The ultimate guide to tailgating at Taylor Grocery

Every Ole Miss fan and their mother needs to experience their damn good southern living

It’s about that time of year – students becoming all too accustomed to their independence – when empty-nest parents begin flocking to their children’s schools for a piece of the game day action. For Ole Miss students, that may mean a free meal on the Square (appetizers for the table? Yes, please).

But these unofficial parent weekends can also be quite demanding. Suddenly you’ve become a travel agent for your clueless parents, only without the commission. They just want to “do whatever you always do,” but “whatever you always do” may well be the last thing you ever want to do with your parents.

Fortunately for the Rebels, the perfect spot for entertaining family before College GameDay isn’t but half an hour away from Oxford. Taylor Grocery has been serving the South’s best catfish since 1977, and the food ain’t even the best part! Come 5 o’clock on Fridays, you’ll find the one-horse town of Taylor, MS overflowing with tailgaters. But they’re not preparing to watch football; they’re waiting to get their grub on. Call it practice for the Grove, really it’s just some damn good southern living.

This past weekend, before watching the Rebs defeat UGA, I made the short trek down to Taylor with my parents and their friends.

Here’s some tips we picked up for the best Friday night in northern Mississippi:

Preparation is everything

As an Eagle Scout, I’ve always lived by the motto: “be prepared.” The wait time at Taylor Grocery can be staggering – get there after 5:30 and you may not eat till 10 – but that’s nothing to worry about. The real experience is enjoying some quality time with friends and family under the shade of magnolias and cypresses.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Lawn chairs

Once you find a parking spot – or whatever parcel of grass is left unclaimed by the time you arrive – you’ll want to lounge in luxury. A foldable chair for each member of your party is the key to comfort in Taylor.

A fully stocked cooler

Why stick with Natty Light when your parents have a disposable income? Come prepared to spend a few hours sipping on Stella Artois or Sweetwater. A nice, cold bourbon and coke also pairs well with the honeysuckle-rich evening breeze. Be sure to bring a cup though, as open containers are not allowed in the vicinity of the restaurant, and as always designate someone to drive – not 21 yet? Sorry, but I’m talking about you.

Nice speakers, or at least some jumper cables

While Taylor Grocery features fantastic live music once you get inside, it’s alway nice to have some tunes playing outside while you wait. I suggest bringing some fully charged speakers unless you want your car battery to die like ours did.

Not to worry if that happens though. There’s always plenty of hospitable, if tipsy, strangers around that’ll get you back listening to Dan Reeder in no time.

Sick of your Spotify playlist? Bring a guitar and share your God-given talent. After all, there’s no audience less prone to heckling than your parents!

What to do while you wait

You’ve got your parking space. You’ve put your name in. There’s a three hour wait. Netflix can’t save you now, and good riddance.

How ’bout some good old fashioned conversation as you prepare your stomach for the feast ahead!

Come with stories

I know, I know, I’ve tricked you into spending upwards of 5 hours with your parents. This is exactly what you dreaded. But your parents want to know what you’ve been up to, and they filled the cooler so the least you could do is fill them in on your life (you know, the one they gave you). Who’s that annoying professor that insists on “taking attendance?” What did you say to Chad Kelly when you saw him at South Depot. You’d be surprised how uninteresting you can be while still commanding rapt attention from Mom and Dad.

Take a walk

Taylor isn’t only known for their catfish. Take some time to explore the idyllic southern town while preemptively working off the calories you’re about to indulge in.

Make some friends

You’re not the only ones in Taylor. A hundred or so of your fellow Rebels are there with you. Meet some new people and expand your tailgating circle. If nothing else, it makes for some great Grove practice. If this isn’t your area of expertise, it’s probably your mom’s – “you’ll never believe, that’s Mary’s godson! Mary taught your Sunday School class in 1st grade, you remember her, she caught you eating Play-Doh…” (see, those fun facts are coming out and no one’s around to hear. Score – Taylor Grocery).

The feast to end all feasts

It’s 9 o’clock, you’ve all got a nice buzz on and your stomachs are growling. You’re pretty sure those people that just got seated were below you on the list, but at this point you don’t care as long as you’re up next. And what’s that? Did they really just call your name? They did! Hoop and Holler all you want, but remember that the families next to you have a ways to go, so don’t rub it in. Ascend the rickety wooden steps to the Taylor Grocery porch and waltz inside like royalty – you deserve it!

One last obstacle: the menu.

Start it off right

Best to start with the Taylor Sampler complete with fried oysters, fried shrimp, fried chicken, and fried catfish. From there, you’ll know exactly what kind of fried food you want to follow up with.

Stick to the basics

Really worked up an appetite? Try the country-fried pork or their delicious 12 or 16 oz rib-eye. But you want the classic experience, don’t you. You came for the catfish and that’s what you’re gonna get.

Well there’s still decisions to be made. Choose between two fillets, four fillets, or All-You-Can-Eat fillets. Want it grilled or blackened? They’ve got you covered. Sides? Choose between collard greens, hush puppies, cole slaw, potato Salad, fried okra, baked beans, french fries, and “Big Deb’s” world famous brown rice.

… Dessert? 

Good luck leaving room for their pecan pie or peach cobbler. If you do, you probably didn’t order enough catfish.

We’ll take the check

It’s tragic, but your night at Taylor Grocery is over. The check is on your table and your belt buckle is loosened a couple of notches. Be sure to sign the wall, but there are still ten families waiting outside, so leave a big tip and get out quick. Enjoy the quiet car ride back to Oxford knowing you fully satisfied your parents. They’ll be recovering from the salt-intake long into the next semester, so you’ve got a few months to yourself secured.

Next Friday night? Go again with friends!

Ole Miss: University of Mississippi