12 Best Restaurants in Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Last Updated on February 19, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Hattiesburg, Mississippi is home to a vibrant and diverse food scene, offering everything from classic Southern comfort food to international cuisines. From longtime neighborhood favorites to exciting new hotspots, Hattiesburg has no shortage of excellent dining options to satisfy any palate. Here are 12 of the best restaurants that should not be missed when visiting the Hub City.

Known as the Hub City due to its location at the intersection of multiple rail lines, Hattiesburg wears many hats. Home to two major universities in the University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University, Hattiesburg attracts students and educators from around the globe. Its rich history in the railroad and lumber industries left behind stunning examples of Victorian, Art Deco, and other architectural styles, leaving visitors with plenty to appreciate aesthetically.

But its food scene steals the show. From funky food trucks to white tablecloth dining, low country boils to elevated takes on Southern cuisine, Hattiesburg offers an array of mouthwatering flavors. The farms, fields, forests and rivers of Mississippi provide a bounty of fresh ingredients, and the city’s talented chefs transform them into memorable meals.

The following 12 restaurants represent the best Hattiesburg has to offer. From exciting newcomers to local institutions, downtown hotspots to neighborhood favorites, this list highlights the Hub City’s culinary diversity. For breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between, these are 12 Hattiesburg restaurants not to miss.

1. The Midtowner

Tucked away on Mobile Street in Hattiesburg’s Midtown district, The Midtowner brings a slice of big city dining to the Hub City. The ambiance is upscale yet approachable, with exposed brick walls, pendant lighting, and an expansive bar serving craft cocktails. The Midtowner specializes in elevated Southern cuisine, placing local ingredients in global contexts through creative fusion.

Start your meal with their famous pimento cheese fritters, served with bacon jam for dipping. Entrees like the shrimp and grits with tasso ham gravy and the coffee-crusted filet mignon with bourbon butter showcase Chef Alex Eaton’s ingenuity. Daily specials and an extensive wine list provide plenty of reason to return again and again. Sophisticated yet welcoming, The Midtowner delivers a fine dining experience without pretense.

2. Cotton Blues Downtown

A longtime favorite for Southern comfort food, Cotton Blues Downtown serves up heaping plates of fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, catfish, and other regional specialties. The dining room evokes the Mississippi Delta with checkerboard tablecloths, vintage Coca-Cola ads, and walls painted in a historic downtown streetscape.

Start your meal with a cup of gumbo ya-ya, the house specialty thick with chicken, sausage, okra, and spices. Be sure to save room for the slow-cooked pot roast served over cornbread dressing, or the smothered chicken topped with peppers, onions, mushrooms, and melted provolone cheese.

Hearty sides like mac and cheese, fried okra, and collard greens complete the rib-sticking feast. With generous portions, welcoming service, and authentic flavors, Cotton Blues Downtown transports diners straight to the heart of Mississippi.

3. Neon Pig

The neon pink pig sign beckoning hungry diners into Neon Pig leaves no mystery about their specialty: BBQ. Smoked meats take center stage at this laid-back eatery, with pork ribs, smoked chicken, beef brisket, and hot links sourced from local farmers and pit-cooked to perfection.

While BBQ plates make up the bulk of their menu, Neon Pig offers creative Southern fare too. Dirty tater tots smothered in pulled pork, bacon, cheese, sour cream and green onions rank high on the list of customer favorites.

The fried catfish wrap, stuffed with spicy slaw and pickles, puts a playful spin on a regional staple. With counter service, communal picnic tables, and classic rock on the speakers, the vibe at Neon Pig is totally casual. Just be prepared to get your hands deliciously messy!

4. Mae’s

For a quintessential neighborhood cafe, look no further than Mae’s. This cozy spot has been serving up classic Southern fare since 1944, making it Hattiesburg’s longest operating restaurant.

The dining room brims with generations of memorabilia—vintage advertisements, local historical photos, Ole Miss sports regalia. Playing off its proximity to nearby Camp Shelby military base, Mae’s boldly labels itself “The Mess Hall.”

Daily plate lunch specials make ordering easy with options like fried pork chops, smothered liver and onions, and chicken spaghetti over rice. Or opt for a Mae’s Burger, an overstuffed beef patty dripping with toppings.

Round out your plate with sides like purple-hulled peas, cornbread muffins, or the famous au gratin potatoes. Affordable, filling comfort food in a friendly setting, Mae’s offers a delicious dose of Hattiesburg history.

5. Little Zion Baptist Church

For a singular dining experience, look no further than Little Zion Baptist Church. Yes, diners really do gather in a decommissioned church to feast on Southern soul food classics.

Mississippi fried catfish, smothered pork chops, oxtails, and neckbones all make regular menu appearances. Rounding out the plates are scratch-made sides like candied yams, rice and beans, fried okra, and the can’t-miss green tomatoes.

Dinners feel like communal affairs thanks to the pew seating and sociable atmosphere. Gospel music fills the space as diners pass platters family-style and trade tastes. Equal parts soul food joint and living history museum, Little Zion offers a wholly unique and delicious perspective on Southern foodways.

6. Strange Brew Coffeehouse

For a break from Southern fare, Strange Brew Coffeehouse offers a funky, cosmopolitan cafe experience right in the heart of Hattiesburg. The walls showcase colorful artwork from local artists, and mismatched armchairs surround repurposed wood tables. With specialty coffee drinks, inventive breakfasts, and fresh-baked pastries, it’s a perfect spot to fuel up before exploring the area.

The avocado toast bar lets you customize toppings on freshly grilled artisan bread, while biscuits and gravy deliver a taste of the South. Heartier options include achorizo breakfast bowl with eggs, salsa, beans and cheese or the breakfast panini stuffed with egg, bacon, and provolone.

And don’t skip the from-scratch muffins like carrot cake and chocolate banana. Strange Brew offers a hip, metropolitan oasis for Hattiesburg residents and visitors alike.

7. Whistle Stop Cafe

For an only-in-Mississippi experience, make tracks to the Whistle Stop Cafe. Set inside a former train depot, the restaurant overlooks actual railroad tracks still in use by freight trains. Watch engineers wave from the locomotive as you dine on Southern favorites on the covered open-air deck.

Fried green tomatoes served with shrimp remoulade make for an indulgent appetizer, while entrees like Mississippi mud catfish and jambalaya deliver regional flavors.

Housed in an 1890s Victorian building, the interior dining spaces boast gorgeous original woodwork, soaring ceilings and walls dotted with train memorabilia. Between the distinctive setting and scrumptious Southern specialties, the Whistle Stop Cafe offers one truly memorable meal.

8. Tabella Italian Restaurant

For a taste of Italy in the Deep South, Tabella Italian Restaurant transports diners straight to the Old Country. Bread baked fresh daily, pasta crafted in-house, and Italian imports like olive oil and vinegar form the foundation for authentic dishes. Appetizers shine with options like stuffed mushrooms, seared scallops with sausage, or a sampling of Italian meats and cheeses.

From chicken parmesan layered with mozzarella to seafood linguine toss with tomatoes and white wine, familiar favorites share menu space with Tabella’s signatures. House specialties like pistachio crusted grouper or the Chateaubriand prove especially impressive, arriving tableside before expert carving.

An extensive wine list complements the menu, or opt for a classic Bellini or Negroni crafted at the marble bar. Sophisticated yet comfortable, Tabella brings fine Italian dining to Hattiesburg diners.

9. Mahogany Bar

For a relaxed downtown happy hour or night out with friends, look no further than the Mahogany Bar. This expansive gastro pub offers sociable seating options—cozy banquettes, communal tables, an oval-shaped bar. The real draw comes from their Southern-inspired small plates, perfect for mixing, matching and sharing.

Start off with fried green tomatoes layered with pimento cheese and bacon crumbles. Cajun corn fritters served with chipotle ranch make a wonderfully addictive snack alongside a craft cocktail or one of Mahogany’s Mississippi-brewed draft beers.

Boudin balls, loaded tater tots, Korean fried wings and shrimp and grits rounds satisfy heartier appetites. Gather a group to graze across Mahogany’s menu…you may need multiple trips to try everything!

10. Pho Saigon

The sweet and spicy aromas wafting from Pho Saigon lure in diners craving Vietnamese fare. This family-owned restaurant sources authentic ingredients to craft staples of the Southeast Asian country in the heart of Mississippi.

Their pho noodle soup stakes the restaurant’s reputation, with steaming bowls of rice noodles in deeply flavored broth topped with your choice of meat. Customize your bowl with fresh basil, bean sprouts, lime wedges, and chili sauce according to your taste.

Beyond pho, the menu explores other Vietnamese specialties. Shareable plates like egg rolls, shrimp spring rolls, or pan fried dumplings make great starters. The bun bowls, piled with vermicelli noodles, herbs, vegetables and grilled meats, make a lighter yet still satisfying meal. With formica tables, fast service, and extremely reasonable prices, Pho Saigon offers an accessible taste of Vietnamese cuisine.

11. King’s Tavern

Step through the etched glass entryway into King’s Tavern, and the sounds of clinking glasses, simmering pans, and lively conversation wash over you. This gastropub anchors one corner of Thirsty Hippo, Hattiesburg’s buzzing craft brewery. With an array of Heart pine booths, high top tables and outdoor patio seating, it easily accommodates small groups or big parties.

The menu celebrates Southern flavors with a chef-driven twist. Chicken and waffles get a savory spin with fried thigh meat and cheddar waffles; the mushroom goat cheese grit bowl makes a wonderfully rich vegetarian entree.

Of course, pints of Thirsty Hippo’s rotating taps take center stage as the ideal accompaniment. On balmy evenings, grab a table on King Tavern’s patio to enjoy Southern cuisine under Hattiesburg’s starry skies.

12. Lucky Rabbit Sandwich Shop

By day, the Lucky Rabbit dishes out po boys, poor boys, and burgers from a small storefront shop. When the sun goes down, the space transforms into the Lucky Rabbit Sandwich Shop, morphing into a lively bar with a DJ, dancefloor and strictly 21+ crowd.

The late-night menu leans into Southern bar food favorites like wings, nachos loaded with pulled pork, and drunken fries smothered in beer cheese sauce. Their roster of craft cocktails gives traditional recipes inventive new twists.

The party really gets going on weekends, when Lucky Rabbit rolls out thematic events, costume contests and drink specials. With a split personality well-suited for the college crowd, Lucky Rabbit offers hearty grub and festive fun all evening long. Early birds can still enjoy po boys and shakes during the low-key daylight hours.

Conclusion

With its confluence of culinary cultures and emphasis on made-from-scratch regional cuisine, Hattiesburg offers visitors a bounty of delicious dining options. College town energy mingles with Southern hospitality against a backdrop of historic buildings and natural beauty.

From the Mae’s 76-year legacy serving up plate lunches to exciting recent additions like the Lucky Rabbit’s innovative sandwich shop, the Hub City’s food scene captivates.

Beyond this list of 12 standout restaurants lie dozens more excellent eateries waiting to be discovered. Barbecue joints, bakeries, burger bars and food trucks all beckon the intrepid food explorer. Of course, no trip to Hattiesburg is complete without sampling something fried, so be sure to save room for fried green tomatoes, fried catfish or fried chicken from any of these phenomenal restaurants.

With such culinary abundance, visitors may find themselves plotting return trips just to continue eating their way through Hattiesburg. The Hub City promises a warm Mississippi welcome alongside meals that nourish, satisfy and delight. So pull up a seat and tuck into Hattiesburg’s delectable food scene.

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