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The best barbecue in Mississippi is in a bait and tackle shop

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Clay’s House of Pig serves the best barbecue in Mississippi — Photo courtesy of Tupelo CVB

Turn left at the rods and reels, and go past the flies. These may not be customary directions to the some of the best barbecue around, but they point diners to the order window at Clay’s House of Pig.

The eatery, also known as C.H.O.P., doesn’t stand on pretension. It’s a hole-in-the-wall joint that serves authentic, slow-smoked barbecue that topped the 2019 readers’ poll in Mississippi Magazine as the best in the state.

Clay Coleman, owner and pit master of the eponymous restaurant in Tupelo, owned the bait and tackle shop for a decade amid declining sales. Big-box stores and online retailers had been the one-two punch for his small shop, and he was desperate to find a way to keep the doors open.

He turned to a skill he’d honed his entire life: barbecue.

Coleman had grown up handing wrenches to his dad to build a 55-gallon barrel grill – Coleman still uses the smoker today – and watching over smokers during all-night competitions.

“I’ve been barbecuing since I was old enough to lift a pork butt into the smoker,” Coleman says.

He took the last of his failing bait shop’s revenues and went all-in on barbecue. At…

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