It’s not very often that a restaurant gets pretty much everything right, but Patio 44 in Gulfport does. The location in Hattiesburg has been entertaining the college crowd for years, and the Biloxi location has developed a loyal following as well, but walk in the door of the new location and you are met by one of the most impressive wine cellars around. It’s a classy beginning to a seriously classy act.
The restaurant seats about 300, so it’s a big one by local standards. The main dining area is on the left, and, thankfully, the booths and tables aren’t jammed together, so it’s spacious. The bar, which is huge, is to the right, as is the patio and outside seating overlooking U.S. 90 and the beach.
I think you can tell I like this place, and like it a bunch, but there is a lot more to winning my vote than just a well-appointed dining room. The menu is as well thought out as I have encountered anywhere on the Coast. I absolutely love the heavy sprinkling of local and Southern favorites.
If you have even the tiniest Southern roots in your culinary soul, then you are going to love the field peas, tomato and okra sauté ($8). This is the stuff I grew up on and if you have never tried the lovely combination of field peas cooked with fresh tomatoes and okra, served over house-made cornbread, and garnished with bacon and (I love this touch) garlic aioli, your world is about to change.
Another touch I like on this menu is the highlighting of house favorites. Just a quick glance and you know what the best sellers are, and more often than not, the best sellers are where you should be looking on a first visit.
Blue crab fondue is one of those best sellers on the appetizer selection. How could you go wrong with lump crab meat, baked in a cream sauce and served with a crusty French baguette, and for just $10?
Executive Chef Justin Kittle was kind enough to sit with me for a bit and he spoke very highly of their signature filet. It is 8 ounces of certified Angus beef, topped with a crab cake (I love that idea!), topped with crawfish cream sauce and gouda cheese grits (Mississippi made grits, by the way!). Chef Justin also told me that the chicken and waffles ($16) were perhaps the No. 1 seller. Bacon infused waffles, fried chicken with a hot pecan sauce and cane syrup is always going to get my vote.
There just isn’t the space here to tell you about all the dishes that impressed me, but make sure to take a look at the shrimp and grits, bone-in pork chop with chipotle compound butter and mashed sweet potatoes, the bacon cheeseburger and fried green tomato BLT.
Patio 44 Gulfport sports one of the top bars on the Coast, has great seating choices, a huge wine list and one of my favorite menus around. Stop by and take a look, I am sure you are going to love it.
Patio 44 Gulfport
Where: 1244 24th Ave., Gulfport
Hours: 10:45 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10:45 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday