The magic of Highway 61 from Graceland down deep into the Mississippi Delta, through cotton fields and past speck-on-the-map small towns, is all about the blues. You might be singing them if you walk away from the casinos of Tunica with empty pockets, and you can hear them sung by the masters in juke joints all along the way. Our eating tour starts with fine Memphis-style barbecue on the way out of town and concludes with one of the best steak dinners anywhere.
A modest pork house serving four-star ribs, shoulder meat, sausages, and bologna with all the proper fixins, including addictive bar-b-q spaghetti (soft noodles in breathtaking sauce). You eat at a table in the simple dining room where a “Wall of Fame” boasts critics’ accolades and 8x10s from celebrity fans; or enter next door and get it to go, by the sandwich, plate, or whole slab of ribs.
If you are looking for good, Southern food at reasonable prices along old Route 61 near Tunica, Blue & White is the place to go. Country ham, chicken and dumplings, fried and even that quirty Delta snack, fried dill pickles are featured.
In this less-than-handsome restaurant far off the beaten path, a full order of fried butterflied shrimp is a dozen, each the size of a moon pie. What a feast! The fried chicken livers are sensational: unspeakably rich, luxuriously crunchy, and filling beyond all measure.
This colorful restaurant / blues club was named to signify the blues-lore belief that Clarksdale, Mississippi, is where the blues began. It offers a meat-and-three menu of baked chicken, pork chops, and a handful of vegetables with cornbread on the side. There are always hamburgers and catfish sandwiches, as well as platters of such locally favored snacks as hot tamales and fried grits.
Rich and with a hard kick of pepper spices, each Hicks tamale is hand-shucked; and they are available by threes, sixes, or twelves. A plate of three is served with chili and cheese and baked beans and Italian-seasoned coleslaw. There is a whole menu of ribs, rib tips, and chopped pork shoulder cooked over flaming hickory logs.
You can get anything you want to eat at the White Front Café, just so long as what you want to eat is a tamale. In this little wood-frame house by the side of Route 1, you can have it one of two ways: pick up a tamale and squeeze out a mouthful of the succulent insides or peel away the husk and use a saltine cracker to scoop some up.
Rhoda's tamales are delicious, made with a combination of beef and chicken. The meats combined with steamy cornmeal are wrapped in husks that when unfolded, emanate an irresistibly appetizing aroma and are a joy to eat as a snack or meal any time of day.
Located on the wrong side of town in the back rooms of a dilapidated grocery store, Doe's does not look like a restaurant, much less a great restaurant. Many of the dining tables are in fact located in the kitchen, spread helter-skelter among stoves and counters where the staff dresses salads and fries potatoes in big iron skillets. Nevertheless, the steaks are some of the best you will eat anywhere.