Ole Miss, located in University, Mississippi (but really Oxford), is the oldest university in the state, having been chartered in 1844.
Although it’s not as nationally renown as several other SEC schools, it’s left an indelible mark on the world. Its alumni base boasts 5 U.S. Senators, 10 Governors, legendary authors William Faulkner and John Grisham, and 2-time Superbowl MVP Eli Manning.
Most recently, the Ole Miss Rebels won the 2022 NCAA Men’s College World Series, so vibes are high in Oxford, Mississippi. This high morale can also be attributed to the myriad of delicious restaurants found around town.
Here are some of our favorites…
152 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655
Iconic Oxford restaurateur John Currance kicked off the town square revival early with his City Grocery concept. This imaginative yet unpretentious food walks the fine line between comfort food and fodder for foodies.
For example, if you’re fiending for a sandwich you can get the Tomato “Sandwich” on a biscuit with heirloom tomato, country ham, Duke’s mayo, and Truffle Tremor cheese, or you can crank things up a notch with a Beef Tongue “French Dip” on sourdough with caramelized onion, roasted mushrooms, and gruyere and served with bourbon beef jus. You can also get their fan-favorite Shrimp and Grits, with mushrooms, scallions, white wine, lemon juice, and Big Bad bacon.
719 N Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655
Speaking of big and bad, John Currance’s next venture is Big Bad Breakfast.
You definitely have to check out their famous and fresh black pepper-buttermilk biscuits, preferably as the vessel for a sandwich, like the “Cathead” Chicken Biscuit with crispy fried chicken, cheddar, and sausage gravy. The skillets are also a buttery delight, loaded with all kinds of tasty ingredients. Check out the Low Country (Mississippi is just one state away from Louisiana, after all!), with shrimp, andouille, onions, peppers, tomatoes, hash, and cheddar. No matter what you get, make sure both the spicy BBB bacon and freshly-squeezed OJ are a part of your order.
713 N Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655
You don’t want to skimp on quality when it comes to fish, and Jinsei only flies in the finest from all around the world. This contemporary Japanese restaurant first came to Oxford in 2013, where it has solidified its place as the best sushi spot in town.
No matter which roll you order, you’ll quickly become a member of the clean plate club. If you’re not a sushi lover, however, you can still enjoy the several remarkable things they do with kobe beef, like Steamed Buns with kobe steak, iceberg lettuce, and kewpie mayo. You also need to try their surprisingly delicious twice-fried Tebasaki wings.
118 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655
For over two decades, Ajax Diner has been warming the hearts and bellies of Oxford residents and visitors with their phenomenal southern food (which of course includes lots and lots of gravy).
A few go-to orders include the Southern Fried Catfish, the Turkey & Dressing, and the Hot Tamale Pie (spicy cheese grits stuffed with smoked pork, green chiles, corn, and tomatoes). Luckily, many of the entrees come with the addicting jalapeno cornbread, so factor that into your order!
110 Courthouse Square, Oxford, MS 38655
Yet another concept from John Currance brings “up-scale down-home” fare to Oxford. While the menu is clearly influenced most heavily by Creole cuisine, it goes much deeper than that. The atmosphere is classy yet comfortable, and the food is particularly creative and elevated.
What is Creole cuisine without a good Po-Boy? You have to try the Bouré “Bomb” Fried Shrimp Po-Boy with crispy shrimp, shredded lettuce, dill pickle, mayo, and spicy ketchup on toasted NOLA french bread. The Grilled Salmon BLT is another favorite: grilled salmon, guacamole, bacon, tomato, and spinach tossed in a cilantro-lime vinaigrette served on sourdough. There’s also the tremendous Pan-Seared Lump Crab Cakes served with sweet potato fries, cider slaw, and a remoulade that tastes like it’s straight out of the French Quarter.
710 N Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655
Opa! Who doesn’t love a good old Greek celebration? Lucky for you, every day is a reason to celebrate when you’re eating at Volta Taverna.
It’s hard not to feel festive while you’re sipping on one of their several margarita flavors, though make sure you ask for the staff favorite. The classic Volta order is the Bruce Lee Wrap: chicken sauteed in sesame oil and lemon juice then topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, pickled onion, lettuce, and sriracha mayo. You can also savor the more traditional options like the Lamb & Beef Gyro, Falafel, and Hummus. Every order is even better when you get a side of Fried Brussel Sprouts mixed with bacon, caramelized onions, and feta cheese.
309 N Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655
We all scream for Oxford Creamery! With their emphasis on “small-batch Southern ice cream”, you can always count on fresh and succulent flavors.
The flavors often vary by season, but two of the mainstays that you simply have to try are Butter Pecan and Banana Puddin’. If you’re craving something a little more than just ice cream, they also make a killer brownie that just so happens to make a perfect brownie sundae. In case you’re concerned about the sweets slowing you down, they have a strong coffee and espresso bar, courtesy of Velo Coffee.
4 First St, Taylor, MS 38673
If you’re looking for a bonafide southern joint, this spot fifteen or so minutes outside of Oxford is just what you need. Taylor Grocery was first built in 1889 as a dry goods store, then became a general store, before finally becoming its current catfish-slinging iteration in 1977. Since then, they’ve been serving “the south’s best catfish”, the sweetest tea in town, and a constant presence of live music.
If it’s your first time at Taylor Grocery or your hundredth, it’s hard to order anything other than the Whole Catfish Plate: two hand-scored, breaded, and fried pieces of catfish with two sides and their best-in-show hushpuppies. The Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo is another staple, with just the right balance of spice and flavor. Just save room for Miss Minnie’s Peach Cobbler or Deb’s Chocolate Cobbler.
922 E Jackson Ave, Oxford, MS 38655
Saint Leo, a 2017 semifinalist for the James Beard award for “Best New Restaurant” is owner Emily Blount’s realization of her dream to serve food exactly the way her mother did. That inspiration shows in every dish at this wood-fired Italian eatery.
Start off with the Gulf Shrimp & Spinach, but don’t indulge too much (yet). There’s a fabulous selection of pizzas, like Roasted Mushroom and Bacon Jam & Calabrian Chili Honey. You can also enjoy the Porchetta Sandwich with pork belly, arugula, tomato, chili mayo, and gremolata on ciabatta with an order of herb fries. And you’ll certainly enjoy the huge cocktail list along with the massive wine list and whiskey selection.
721 N Lamar Blvd, Oxford, MS 38655
Our fourth John Currance restaurant on the list (the man has some great restaurants, what can we say?) is a “Southern Brasserie” that uses local ingredients and devastatingly fresh raw oysters to deliver a remarkable meal every time.
Who doesn’t love a strong Happy Hour? Snackbar has one every day from Tuesday to Saturday from 4:00 – 5:00 PM, with cheap drinks, $1.75 oysters, and a tight small plate menu including French Onion Soup, an Heirloom Tomato Sandwich, Kheema Sliders, and more. The rest of the week, you can get favorites like Eggplant Lasagna, Jamaican Jerk Pork Loin, and Confit Lamb Ribs.
1611 Jackson Ave W, Oxford, MS 38655
Italian food is one of the most traditional cuisines in the world, with good reason. Tarasque Cucina refers to their offerings as “old-world comfort food” and that’s exactly what you can expect at this mom-and-pop spot.
Italian cooking is very bread-focused, so you know you can’t miss with the Homemade Bread, a sourdough ciabatta drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Grana Padano. The Capellini Puttanesca is also phenomenal: thin pasta with spicy tomato sauce, capers, olives, and shaved cheese.
To learn more about the delicious food spots at other SEC schools, check out our Best Restaurants in the SEC guide, which includes all 14 college towns and their amazing eateries.