The Back Yard Burgers story begins more than 25 years ago in the small town of Cleveland, Mississippi. It was here in 1987 that Lattimore Michael first began making homemade burgers in his grocery store. Before he knew it, the popularity of his burgers began to skyrocket, and a year later Lattimore was able to open the flagship Back Yard Burgers location. Fast forward to present day, and the crew at each Back Yard Burgers still serves up 100% North American Black Angus beef burgers and sandwiches cooked to order. They charbroil signature creations such as the barbecue bacon cheeseburger, a 1/3-pound patty topped with hickory-smoked bacon, american cheese, and barbecue sauce, as well as signature chicken sandwiches. Angus beef chili and 100% beef hot dogs round out the menu, complemented by hand-dipped shakes and malts just like grandma used to make and grandpa used to hide in his underwear drawer.
Three crusts are the foundation of the experience at Mr. Bigg’s Pizza. St. Louis–style thin crust can support pies such as the mexican with its seasoned beef, diced green pepper, and a specially blended sauce. Thick crust can burden the load of the Bigg’s meat pizza and all its sausage, hamburger, pepperoni, and bacon toppings. And the kicker, hand-tossed New York–style pizza, might sport the toppings of the veggie pizza—mushrooms, onions, green peppers, black olives, and tomatoes.
Though the pizza roster forms the central pillar of the menu, it’s not alone. Pasta dishes, such as baked mostaccioli and lasagna, complement non-Italian food, including a chicken bacon ranch sandwich. And drinks contrast the pizza selection, too. From draft and bottled beer to wine and specialty cocktails, the libation list has thirsty throats covered.
If guests would rather not stare at one of the big-screen TVs that adorn a wall in each dining room, they can eat their pasta and sip their wine on the patio where picnic tables and a fish-populated fountain surround cobblestone walkways.
The scent of freshly baked biscuits, peppery gravy, and fried potatoes waft out of Republic Cafe’s kitchen 24 hours a day. Like the red, white, and blue of the French flag, the diner's housemade breakfasts pay homage to Americana, especially the country-fried skillet—a mound of hashbrowns topped with sautéed peppers and onions, cubes of country-fried steak, two eggs, and country gravy. Comfort-food classics populate the lunch menu as well, which stars BLTs, chicken-fried chicken, and open-faced beef sandwiches floating in a pool of savory, brown gravy.
Village Pottery Café invites would-be Chagalls of ceramics to lavish paint upon the stoneware of their choice while noshing upon a variety of homemade snacks. With no studio fees, Village Pottery Café allows painters to bask in artistic freedom as they customize mugs ($7.50+), plates ($10–$15), platters ($22+), the Statue of Liberty's understudy, and more objets d'art. After staff members slather them with a protective glaze, pottery luxuriates in the extreme warmth of the kiln, and emerges lacquered and ready to be taken home. Village Pottery Café also provides special crockery options for children ($2–$10). Café refreshments include locally roasted coffee; soups such as chicken enchilada, loaded baked potato, and pasta e fagioli ($4.99); quiches ($5.49); and other savory and sweet morsels.
Situated on the edge of the James River, River Smokin lets guests take a break from canoeing and stop by its dining room, patio, or deck. Plates of pork loin chops or deep-fried shrimp emerge from the kitchen, making their way to tables crowded with appetizers such as chicken quesadillas, fried dill pickles, and hand-breaded deep-fried fresh mushrooms.