Fried green tomatoes, cheese grits, and other classic Southern sides jazz up plates of upscale fare at The Copper Iris Catering Company, named for a metallically hued spring flower native to the Mississippi coastline. Sunlight streams through broad, front windows by day, and music performances send sound bouncing off the historic building's exposed brick walls on many nights. When not working together on the latest iteration of the seasonally rotating menu, owner Jonathan Lee and chef Olivia White often appear in person to advise guests on which dishes will best match their self-provided beverages—Copper Iris is BYOB—or carefully coordinated napkin rings.
Fresh dough flattens into a circle, crackling gently and browning slightly from heat. This from-scratch tortilla forms the base for the dishes on the Jaco's Tacos menu. Vegetables and meats, which have never been frozen or even seen snow, load up each wrapper, giving it the shape of a burrito, taco, or fajita. Mojave pork and grilled shrimp festoon mexican pizzas built on the warm tortillas and smothered in traditional ingredients. On tables, cool rings of condensation form, ghosts of where margaritas rested. Chatter rises up, past exposed-brick walls and a perimeter of greenery, which converts carbon dioxide from the open windows into oxygen and compliments from botanists. On select evenings, live music thrums beneath the din of conversation and the crunching of crispy tortillas.
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The Coffee Roastery, featured on CNN, houses a crack team of baristas who draw from an arsenal of coffee beans from across the globe. Guests can get wired beneath the elevated ceilings, go wireless with the complimentary WiFi, or take inspiration from the multi-media artwork and shrines to Shaky, the Norse god of coffee. Percolation professionals drip the darkened elixir in blends from around the world, filling mugs with a straight black brew from Guatemala ($1.70 for 16 oz.), putting a foam cap on espresso from Cameroon ($2.85 for 16 oz.), or stirring chocolate in with Sumatran beans ($3.50). Fill deserted stomachs with a variety of New York–style cheesecakes ($2.95/slice) or one of the rotating flavors of freshly swirled soft-serve ($2.95+).
Family-owned and operated through four generations, the Big Apple Inn continues to sate cravings for southern cooking with its signature pig-ear and smoked-sausage sandwiches highlighted in the Southern Foodways Alliance–produced documentary film Smokes and Ears. Owner Gene “Geno” Lee attracts epicures from all corners of the state to sample his moist and tender pig ears—thin slices of pressure-cooked pork smothered with mustard, slaw, and house-made hot sauce and served on slider buns. A bouquet of meaty aromas rises from the restaurant’s Red Rose smoked-sausage sandwiches, which cure the culinary blues with a grilled flavor unique to Mississippi.Open for more than 70 years, The Big Apple Inn once served as a home base of sorts for famous civil rights leader Medgar Evers. The restaurant maintains a laid-back, unassuming décor on humble Farish Street, with wood-paneled walls and a cozy dining room where repeat customers swap self-penned odes to pig ears as they pluck guitars with greasy fingers.
Two Sister's Kitchen whips up its signature fried chicken—lauded by Food & Wine magazine as among the best in the country—in the kitchen of a historic home built in 1902. Six days a week, buffets and chafing dishes serve catfish, cornbread, biscuits, tomato gravy, and other Southern eats. Tables draped in flowered cloths fill the house's cozy dining rooms, and wrought-iron furniture crowns the outdoor patio. The front porch looks out at the capitol building, which serves as a reminder to abide the law about chewing with your mouth closed.