I really want to feel connected to my history on my wedding, and since I found some large fragments of an old painted photo of my great grandparents’ on their own wedding day, I thought getting the fragments conserved and maybe restored would be a great touch.

After searching, calling, emailing, I finally found out what kind of photo it was and found the one place in the Southeast that could take care of it, and of course it was in Mississippi. I’d never been to Mississippi, and I’m sorry to admit that I always thought of Mississippi as a place to drive through on the way to a destination, not one to actually hang out it. I for damn sure didn’t think they’d have vegetarian options, but I didn’t want to mail the fragments, so we had to go to Hattiesburg, Mississippi.

Thirsty Hippo menu front page

About four hours later we were hungry and came across the Thirsty Hippo gastropub just in time for a late lunch. We were so impressed by this restaurant sandwiched next to a NAPA Auto Parts that we’ll pick up the restored photo in person just to have another go at the restaurant.

So, the drinks:

The Aviation: Gin, Marachino Liqeur, Lemon Juice, Violet Liqueur

I got the Aviation…and was surprised by the beautiful blue elixir. It wasn’t to my tastes, but Kent liked it. I found it too bitter? Biting? Like drinking VODKA straight from the bottle and chasing it with medicine? But they obviously don’t skimp out on the alcohol, so I appreciated that (and probably so did the conservationist we met right after, since I was really nice). Kent got the Harvest Moon–applejack, pisa liqueur, lime juice. Another strong one, but I prefer those flavors.

Now while the drinks didn’t quite rank for me, the food was SO FREAKING GOOD I almost like Mississippi now. I ordered the Deep South Burger with the house-made veggie patty. This burger is topped with slaw, pickled okra!, and BBQ sauce. I paired it with the bean salad since slaw comes with the burger. Okay, so, this was probably the best house-made veggie burger I’ve ever had. I kicked myself for not asking, but here’s what I think I tasted in that patty of goodness: pumpkin seeds, almonds, zucchini, carrots? I dunno, but topped with a sesame seed bun, this burger will be what calls me back.

Deep South Burger from Thirsty Hippo in Hattiesburg

But the bean salad? Wow. Fresh, fragrant, flavorful, savory, lemony, not slimy as some bean salads are tend to be. And the pickled okra? On point. Pickled okra is now one of my favorite out-the-jar-worthy treats. It had just the right amount of spice, too.

Unsurprisingly, Kent got the Banh Mi Veggie Burger and dug in before I could snap a shot. It was equally tasty, though.

The atmosphere was really chill with a bluesy feel, but it did feel odd at first since everyone seated at the bar looked back when we walked in like we were on some tricked out version of Black Mirror. Nevertheless, the wait staff were friendly and attentive, and the decor was sparse but inviting.

They mostly let the loft look speak for itself, but the minimal decor is surprising and fun.

Pricing is reasonable, too, or at least comparable to what one would find in the Ham. $9.25 per burger, side included. We’ll be back! In the meantime, what secret veggie-friendly pockets have you found in Mississippi? Give us suggestions in the comments.