NATCHEZ, Miss. (WJTV) – Every town has a story, and for Natchez, it is quite a story to tell.
“We are the oldest city on the Mississippi River. We have more than 300 years of heritage, history and stories to tell,” said Devin Heath, executive director for Visit Natchez.
Founded in 1716, Natchez is striving to bridge its historic preservation to modern day progress. In February, a celebration was held where 27 African American historical markers were unveiled that are now in place with self-guided tours an option.
“When you talk about having the first Black physician in Natchez, located on St Catherine’s Street, that we consider to be the Wall Street of Natchez for African Americans, then we think that this is significant,” said Thelma S. Newsom, a Banks Museum tour guide.
Natchez gets roughly 700,000 visitors each year, with many choosing to arrive by Steamboat via the Mighty Mississippi. Tours of the many antebellum homes are popular as well as its walking trails. That’s a certainly good way to get in some exercise after dining at the many restaurant choices in town.
“We have one of the largest collections of Bed and Breakfast in the country,” said Heath.
With roughly 15,000 people who proudly call Natchez home, there is quite a bit to experience in this culturally rich town.
“There’s something for the whole family. There’s something if you want to get away for the weekend. If you want to bring your friends here, you want to bring your family here. There are so many different types of experiences you can have here in Natchez,” stated Heath.
If the charm of a restaurant is important for you, one Natchez dining establishment just might be the right place for you. It’s called Frankie’s On Main. The owners named it after their son, Frankie Munoz.
“I really didn’t want that. I don’t like seeing my name on a sign,” said Frankie Munoz, the co-owner of the business.
Munoz has 20 years of restaurant experience. That along with the history of the restaurant’s building and menu items, the owners believe they have the right ingredients for success.
Food prep is typical of any restaurant, but look around inside and you’ll see things that are really not that typical.
“The building was built in 1826 and was a well-known bank here in Natchez,” said Cathy Munoz, the co-owner.
Banking teller windows are still in place as well as a bank vault that is now used for dining and can seat up to a dozen people.
“It’s a big attraction. They just love it. I think it’s something special. We’ve had birthday party’s there, anniversary,” said Frankie.
While the owners wanted to keep the original banking charm in place, the building was refurbished but with new things added like a bar, an indoor wood fired grill and bar seating. The owners also wanted the restaurant staff to wear outfits with a colorful and unique flare.
But there’s even a bit more history to this building.
“I’ve been told in the 1840’s it was like a gentlemen’s club where they would come here, and the door was locked, and it was like a saloon sort of say,” said Cathy.
The owners believe Natchez has the right mix for a bright future.
When it comes to BBQ in Natchez, the Pig Out Inn has been feeding hungry customers for many years and as the label on their house made BBQ sauce claims.
The husband-and-wife owners, Katie and Bubba McCabe, took over the restaurant three years ago.
“We actually purchased it during the pandemic in 2020. Pig Out Inn originally opened in March of 1996. It’s been a staple and iconic restaurant in downtown Natchez,” said Katie.
Their meats are wood smoked in their pit.
“We set the fire about 7 o’clock at night, and it runs until someone comes in around 7:00, 7:30 in the morning, and generally we have lots of merchandise on the pit at that point and time. They’ll be beef and our pork and our baked beans that we cook overnight,” explained Bubba.
The owners kept the ribs, brisket and many of the original menu items, but they added a twist with a pair of specialty sandwiches called the ‘Bubba Delic’ and the ‘Grateful Jam.’
“The Grateful Jam is actually a chopped beef sandwich, and it is topped with a bacon jam that is made in house and pimento cheese,” said Katie.
Another unique feature are the dining room tables made out of doors with a glass top.