The chefs at Heart & Soul Diner aim to soothe their customers' souls with a creative menu of Cajun dishes and American staples. Po' boys and seafood specialties share menu pages with burgers, pastas, and fusion fare such as jambalaya omelets and new orleans eggs benedict—shrimp, crayfish, and andouille sausage with poached eggs atop english muffins. Shrimp and grits showcases the flavors of the south, and the sesame-ginger salmon is the best way to taste the Atlantic without hitchhiking on the backs of willing whales.
Fred Cerami’s first venture into the food industry was selling hot dogs on the streets of Hattiesburg. He loved feeding people, but wanted to incorporate his Sicilian heritage and generations of family recipes into his work. So in 1977, he left the streets, came inside, and laid down his roots within the kitchen of Cerami’s Italian Restaurant. Today, Fred’s daughter Alissa runs the restaurant, but not much else has changed. The kitchen still churns out homemade ravioli, lasagna, and spaghetti with meatballs, Italian flags still adorn the walls of the dining room, and Fred’s old Hattiesburg hot-dog wagon is still there, enjoying its healthier second act as an all-you-can-eat salad bar.
CiCi’s Pizza combines the variety of a buffet with the thrill of bottomless pizza. Each pie is crafted with dough made from scratch daily and then slathered with homemade marinara and showered with toppings ranging from traditional pepperoni and Italian-style sausage to creative combinations including buffalo chicken and mac 'n' cheese. The buffet is stocked with a plethora of fresh pastas, as well as signature salads with the option to put tossing talents to the test at the salad bar. After they've feasted on savory options, diners can revisit the buffet for dessert including freshly baked brownies, slices of apple pizza, and cinnamon rolls drizzled with icing—or they can eat dessert first, thereby tearing an irreparable hole in the space-time continuum.
Trey and Mamie Herron of Skinny's Nutrition Studio—which was given a shout-out by Well-Being] magazine—work to make fitness something that touches each part of daily life. They host healthy happy hours, lead excursions into the outdoors, and fuel it all with protein-based meals and wellness plans. In the shop, glasses line the counters beneath verdigris walls, brimming with 41 smoothie flavors, aloe shots, and energy-boosting teas, and patrons discuss fitness goals after wellness assessments. Weight-loss challenges harness the healthy powers of competition, unlike a friend who claims to be able to swallow more Legos.
With its bright yellow walls festooned with photographs of old movie stars and its griddles crammed with a bevy of eats, Jo's Diner sates hungry stomachs and nostalgia needs in equal measure. Hits from the '50s and '60s stream from a retro jukebox as diners housed in red padded booths slurp malts and shakes ($3.50) or catapult juicy bacon cheeseburgers ($7.50) through onion rings ($3.50) held by their companions during riveting games of fried-food soccer.
The Spill Grill's cooks parade a sizzling range of burgers and Nathan's all-beef hot dogs onto freshly baked buns to parade across the restaurant's menu. Quartets of diners dive into a dish of fried taters while choosing from nine burgers including the Cancun pineapple burger, which tempers juicy beef with tropical fruit. The Philly cheeseburger flaunts regional flavors like an Oompa Loompa ambassador, and smaller appetites tear into the kids' menu. Meals for youngsters pair juicy chicken tenders or a junior burger with sides such as mandarin oranges, and a scoop of ice cream drops a sweet curtain over the diminutive feast. Patrons fill the dining room and outdoor patio with jovial chatter or compete in occasional games of volleyball or disc golf.