Taylor Grocery & Restaurant

Taylor Grocery is a legend in these parts, and nationally, too. It closed down a while ago, but a new owner took over, and today it’s thriving. We never had the opportunity to visit the previous incarnation, but it couldn’t have been any more fun than today’s version. When you arrive, leave your name inside. Then hang out for a while. People are milling about everywhere: on the porch, out in front, in the parking lot. And you’ll notice that most of them are drinking from styrofoam cups. It looks like a country cocktail party. We asked about this, and it seems the town, or county (we’re not sure which) does not allow alcohol. You can’t stroll in with a six-pack or a bottle of wine. However, nobody is going to peer into your cup. Remember, though, that the owners want to maintain a family atmosphere, so this is not the place to get blasted.

It’s like a loud, but wholesome, party inside. Often, there is live music on the small stage in the corner. The hard-working waitresses are friendly. And every square inch of the place is covered with graffiti.

The catfish is the best we had in the catfish-crazed state of Mississippi. It’s available on the bone, or as fillets, and can be had as an all-you-can-eat feast. We ordered ours on the bone, which comes as two whole fish, skinned and cleaned, heads removed, with a highly seasoned crust. The flesh is juicy and clearly fresh, and easy to separate from the bones. Two whole fish seems like a lot; arrive very hungry if you plan to go the all-you-can-eat route. The fish are accompanied by excellent hush puppies and your choice from a few side dishes, including coleslaw, potato salad, and fried okra.

There are lots of other things to eat on the menu, and we were surprised to see many of the customers were not eating catfish. We can’t speak to the other stuff, but for stellar catfish and an Ole Miss reunion party atmosphere, don’t miss the Taylor Grocery.

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One Response to “Taylor Grocery & Restaurant”

carrmckay
carrmckay

March 25th, 2011

For many Ole Miss alumni and fans, a trip to Taylor Grocery is a tradition in and of itself, an important part of any weekend in Oxford. Taylor Grocery is the epicenter of the tiny town of Taylor. Within walking distance of the restaurant are a handful of interesting attractions including a couple of art galleries and Big Truck Theater.

Here are a few rules of thumb for first time visitors:

1. The restaurant’s popularity and reputation are built on the overall experience. While the fish is consistently seasoned and cooked quite well, it may not necessarily be the best catfish you’ve ever eaten, which is perfectly fine. I say this not to diminish the quality of the food but to suggest to first-timers that you should expect good food within the context of an unmatched atmosphere and overall experience. Good catfish is good catfish and can be found in almost any southern town. But there is only one Taylor Grocery.

2. Do not arrive hungry and/or expecting to be seated quickly. They do not take reservations and the dining capacity is somewhat limited. When you arrive send a member of your party inside to be placed on the waiting list.

3. A lot of regulars engage in what amounts to “tailgating” while awaiting their respective names to be called. As mentioned in a previous review, you will find people waiting along the front porch and in the parking lot. A cooler of ice-cold beer and a few lawn chairs can transform the wait for a table into a social event. In fact, my group of friends generally prefer not to be seated until we’ve had the opportunity to “wait” for at least an hour or so. But remember, the later you arrive, the longer your wait will generally be. On big weekends (when Oxford is full of visitors for a football game, festival, etc.), the wait can literally be up to three hours or more. To avoid this, arrive as close to opening time as possible (5pm).

4. Pour your beer into a cup. If you do not have any cups, step inside and the hostess is normally happy to provide you with Styrofoam cups, as well as mixers if you so desire.

5. If you wish to have wine with your meal, bring it with you in a brown paper bag. Customers are also allowed to bring any other beverages with them to the table as long as it stays in the cup. (Don’t walk in with a bottle or can of beer. Leave the cooler in your vehicle.)

6. There will more than likely be live music in the restaurant (usually bluegrass). Don’t forget to tip the musicians!

As for the food, my recommendations are the following:
Appetizer: Boneless Buffalo Wings (I know it seems odd, but these are some of the best chicken tenders in the world).
Entree: Catfish (whole or fillet).
Sides: Big Deb’s World Famous Brown Rice, Fries, House Salad (simple but fresh).
Dessert: I never manage to save room.

Miscellaneous:
I always order catfish, but the menu also includes pretty good steaks and boneless pork chops, among other things.

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