If ratings are any indicator, it seems that America is in love with Laurel, Mississippi, the location of HGTV’s show, Hometown. Now the show has nothing to do with food but I took it as a culinary adventure when I was invited to visit from a family member who recently moved there for an assignment. Although it was not part of my itinerary for the summer, I did love so much about laidback Laurel.
Everyone I met was so friendly…like that extra-mile friendly. Then there were the quirky and lovely historic houses as well as the beautiful lush leaning trees. And I’d be lying if told you I wasn’t in it for a little slice of southern cooking. I was not disappointed.
Sweet Somethings Bakery
The first place I went was to a little bakery in downtown Laurel called Sweet Somethings Bakery. With that name, they are winning already in my book but I digress. It’s always a cool little perk, when you can see bakers doing their thing right in front of your eyes. The bakery has all kinds of goodies from sweet rolls and pecan pies to almond croissants and Heath Bar cookies. I didn’t see any fancied-up coffee but they keep a good-old coffee machine for coffee that is ready to serve.
Bird Dog Cafe
Now, this may be a shocker but I had never heard of ‘Hometown’ until a few weeks before coming to Laurel, Mississippi. But once I was informed, I put watching the show on my to-do list. Unfortunately, that to-do list didn’t get realized until I was already there, and after I had dined at one of the spots, that ‘Hometown’ made over. That spot is Bird Dog Cafe, and it opened in August of 2020. Yes, it was a pandemic-opener but it has quickly become one of the hot spots in town.
I don’t think I’d be out of step to say that it’s an enchanting little spot that grabs your attention from the road with its dark reddish brown exterior and rustic American decor. The inside is just as welcoming with a mishmash of tables that make you feel like you’re sitting in grandma’s kitchen with an eclectic makeover.
Enough about the decor, we’ve got some food to talk about! So let’s get to it with the first thing I sampled…the roasted pepper deviled eggs with candied peppers and bits of bacon. I liked it pretty well, especially candied pepper, eaten in conjunction with the deviled egg has a bit of kick…maybe keep the water nearby.
For the main course I had one of the specials—the red fish. The spice was king on this fish dish. My buds—taste buds that is—were having a. good time. It was perfectly seasoned for me, and I especially loved that kick of pepper that followed each bite. It was served with yummy mashed potatoes and a vegetable medley that had me trying to figure out how to replicate it once I got back to my home. I was especially elated because, as I have explained in another article, the way restaurants cook fish can be so hit or miss, but I’m so glad when it’s a hit.
The Smokehouse of Laurel
My carry-out day brought me in touch with a very distinctive restaurant called The Smokehouse of Laurel. You won’t pass by this place without a second glance. A big pig beckons you. I went through the drive-thru and ordered a two-meat and two-side special. I picked smoked chicken and an order of brisket for the meat, and the mashed potato casserole and mac and cheese for the sides. (Don’t judge me I was on vacation!) I could’ve had some more of those sides because somebody knew what they were doing in the kitchen. Just take a look at the picture. It tastes THAT good.
I also enjoyed the smoked chicken quite a bit. It was tender and tasty. If I’m being honest, which I have to be, the brisket was okay. The reason I say that it was okay is because it was a bit dry. I’m told on good authority, that the brisket is usually fantastic so I’ll chalk it up to a rare miss. After all, they can’t all be home runs! However, I did eat it all, they me supplied with barbecue sauce and I definitely made it work.
Oh and the meal was very reasonably priced too!
I had a fine time in Laurel and I even have a few more places that I want to hit. I’m told Garcia’s Doughnuts are delightful. I’m looking to experience their much touted honeybun. Pearl’s Diner has also been featured on Hometown as well and it appears that the restaurant is doing something right because it had a line outside the door when I passed by. Prayerfully, I can get to both next time, but until then thanks for the good eats Laurel.