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5 new-ish Oxford restaurants to hit up this football season

Oxford’s food scene isn’t just getting bigger. It’s getting better.

Saint Leo, Oxford, Mississippi Christina Steube

Oxford’s food scene is one of Mississippi’s crown jewels, boasting Beard-worthy talent and culinary diversity you don’t often find in small Southern towns. (You don’t even have to take our word for it considering Southern Living named Oxford the South’s best food town earlier this year.)

While no football season is complete without hitting up old favorites like Ajax and City Grocery, out-of-towners might not realize just how fast Oxford’s restaurant scene is growing and the impact these new places are having on the town’s national reputation.

If you’ve missed some of the fantastic food options that have popped up in Lafayette County in recent years, here’s a don’t-miss restaurant list for your next trip.

Saint Leo
1101 Jackson Ave E.

There’s a reason everyone raves about Saint Leo, the upscale Oxford bistro that’s been making waves in the Southern food world since the moment owner Emily Blount opened its doors in 2016. Each seasonal menu is anchored by familiar favorites—try any wood-fired pizza on the menu and you’ll be hooked—and some of the best cocktails in the South born from the creative expertise of bar manager Joe Stinchcomb.

Eat This: Margherita pizza

Drink That: The Starting Pistol (bourbon, fresh grapefruit, lemon, honey syrup, egg white & Angostura bitters)

Oxford Canteen
766 N. Lamar Blvd.

What started in 2014 as a (literal) hole in the wall in an alley beside the Lyric has moved off-Square to become one of Oxford’s top spots for finding a great meal that’s as convenient as it is delicious. Chef Corbin Evans’ unpretentious passion for eating well has helped him carve out a niche of convenience, affordability and high-quality food. (Don’t sleep on their brunch menu, either.)

Eat This: Breakfast tacos or Canteen’s signature beef brisket grilled cheese

Drink That: Lulu’s Vietnamese-Style Iced Coffee

2 Town Square Lane, Taylor

Catfish isn’t the only reason to head to Taylor, Mississippi, where husband-and-wife team Nick Reppond and Angie Sicurezza have been whipping up sophisticated Southern fare at GRIT since 2016. From oysters to smoked meats and some of the best fried okra you’ll ever have in your life (do not @ me about this), GRIT offers up a little bit of everything and does it all really, really well.

Eat This: Mississippi Hot Catfish Sandwich, Smoked Beef Brisket

Drink That: The Oxford American (Four Roses, lemon & aromatic bitters, kola nut syrup, cola ice cubes)

Thacker 564
3000 Old Taylor Rd Ste. C

The brainchild of Oxford restaurateur Michelle Rounsaville (My Michelle’s) and Chef Trey Bridgers, Thacker 564 is an ideal spot for Ole Miss fans, offering casual dining, a full bar and a patio made for some quality day-drinking. Aside from it being one of the only places in town that offers rosé in a can (don’t act like you’re not impressed), the menu is rooted in high-end bar food made for snacking and sharing.

Eat This: Sorority Row Sandwich (Blackened chicken, fried house-made pickle, My Michelle’s pimento cheese and ranch on a wheatberry roll)

Drink That: If Teddy Was Irish (Jameson, frozen apple cider)

Fill-Up with Billups
1107 Jackson Ave E.

Oxford’s late-night food scene has exploded in recent years, giving students and locals plenty of post-bar cuisine options beyond Taco Bell and gas-station food (NOT THAT WE DON’T LOVE GAS-STATION FOOD BECAUSE WE DO; PLEASE DON’T BE OFFENDED BY THIS). Fill-Up with Billups opened on the Square in 2017, offering a full breakfast menu throughout the day and staying open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Eat This: Honey Hot Chicken Grits, any of the waffles

Drink That: Gentlemen’s Coffee (bourbon, bitters, sugar, coffee)