Clarksdale, MS

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reuben
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2007/09/11 20:36:40 (permalink)

Clarksdale, MS

I go there pretty much every year for the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival, which just happens to be the best free blues/gospel festival in the nation. But that's a different forum...

This year I decided to make a little report on the food, although I know I'm far from the first to dine there and file a report, and I'm just a Junior Burger.

It was between 102 and 106 F with a blistering sun and cloudless sky when I was there in August, so driving around in my airconditioned rental car looking for food and drink held a bit more of an attraction than usual. Being a photographer, I go down a few days early and stay a few days late.

I suppose that the first place everyone mentions is the Rest Haven. The breakfasts are great, and the camraderie with the locals is good, too. Whether you need a banker, lawyer, plumber, modern day gandy dancer, or just want to know the latest on the soybeans, cotton, corn, and cattle prices, this is the place to get your info. If you get up to refill your coffee just keep walking around and fill up the cups of everyone else - it's the pleasant and sociable norm. The kibbie omelets are a bit special and quite filling, a bit of a derivative of the current owner's Lebanese heritage. Nothing wrong with the french toast, pancakes, omeletes, or anything else.

Going down (headed south) on State St/Hwy 61, go past the legendary crossroads, under the bridge, and it will be on your right.

(sure hope I post these links right)





If you're a bit north of Clarksdale I'd recommend the Blue and White in Tunica. Goooooood breakfast. Also ate breakfast in the hospital in Clarksdale one year, but that's another story - the food wasn't very good, although it was basically all-you-can-eat.

Hick's is right next door to the Rest Haven, known largely for their tamales. Generally speaking only drivein service is available at Hicks. I like both the tamales and the catfish. It's the south, so you'll get a couple of pieces of white bread to sop up the juice.

(fact: some 80% of the farm raised catfish in the U.S. comes from Mississippi)

Big Mama's. Keep heading south on State Street. Take a right on Anderson Blvd. Keep going through a small industrial area, a middle class area, and an upper middle class area. You'll see Big Mama's cattycorner on your right. I ate lunch there two days in a row. Got the catfish sandwich (when in Mississippi...). You get your choice of white bread or hamburger bun. I opted for the bun. He took it outside and fried it. I have to say it was a bit soggy and therefore not to my taste, but there were two big ol' slabs of catfish in that small bun. One would have been plenty. The second day it wasn't as greasy. Both days the tomato slice was thin. I'd try it again, and they have lots of other stuff on the menu. As usual in the area, they sell beer, but there's no real way to eat in. There were a couple of tables outside. For the uninitiated, 24oz cans are the normal beer down there. I have a great story from Red's about that, but it's off topic at the moment.







Delta Amusement. This is in the business district, or what used to be the business district. Clarksdale's been on the upswing the last several years, at least concering the festival and general tourism, so the business district has seen a bit of a revival, and some new merchants.

Delta Amusement has been there quite a while. Bobby owns it. His dad is quite the character, and some of his kids work there. You can find yourself in a card game if you please. I like the food (the catfish platter isn't greasy). It's nothing terribly special, but a good port in a storm. Bobby remodeled a bit recently. Beer is always available. Heading south on State St., pass the crossroads, take a right on Sunflower, cross over the train tracks, take a right on 2nd Street, and another right on Delta. Cattycorner from Ground Zero.



BTW, Ground Zero's food is every bit as bad as everyone says. Don't know why. For true gourmet dining head to Madidi's a couple of blocks away - but it's not roadfood.

Red's. Not a true dining establishment, but Red occasionally cooks sausages, BBQ, or fish on the smokers. Red's is really a juke joint. He's fishing buddies with Big Jack Johnson, a legendary bluesman and local resident. Again, the beers are 24oz cans. No bottles for safety reasons. The doorman may purposefully display a gun. Red's a nice guy, and it's really quite safe inside, if unsanitary. If Big Jack's in town and playing, it's worth a few bucks just to hear the real boogie.



I tried to eat out at Lunchbox, east of town out New Africa Road, but they were closed both times I went out there. The food is supposed to be pretty good. Open only for lunch, I believe, hence the name.

Abe's BBQ. Like the Rest Haven, it's an institution. At the crossroads, behind Delta Donut (another institution). Pretty good BBQ. This being the south your sandwich will come with cole slaw in the bun, so make sure you tell them ahead of time if you don't want it. Good fries.









In all these years I've never actually had a donut at Delta Donut (I partake of breakfast at the Rest Haven), but I hear they're quite tasty, and bad for your arteries.

So - head to Clarksdale, tune the radio to WROX 1450 AM, and soak it up.

www.wroxradio.com - They currently have a couple of deadbeat (non-paying) advertisers) on the front page. You can listen to them in streaming audio (WinAmp really does work well - doesn't have the dropouts that Windows Media Player and RealPlayer do). Stop by the Cat Head and say hi to Roger. Get Bubba to sell you some real estate. Say hi to Sam at the Rest Haven. And have some good roadfood while you're at it.
#1

18 Replies Related Threads

    MilwFoodlovers
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/09/11 22:50:47 (permalink)
    reuben, last year we had to stay in Clarksdale for Helena's King Biscuit (Arkansas Heritage Festival) and we hit every place you listed. We had such a great time at Red's and a few others that we planned this trip to go to Helena during the day and to enjoy Clarksdale at night. If you have an open mind, try the raw beef kibbe which is served some evenings; just outstanding. Just a great little town. btw, our waitress at The Blue and White told us they'd make us fried chicken for breakfast but it would take a bit longer! We roll into Clarksdale Oct.3rd and we're at The Comfort Inn on State.
    #2
    RibRater
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/09/12 05:00:13 (permalink)
    nothing better then a report with pictures. thanks reuben!
    #3
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/09/12 06:21:21 (permalink)
    I have driven through Clarksdale many times and I always had intentions of stopping but never did. I am glad you told us about Ground Zero as I had intentions of stopping there also.

    I have always enjoyed driving through the delta area. Huge farming area. Lotsa corn and cotton.

    The last time I was driving though there, I stopped at the Blue and White at Tunica. The buffet did not look as appetizing as it once did so I decided to leave.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #4
    reuben
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/09/12 06:55:33 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by MilwFoodlovers

    reuben, last year we had to stay in Clarksdale for Helena's King Biscuit (Arkansas Heritage Festival) and we hit every place you listed. We had such a great time at Red's and a few others that we planned this trip to go to Helena during the day and to enjoy Clarksdale at night. If you have an open mind, try the raw beef kibbe which is served some evenings; just outstanding. Just a great little town. btw, our waitress at The Blue and White told us they'd make us fried chicken for breakfast but it would take a bit longer! We roll into Clarksdale Oct.3rd and we're at The Comfort Inn on State.


    Ah, I've been to the Biscuit a couple of times as well, back when it was still the biscuit. That whole lawsuit thing is a crying shame. We actually had to do the opposite of you one year - stayed in Clarksdale when seeing the Biscuit over in Helena.

    I should also mention the Dutch Oven in Clarksdale's business district. There's a Mennonite community in Clarksdale, and they run the Dutch Over. Good breakfast. They used to be open for lunch and dinner as well but it was too much work so they scaled back to just breakfast. They have plans to reopen for lunch and dinner in the future. They used to be in the old train station, but are in the process of moving into the old Woolworth's that Bubba's been renovating and leasing. It's a couple of blocks away, over on Second St. if I remember correctly.

    There's another food place in the old train station that recently opened. I think it's called The Depot. Open for breakfast and lunch. Not sure about dinner. Had a nice breakfast there one morning. Hope they make it, but there may be too much competition in a small area.
    #5
    kland01s
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/09/12 09:23:38 (permalink)
    Nice report, that's a part of the US I have never traveled in.
    #6
    buffetbuster
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/09/13 06:21:45 (permalink)
    reuben-
    Really nice report! This is one of my favorite areas of the country and I particularly love Abe's!
    #7
    mbrookes
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/09/13 13:11:18 (permalink)
    Thanks for a great report on my home town. You are right about it all.
    Did you try the chocolate or coconut pie at Rest Haven?
    #8
    reuben
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/09/13 18:24:13 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by mbrookes

    Thanks for a great report on my home town. You are right about it all.
    Did you try the chocolate or coconut pie at Rest Haven?



    No, I must admit that in all these years breakfast is the only meal I've ever had at the Rest Haven. But it's all been good - pancakes, french toast, grits, hash browns (not greasy), omelets, kibbie omelets, etc.

    I've heard the pies are rather legendary, and are actually recipes handed down by the previous owner.

    MilwFoodlovers' mention of the raw beef kibbie also piqued my interest, so maybe I'll try something new next time.

    Thanks for the confirmation regarding your hometown.

    For those that haven't been there, few food establishments are open Sunday night in Clarksdale. I typically end up at Atzimba (or something like that) down and across the street from the Rest Haven. Fairly decent Americanized Mexican food.

    I've only eaten at the Ranchero a couple of times, but I've never had a good steak there (everyone recommends their steaks). The Ranchero is often recommended for food in general and their steaks in particular. Maybe I just had bad luck. I'm also quite sure that I'm spoiled by the excellent steak houses I have near me in the Annapolis/Baltimore/DC area (Ruth's Chris, despite its popularity, is the worst of the lot).

    A bit off-topic, but I also ate at Crawdad's down in Merigold MS. They have an interesting history. Sort of a family place. Only had one meal there, but it was pretty good. A shrimp pasta dish for dinner one night.
    #9
    mbrookes
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/09/13 20:35:39 (permalink)
    The Ranchero was an actual drive in with carhops when I was in high school. That was the number one hang out.

    I haven't eaten there in a while, but they used to have an amazing Greek style grilled redfish. I also hear that the ribs are good.

    I am getting really nostalgic now. I'll spare you the memories of the Village Inn and Mr. Rollins' grocery store (where Big Mama's is now)

    I will say Clarksdale was a wonderful place to grow up and a wonderful place to raise my children.
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    MilwFoodlovers
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/10/11 23:11:10 (permalink)

    Tamales, slaw, crackers and BBQ from Abes


    Roast chicken, green beans, speckled butter beans, collard greens, smothered cabbage, fried green tomato's and cornbread from The Blue and White. I'm happy to report that not only was everything perfectly cooked, a return visit (with a wait) found them willing to make me my favorite fried chicken and onion rings on the planet for my breakfast. Sorry I was too busy to take those pics!
    #11
    John A
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/10/12 07:34:44 (permalink)
    Man, talk about comfort food. That looks terrific.
    #12
    wanderingjew
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/10/12 08:11:00 (permalink)
    I just now discovered this thread.

    I had the opportunity to go to Clarksdale in 1999. I ended up going to a juke joint. however when I got there I was confused, I thought I was going to a "Jew Joint". I don't think it was "Red's"< I believe they place was called "Margaret's Blue Diamond Lounge". Anyway, they had live blues and I was the only white guy there (not that there's anything wrong with that!)

    I concurr with Abe's by the way!
    #13
    John A
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/10/12 17:44:47 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by wanderingjew

    I just now discovered this thread.

    I had the opportunity to go to Clarksdale in 1999. I ended up going to a juke joint. however when I got there I was confused, I thought I was going to a "Jew Joint". I don't think it was "Red's"< I believe they place was called "Margaret's Blue Diamond Lounge". Anyway, they had live blues and I was the only white guy there (not that there's anything wrong with that!)

    I concurr with Abe's by the way!


    Probably the only Jewish there as well.
    #14
    Rick F.
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/10/12 18:36:39 (permalink)
    Off Topic!

    quote:
    Originally posted by mbrookes

    I will say Clarksdale was a wonderful place to grow up and a wonderful place to raise my children.

    Had a friend from there, maybe mid-sixties now, name of Pat Ferguson Crighton. Paths ever cross? (Or are you a mere child? )
    #15
    wanderingjew
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/10/12 21:43:00 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by John A

    quote:
    Originally posted by wanderingjew

    I just now discovered this thread.

    I had the opportunity to go to Clarksdale in 1999. I ended up going to a juke joint. however when I got there I was confused, I thought I was going to a "Jew Joint". I don't think it was "Red's"< I believe they place was called "Margaret's Blue Diamond Lounge". Anyway, they had live blues and I was the only white guy there (not that there's anything wrong with that!)

    I concurr with Abe's by the way!


    Probably the only Jewish there as well.


    Hmm.....
    What would Sammy say??

    #16
    MilwFoodlovers
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/10/12 21:46:53 (permalink)
    Raw kibbe, onions, hummus and Syrian bread from the Rest Haven-


    Street vendor BBQ at the Biscuit-
    #17
    John A
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/10/13 07:28:21 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by wanderingjew

    quote:
    Originally posted by John A

    quote:
    Originally posted by wanderingjew

    I just now discovered this thread.

    I had the opportunity to go to Clarksdale in 1999. I ended up going to a juke joint. however when I got there I was confused, I thought I was going to a "Jew Joint". I don't think it was "Red's"< I believe they place was called "Margaret's Blue Diamond Lounge". Anyway, they had live blues and I was the only white guy there (not that there's anything wrong with that!)

    I concurr with Abe's by the way!


    Probably the only Jewish there as well.


    Hmm.....
    What would Sammy say??




    He could do it all, an extremely talented guy.
    #18
    mbrookes
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    RE: Clarksdale, MS 2007/10/15 14:00:35 (permalink)
    Rick F, that would put us about the same age. When was he in C'dale? The name doesn't sound familiar, which is strange for such a small place.
    #19
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