It us. And we’re back at it again. Reliving some of our fondest memories from cuisine in Oxford. There have been some fantastic places in Oxford that shut down over the years, and we’re back to discuss some more of our favorites. This edition, we add another 10 establishments that saw their doors close after years and sometimes decades of wonderful dishes, fellowship, and debauchery even.
We take a look at some from way back in the day. And by way back I mean the 1990’s. How scary is that? Almost 30 years ago now. But, for now, time stands still for a moment as we rack our brains and scrap out some of our fondest moments and menus from the days of old. So kick back, enjoy us retelling our bellies stories and then share some of your favorites in the comments. Because it’s damn near impossible to get them all in one post. There have been so many that were so good.
Creek Cafe/Dixie Creek Cafe - Jackson Avenue West
The Creek was located adjacent to the now thriving Rebel Rags - I think it's like an insurance office or law office or something terrible now. You'd hit up The Creek for lunch on Sundays whether you were a good kid who went to church or a better kid who went to church hungover. The grits and greens were a side that had magical qualities of starch, vitamins, and most importantly butter/cream/fat/umami.
It wasn't Ajax, but it didn't try to be either. The atmosphere was what made it unique and kept folks coming back. That and you could feed a family of four for $10, that helped, too. It was an old school Southern food joint that is sorely missed by at least a few.
Redneck Burrito - Jackson Avenue West
Ya boi OMTB was probably the only loyal patron of this place. They were a part of the revolving location beside the old Rebel Barn - it's been about eight restaurants since Moe's closed. The owners took the Moe's concept of build your own burrito, salad, and nachos and added in the kitschy Larry the Cable Guy attitude. Also, there were 16-19 year old girls in short jean shorts line dancing.
The food took a step down, and it was closed within a year. The Cup has speculated for years that this exact location in the heart of Jackson Avenue’s hub is cursed. Several tenants have seen their doors close for lord knows what reason, but this off-brand Moe’s was a damn good spot for lunch and dinner, no matter the occasino. However, the redneck beer chimes made from empty High Life cans still shimmer in OMTB's man cave as a fond memory of the low grade dysentery it used to send his way once a week.
208 - South Lamar
Across from Proud Larry's, you used to could go and get one of the best burgers in town, and you'd only have to wait like 30-45 minutes or sometimes two hours to get it. 280 was a solid bar spot especially on big weekends - mainly because of the 280 burger and dim lighting. If memory serves, they had approximately two urinals and one toilet for the 200 people that would pile in there.
The food was pretty damn solid, but the service was always spotty. Nevertheless, their steaks were quite good and their BBQ nachos were pretty choice. And if you were in the mood to tie one on, their 2-for-1 martini special was the right move. The Cup was sad to see it go - the location hasn't had a solid tenant since.
Pearl Street Pasta - South Lamar
OMG Y'ALL THIS DATE NIGHT/SWAP IS GONNA BE THE BEST EVARRRR!!!!!!1 ITS GONNA BE GIRLS IN PEARLS!!!!!
Outside of Valentine's Day and the above scenario were the only times most students darkened the doors of Pearl Street. Now it's a SoulShine Pizza, which is not good for Valentine's Day according to the three divorcees that spent their last Valentine's there. Pearl Street had some ok food, but the bar was decent enough to keep it alive for some time. Now it lives eternally on our DG/CHI O/KKG t-shirts.
In its hay day however, there 2-for-1 and sometimes 3-for-1 (if you knew who to rub elbows with) nights were legendary. The outdoor patio was a mainstay for frat stars and sorority girls and the interior was prime for some incredible people watching. The bar was a good size and the barkeeps were always quick to do a quick shot of Jameo with you if you so inclined.
The Hoka/Moonlite Cafe - The Square
This one goes back a ways. My memories fade off into the ether, but I do remember making a trip or two with my father and grandfather in the 90’s back when the theater and Moonlite Cafe still roamed the lot behind Newk’s. First and foremost, the cheesecake is the staple. And it was damn good. Hell, if you put it up on the side of the building that you have the best in town, you better come through.
It’s doors opened in the late 1970’s and was a staple for Ole Miss students and Oxford residents for decades. The vegetarian chili was a solid get for folks looking to keep that belly trim, but most traveled south of The Square for the late night fare. It seemed to be a perfect for The Velvet Ditch, an independent-type, art film refuge for local talents trying to catch the next big break. But, unfortunately it closed down in 1996. One thing that will forever stay with me was grabbing a burrito or a po-boy sandwich with my late grandfather after a game at Swayze. Not many things can ever beat that.
Café Olé - University Avenue
Speaking of memories from the 90’s, this Mexican joint was a favorite of my parents and I when we would make the trek to Oxford. For whatever reason I feel like Mexican food is generally well-received by youngsters and I was no exception. Their hot dip was something special. They would serve it with warm tortilla chips and just enough salt to make your mouth water. They always went down nice after taking in a contest at the Tad Pad.
And after you would polish off a few ramekins of that lovely salsa, their menu didn’t skip a beat. Their chimichangas were something serious, but the one item that was my go-to was the chicken enchiladas. It would come to the table covered in white queso and served with pinto beans and I would damn near eat the plate. The green chiles that were incorporated were next level and the pepper jack cheese that was tossed in with the white queso made it one of my faovrite meals that I’ll never get to have again.
Dino’s Pizza Palace - South Lamar/Jackson Avenue West
As a lover of pizza, this place would’ve been my spot as an undergrad. Being that I am not old enough to have been able to walk in to the original establishment on The Square and experience the real deal when they would play records and even let folks bring in their own, I had to “settle” for the Jackson Avenue location. But settling was not in Dino’s vocabulary.
Their unique cross-hatch cutting style made for a heavy lunch. You could put down several slices and not even realize it. Their fried ravioli was one of my favorites as a kid and their shrimp pizza was something else. The atmosphere was allegedly legendary when it was at it’s original location on The Square, but it is gone with the rest of these skeleton establishments. But the oven’s memories and yours will live on forever.
Ruby Chinese Restaurant - Jackson Avenue
Before there was China Royal, there was Ruby’s. It was top-shelf Chinese cuisine in the 662. Before it closed in 2001, my family would go there a lot when making trips to Oxford. Hell, sometimes when passing through, we would stop in Oxford just to get some hot and sour soup and my favorite, twice-cooked pork fried rice. Whether it was a baseball weekend or grabbing some takeout after a football game, Ruby’s always came through in the clutch.
They had everything on the menu at a bargain price, especially at lunch. You could grab anything from Mongolian beef to Moo Goo Gai Pan to Mo Shu Pork to crisp daggum duckling! To say that I was devastated that it closed down before I started my undergrad is an understatement. The dragon is dearly missed. By all, I’m sure.
Smitty’s - South Lamar
Before 208 there was Smitty’s. The mom and pop cafe was as homey as it was delicious. You could get an array of meals at Smitty’s. Anything from breakfast staples like sausage biscuits and grits to a lunch that was to die for. This is where I learned to love my personal lunchtime favorite: tuna melt. The combination of the toast with the tuna and the cheese was to die for. And if you splashed a little Crystal’s hot sauce on your plate to dip it in, magic.
It was THE place on the Square to grab breakfast on Saturday morning. And they didn’t skimp on anything. The preserves were fresh and they served breakfast all damn day. Today, folks might reminisce about it at The Beacon where a similar style breakfast menu is served, but Smitty’s was unique all on its own. And it will never be replicated, I’m afraid.
Applebee’s - Jackson Avenue West
Don’t get me started. I just can’t.