Creole, Thai, French, down-home and soul: Biloxi restaurants offer golfers diverse menus

By Tim McDonald, Contributor

BILOXI, Miss. — Golfers know the Mississippi Gulf Coast has a string of good golf courses, big fancy casinos and, believe it or not, excellent restaurants.

Mary Mahoney's Old French House Restaurant
Mary Mahoney's Old French House Restaurant in Biloxi dates back to 1964.
Mary Mahoney's Old French House RestaurantThe Shed BBQJourdan River Steamer
If you go

You don't have to go all the way to New Orleans for great eats. Here are a few suggestions to chew on as you consider your golf trip to the Biloxi area:

Gulfport

Vrazel's: A well-known, local place for fine dining on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Customers rave about the Spinach Touffle.

House specialties include the southern platter (fantail shrimp, oysters, stuffed crab, filet of fish of the day and crab claws, all fried) and "Mississippi Soft Shell Connection." Aside from fresh seafood out of the Mississippi Sound, Vrazel's serves prime beef, veal and chicken.

Port City Café: One of the first restaurants to open after Hurricane Katrina, Port City Café makes "feel-good" food.

Triplett-Day: A 1950s-style, old-fashioned diner that serves breakfast and lunch daily.

Blow Fly Inn: How can you go wrong with a name like this? The Blow Fly overlooks Bayou Bernard, a longtime, Gulf Coast eatery and a family restaurant that serves steaks, barbecue ribs and seafood.

The Blow Fly has been there for more than 40 years since its original owners, Albert and Mary Malone, still at down-home prices.

Also: Lookout 49 and High Cotton Grill.

Biloxi

Jazzeppi's Ristorante and Martini Bar: Fine dining with certified black angus beef, prime veal, fresh Gulf seafood, and pasta creations. Jazzeppi's uses Creole, Italian and French influences.

There are three separate dining rooms, more than 50 martinis and an extensive wine list. The bar also has gourmet pizzas.

Mary Mahoney's Old French House Restaurant: Since 1964, Mary Mahoney's has been an upscale and elegant restaurant in a New Orleans-style courtyard.

Owner Mike Mahoney has entertained Presidents, and much of the press corps parked and ate here while they covered Hurricane Katrina.

Try appetizers such as the presidential platter, escargot and crabmeat remoulade and move on to entrees like flounder imperial, stuffed catfish, French double-cut pork chops and deluxe double lamb loin chops. All this and a good wine list, too.

Old Biloxi Schooner: It's located in the historic Point Cadet area, a casual seat-yourself eatery.

Seafood is the specialty, of course, given the name, with what some say is the best seafood gumbo on the Gulf Coast. There's also homemade hush puppies, fried seafood platters and po' boys.

Get a Barq's root beer with yo' po' boy and people will swear they've been seeing you eat here for 20 years.

Bragozzo: An Italian restaurant in the Isle of Capri Casino. The casino has obviously gone all out with this restaurant, and it's paid off. I may have had better Italian food somewhere, but I can't remember it.

The name comes from the Venetian fishing boat, called a bragozzo. It's also a wine bar with a great selection of fine wines.

They make fresh pasta, handmade on the premises and the flounder I had was one of the best seafood dishes I've ever eaten.

Even better was the dessert: Fruit crostata, a warm fruit tart with vanilla gelato and a golden raisin composta. I don't usually go in for that sort of dessert, but I did this time on an impulse, and again, I can still taste it.

Shady's New World Cuisine: Thai, Italian, Creole and soul food, Shady's claims to serve the best steaks on the Gulf Coast.

It's certainly an eclectic place, with Thai appetizers like spring rolls and Crab Rangoon, as well as spaghetti Bolognese or country fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy. Everything is homemade, including the crème Brule cheesecake.

Ocean Springs

The Shed: A local legend in these parts. There were fears it would not re-open after Hurricane Katrina, because it suffered severe flooding (they have a line drawn at the watermark, which is chest-high). But, it did come back, with a vengeance.

It's basically a pile of junk the owner, Brad Orrison, has collected over the years, and it has more than its share of redneck chic — the chandeliers made of rib bones and beer bottles, for example. But, it all works.

They have a blues band every Saturday night, always crowded with "Shed Heads," and an annual Blues Festival every November.

The food is great, classic, Southern barbecue. All the meat is hand-pulled at the place that might sound disgusting to non-barbecue fans, but you die-hards will appreciate it.

The spare ribs are falling-off-the-bone good, as is the slow-smoked brisket.

Plus, they have good-looking waitresses wearing short skirts.

Phoenicia Gourmet: As its name might imply, Phoenicia Gourmet serves "fresh, healthy and reasonable" foods from around the globe, including USDA prime steak, seafood and gourmet cheesecake.

They also have Tabbouleh and peasant salad and, for dinner, Tuna Carpaccio, Mediterranean shrimp, lamb kabob, steak, St. George and Kafka kabob, a "finely blended mixture of beef, onions, parsley and Lebanese spices rolled on a skewer and charbroiled."

They also have a little bit of Mexico with fajitas and quesadillas. Imagine washing that down with desserts like baklava and cheesecake.

Aunt Jenny's Catfish Restaurant: Hoo boy: Pond-raised catfish — all you can eat. Aunt Jenny also has shrimp and chicken, all family-style in a house dating back to 1852.

Check out the Julep Room Lounge in the cellar, where it is said Elvis used to hang out in the corner booth, stuffing his face with catfish and a flask of bourbon he kept in his pocket.

Kiln

Jourdan River Steamer: I'm a big fan of steamed seafood — I like to think I discovered it on my own — and Jourdan River serves it.

They also serve barbecued shrimp, smoked tuna dip and the "Kiln-Billy Steak," a 20-ounce Porterhouse blackened and covered with sauté mushrooms and onions.

It's open Wednesdays through Sundays, and there is outside dining on their deck.

Also: P'Zazz and Chipotles in Diamondhead; Trapani's Eatery in Bay St. Louis.

Tim McDonaldTim McDonald, Contributor

Veteran golf writer Tim McDonald keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.


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