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Mary Mahoney's, Biloxi, Mississippi

Mary Mahoney’s Old French Restaurant (Biloxi, Mississippi)

Family owned and operated since 1964, Mary Mahoney’s Old French Restaurant is a throwback to French colonial America and a wonderfully atmospheric location for a fine dinner. Thirty years before American independence, Frenchman Louis Frasier built his home with handmade bricks, cypress columns, and slate for the roof. Apparently, he knew what he was doing: The brick-walled cellar, unusual for damp and humid coastal Mississippi and now functioning as a wine cellar, remained so dry that subsequent owners used it to store books.

Although you may be tempted to sit outside in the New Orleans–style courtyard under the shade of the live oak trees, I recommend an indoor table, where you can truly appreciate the history of Frasier’s legacy. His house remained a private residence until Mary Mahoney, her husband, and her brother bought it in 1962. Their careful preservation of the high ceilings, exposed brick walls, warren of rooms, heart-pine floors, and open fireplaces has created a unique ambiance for a remarkable meal.

Fork and KnifeTry This: A cool salad with tomato-based red-wine dressing is the perfect start to your meal amid elegant surroundings, but if you’re already feeling cool, try the gourmet seafood gumbo. Then select the whole broiled flounder with Cajun spices and green beans; crustacean lovers might opt for the half lobster imperial or the shrimp and crab au gratin. The double chocolate cake for dessert is irresistible, but the bourbon pecan pie sounds just as wonderful.