If you are reading this, chances are you are a Gamecock, Huskie or Yellow Jacket making your way to Oxford for the baseball regional. Otherwise, you are a loyal Rebel here to give your own advice and input on what makes Oxford one of the most highly regarded college towns in the country. Whenever I go to another college town, I want to know 3 things: Where/what to eat, where to drink and what to see. Hopefully you will be spending the entire weekend here in our great town so here are some tips on how to experience Oxford like a true Oxonian.
No trip to Oxford is complete without a stop at Big Bad Breakfast. The hype train of famous Southern chef John Currence starts here at this diner-esque breakfast joint down North Lamar. Get there early to shorten your wait - yes, you'll still wait at eight in the morning - but even then you can grab a mimosa or bloody mary next door at Snackbar (which, conveniently, is also a John Currence establishment). Whether you are craving a traditional breakfast plate with choice of meat and style of eggs, or want to venture out and grab something a bit more oddball, like the pylon hot dog served spit and griddle fried over a waffle, you won't leave this place hungry. Protip: get the tomato gravy and put it on EVERYTHING.
The best bakery in Oxford is Bottletree Bakery just off the square. Grab the cinnamon roll or whatever flavor brioche/danish. The coffee is also some of the best in town, with enough caffeine to make you feel like the pastry king of candyland.
Also worth mentioning are Lusa's, another pastry spot, and The Beacon, a more traditional breakfast diner which proudly does not serve sweet tea.
On the square, Ajax is your best bet for Southern, Soul, or traditional Americana type food. Try the meatloaf, veggie plate (yes mac & cheese counts as a veggie down here) or the catfish. Wash that down with a Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan if you want to try one of Mississippi's first beers.
Just around the corner from there is Boure, another Currence joint famous for it's burgers and shrimp and grits. It is also one of the more newly renovated drinking holes on the Square. Up North Lamar is Volta, which features Greek style wraps and pizzas. Volta's margaritas will smack you sideways and they're two-for-one on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. And it may sound weird, but Greek pimiento cheese is your friend.
Or, for something quicker, the South Depot Taco Shop is our Chipotle-esque southwestern place right off the square.
Legendary, strange, and an assload of fun is Old Taylor Grocery. It's a bit of a drive out of town, but worth it. With their spacious front porch and blind eye towards your vices, feel free to BYOB (a brown bagged bourbon is the way to go) and actually enjoy your wait for a table with your friends. If you don't get a catfish fillet plate, you aren't doing it right. Ask for Kay to be your server if you've got extra time to wait.
On almost the complete other side of the gentility spectrum is Snackbar. We mentioned it as a great place to get your breakfast drinks, but in the afternoons and evenings it's a place for excellent cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Get the charcuterie plate, duck pot pie or oysters to share. For libations, I like the Antigua, Mordecai's Medicine or Bless Her Heart, all cocktails which are masterfully mixed.
If you're looking to get outside of the South for a little bit, there's Jinsei, a new Asian bistro next to Snackbar, which has a lot of interesting menu items with a non-traditional twist. Try the Hot Rock Kobe beef and any of their sushi rolls.
Some of Oxford's best establishments are those which rarely earn a mention on these sorts of "come to our town and spend all of your money and please pick up after yourselves" types of posts. I'm going to do my best to highlight a few, but I'm sure I'll gloss over a few dozen local favorites. Our readers, however, will assuredly pick up where I leave off in the comments thread.
The Taco Shop has the most authentic (and least expensive) tacos outside of a Taco Bell in Oxford. It's located in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant/Mexican tienda behind Oby's off University. Get the tongue and pastor tacos, they're muy autentico.
Louisiana Rub Down is so hidden and new, that I haven't even been there yet. The building itself appears to be a shed fresh off the Home Depot parking lot, and they supposedly do cajun and creole right, so it's worth a taste.
Holli's Sweet Tooth is right off of the Square, so it's not very well hidden, but it's a gem for sure. It's a place to get a damn fine milkshake and a grab bag of assorted candies or your favorite ice cream. Don't bring your kids there, because they won't let you leave.
Oxford Canteen is a new restaurant (well, it's more of a take out window with counter top tables attached to the wall) is wedged between the Lyric Theater and South Depot Taco Shop. With emphasis on fresh and local ingredients, the Canteen has made a splash in the Oxford food scene. I recommend the beef brisket grilled cheese.
Oxford's most famous bar for people who are no longer undergrads is City Grocery. Quick check: are you old enough to get into a bar without the need for fake ID? Would you rather get your buzz from a well made Old Fashioned than pounding Bud Light? Do you like cool summer evenings while drinking on a deck overlooking the happenings on the square? This bar is the place for you, and is also a popular hangout for Oxford's intelligentsia - yes, Ole Miss students are known to have a drink or two with professors. We're sociable people.
Oxford's other most famous bar, but for completely different reasons, is The Library. There are actually three Libraries, and if you're of age I would recommend the Library Sports Bar. While the cover may be steep, this is the happening place in Oxford on any given big weekend. Here you'll be able to see what all the fuss over Ole Miss co-eds is about. And it's the best place to catch a game on one of the big screens. However, summer might leave you with slim pickings.
For live music outside of the Lyric - which is reserved for bigger, rarely local acts- there's the Blind Pig and Proud Larry's. And, speaking of live music, pick up a free Local Voice paper to see who is playing where along with whose got the best drink specials.
As one of the most famous Ole Miss alums and one of America's most accomplished writers was from Oxford, there's an awful lot of Faulkner stuff in and aroundtown. Check our Faulkner's home at Rowan Oak during the day, then visit his grave at night. Be sure to pay homage by leaving some bourbon at his tombstone.
Go see what all the fuss is about in the Grove...except it's baseball season, so experience it minus the gussied up co-eds, free flowing bourbon, and the best tailgating experience in the country. So... trees. You'll be in a park basically. It's a nice park, though.
Square Books, the largest independently owned bookstore in the United States, is right on the Square and known for hosting many visiting authors for book releases and signings. It's fun place to peruse and browse if you got some downtime and looking to support local businesses.
Public Service Announcement:
Getting to the stadium will be a bit more difficult than usual for the regional. The bridge and exit for Old Taylor Road off of Highway 6 is closed for the summer, so plan accordingly. Your best bet is to come onto campus via Highway 6 using the Lamar or Coliseum exits, before working your way to park at the Old Taylor lots or Ford Theater.
That's all I've got. Be sure to ask any questions you might have in the comments, and enjoy your time in Oxford.