Taylor Grocery & Restaurant is one of those local color destinations you hope to find on the road. It's about 9 miles southwest of Oxford, MS in the small town of Taylor.
The owners say, "If you use a GPS, there is a good chance you'll wind up in a cemetery in the middle of nowhere." When I went to there, the rural road to Taylor ended suddenly with barricades and Road Closed signs with no suggestion about a detour. I made a best guess and stumbled on an unmarked parking lot that was so busy it required a parking attendant to line cars up in some logical order. The fact that the parking attendant was a well-dressed, older gentleman added to the ambiance of arriving at Taylor Grocery.
Taylor Grocery & Restaurant was built around 1889 and hasn't seen a paint brush since then. It seems to be held up by multiple layers of signatures and sayings you'll find scribbled on every square inch of the building. It was originally a dry goods store and has had a couple of incarnations through the years, including a general store, a barber, and periods of vacancy. It is now "that catfish place" but the menu also includes fried pimento cheese balls. No, I didn't try the catfish or fried pimento cheese balls but can recommend the peach cobbler. Fried pimento cheese balls? Really?
A large George Dickel bottle on a rope closes the front door in case you forget - a Rube Goldberg solution probably dreamed up by the man who emptied the George Dickel bottle. A sign says "Eat or we both starve."
The restaurant is only open four hours a day from Thursday through Sunday and closes if Ole Miss alumnus Eli Manning has a game day. Customers range from Ole Miss students to old folks. They don't take reservations and they won't seat you until your entire party is present.
The entertainment is a singer who plays acoustic guitar and a man who plays electric guitar. The band plays for tips.
Taylor Grocery isn't a stand-alone building; it's a complex. Next door, there is an equally dilapidated building that looks abandoned until you notice a sculpture in the window. The local sculptor is William Beckwith who teaches sculpture at Ole Miss. His work has been exhibited in Splashlight Studios and Frank Marino Gallery, New York, Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, Louisiana Word’s Fair, New Orleans, and the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Museum, Washington, DC.
The next time you're near Oxford, MS, get off the main road and pay a visit to Taylor, MS and the Taylor Grocery & Restaurant but go on Thursday through Sunday unless Eli Manning has a game day and don't expect to be seated until your entire party is present. Try the fried pimento cheese balls and give me a review.
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