Exploring the Food Scene in Ocean Springs, Mississippi

While the Biloxi/Gulfport area is fairly well-known, I’m a fan of the little gems that few people outside the area know about. In this case, I’m talking about the artsy town of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The town, east of Biloxi and connected by the Biloxi Bay Bridge, is great for a weekend stay. It’s a few hours drive from my home base, but very doable if “getting out of town” is on the agenda. My family and I recently made the trip one weekend in May. The first place we stopped was on the very busy Washington Avenue. This tree-lined street has many adorable little shops and my favorite place for dessert, French Kiss Pastries (714 Washington Avenue; 228-215-1160). The shop is small, but the desserts (we sampled eclairs and German Chocolate Cake), are rich and flavorful. Besides the cookies and cakes, there is also gelato and the infamous Louisiana-based Community coffee.

Ocean Springs’ beaches are a lot less crowded than Biloxi or Gulfport. We spent an afternoon at Fort Maurepas Park (at the end of Washington Avenue) before trying Leo’s Wood-fired Pizza (1107 Government St, 228-872-7283). This restaurant is a great place to have an early dinner. It’s deliciously Italian. Seating is indoors or out; most head outside to the courtyard. The courtyard has a small bar and televisions, and of course, over 20 beers beer on tap. The pizzas are thin-crusted and named after celebrities (my favorite is the Frank Sinatra). After dinner, we walked around downtown. The people of Ocean Springs are very friendly. Some shops may still be open to u, or do what we did and take the kids for a treat at the “Hot Light” (Krispy Kreme) afterwards. Unfortunately for us, we missed Ocean Springs’ favorite place for donuts, Tato-nut (1114 Government St, 228-872-2076). They are either closed or were renovating when we come through town. If anyone gets here, please let me know how your visit went!

Of course, you can’t spend some time on the coast and not have some delicious seafood. One of the first restaurants we ever tried was McElroy’s on the Bayou (705 Bienville Blvd. 228-818-4600). Literally right off the bridge, McElroy’s is a casual, family-friendly establishment with a great view. Everything from shrimp po-boys to flounder to soft-shell crab is here. If you can, save some room for the gumbo stew. 🙂 There is a kids’ menu available if needed. Other great seafood suggestions are Anthony’s Under the Oaks (1217 Washington Avenue, 228-872-4564) and BB’s Po-boys and Seafood (1300 Bienville Blvd, 228-875-2702). The restaurants have only dinner (5 pm-9 pm) or lunchtime hours (11am-3pm) respectively.

Wherever your trip along the Gulf Coast takes you, there is sure to be something you haven’t tried. Start with the food!

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Three Things Eating Carne Asada Burritos Taught Me About Life

In the summer of 2009, my husband and I took a trip to San Diego, California. Other than a layover in Los Angeles, I’d never been to the West Coast before. (This trip was partially so I could see what my husband was up to during his Marine Corps days). I hopped off the plane and automatically loved seeing palm trees and sunshine. The scenery was a lot different than what I was used to in the airports from my East Coast trips.

For months leading up to our visit, my husband swore he wanted me to try his favorite Mexican chain, Alberto’s. They had the best carne asada burritos according to him. I was never a burrito fan, but wanted to indulge him. Unfortunately, after driving around one night from Temecula’s wine country, we never did find one. So we went back to our temporary apartment in the Gaslamp. (The Gaslamp is the place to eat and do things). Being that is was near 10 pm on a Sunday, we walked around trying to find a Mexican restaurant that just happened to be open. The nightlife was in full swing, if people screaming on the sidewalk and loud music from nearby venues was any indication. The restaurant, of which I can’t recall the name, changed my life. Not surprisingly, we were the only ones in the dimly-lit space. The radio was on as we quickly ordered carne asada burritos and margaritas. The order came out lightning-fast and the first bite of the carne asada burrito was..eh. I couldn’t tell under the red lights of our table if my husband was pleased or just curiously awaiting my reaction. As I continued eating, the sensation hit me. The “this is nothing to write home about” moments led to the “What in the hell just happened?” moment. Somewhere along the way, my taste buds changed my mind about carne asada burritos.  They were phenomenal with a capital P.

Life is the same way. When you feel stuck in your life, what makes you feel good? What moments like my new love for carne asada burritos have you just stopping in your tracks and thinking “Why haven’t I taken up surfing/crocheting/ parasailing/ drama class sooner? One of the first clues in life about taking on something new is that it often unexpected. These are the “go” moments that tell your heart when to begin. A lot of people (myself included) often claim we don’t know where to begin. I had been eating Mexican food since I was a child and never recalled tasting Mexican this yummy. In addition, I found something wonderful in something so simple. We never know when we get up in the morning when something or someone will change our lives. The crazy thing is sometimes, the new event even happens in weird Stay open to the odd, funny, or even embarrassing ways that the universe will say “Yes!”

I’m not sure how we missed Alberto’s as they appear to be all over the San Diego area. However, I’m kind of glad we went to the Gaslamp restaurant instead. 🙂