Jackson, Mississippi Food Diaries: Mama Hamil’s Southern Cookin’ and BBQ Buffet

It is now Thursday and I am nearing the end of my trip. My food experiences have been amazing so far. During my UBER ride back from the Parlor Market the day before, my driver recommended Mama Hamil’s Southern Cookin’ and BBQ Buffet as one of the places to go for a good meal. After looking at their website and their reviews, as well as talking it over with my new Jackson, MS friends, I set my sites to Mama’s Hamil’s for a Southern Dinner. http://www.hamils.com/

Since I knew that I would be eating heavy for dinner, I decided to keep it light for lunch, or so I thought. I ventured to a sushi restaurant called Sakura Bana located next door to my training location at 4800 I-55 North Suite 11, Jackson, MS 39211. The servers were very attentive but overall, the sushi was just ok. They had a lot of fried dishes with spicy mayo and cream cheese and made a generally healthy style of cooking quite unhealthy. They have a lot of special roll options to choose from that are very creative and are willing to customize an order for you as well. I recommend this place but be careful because it can get fattening quick. I tried their Miso Soup, which was tasty, The Caterpillar Roll, Kodiak Roll (which included the spicy mayo that taste more like mayo than any sauce I’ve tasted before), and the Paradise Roll (which was a very non-traditional roll but still rather tasty. Unfortunately it was served late and I forgot to take a picture. But it was a baked salmon roll that was wrapped around the crab mixture inside.) I spent about $30.62 on lunch which was pretty high but I underestimated the size of the rolls. Good stuff but a bit fattening. http://www.sakurabanajackson.com/

Hamil’s Restaurant opened in 1977 but the family had some trouble keeping it open.  After grandson Bob Hamil took it over in 1994, after much trial and error, he opened Mama Hamil’s in 2007 that has become the restaurant people know and love today. Mama Hamil’s is open for lunch Mon-Sat from 10:30am-2pm and dinner Thurs-Sat from 4-8pm.  Located at 751 US-51, Madison, MS 39110 behind a red log cabin, you cannot immediately see the restaurant from the street. But once you go down the pebbled driveway, you enter the parking lot and see an older style building that houses Mama Hamil’s. They boast that they are four generations of southern cooks.

mamahamilsI arrived a little after 6pm for my Southern experience and instantly loved the décor of the restaurant. It was a true Southern restaurant with lots of old Southern knick-knacks you would expect to see that authenticates the experience. When you enter, you pay $14.00 for the dinner buffet. The lunch price is $10.00 which is a total steal for all the food that is served. After you pay, you can sit anywhere available. There is even seating on the second story for their busier days. I took a seat in the booth, but there were plenty of tables and even a few long picnic tables for families to eat together or for strangers to dine together as a family. This gave off a very family atmosphere to the restaurant.

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The buffet area was right near the entrance and sectioned off from the tables. The Thursday dinner buffet included the following (all stared items are things I tried):

Meats Sides Breads/Desserts
Fried Chicken* BBQ Beans Hand Kneaded Yeast Rolls
Smoked Chicken* Black Eyed Peas Homemade Corn Bread
Pulled Pork* Cream Corn* Banana Pudding*
Red Beans and Rice* Cabbage* Bread Pudding
Fried Catfish nuggets* Pole Beans* Homemade Cakes
Meatloaf (listed but not served) Potato Salad Pecan Pie
  Mashed Potatoes and Gravy*  
  Macaroni and Cheese* Peach Cobbler *
  Rutabagas Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream*
  Turnip Greens with Roots Strawberry Short Cake- seasonal
  California Salad with Cashews  
  Broccoli Salad  
  Pasta Salad  
  Corn Salad*  
  Cole Slaw  
  Cucumber Tomato Salad  
  Fruit Salad  
  Garden Harvest Salad  
  Tossed Salad  
  Homemade Ranch and Comeback Dressing  
  Homemade Pepper Sauce  

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This is a Southern buffet people dream of. There was so much good food but my favorites were the fried chicken, the mac and cheese, and creamed corn. The chicken was perfectly seasoned and crispy. Refilled often served nice and hot. The mac and cheese was served casserole style (bonus points) and was served with a great blend of cheese and seasoning. When I went up another time, they bought a fresh pan out but it had not had a chance to sit out and come together but the flavors were still there. The creamed corn was amazing and still had a bite to it that I loved! It was not overly creamy but the perfect blend of sweet and savory. The fried catfish was delicious as well and served with hushpuppies that I did not try. The smoked chicken was tasty but not as impressive as the fried chicken and the pulled pork was wonderful however, my first few bites were a bit salty. But I quickly got over that because of how tender the meat was. The pole beans, cabbage, and creamed corn were some of the best I’ve had. (Sorry Grandma). The pole beans are similar to that of green beans but the seasoning was fantastic. Most of the veggies were cooked with meats to enhance flavor. The mashed potatoes and gravy were good but I have had and can make better.

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My least favorite dishes were the corn salad and the red beans and rice. The corn salad was more of a personal preference because it included a lot of tomatoes and I’m not a fan of them. The red beans, though I left the rice, was just not the best to me. I have had better at home or another restaurant. I felt bad for wasting because I expected it to be good. I thought I saw sausages in the serving pan but I did not get any on my plate. Bummer.

However, I could not get enough of the fried chicken and the mac and cheese. I was so close to buying a to-go container and taking some back with me. I decided against this but you get the picture of my internal struggle. After the visit to the buffet, a server comes to the table to ask for a drink order. They make sure to keep your cup full.  The sweet tea here was so sweet! I had to take it down with the lemon packs they had on the table, which I was a little bummed there not no fresh lemon slices. It was too the point where I ordered a glass of water to do a little diluting of the tea. After finishing your plate, there were several busboys walking by for plate pick up. Since I was dining alone, it made it challenging because they were not sure if I left or was at the buffet for my multiple rounds. But I appreciate the diligence to keep the place clean. On the table were a lot of laminated pictures and history but notably, there was a letter from a concerned customer about the wastefulness of customers. With that in mind, the restaurant now charges a fee for obsessively wasted food. I can appreciate this and I made sure to only get what I felt I could eat.

Banana Pudding, Peach Cobbler, and Soft Serve Ice Cream

Finally, I made my way to the dessert table. I’m not all that big on desserts but there are a few things I enjoy. I saw that they were on plastic and paper plates so that people could take them home but I decided to take my time and enjoy it there. Once I found out there was also ice cream, I got more excited. I ended up getting a small cup of banana pudding, a small serving of peach cobbler, and a cup of ice cream. The banana pudding was everything you would want and more. Nice chunks bananas, the pudding was sweet but not too sweet, there was cream and wafers. Perfect! But the highlight was the peach cobbler. I ate it with the soft served vanilla ice cream to take it to the next level. I almost wanted to get another serving but I decided against it. The peaches were soft and seasoned well with sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, the crust was flakey and had these pieces of sugar in them. This was some of the best peach cobbler I’ve ever had! The ice cream was delicious also and complimented the cobbler wonderfully.

Overall, I had an amazing dining experience at Mama Hamil’s! I would totally return here on my next Jackson trip. Many locals know this is the place to go but try to make it a once a year visit because of how much food there is. This was truly one of the highlights of the trip that showcased the delicious Southern cooking of Mississippi! On the way out, there were a sign I tried to photograph but was unsuccessful that read “Nothing worth having comes easy-Bob Hamil.” I could not agree more! Well done! The following is my Seven Mac Score for the restaurant:

Mama Hamil’s Southen Cookin’ and BBQ Buffet 

Criteria Scale Score
Accessibility 1-10 10
Customer Service 1-20 20
Cleanliness 1-10 10
Food Presentation 1-10 9
Price Value 1-10 10
Taste of Food 1-30 29
Overall Experience 1-10 10
TOTAL: 98/100

Please look out for my next post as I share more of my week in Jackson, Mississippi in my Jackson, Mississippi Food Diaries! Also, you can find me on Instagram @finediningdiva and twitter @moderndaybeauty. Also, if you would like to follow my blog to receive notification when a new blog is posted, please send your email to finediningdiva@gmail.com.

And remember: It’s a BIG world and we are going to eat our way through it!



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