Put That on a Cracker

Follow the Legendary Smoked Tuna Dip Trail Across South Mississippi

Loosen your belts, rev up the car, and follow the legendary trail of can’t-miss Gulf Coast eateries and drinking holes known to feature the famed coastal delicacy: Smoked Tuna Dip.

This smooth, plump, and creamy concoction with a splash of coastal spices is a tasty prelude to any local seafood dinner. It’s made from scratch with that day’s freshest catch and traditionally accompanied by the essential – saltine crackers.

So, what exactly is Smoked Tuna Dip?

No matter which city or restaurant you nibble Smoked Tuna Dip, the recipe will likely include some combination of smoked tuna, mayonnaise, scallions, celery, peppers, dill pickles, lemon juice, and sometimes cream cheese or sour cream, relish, or capers. It might even have a little kick with cajun or Creole seasonings and there’s always a secret ingredient or two.

And creating the legendary knockout dish with fresh, yellowfin tuna straight from the Gulf is the only way to make it, according to smoke master and restaurateur Ramsay Taylor. Smoked Tuna Dip is served freshly made each day at both locations of Tay’s BBQ in Pascagoula and Moss Point. It’s also featured in a sushi roll at Jacks by the Tracks in Pascagoula.

“And a lot of people use scraps and bits and pieces from different tuna, but we actually use a fresh, yellowfin tuna steak in our dip,” Taylor said. “We smoke it every day and add our seasonings and our ingredients. And we are truly smoking it. There’s no liquid smoke or anything like that. We are actually putting it on a rotisserie at our restaurants and smoking it until we get the color and the look that we want.”

Taylor said one of his top tuna dip secrets is to let the tuna cool and then break it up by hand before adding any ingredients. “A lot of places use a food processor, or they don’t have a smoker to smoke the tuna right and it turns into a kind of smokeless paste,” Taylor said, adding they also sell the dip wholesale across the Magnolia State, and they never have any leftover at the end of the day for wholesale or at any of the restaurants.

And make no mistake, those are the only chef-kiss secrets you’ll be getting from Taylor. Smoked Tuna Dip recipes are varied and fiercely protected generational treasures most coastal chefs intend on safeguarding despite any culinary guardianship secrets you’d be willing to trade.

Now, you might be thinking… can Smoked Tuna Dip really be so delicious that it deserves its own trail? Yes, yes, it is, and that’s the reason it’s so popular on the Gulf Coast. And restaurants from Bay St. Louis to Pascagoula will let you order their Gulf-fresh cracker-dipping creations.

Trevor Reid with McElroy’s Harbor House said their smoked tuna dip is the most popular appetizer on their menu and a must-have dish when you visit the Biloxi restaurant, but only if you’re lucky enough to get there before it sells out. “We have it year-round,” Reid said. “It’s fresh. It’s flavorful. It’s creamy and it’s gone quick every day.”

Chad Taylor-Henson, the southeast director for the Half Shell Oyster House, said the two Biloxi locations and the restaurant in Gulfport, keep the dish traditional. “Our ingredients are mayonnaise, a Creole seasoning, white pepper, diced red onions, and a little bit of lemon juice,” Taylor-Henson said. “It’s not very complex, and we have found that the simpler it is, the better it is. We serve ours with buttery salad crackers and our garnish is fresh diced tomatoes and chopped chives on top.”

So, here’s a smattering of the best coastal staples with melt-in-your-mouth Smoked Tuna Dip on the menu. Now, you can dash and splash your way down this flavorful fish dish trail to local restaurants all over the Gulf Coast and decide for yourself which of these eateries’ Smoked Tuna Dip reigns supreme.

Bay St. Louis
The Blind Tiger
200 North Beach Restaurant and Bar
Cuz’s Old Town Oyster Bar & Grill

Pass Christian
Bacchus On the Beach
Shaggy’s
Savory Roots

Pascagoula
Bozo’s Seafood Market
Tay’s BBQ
Jacks by the Tracks

Long Beach
Harbor View Café
Steve’s Marina Restaurant
Lil’ Ray’s Restaurant
Bull’s Restaurant

Gulfport
Shrimp Basket
Murky Waters BBQ
Half Shell Oyster House
The Cadillac Cuisine and Spirits
Beach Blvd Steamer
Shaggy’s
Lil’ Ray’s Restaurant

Biloxi
McElroy’s Harbor House
The Reef
Yul’s Place
Boogies Grill & Chill
The Project Lounge
The Blind Tiger Biloxi Beach
Shaggy’s
Half Shell Oyster House
Half Shell Oyster House at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Desporte Seafood, LLC
Lucy’s Retired Surfers Bar & Restaurant

Ocean Springs
Government Street Grocery
Bacchus On the Beach
Shrimp Basket
Murky Waters BBQ
The Lady May
South Coast Seafood Company
Keg & Barrel
The Cypress Taphouse
The Wilbur Bar

Moss Point
Tay’s BBQ

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