The Mississippi Gulf Coast beaches have plenty of tiki bars and beachside cafes, but what might surprise you is how many of these dives have outstanding food. An outing in Gulfport, Long Beach, or Pass Christian will reveal an array of delectable delights—but you'll find the best-fried catfish near Gulfport, MS.
Harbor View Cafe has been an area staple since 1994, when it opened in Pass Christian. Their new Long Beach location opened in 2011, with its trademark view of Long Beach Harbor. Here, you’ll find tourists and locals alike congregating for some excellent food. Their menu features Poboys, burgers, and southern staples, but it's the fried catfish that will have you coming back for more.
If a day at the casinos near Long Beach has you looking for something more original than your typical beachside diner, you've got to check out the Long Beach Market & Deli. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School, Chef Lucia van Norden has brought a novel take on fusion cuisine with Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Cajun, and Southern cuisines. Look for customer favorites like the Banh Mi Poboy, Korean BBQ, Red Beans, Rice, or the Falafels. To wash it all down, they've got ten beers on tap and a vast selection in the fridge, too.
Shaggy's Gulfport Beach is a local chain that you find dotted around the region. They're known for their laid-back beach vibe, not to mention their "Five O'Clock Somewhere" cocktails. With views across Beach Boulevard of the Gulf and wide beach, Shaggy's is the quintessential tourist bar. But the food's good enough that the locals love it, too. Grab their fried catfish basket, which comes with their fantastic jalapeño hush puppies, or steer for the Captain's Platter if you want a salty sampling of shrimp, oysters, and catfish.
The Shrimp Basket started in Gulf Shores in 1993 and now has locations all over the Southeast. It's always been a casual eatery where, in their words, "strangers would leave as friends." The menu is simple, with fresh ingredients. Their catfish comes grilled, blackened, or "cajuned" and with all the right sides and accouterments.
While eating poboys and fried catfish aren't meant to be a fancy sit-down affair—the best come from deli counters, where you can grab some good, cheap grub on your lunch break. Ben's Deli in Gulfport is precisely that. Their Poboys come in every type, including a half shrimp, half-fish one if you can't make up your mind.
For over 44 years, Lil Ray's Poboys & Seafood has been a Gulfport landmark. Whether you want your fried catfish on a Poboy, in the basket with fries, a sandwich, or atop a steaming bowl of gumbo, Lil Ray's has you covered. No matter which you choose, you’re guaranteed the best-fried catfish near Gulfport, MS.
If you find yourself checking out Pass Christian and looking for a bite to eat, get yourself to Bacchus On The Beach. You'll find all of the Southern and cajun favorites, plus live music on the weekends. If the name doesn't give it away, this spot is right on the beach overlooking the harbor boats.
Another great option in Pass Christian is Hook Gulf Coast Cuisine. Cocktails, salads, and classic comfort food with a gourmet flair are served here. They're well known for their pork chops and steaks, but their seafood offerings are exceptional too. This well-rounded restaurant is an excellent choice if some family members don't eat seafood; they have a wide selection, including salads, pasta, and wraps.
EAT YOUR WAY ACROSS THE GULF COAST
The towns along the Gulf Coast are a foodie's delight. Cajun dishes like fried catfish are satisfying and straightforward, and in these parts, the fish is always fresh. Book your stay and explore all of these great restaurants and many more.