Back in September we kicked off my husband’s weekend birthday trip to Hattiesburg, MS at Leatha’s BBQ restaurant.
We pulled into town, I had just met one of his college friends and still insisted we go to Leatha’s one hour before closing. Since moving to Mississippi I have been deprived of this Midwest staple, and Leatha’s has been on “the list” for a very long time.
Being from the land of barbecue, I have high standards.
It’s extremely hard to top Kansas City when it comes to smoked, rubbed and marinated meats. It’s the home of the revered American Royal Barbecue contest, “the World Series of BBQ” sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, and birthplace of countless terrific sauce recipes. One of the first questions you can ask a Kansas Citian is what BBQ joint they like the best, they won’t hesitate with their answer (Arthur Bryants).
Locating the restaurant sets the precedent for your dining experience, it sits behind an RV lot with gravel parking. You would miss it from the road if you weren’t looking. Walking in you see long rows of tables lined with chairs, memorabilia on the wall, towels as napkins, no menus, no booths and no table cloths. You feel at home, comfortable, like you stopped by the neighbor’s backyard to see what they’ve been cookin’.
It was also promising after looking around at the people eating. Establishments that attract a diverse crowd, in otherwise not so diverse settings, says (to me) that the food overcomes differences and socioeconomic bounds. Everyone appreciates good food.
We ordered three entrees to share: pulled pork, chicken, and ribs with beans, coleslaw and fried potatoes. Not surprisingly the chicken was the least favorite, it tends to be the one prone to dryness, but for the most part the meats were tender, juicy, and flavorful. The sauce wasn’t too sweet or heavy on the vinegar. The sides were great, the customary compliments and the coleslaw won that contest. I couldn’t stop picking at the rib bones, searching for any morsel of meat that might have been looked over.
I may be a long way from home, but the taste of Leatha’s certainly reminds me of it.
Leatha’s Bar-B-Que Inn
6374 US Highway 98
Hattiesburg, MS 39402