The cuisine of Jackson reflects such a distinct mélange of ingredients and traditions that visitors from other regions of the U.S. may feel as if they’ve arrived on foreign land.
Jackson is the “City with Soul” luring food lovers from around the world with menus populated with regional favorites – smothered oxtails, smothered pork chops, fried chicken, beef tips, freshly picked greens, macaroni and cheese, yams and cobblers.
Most recently noted James Beard Foundation 2016 American Classic, Bully’s Restaurant was built by Tyrone Bully and his father with their own hands. Today Tyrone and his wife operate Bully’s, and you will always find Mr. Bully behind the counter with his white bouffant cap and a smile. The soul food dishes are made from scratch with fresh ingredients.
No stranger to uniquely established restaurants, Chef Jesse Houston has been named a semifinalist by the James Beard Foundation for “Best Chef: South.” He started at Parlor Market, but has since ventured out and established Saltine Oyster Bar in the Fondren neighborhood. His style of cooking is creative and playful such as his crowd pleasing variations of Ramen Noodles. Houston’s love of craft beer coupled with his motivation to offer his patrons a cutting-edge craft beer selection led to a partnership with local Lucky Town Brewing Company. The full Saltine experience is not complete without one of their signature deserts from the bakery – the Banoffee Pie is highly recommended!
Where the Locals Eat and Drink In Jackson, Mississippi
The Palette Cafe at the Mississippi Museum of Art run by Chef Nick Wallace who has coupled the influence of his grandmother’s upbringing as the matriarch of the family farm with French technique creating amazingly elegant dishes using fresh ingredients aligning with his farm-to-table values. Chef Nick hosted a soulful James Beard dinner on April 13th. reflecting cherished recipes passed down by Southern mothers and grandmothers.
Chef Owner Mitchell Moores Campbell’s Bakery is located in the Fondren Neighborhood. The bakery has been around since 1962, but Moore took over as it was closing in 2011. Campbell’s Bakery has one key constant that makes it distinct – everything served in the bakery is made fresh, from scratch every day. First timers often receive a complimentary iced teacake!
An all-time favorite, Brent’s Drugs has received notoriety for its prime role in the movie “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. Recently featured in Vogue magazine as one of the 7 Coolest Diners in America and listed on Delish’s 20 Best Diners in America, the authentic diner’s retro decor invites patrons to reminisce and enjoy a signature float.
Truly a mainstay, Big Apple Inn has made its home in the historic Parish Street District since 1939. Geno Lee is a fourth-generation owner and the great grandson of a Mexican immigrant and a son of a Freedom Rider. Surrounded by memories of a booming district, it still stands offering authentic favorites. The smoked sausage sandwiches affectionately known as “smokes” and pig ears have been a favorite, along with tamales, and bologna fried just right.
Walker’s Drive-In and CAST are both owned by Chef Derek Emerson, a former James Beard semi-finalist in 2014. Walker’s is a nostalgic 1950’s diner in the heart of Fondren. Emerson and wife/partner Jennifer, jumped at the chance to own the regional favorite. Walker’s offers an upscale experience in a casual atmosphere, and also features local ingredients. CAST is the newest offering from the husband and wife team. CAST features a small plates menu along with a full bar featuring over 30 by-the-glass fine wine selections each night.
Also located in the historic Fondren District, Babalu’s dishes are chef-inspired and prepared daily with a focus towards sourcing natural, hormone free fresh produce. Always the perfect starter, Babalu’s fresh guacamole is made table-side using Haas avocado, sun-dried tomato, red & green onions, kosher salt, cilantro, and lime juice.