Delta Grocery,  at 8594 Highway 98, just south of Fairhope, is not a grocery store, but a wonderful new restaurant and bar. Some old-timers will remember the Blue Marlin Restaurant, which is now the home of the Holloway family’s latest restaurant concept. Ryan Holloway, the owner, explains the name. “ In the old days, mom-and-pop grocery stores would cook for the local laborers and provide home-cooked meals for the community.” I grew up in the Mississippi Delta and have always lived and cooked in the Deltas, like here and New Orleans, hence the name “Delta Grocery.”   

Ryan has been in the restaurant business for 30 years. He left his hometown of Greenwood, Mississippi, and spent 10 years in New Orleans, working and honing his culinary skills before moving back home to Greenwood and buying a Greek American Restaurant called Yianni’s. 

After 15 years there, his wife Candice, who he says is the brains of the family, visited relatives and vacationed in Fairhope, and moved the family to the Eastern Shore. They opened ‘Delta Soul’ in  The Mill in downtown Fairhope, which morphed into ‘ Fairhope Burger Company’. “ We had a great business at the Mill but needed to find another place because the owners are revamping the space. I intend to reopen Fairhope Burger Company soon after Delta Grocery gets well-established.” 

Ryan and his son, Tristan, do all of the cooking so we were excited to hear some of their favorite menu items, which of course we ordered.  The Tamales, which Ryan has been buying from the same man, Willie of Hot Tamale Heaven in Mississippi,  for 30 years, were first on the list for our appetizers as were the Fried Green Tomatoes. The tomatoes were perfectly fried and cut into quarters for easy dipping into two different sauces. The tamales were delicious and my dinner companions were in Hot Tamale heaven, for sure. Freshly homemade ColeSlaw was served with the Tamales, making for a cool companion to the spicy Mexican dish.

While chatting with Ryan, he reveals that when he was young, he worked as an oxygen checker on a Catfish Farm. What is that, you may ask. “We would back big paddle wheels up to the pond and they would stir up the water to oxygenate it when it was low.” This man knows Catfish so that is what I order, Mississippi farm-raised catfish, fried, (you can have it broiled or blackened) with hushpuppies, a side of Smoked Gouda Cheese Grits, and a side salad with homemade blue cheese dressing. The catfish was moist and tender and the corn flour breading was just right. 

Ryan recommends the New Orleans Style Beef Debris Po Boy, Served with House Beef Demi Glace to my meat-eating Louisiana husband, and says it's one of the best things on the menu. Martin agreed and devoured his dinner. 

Our friend decided to be adventurous and try a sandwich that Ryan personally invented prepared with chicken, bacon, smoked gouda pimento cheese, house comeback sauce, and fried cinnamon apple, a Fried Apple Chicken sandwich. That sounds like an interesting combination of flavors and he said the sweetness of the apples with the smokey bacon and cheese was very satisfying. 

His wife ordered New Orleans-style barbecued Shrimp which was 6 Blackened Shrimp Sauteed with Garlic, Shallots, Lemon, Rosemary, Butter, and Beer, served with fresh French bread. The shrimp were really fresh and the seasoning was rich and tasty. For dessert, we shared the BlueBerry White Chocolate Bread Pudding. It was the perfect finish to a wonderful meal. 

Chef Holloway told us that he doesn't have much in his freezer because 95% of what he serves is fresh. Wanting the dining experience to be an extension of home, guests are welcome to come in straight off the boat wearing Aftcos and flip-flops if they would like. 

With event rooms that can serve 80 to 100 guests, he already has some parties booked and that says a lot, considering they have only been open a short time!  The extensive menu has steaks, seafood, sandwiches, salads, and good ole Southern entrees, too.  

Delta Grocery is open 6 days a week, Monday through Thursday 11 -8 pm, and Friday and Saturday 11 - 9 pm. With a full bar and live music on Fridays from 6 to 9, it has everything going for it; good food, good service, and good fun!

Jun 12, 2024
Epicurean Delights

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