Not to Be Missed: Cotton Blues
One turn off of Highway 49 in Hattiesburg presents a plethora of dining options. This stretch of road has been identified as one of the highest concentrations of chain restaurants anywhere in the U.S. But hiding among the chains and country buffets, there are a few gems that shouldn’t be missed. One of those is Cotton Blues.
Dining in Mississippi is many things, and to me, Cotton Blues kind of sums it all up.
It’s hard for a restaurant to survive with a lengthy menu, but here, it just works. It’s kind of like going to your Southern grandma’s house where food is a love language, and her aim is to spoil you rotten.
She says, “What would you like to eat, honey? I’ll cook you whatever you want!” Your eyes get wide thinking through all of the homemade options.
Before long the sweet tea appears and then the fresh baked bread and jarred pickles she made to get you started in this important decision. And that’s exactly how it happens at Cotton Blues. Only you also get three dipping sauces with that delicious baked bread, and their pickles just might be better than grandma’s.
Will you have fried chicken from scratch… or barbecue ribs… or a big breakfast plate… or soulful pasta dish… or a plate with all your favorite farm fresh vegetable picks? Oh, the options… Maybe you need more time to simmer on this decision over some fried cheese curds or homemade crab cakes with hand picked crab meat.
This is the experience at Cotton Blues.
The setting, however, is a cut above my grandma’s house. I would describe it as rustic elegance. With the rich wood finishes, vintage Southern accents, beautiful glazed pottery dinnerware, Mason jars, white linen napkins, bouquets of cotton bolls and warm smiles all around, you’ll feel relaxed – even pampered – in this calm, inviting space.
What to Order
There’s is a kitchen full of fresh, Mississippi made and locally grown ingredients, prepared as a craft. The chefs at Cotton Blues take pride – and no short cuts – in bringing the very best to your plate. This shows in their creative flair and the deep layers of flavor you’ll enjoy. The aim here is Southern food with a bit of coastal and Creole emphasis. And like I mentioned: the options are many!
First, DO NOT skip dessert. Yes this is the first and most important piece of advice. In fact, you will likely see folks ordered dessert first at Cotton Blues. Pastry Chef Shaun Davis has earned lots of local love and attention for his rich cheesecakes. Our favorite is the Turtle Cheesecake that Whitney Miller, cookbook author and winner of Masterchef, season 1, suggested to us ages ago.
If you’re in a leafy mood, try the Cotton Blues Chopped Salad with grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, bacon, corn sauté, tomatoes, onions, and fried cheese curds! This is how Mississippi does salads. For a lighter salad, try the Strawberry Pecan Salad with red onions, candied pecans, and goat cheese fritter. Fresh and flavorful.
Tacos are always a draw for me, and here is no exception. Their tacos are as Southern as you can get and each has its own flair. My favorites are the Korean BBQ Pork Belly Taco with jalapeño coleslaw and cilantro. The Blackened Redfish Taco comes with a kicky cilantro jalapeño sauce, sour cream, lettuce, fried jalapeños, black-eyed pea pico de gallo. The Fried Chicken Tacos deliver with jalapeño coleslaw, fried jalapeños and house made barbecue sauce. The tacos are all served with a side of pico de gallo and crab grits.
So. Dang. Good.
For entrees, the Honey Glazed Mississippi Quail with bourbon sweet mashed potatoes and braised greens is a classic dish with a unique sweet and smoky glaze. As you can imagine, the Barbecue Ribs and the Fried Chicken are menu favorites – because they’re done extraordinarily well. You’ll also find a homemade gumbo, an array of unique seafood dishes and a delightful Shrimp and Grits among the entree standouts.
Go ahead and call me a sucker, but when it comes to the Cotton Blues Breakfast, I’m all in. How can you go wrong with a filet mignon served with Boursin cheese grits, two eggs any style, Hollandaise sauce and crispy sweet cornbread. It just knocks your socks off. Similarly, the Pulled Pork & Pancakes might just be the new chicken and waffles!
On this note, if you happen to visit on a Sunday, word on the street is that their Sunday brunch is fantastic! (Plus, they serve FREE bottomless mimosas!)
Join Owner Chris Ortego at Cotton Blues in Hattiesburg, Mississippi soon. It’s definitely worth a drive, and we suggest you to arrive really HUNGRY, and maybe start reading the menu on the way there!