Article by Brandi Perry, photos by Dori Lowe
The Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association (MCA) does an incredible job in our state not only working to increase profit opportunities for beef and cattle producers in the state but also by promoting the industry. Every fall, the MCA and the Mississippi Beef Council team up to find the best steak and hamburger in the state. The public nominates their favorites until they reach a top-five list in each category. Then, an anonymous panel will eat at each of the top five spots and then determine a winner in each category. The winner takes home far more than bragging rights for the year as both winners receive a $1,000 advertising package and is announced during the Dixie National Rodeo in February.
Andy Berry, the Executive Vice President of the Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association and Executive for the Mississippi Beef Council, said the friendly competition is a great deal of fun for everyone involved. “There are so many times that people in our state don’t know what all we have to offer, and by awarding the best hamburger and steak in the state, it gives us a chance to help promote some of the best restaurants and beef in the south.”
There is no doubt this annual event promotes culinary tourism for the Magnolia State and in turn drives more people to experience everything Mississippi has to offer. In the fall of 2021, the Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association and Mississippi Beef Council started the voting process. In November, the top five in both the steak and hamburger categories were chosen. The top five restaurants in the best steak category were Cheryl’s Steakhouse (Ocean Springs), Como Steakhouse (Como), Delta Steakhouse (Senatobia), Huck’s Place (Columbus) and Marshall Steakhouse (Holly Springs). In the best hamburger category, three Marion County restaurants were listed in the top five, which were Debbie’s (Columbia), The Ville (Coffeeville), Zip’s Café (Magee), Reagan’s Corner (Kokomo), and R House (Columbia). After the anonymous panel of judges had a chance to try each burger and steak in each of the top five, the winners were chosen.
Marshall Steakhouse in Holly Springs was awarded the Best Steak in Mississippi, while Zip’s Café took home the Best Hamburger in Mississippi award. As soon as the winners were announced at the Dixie National Rodeo, people from all over the southeast started flocking to both locations to see what all the fuss was about. It did not take them long to figure out why each of them were chosen as the best of the best.
Opened in July 2017, Marshall Steakhouse in Holly Springs serves only prime steaks while welcoming in more than 2,000 customers a week. But imagine for a second: had owner Randall Swaney’s plans come to fruition, the steakhouse would have never been a reality.
Originally from Memphis, Swaney was building a barn on his property in Holly Springs, but the continuous rain kept hindering the progress of the construction. So, he decided to buy a building instead of trying to build one. Initially, the idea was to build a sawmill, and then he thought a feed store might be a good idea. Finally, the thought of opening a firearms store came up, and Swaney said, “I just thought I might put a Weber grill in the back of the store and cook hamburgers for my customers and maybe steaks once a week.” That single thought inspired Swaney to start researching the steakhouses that were close by, and he quickly realized that locally owned steakhouses were actually few and far between in Mississippi. “Through the years, I had eaten at the best restaurants in the country, so I knew the food and service had to be good, so I hired the best in the business,” Swaney explained. The 16-ounce ribeye and the beef filet are the best-selling items on their extensive menu that also includes popular side items like mashed potatoes, twice-baked potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
The décor in Marshall Steakhouse is almost as spectacular as the food! The tabletops are made from 300-year-old white oak trees in Collierville, Tennessee, while the columns are cut from 250-year-old cedars. Additionally, the heat in the dining rooms comes from wood-burning stoves. People from all over the southeast visit the restaurant but never do they expect the restaurant to look like a world-class lodge from Montana or Colorado, complete with a 14-foot carved grizzly bear. A trip to Holly Springs is a must for any steak lover! If you are going, Marshall Steakhouse is located at 2379 Highway 178 West in Holly Springs. They are open Wednesday and Thursday from 4 pm to 9 pm, Saturday from 4 pm to 11 pm, and Sunday from 12 pm to 9 pm.
The winner of the Best Hamburger in Mississippi award went to Zip’s Café in Magee. Tucked just off Highway 49, Zip’s was established as Windham’s Restaurant in 1963 and has been serving some of the best food in the state since then. Their menu includes everything from fried chicken and fish to po’boys, hamburger steaks and, of course, hamburgers. However, the burger at the very top of the menu is the one that is turning heads in the burger world in Mississippi.
Known simply as the Zip Burger, this hand-patted burger with cheese, tomato, mayonnaise and a fresh bun may not sound like much but the instant you taste that well-seasoned beef combined with the freshest ingredients, you will understand why this is the best hamburger in the state. The special Zip’s Sauce, a homemade house sauce, is drizzled on like an extra condiment and takes a very basic burger to an entirely new level. Do not even try to find out how they make it because they are not budging on that lip-locked recipe. But the tangy sweetness could take any food to the next level. There is no doubt the grill that has cooked thousands of these helps with the collective flavor while the quality of meat and quality of history involved in this restaurant hangs on the tongue with every single bite.
If you are making the trip to Magee, Mississippi, for the best burger, they are open Monday through Wednesday and Saturday, from 6 am to 8 pm, Thursdays from 11 am to 8 pm, and Friday from 6 to 9 am. Zip’s is located at 401 Pinola Drive SE, and their phone number is (601) 849-3385 if you want to ask them any questions before making your trip.
Additionally, go ahead and like the Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association and Mississippi Beef Council on Facebook so you can be ready to nominate and vote for your favorite hamburger and steak for 2022.