Last week I went to visit my parents in south Mississippi. Before my trip, I asked around for recommendations on a must-visit BBQ place. Almost everyone said Leatha’s. Now it’s very rare that I get such a unanimous response to a question, so I just had to check it out!
As you walk up and start to head in, you immediately get the sense of “coming home”.
And as you walk in, that down-home feeling is confirmed with a very simple decor. Mismatched table cloths give the dining area a certain charm. There are many large tables present to allow for community seating as well as a few smaller tables for a more intimate experience.
Leatha’s is a “seat yourself” restaurant. Once I sat down, I was asked what I would be having. I identified myself as being a first time visitor (despite having lived in south MS for over 20 years), and the response from the waitress was, “You’ve gotta try the pork ribs.” (which are baby backs) So I did. And when asked for which sides I wanted, I said, “Surprise me.”
Below are photos of the menu. It’s a very simple menu, keeping in line with the down home theme.
After ordering, I went around looking at the pictures on the wall of various celebrities who had eaten at Leatha’s. I get back to my table to find two sides — cole slaw and potato salad.
A couple of minutes later, the ribs arrive — along with sides of baked beans and home-cut potatoes as well as a couple of yeast rolls and some of their BBQ sauce!
I’ll first comment about the ribs. As a KCBS certified BBQ judge, I have been trained that if a rib falls off the bone, that usually means it is overcooked. So I have grown to prefer a rib that leaves a clean bite mark when I take a bite. Having said that… when I took a bite of one of the ribs, all of the meat came right off the bone. However… it had AMAZING flavor!! Just the right amount of smoke, rub, and sauce, and everything worked together in perfect harmony!
And now for the sides… usually I can find something that I don’t like about one of the sides. For this trip, however, I had a difficult time doing that! Everything had an excellent, down-home Southern taste. The potato salad is a warm mustard-based potato salad. The beans had the perfect blend of sweet, tang, and bold flavors. The cole slaw was very fresh, and the potatoes were just right.
I asked if I could take a look at the cooker, and the staff more than obliged.
I stayed out there and talked with the guys working the pit for at least a good half-hour. We talked of what type of wood they used to cook with (pecan), the lost art of family owned BBQ joints, and how everything is made from scratch. I did get a shot of some beef ribs that were about to come off, and looking at it made me wish I had ordered that.
If you are interested in seeing more pictures from this visit, you can do so by checking out this Facebook photo album. If you are looking for an authentic down-home BBQ experience, you must check out Leatha’s!
Leatha’s Bar-B-Que Inn is located at 6374 US Highway 98 West, Hattiesburg, MS 39402. They are open from 11:00am to 8:30pm on Tuesday thru Thursday and from 11:00am to 9:00pm on Friday and Saturday.