Here’s a quick snapshot at some terrific restaurants in the Mississippi Gulf Coast! I’m just back from the week-long Society of American Travel Writers Conference in Biloxi, MS, where we stayed at the lovely Beau Rivage Resort & Casino.
With some 300+ employees lining the hallways to greet and clap for us as we kicked things off with the Mississippi Gulf Coast SATW opening night reception, I knew we were in for a special experience where Gulf Coast hospitality reigns.
The folks at Beau Rivage could not be nicer, including Banquet Beverage Manager Scott Terrell who gladly steered me to the BR Prime Steakhouse for a great glass of wine and food. Advanced Sommelier Mark Warren (and fellow triathlete) has a great wine list there, with many pairings well suited to the cuisine created by Chef James Balster. We enjoyed a 2009 Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico with melt-in-your-mouth Kobe beef. If you’re ever at the Beau Rivage, don’t miss BR Prime tucked away in the back corner of the casino.
Chef Balster with HomeAway’s Cindy Vanhoutte
Of course, you can’t visit the Gulf without enjoying the amazing abundance of fresh seafood — from Gulf shrimp (white, pink and brown) to oysters and crabs.
Mary Mahoney’s, Biloxi
For the most amazing crab claws, head over to Mary Mahoney’s — a long established restaurant in Biloxi run by Mary’s son Bobby. The special Cajun magic garlic butter sauce served with the crab claws is killer! The seafood gumbo is also delicious — they ship 500 gallons of the gumbo during the holidays (this year, some will be coming to me!)
Not only will you enjoy the food and beautiful garden setting, but Bobby will also keep you smiling with his jokes. His favorite: “There were five crows sitting on a fence and one was shot. How many are left? Four you might say….but no, none are left because they all flew away. Bobby had a piece commissioned just for that joke!
Red Sky Crabhouse, Gulfport
We headed to Gulfport for some noshing and enjoyed lobster and crab dip, lobster rolls, crab cakes and lobster macaroni. Red Sky Crab House, which also owns the highly popular Half Shell Oyster House in Biloxi, is casual place perfect for enjoying the Gulf’s finest with your friends and family.
We enjoyed a cannoli and bread pudding dessert at The Lookout, located in the beautiful former Hancock Bank Building. We chatted with chef Rob Stinson, who also owns Back Bay Seafood, Salute Italian Restaurant, and Kelly’s Sports Pub.
A man after my own heart, Stinson is committed to healthier eating and living and strives to have 30-35 percent of his menus represent “healthy options.” He is the featured chef on PBS’ Fit to Eat show, designed to educate and change the eating and cooking style of Mississippi viewers. Rock on Rob!
Quality Poultry and Seafood
Last, but not least, was my visit to Quality Poultry and Seafood, a processing facility that provides the bulk of seafood to area casinos and restaurants. Quality also has a small cafe offering po boys, gumbo and seafood platters, as well as a retail counter with some of the best seafood prices most of our group had seen.
Thank goodness for the hardworking shrimpers who head out to the Gulf in the evening to capture this amazing Gulf shrimp, oysters and crabs we all enjoy. Their season ends in about a month when the Gulf gets too cold and the shrimp move on to warmer waters. And yes, I learned that one shrimp will lay 300,000 to 1,000,000 eggs in its lifetime — ensuring us an abundance of shrimp!
Thanks SATW, Beau Rivage, Biloxi and the amazing Mississippi Gulf Coast conference staff and volunteers for all the great food, wine, hospitality and, of course, amazing weather and sunsets!