Food Scene

If you are looking for something to eat in Starkville and you happen to be in the mood for Mexican food, then you are in luck since Starkville hosts a whopping 10 Mexican restaurants in its city limits. If none of those establishments pique your interest, we have five separate chicken places. However, if you want much more than that, your options tend to dwindle to a handful. It is great Starkville at least has some variety in its food scene, but it will not truly be booming until it is just as diverse as its inhabitants.

There are three types of restaurants which can help with this diversification: Indian, Italian and Mediterranean.

According to information obtained from Lauren Wright, the deputy director of international services at MSU, MSU currently has 69 enrolled students from India. MSU also has several Indian faculty/staff members, second generation Indian immigrants and their families living in Starkville.These individuals deserve to have a spot where they can feel at home in a community of people who share similar culture and values. After all, if you were living over 8,000 miles from home would not you want something which helps it feel not so far away? There is one Indian restaurant currently in Starkville called Flavors Cuisine of India, but the more variations you have of the same cuisine the better the level of inclusion. This, of course, is something which is good in moderation, not like the double digits of Mexican restaurants.

A large portion of Indian cuisine is its social aspect. CulinarySchools.org explains the courses are served all at once in groups for everyone to eat until they are satisfied. Like most restaurants, there is immense care put into the preparation of the food, no matter how simple or complex it may be. Indian food also has many different layers to it since it has Mongolian, Persian and Chinese influences in the cuisine. This component allows Indian cuisine to appeal to many types of eaters no matter how picky because of its vast array of dishes and spices. Not to mention the introduction of new foods into your routine will help you maintain a well-balanced and nutrient-dense diet, as stated by a registered dietician of A Healthier Michigan. Plus, who knows, you might just find your new favorite food!

As far as the Italian food scene, Starkville had two restaurants to fill this need: Gondolier Italian Restaurant, which, according to Mary Pollitz of The Starkville Dispatch, closed its doors for good in 2020, and Stromboli's Italian Eatery. Gondolier had a very short run just short of two years with a basket of mixed reviews. Some claimed it to be "a touch of Italy" while others criticized it for its "Chef Boyardee" canned tomato sauce taste pervading many of its dishes. Stromboli's has been a staple for college students for the past 20 years since its opening in 2001. Although it does serve some Italian style dishes, none of them are truly authentic Italian-style.

Stromboli's pizza, according to Daniella DiRienzo of Only in Your State, is a combination style of Colorado and Iowa-style pizza, which are obviously not original Italian pizza styles. Most styles of pizza in the U.S. are offshoots of traditional Italian pizza. Traditionally, Italian pizza has thin-crisp crust, pureed tomato sauce with seasonings and usually only one topping, as defined by the Tuscan Pizza Team. It is simplistic but divine. American pizza has the mind-set of more is better, which is not inherently a bad thing, but it would be nice to have an alternative if you are not into American style. Personally, I have never tried Stromboli's pasta but in my mind, there is always room for more pasta, so an authentic Italian restaurant would add another place you can satisfy this demand.

Next up on the need-to-have restaurant list is a Mediterranean style restaurant. Greek food is my favorite of this category but there are many other delicious foods under this umbrella. As of right now, Starkville has a couple restaurants which offer Ameri-Greek versions of traditional dishes such as Dave's Dark Horse Tavern's gyros along with Boardtown Pizza & Pints which serves hummus, falafel, pita mozzarella and gyros. I will not even begin to mention Pita Pit as a contender. However, the obstacle which these restaurants run into again is the issue of authenticity.

Sure, these dishes share the same name as their Mediterranean counterparts, but it is all Americanized. I am not asking for restaurants to completely dox the Americanized parts of their menu but to have options for those who are in search of the authentic cuisine missing in our city. One of my personal favorites in Mississippi which fulfills this need is Aladdin Mediterranean Grill in Jackson. This traditional restaurant serves lamb chops, baklava, kababs, hummus and yes, gyros. I am not saying Aladdin is the one and only right way to do Mediterranean food, but if they ever want to expand to Starkville then I would not be disappointed.  

Starkville has come a long way over the past decade with its development and is still rapidly growing, but there is always room for diversity in any aspect of life. The introduction of these three restaurants will not solve all the city's problems but any step towards inclusion is a good one.

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