A Taste of the Dirty South on State Street

A couple years ago, when Tupelo Junction moved into a spot near
the Granada Theatre on State Street, the breakfast world was abuzz
with the Southern-style recipes featured on their menu. We’d been
spoiled with the Cajun Kitchen’s reliable greasy spoon fare, but
Tupelo made us rethink the South through a gourmet lens. Tupelo-Junction-Cafe-logo3.jpg Sure, breakfasts there were a little
pricier than other spots, but they were worth it, and the coffee
was solid. So when the restaurant began serving dinner in the years
since — and doing so for bargain prices, at least compared to most
other fancy State Street eateries — we had good reason to

I hadn’t been to dinner there in quite awhile, and I narrowly
missed it again the other night, when I walked in with my feminine
associate around 8:35 p.m. “The kitchen closes at 8:30 p.m. sharp,”
said the busy waitress, tending to the last few tables of the
evening. “But if you order quick, then it should be okay.” We
understood the dilemma and happily agreed to comply, as we were
amidst our packing, work-finishing, and holiday shopping duties
that needed to be completed before leaving town the next day. Upon
seating, we scoured the menu.

My ladyfriend’s favorite — some seafood salad — was no longer on
the seasonally shifting menu, so she was thrown for a bit of a
loop. Meanwhile, I ordered a glass of Melville pinot for $11, and
settled on the fried chicken dinner (a steal at $17), where a
crispy “free range” bird gets propped atop roasted shallot mashed
potatoes, sautéed mustard greens, sweet corn, and herbed pan gravy.
The menu, which can be viewed here, is a mix of hearty foods and fresh
produce, magically combining the grease and tasty grime of Southern
cooking with the organically minded sentiment of Santa Barbara. My
date eventually picked a glass of Rusack chardonnay ($9) and went
out on a limb in ordering the whole roasted trout with creole
crawfish stuffing, oven baked red potatoes, and creamed leeks. (She
didn’t even ask them to remove the cream from the leeks, which was

When the food arrived, we were both extremely pleased. She
proclaimed trout, half of which she took home, as her “new favorite
dish” while I remembered that ordering fried chicken can indeed be
a gourmet experience. For cramming a quick dinner into a busy
schedule, Tupelo worked wonders for us. It’s casual and affordable
while gourmet and fresh, making an excellent dinner choice for
whatever day of the week. Just shoot for more like 8 p.m., or go
there instead for a great lunch or the still legendary breakfast. Every meal is worth your while.

The Details: Tupelo Junction Cafe is located at 1218 State
Street. See tupelojunction.com or call 899-3100.


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