Ah, Oxford, Mississippi.
Home of Ole Miss, William Faulkner, and more light beer than you can shake a stick at. No matter the affiliation you carry—or your alma mater—you can enjoy this iconic college town.
As I traveled to Oxford earlier this month, I wondered: “Where should I go for some of the finest the south has to offer, without breaking the bank?” Oxford is known for some of its higher end restaurants: City Grocery, 208, and Snackbar to name a few. These are excellent places, but home cooking was calling my name. I needed butter beans and squash in my future.
Entering the Oxford square is an experience in itself. All sorts of businesses, shops, and vendors thrive alongside the beautiful Oxford Courthouse. As I walked down the sidewalk, I came across Ajax Diner. This place is a staple for lovers of soul food, but Ajax Diner takes the soul food genre to another level!
Walking into Ajax, the first thing you notice is the casual, art-oriented atmosphere. The bar is lined at the top with bulb style Christmas lights, and the walls are covered with folk pieces painted by the world famous Lamar Sorrento. When I chose my seat next to a painting of the Beatles, I was immediately greeted by my cheerful server. Yes, not only is the server punctual; she is kind. This is the best kind of service you could ask for!
She passed me the menu, and I was not surprised at the incredible amount of soul food. I am not going to lie, I really had trouble passing over the Matty’s Mom’s meatloaf, but I couldn’t shake my need for butter beans.
And then… there it was.
Yes people, I had stumbled upon the infamous BIG EASY. The sandwich of all sandwiches. It offered exactly what I desired and more: a buttery, white bun anchored with a country fried steak and topped with mashed potatoes, gravy, and butter beans. By adding a side of squash casserole, I was destined for satisfaction.
And satisfied I was. I decided to order the Catfish and Black-Eyed Pea Cakes as an appetizer – amazing. A salty taste with the sweetness of Mississippi farm raised catfish was hard to beat: an excellent choice.
My server, still very attentive, made sure I got my entree immediately after my appetizer was complete, asking if I needed anything else. I did not.
The Big Easy had arrived. I had EVERYTHING I needed.
Rumored to be invented by one of the Mannings, it tasted just as excellent as it sounded. Every bite was very flavorful, and this sandwich really gave the Southern soul food experience that I needed – while taking soul food to a new high in my mind and heart.
The only downside was that I felt like maybe the entire plate could have used a little more garnish and presentation. (The Big Easy looked kinda lonely, or maybe it just didn’t want to socialize with the squash.)
Either way, my experience at Ajax Diner was a winner. Anybody who will put gravy on a sandwich is a visionary—hey Ajax, keep doin’ what you’re doin’.