Southern Stories
May 16/13

Big Bad Chef John Currence On The Best Eats in Oxford Posted by: Christiana Roussel | 0 Comments

Take anyone who’s grown up in a food-centric city like New Orleans and it is hard to ever please them again — at least in the epicurean sense. When you’re an expert on the quality of po-boy bread before kindergarten, when you crave the burn on your lips from pinching tails and sucking heads (crawfish y’all), when you not only know what goes into a doberge cake but can pronounce it, well it gets hard to live — and eat — anywhere else on earth.

Chef John Currence grew up with memories like these but instead of setting up shop in his boyhood Crescent City backyard, he dominates the food scene in Oxford, Mississippi. You already know the names of his establishments — City Grocery, Big Bad Breakfast, Boure, and Snackbar — and they are definitely appointed food destinations when in Oxford. But, we were curious about what else there is to eat in this town of 19,393. So we asked him.

“There are several places I really enjoy in Oxford, outside of our restaurants. AJAX Diner is one of my favorites. They do about the best meat-and-three program around.”

Ajax Diner, 118 Courthouse Square
Oxford, MS 38655
(662) 232-8880

“There’s the Honeybee Bakery which is out on the west side of town. Shannon Adams is the owner/proprietor there. Shannon worked for us for years as a server and came to us from Emeril’s. She wanted to open a bakery that sort of operated with the same sort of sensibilities that she had picked up working for us. It is a lovely little bakery, it’s nicely appointed, it’s very comfortable and their product is just excellent. They are doing a lot with local purveyors.”

Honey Bee Bakery
2305 W. Jackson Ave., Suite 202
Oxford, MS 38655
(662) 236-2490

What about a roll-up-your-shirt-sleeves-grubby-kind-of-eating?
“There’s a great taqueria across the street from our office, El Caraton. It is a Latin-owned, Latin-operated place that I really like.”

Taqueria Carreton
(662) 281-8949

Anything else?
“We (everyone in Oxford) are very excited about Jinsei Sushi coming to Oxford, which should be moving in next door to Big Bad Breakfast.” This will be the first outpost of the John Cassimus-sushi outpost, outside of the original in downtown Homewood (Birmingham, Alabama).

Jinsei Sushi
713 N. Lamar
Oxford, MS 38655

And last but not least:
“One of my favorite stops is for the cheeseburger at Handy Andy. It transports me back to childhood. It is a very typical Dairy Queen kind of walkup burger joint place we used to go. It is very simple and it’s not trying to be anything exceptional and that’s probably what makes it so good in my mind.”

Handy Andy Grocery
800 N. Lamar Blvd.
Oxford, MS 38655
(662) 234-4621

Chef John Currence divides his time between his four Oxford restaurants and the home he shares with wife Bess, and new baby girl Mamie who already has her own Twitter account. And wouldn’t-you-know-it, the man can write too. Look for his new cookbook Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey: Recipes from my Three Favorite Food Groups and Then Some, due out Oct. 29.


Southern food and lifestyle writer Christiana Roussel lives in Birmingham, Alabama. When not enjoying the occasional biscuit festival or bourbon tasting, there are four chickens, three dogs, two children and one husband who keep her very busy.



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