Once a blip on the blues highway, Tunica has become a gambler’s destination for all its casinos. It offers plenty of cheap buffets, fast food, and franchises. But out on Highway 61, the old Blue & White Restaurant is operating pretty much the same way it’s been doing things since opening day in 1937. The gas pumps out front are gone, so it is now only a restaurant, not a full-service travelers’ stop; but if you are looking for good, Southern food at reasonable prices in a definitively non-casino atmosphere, this is the place to go.
We first visited on the cusp of breakfast and lunch hour. “You have ten more minutes to order breakfast,” our waitress warned. “Then the lunch buffet will open.” For breakfast we had a classic country ham plate, the vigorous, well-aged slab of pig accompanied by eggs, biscuits, chunky sausage cream gravy, coffee-flavored red-eye gravy, and a bowl of stout, buttery grits. What a great morning meal!
When the buffet opened up, we helped ourselves to chicken and dumplings, which was superb: powerfully chickeny, loaded with meat, and laced with free-form mouthfuls of tender flavor-infused dough. On the side, we spooned up black-eyed peas, creamed corn, escalloped potatoes and some of the most amazing turnip greens we’ve every eaten. These greens were oily, salty, luscious, and rich, almost more like the pork that was used to flavor them than the green vegetable they appear to be. On the side of this good meal came a sweet-dough yeast muffin and a crisp corn stick: both oven-hot and delicious.