Greetings from "sunny" Arizona,
We are looking to put together a trip to the Gulf Coast, later in the year. Though I grew up in Gulfport, most of what I once knew is now gone.
I am looking for some "must-do" recs. in Gulfport, Biloxi and Long Beach. While we are both into "fine-dining," I am not looking for that specifically, though any such recs. will be greatly appreciated. Way back, "fine-dining" meant a trip to New Orleans and to Galatoire's or Antoine's.
What I'd love to hear about would be restaurants, that do local fare very well. While I grew up on fried seafood, that is not a requisite, though the greater the local influence, the better. Neither of us is into "steakhouses," though a great cut of beef, prepared well is always an option. Still, we'd much rather support a local, chef-driven restaurant, than some corporate restaurant, even if the absentee, celebrity chef has 3 Michelin stars back in Paris. We are both also heavy into wines, so a decent wine list is a big plus. I know that the Coast was never known for wine lists, but am hoping that some restaurants understand how to select wines for their list, that match the fare from the kitchen, rather than just rely on the distributor to fill up the cellar with "the usual suspects."
With but one exception (wife, who is from NOLA, but cannot do bi-valves, so no oysters, clams, mussels or scallops for her), we eat almost anything, so long as it's good. We have no issues with fried food, or even double doses of foie gras. While we love NOLA fare, whether Creole, NOLA, Cajun-influenced, or similar, we do not have to have that, as we will have been in NOLA a month before. Still, if a great restaurant has a NOLA bent, there is no issue.
One dish, that I would love to find, would be fried Gulf flounder. Going back to my youth, a very local restaurant, Benny's on Pass Road, in Handsboro (or maybe it was officially in Mississippi City?) had the best. That is a dish that I cannot find. Bruning's in NOLA had a good version, but Hurricane Katrina got them too, so no longer an option. Just had "Fried Flounder" at Wilton's in London, and it was horribly disappointing. Benny's had set the bar far too high, and I was foolish of me to think that a restaurant, even a very high-end seafood one, in London, would have even a clue. Had their wine list not been so good, I would have cried in front of all of our guests.
Price is no object, and we are probably more focused on dinners, than on lunches. Still, if you have a great lunch spot, with a local flavor, please do not hesitate to mention it.
We will have an auto, driving over from MSY, and both of us once knew the Coast very well, so short travel (remember those wines!) is not an issue. We will be staying in Gulfport, as it stands now, though the exact location has not been chosen.
We have plenty of time, and look forward to your thoughts and suggestions.