Just passing through Meridian, MS (eastern part of the state on I-20) + we were looking for something other than the prolific chains choking the South. We found a great local dive, Robert Earl's (2689 Hwy 19S; ph 601.693.3070, open Wed-Sat). This is true backcounty Mississippi - a tiny little bar with homecooked catfish (filet or whole), hush puppies, chicken filets, and steak. Don't go looking for a fancy place -- this is about as casual as it gets, so come as you are. 2 catfish dinners, bottomless sweet tea, and 2 Buds in a can ran $19.
People are warm and welcoming -- Karoke contest finales were being held on the night we went + these people can sing! Upon finding out we were driving through from California, the owner, Robert welcomed us + had the whole bar greet us. Very nice experience + hard to extricate ourselves at the end of the evening.
Anyway -- go soon, because sadly Earl is retiring at the end of August 2005 + shutting the place forever.
One of the bartenders recommended Fred's Fish House as an alternative after Earls is gone.