Kelly and I have now been to Oxford, Mississippi twice. Whenever we travel, he typically arranges all our travel details. I prefer just to show up with a suitcase and follow his lead. He always has a list of restaurants he wants to check out. In fact, I think our trips are pretty much built around where we’re eating. It’s pretty rare that we would visit the same restaurant twice because we prefer to try a lot of different places. Ajax Diner is a welcome exception to this rule. Before travelling to Oxford, whenever we mentioned our upcoming trip, we were consistently asked one question, “So, where are you eating?” With limited time and an endless amount of amazing options in town, it’s definitely a fair question.
Ajax Diner was our first restaurant pick on our first trip, and man, was it a great choice. When you arrive, it’s seat yourself. The first time we stopped in was during the lunch rush so we stood near the front door, eyes peeled just waiting for a table to open up. I normally am not someone who enjoys waiting for a seat, especially during a busy summer day, but as I watched plates pass by and diners smiling, I could tell it would be worth it. My eyes eagerly scanned the room, and it wasn’t long before I spotted a coveted front window table and made a run for it, dragging Kelly behind me. The first point of judgement, for me, of a self-proclaimed “Soul Food” restaurant is their Sweet Tea. Sweet Tea is staple of the south, and while one would think you can’t screw up tea and a ton of sugar, you’d be wrong. There are subtleties regarding the time you soak your teabags, with or without lemon, dumping sugar straight in the pitcher or making a simple syrup first that can dictate a preference in restaurants for me. I am happy to report, I found Ajax to make a mean Sweet Tea.
After swigging myself away into a blissful sugar coma, I struggled with deciding on an item from the menu. Everything sounds so amazing! Every time I watched a plate float by carried by a friendly waitress I’d think I’m getting that, only to switch my order five minutes later when I’d see something else. I ended up getting the Vegetable Plate (with four items) both times I’ve visited. I’m the girl at Thanksgiving or any holiday meal that prefer the sides to the meat. I could actually do without the ham or turkey, but you better pass me seconds of those mashed potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole. The first time I ordered fried okra, broccoli rice casserole, squash casserole, and turnip greens. I couldn’t tell you which item I liked more than the next. I can just say that as a fat girl, I’ve had a lot of soul food in my time, and this restaurant is one of the best. The next time I got everything the same except I switched and got fried eggplant and their famous mac and cheese. Several people had told me about the mac and cheese, and one friend described it as, “fire.” She was so right. It is something else. It is the mac and cheese you dreamed of as a child. It’s so rich and creamy! Kelly had their meatloaf the first time, and he enjoyed that immensely. The second time, he went for the Hot Tamale Pie. It was amazing, and I can speak to that, because I stole some off his plate. It is really rare that we go to the same restaurant twice on a trip, but it speaks to how good Ajax is that we did! When we go back, which I’m sure we will, I bet Ajax will be on our list for a third time. Both Kelly and I agree it’s great eating!