Article byPosted Featured AuthorDecember 2021
It is not a large town, and it is not a county seat, although it is close to several. It has an exit on I-55, but like a lot of small towns between Southaven and Magnolia, you have to go a ways and pass through farmland and over railroad tracks to get “into town.”
I’m referring to the tiny hamlet of Como, Mississippi, situated in the northern part of Panola County, between Sardis and Senatobia. According to Google, it had a population of 1,390 in 2019, per the Census Bureau. Curiously though, despite being so small, Como literally has multiple destination restaurants, all situated on “the main drag” running north/south between I-55 on the east and Hwy 51 to the west.
The most well-known is Como Steakhouse. I began going there way back in law school, in the mid ‘90s. It is a great example of an out-of-the-way Mississippi steakhouse nestled in a small town that attracts people from a wide surrounding area. In my experience, there are two types of these places: ones that have a bar and serve alcohol, and ones that allow you to brown bag wine, bourbon, or whatever.2
Como Steakhouse hews to the former. It has a full bar, situated in the back of the restaurant, where you can sit at a table or at the bar, and eat just as you would in the main dining room. It also has an oyster bar upstairs. (As with any place that serves oysters, I recommend only eating them during cold weather months, and making sure they are freshly shucked.) The steaks are excellent, as are the sides and potatoes, which you can get smothered in all sorts of toppings. One item that does not receive enough attention at Como or any steakhouse of its kind, is the pork chop. If you have never tried a pork chop at a steakhouse, you should do so. It is usually about half the price, and tends to be a hidden gem.
One drawback to Como Steakhouse is the fact that the late 20th century war on smoking in restaurants has not seemed to have caught up with them. Or maybe it did, but they just didn’t surrender. I don’t know about the main dining room, but if you sit in the bar, you had better be prepared to get in your time machine and travel back to the days of unapologetic smoking.
The steakhouse is not the only place on the Como strip though. The owners of Como Steakhouse also own a bar and grill called Windy City Grille that is good for a change of pace, with more of a bar and grill menu. (There is also a Windy City Grille in Hernando, on the square by the courthouse.)
Across the street from the steakhouse and the grill is another destination restaurant for Panola and Tate Counties, the Thai Hut Restaurant and Bar, owned by a nice couple named Larry and Peach. I recently ate there as part of a group of six. The bar choices and wine list were good, the food was authentic, and the price wasn’t bad. A keeper.
There are two other restaurants on the strip as well, Como Catfish, and El Rio. I haven’t eaten at either of them, but intend to do so. I mention them mainly to point out just how many options are available and how this little town has created an economic niche and identity.
Aside from the restaurants, another hidden gem in downtown Como is Como Inn. Yes, Como has a legitimate hotel. I was unaware of this until about six month ago, when my friend and client Brad Ogletree suggested we stay there on a visit to his bank’s Senatobia branch. Located in the same structure as the Steakhouse and the Grill (as well as an antique shop), Como Inn is a throwback in time, and an absolute delight.
To gain access, you have to call and talk to the owner, Frances May. When you make your reservation, she will assign your room, and — no joke — will leave a key in an envelope behind the fern in front of the door. When I checked in, and began walking up the old wooden stairs, I thought I might see Sheriff Dillon or Miss Kitty3 pass me on the way down.
All kidding aside, the place still has hardwood floors and a refurbished rustic vibe, combined with spacious, high-ceilinged guest rooms, a small reading room, and a breakfast area, complete with homemade muffins and such. It also has a balcony in the rear that is perfect for that nightcap after walking back from the Steakhouse, the Grill, or Thai Hut. I strongly recommend it for anyone who might have court in Batesville, Sardis, Senatobia, or anywhere else in that general vicinity. Once you park, you will not have to start your car again until you leave the next day.