Drive down Hardy Street in Hattiesburg these days and you can’t help but notice: Something big is going on.
Construction, and lots of it. Spanning the blocks between 30th and 32nd avenues across Hardy from the University of Southern Mississippi, The District at Midtown will bring exciting new businesses to Hattiesburg, including a swank hotel, retail space and a handful of new eateries. It’s a big deal, and construction of this phase is expected to last into 2018. Exciting times!
One drawback, though.
It’s kind of hard to get to Bop’s.
In February 2017, Bop’s Frozen Custard opened the doors of their new location on South 30th Avenue. The new space is bright and fun, with “malt shop” booths, vintage-style laminate tables and curvy chrome cafe chairs.
There’s a drive-thru for your on-the-go ice cream needs (we all have those, right?), and the Midtown location is conveniently located and easy to spot from Hardy Street.
At press time, South 30th is closed for construction, so to get to Bop’s, you’ll need to take a detour.
Fear not! The route is marked with signs, and Bop’s is very much open for business. Just turn onto 29th at the light, hang a right onto Chevy Chase and turn into the back entrance at Bop’s. Easy!
Longtime fans of Bop’s know it’s Hattiesburg’s go-to spot for frozen custard and concretes, decadent sundaes and other frozen delights.
Bop’s has expanded their menu in their new location to include “real food,” including burgers, Nathan’s hot dogs (the best!), cold and hot sandwiches and salads.
If you’ve ever eaten anything at Bop’s besides dessert, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve had their Chicken Salad. It has a bit of a cult following in the ’Burg, and for good reason.
It’s timeless. All white meat chicken, bound with just enough mayo and seasoned simply with a dab of pickle relish.
It’s the chicken salad your grandmother made to spread between thin slices of crustless white bread for wedding buffets. The one your childhood best friend’s mom made when she knew you were going to be over for lunch because it was your very favorite.
Bop’s graciously offers a number of ways to get your chicken salad fix. You absolutely can’t go wrong with their sandwich, which is served on a soft, sweet bun with lettuce and a juicy slab of tomato. Add a side of Lay’s potato chips, and you’ve got a perfect lunch.
They also offer a generous scoop served on top of a crisp salad, topped with a shower of chopped house-cooked bacon and cherry tomatoes. We can’t imagine a better light supper for these still-warm days of late summer.
A light supper which you will, naturally, follow with plenty of frozen custard.
Bop’s also sells their chicken salad by the pound, which seems like the perfect thing to do for tailgating season. Stop by the market for a bag of Hawaiian rolls to go with it and you’ve put together a great pre-game snack.
If you want the full Bop’s experience, you’ll definitely want to order the Mississippi Delta Hot Tamales.
Maybe you’ve been to the Delta or, like us, are from the Delta. If so, you know that hot tamales are a big eeal.
Made famous by Doe’s Eat Place, hot tamales can be found in every pick-a-pack and mom-and-pop operation from Memphis to Vicksburg. We bought some of the best we’ve ever had from a street vendor in the Stein Mart parking lot in Greenville.
If you’ve never had them, you might expect the fat, chili-filled tamales from your favorite Mexican restaurant. Mississippi Delta-style tamales are, in comparison, thinner. Instead of shredded meat, Delta cooks fill their tamales with a ground beef mixture, seasoned liberally with chili powder.
Bop’s serves legit hot tamales. They source them from a Delta chef and serve them properly. That is, freshly steamed with hot sauce (the preferred condiment and non-negotiable) and saltine crackers for scooping.
The Bop’s tamales are well-seasoned and full of flavor without being particularly spicy. The texture is dead on – perfectly moist with a little cornmeal grit.
We recommend you split an order as an appetizer, or as a little something salty to balance out the sweetness of the custard.
A must-try burger
The real hidden gem on the Bop’s expanded menu, though, is their burger. Even if you aren’t in the mood for ice cream, the burger is definitely worth a trip to Bop’s.
True to the Bop’s menu, the Bop’s burger is a classic. No frills, here. Just a soft, white bun, a flavorful ground chuck patty (or two, if you like!), dressed to your specifications. If you want to gussy it up a little, you can add American cheese and bacon.
You should definitely do that.
What the Bop’s burger lacks in fancy, it more than makes up for in quality and care of preparation.
The Bop’s team sources their ground chuck locally in small amounts, which delivers optimum freshness. They hand patty the meat with care, making sure not to compress it too much, ensuring the best possible texture.
That’s really all you need for a great burger – quality ingredients and attention to detail. Don’t handle it too much, don’t dry it out on the grill.
Of course, we will always recommend you gild the lily, and are firm believers that a slice of American cheese and some crisp bacon are a burger’s best friends. A little extra gooey creaminess from the cheese, the bacon adds a little salt, a little extra crunch. Just go for it.
Add a side of crisp, fresh-from-the-fryer fries, and address your thank you notes to us care of Signature Magazine.
Have we driven this point home? The Bop’s burger is worth a special trip.
Just make sure to save room for dessert.
Did someone say dessert?
At Bop’s, they don’t serve ice cream, they serve frozen custard.
So, what’s the difference? Frozen custard has less air whipped into it than ice cream, for starters. This makes frozen custard a smoother, denser dessert. It also means it freezes harder than standard ice cream.
To soften up the product, frozen custard is served at a slightly warmer temperature, which has the added benefit of providing a more robust flavor.
But the main difference? Egg yolks and butterfat. Frozen custard is enriched with extra egg yolks and cream, which makes it richer and creamier than traditional ice cream.
At Bop’s they blend their frozen custard into concretes – basically a super thick milkshake. No drinking this dessert through a straw. No way.
Our favorites are the Katie’s Crunch, which features bits of Heath bar, butterscotch sauce and roasted pecans.
Something magical happens when pecans meet a frozen dessert. They become brittle and candy-like, but manage to cut a bit of sweetness. So adding that sweetness right back in with bits of Heath bar is a smart and natural decision.
If you are in the mood for something a little fruity (but still plenty rich), try the Amazin’ Grace concrete. Here, Bop’s blends a fresh raspberry sauce into their vanilla base, and tops it with bits of cheesecake.
Yes, cheesecake. Talk about gilding the lily!
Best of the best
We always make an effort to try any dish that wins a Best of the Pine Belt nomination, and Bop’s has executed what can only be called total category domination.
The Snappy Turtle has won the coveted “Best Ice Cream” category for SIX YEARS running.
Best of the Pine Belt voters have never steered us wrong, and y’all did not disappoint.
The Snappy Turtle is a frozen custard sundae. The Bop’s team starts with a scoop of vanilla custard, layers in a decadent hot fudge sauce followed by a drizzle of caramel sauce, a shower of pecans, MORE custard and a repeat of all the layers. This is crowned with whipped cream and an iconic cherry on top.
Knock-your-socks-off delicious. Six-years-and-counting delicious.
So don’t let a little construction get in your way. New things may be coming to Midtown, but Bop’s is already there... holding down the fort with friendly service and classic, delicious food.
Long-time Hattiesburg residents Jason and Autumn Perry have done their time in local kitchens. Jason started the menu at T-Bones and is currently in the kitchen at the Keg and Barrel. Autumn and Jason created the menu at the Thirsty Hippo and are excited to work together again on Signature restaurant features.