Civil War history, rowdy saloon tall tales, and, of course, an incredible cheeseburger. Is Phillips Grocery in Holly Springs the best diner in all Mississippi?
We’re suckers for a greasy spoon diner. We’re also suckers for mom and pop places with old advertising antiques, funky nostalgic decor, and a unique history. Well, Phillips Grocery in Holly Springs, Mississippi definitely checks all the boxes.
Opened in 1882 as a saloon by Confederate veteran Oliver Quiggins, the unassuming little two-story building quickly became a bustling place as it served folks from the historically significant Mississippi Central Train Station just on the other side of the road (More on that later).
While we were visiting, we heard tall tales of everything from roaming ghosts to other “lucrative” businesses that ran in the upstairs rooms of the original saloon. It seems this place has an official and colorful “unofficial” history.
While we can’t confirm any of the tall tales told by front-porch sitting old-timers, we can tell you the saloon was forced to convert to a grocery store during Prohibition. In 1948, W.L. Phillips purchased the grocery that now bears his name and decided to offer up tasty hamburgers in addition to the grocery staples.
Today, the groceries are gone, but the burgers still keep people flocking to this hidden gem.
And, boy, do we see why they flock. The burger we had was absolutely one of the best we’ve ever tried- simple, cooked perfectly, and just the right size. The burger was made even better by the tater tots and root beer in the bottle we got with it.
When you stop by Phillips Grocery in Holly Springs, be sure to check the handwritten chalkboard menu to see what sounds good. While we didn’t have time or stomach space for anything else, we’re told the fried okra is incredible as well as they’re fried pies.
The food is reason enough to make a trip to Phillips Grocery, but the whole rustic, retro feel of the place is what really pushes it over the top to make it one of our favorite diners. Add in its history and you really have one of the very best burger joints of the south.
Oh, and remember when we mentioned the Mississippi Central Train Station? Yeah, it’s got quite the history, too. It was here where the infamous Van Dorn Raid of the Civil War came to a head.
The train depot and its warehouses were ground zero for Confederate General Earl Van Dorn’s raid on Holly Springs in 1862. General Van Dorn and his men successfully thwarted the Union’s attempts to use Holly Springs to launch Union supply lines further into Mississippi by either confiscating or burning nearly everything in the town, even torching the train depot. Today, a plaque outside the depot marks the raid of Holly Springs as the train station sits mostly shuttered. (Side note: the raid would be the highlight of Van Dorn’s military career as he was killed less than 6 months later by the husband of a woman with whom Van Dorn was having an affair.)
At the end of the day, a trip to Phillips Grocery brings together everything you hope to find in a small, southern town diner. If you like your burgers with a little nostalgia and plenty of history and local lore, you’ll be glad you found Phillips Grocery in Holly Springs, Mississippi.
541 East Van Dorn Ave.
Holly Springs, MS 38635
Monday- Thursday 10am -4pm
Friday 10am -5pm
Saturday 10am -6pm