In Mississippi, there are several “you have to experience it at least once in your lifetime” restaurants. The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint in Ocean Springs is one of those places. The first thing you need to know: Last year, The Shed was named Grand Champion of the world-renowned Memphis in May barbecue competition, repeating their 2015 win. Second, once you are seated at one of the rustic wooden tables, you’ll agree the smoked ribs, chicken, wings, sausage, and so much more are award-worthy. And last, over one ton of barbecue emerges daily from The Shed’s pecan wood-burning smokers to feed customers from around the country and yes, even the world. If you haven’t been, it should be on your culinary bucket list.
Speaking of rustic, don’t let the exterior startle you when you first drive up via the gravel driveway. It looks just like a Mississippi barbecue joint should look – lots of weathered wood, tin, and a gigantic sign with a painting of a happy-looking pig at the top.
Walk past the wooden picnic tables and into the main dining area and you’ll be greeted with even more “stuff.” By that I mean tin fixtures, old car tags, lots of signs and strings of lights overhead, and almost anything else under the sun dot the long room. But once you dig into a barbecue plate accompanied by lively music courtesy of area bands, you’ll forget about the lack of fancy décor. One of the best meals you’ll ever experience – by that I mean, the best barbecue and a few more cuisines included – will linger in your mind long after you’ve pulled out of the gravel parking lot.
When reflecting on their Memphis in May championship, which included first place in wings and whole hog and winner of the Kingsford Tour of Champions, brother and sister owners Brad Orrison and Brook Orrison-Lewis say the secret’s in the sauce.
“Our sauce is a combination of our sweet and tangy sauces and southern sweet,” said Brad Orrison about last year’s win. “It felt amazing to celebrate this win with every ShedHed (super fans of the restaurant) and everyone who buys the sauce in their grocery store.” Orrison added that The Shed’s sauces and marinades are sold in supermarkets nationwide.
By now, your mouth has to be watering, so I’ll go right to the food, especially the smoked meats, on The Shed’s menu. For starters, there are smoked chicken wings (don’t forget, these are award-winning wings) and macho nachos, a huge plate of choice of pulled beef, pork, of chicken topped with cheese, vegetables, and sour cream. Either of these apps is hearty enough to suffice as a meal, but you won’t want to.
Instead, if you’re hungry enough, you may go straight to the house specialty. It’s a full rack plate filled with a whole rack of baby back ribs, three sides and two slices on barbecue bread and a rack of spare ribs. Smaller versions of the house specialty exist, but if it’s your first visit, why not go whole hog?
If you want the full-on, sample-it-all Shed experience, I recommend the regular or even larger jumbo Shed sampler plate. Both come with baby back and spare ribs, pork, brisket, chicken, and sausage along with three sides and two barbecue bread. There’s
Other plates served with two sides and bread are the Shed regular and jumbo combo plates with two meats, two sides and two breads as well as beef brisket, chicken, sausage, spare rib, pulled pork and baby back.
It’s been said that The Shed’s sides almost (but not quite) overshadow its smoked meats. While I can’t promote this theory – they are undoubtedly good, but not in the same category as the meat – they definitely make every meal more memorable.
On the must-try list are baked beans, coleslaw, macaroni salad, and baked potato salad. Each one is made from scratch daily, a fact you’ll be able to verify once you take a bite.
If a large barbecue meal isn’t in your plans or on your diet, don’t worry. There are plenty of other smaller smoked meat delicacies on the menu.
These include pulled pork sandwich (winner of Ultimate Hometown Grill Off on television talk show Regis and Kelly several years ago), smoked chicken, sausage, beef brisket, and baby back sandwiches, along with a barbecue salad topped with your choice of pork or chicken.
If you can handle dessert after your meal – and I must admit, the thought didn’t cross my mind after my mammoth meals – try The Shed’s famous homemade banana pudding. I’ve heard it’s delicious, but as I said, I’ve never felt like I could eat another bite after finishing a barbecue meal.
So, as you’re traveling south this spring and summer, drop in to one of The Shed’s locations. You’ll enjoy the experience and better yet, you’ll leaving feeling like one of the thousands, possibly millions of dedicated ShedHeds!
The Shed is located at 7501 Hwy 57 in Ocean Springs. Take Exit 57 off I-10 N., then travel one thousand yards. Hours are Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.