way onto menus south in the Delta. Often found at barbecue restaurants, the plate includes smoked kielbasa with cheddar and pepper jack seasoned with spices, pickles, and peppers. It’s the perfect snack before your meal.
Where to Eat It: Everywhere! If you find a barbecue restaurant, they’ll likely have it. One & Only BBQ in Southhaven is just one of many places to find it.
Looking for a place to stay in the Mississippi Delta? In Greenwood, we recommend The Alluvian Hotel. In Clarksdale, stay at the Tallahatchie Flats. Check out our weekend guide for more things to do in the area.