Who knew that you could get good tacos and tapas in Mississippi?
You'll need a car to get from downtown to Babalu, located in Jackson's Fondren neighborhood, but I can promise you a lively evening. Housed in a former school, Babalu is a warm, noisy gathering place where you can have a glass of Spanish wine, Mexican beer, or sangria.
The executive chef, David Ferris, trained at NECI (the New England Culinary Institute), and everything on the menu is made fresh daily, with local ingredients. The guacamole (which I could live on) is actually prepared at your table.
I had the mix-and-match taco sampler, which I couldn't finish. . .possibly due to all the guacamole I'd consumed before dinner. The menu also offers items like fresh tuna, pulled pork, shrimp and grits, and crab cakes.
Open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week. Bring your appetite!
The Palette Cafe at the Mississippi Museum of Art is a good place to grab some lunch. Order at the counter - they will give you a number to put on the table and will bring your food to you.
We sat at a table outside in the shade and had a lovely, unhurried meal. My chicken salad with pecans was very good, and almost more than I could eat.
Open 10-2. Closed Mondays.
The Mayflower Cafe has been family owned and operated since 1935, and eating there is like a step back in time. It's an old-fashioned diner - vinyl booths and formica tables - where the staff is courteous and the menu includes American favorites like bread pudding, coconut cream pie, and ice box cake.
The prices seemed a little high to me, but hey, I believe in supporting independent restaurants. You're also paying for the experience. A scene from the movie "The Help" was filmed here.
My fried oysters were tasty, with homemade tartar sauce.
If you have a car and want to try a restaurant in the suburbs, try the Pan-Asian Restaurant. It's in the Jackson suburb of Ridgeland, about 15 minutes from downtown via the interstate.
I was there for a wedding rehearsal dinner, so I don't have any knowledge about cost, but I know that the food was excellent - dishes like lettuce wraps, Vietnamese spring rolls, Chinese cashew chicken, Mongolian beef, and grilled salmon.
The staff was very solicitous. There were a lot of tables in our banquet room, and it was difficult to get in and out, so they changed their buffet plan and served us instead.
The Elite Restaurant is an old Jackson favorite that - with its retro turquoise vinyl booths - looks just like the places your grandparents used to go for Sunday lunch after church. The service is friendly and personal.
Favorite Dish: We were here for a late lunch. I'd heard that their specialties are the veal cutlet and enchiladas, but I didn't order either of those. I don't eat veal, and since I come from California, I felt there would be no point in ordering Mexican food in Mississippi.
So I opted instead for a bowl of Manhattan clam chowder. It was passably good and would have rated three stars on its own, but then - oh, my - the Parker House rolls! They were homemade and flaky and straight out of the oven. I couldn't stop eating them. Brilliant! They bumped my review up to a 4-star.
the elite restaurant downtown has been a jackson insititution since the 1950's. the elite is the lunch hangout of politicians and downtown business types. i went there for lunch and it was quite crowded but the wait service was fast and friendly. good southern food moderately priced.
Live music, great southern food, a good choice of brews and excellant company provided make this an absolute requirement when in Jackson. The place just gives you that feeling of being around folks you know.
Favorite Dish: I suggest a cup of gumbo and the fried dill pickles to start. Then, depending on my mood, I have the Catfish Po-Boy or the Roast Beef Sandwich or the Red Beans and Rice. Then I follow with the Bread Pudding with whisky sauce. Of course I always have a couple of cold ones along the way.
The Elite, as well as the Mayflower, are on the same block of Capitol and have provided lunch and dinner service to Jackson politicians and bureaucrats since at least the 1950's. The Elite is the lessor of the two having only a grade "B" health inspection posted on the side of the cash register counter. I had an ice tea and piece of pecan pie while I waited for the Mayflower to open. Older woman provided the service and told me about the ownership and history of the restaurant. The Pecan pie was OK, but nothing spectacular. Prices on the menu were a little more reasonable at the Elite than at the Mayflower.
The Mayflower appears to be an institution of sorts, close at is to the legendary King Edward Hotel, and being the oldest family owned restaurant in town. Many politicians and celebrities have paid homage here. The restaurant has been open for at least 40 years, and from the looks of it little had changed either on the menu or in the decore. The exterior was made a bit more dingy by broken glass and a dislodged fire hydrant remaining from a car accident earlier in the day. Nevertheless, the waiting staff of ladies wearing T-shirts for the restaurant were perky and ready to take my order with a big smile. I became fascinated by the promise of a great seafood dinner because the blackboard was chalk full of fresh fish species, and the regular menu was similarly decked out with opportunities. I decided to order the waitress recommended "Lemon" fish. I also ordered a salad, homemade French fries, and an ice tea. While I waited, I took the bathroom key, walked outside the restaurant and down the building to a exterior door that led to a steep and narrow staircase. At the top of the stairs were a frighteningly dingy look pair of bathrooms. Despite their run down appearance, the toilet and sink were actually well kept and clean. Meanwhile, I returned to a salad place of wilted greens and tomatoes. The restaurants "secret sauce" reminded me a bit of thousand island dressing, but was really quite yummy. It helped make up for the sad looking greens. Then, came the fish and French fries. The homemade fries were a bit greasy, and unfortunately so was the fish. Portion seems small given the price I paid. The fish was supposed to be broiled, but it was apparently broiled in butter. The fish was tender and tasty though the old fashioned style of preparation was a turn off for me. For dessert, chose the house made bread pudding. It was made with the fluffy rolls that came with the dinner, and had no raisins. The sauce was very sweet. Given the general atmosphere of this strange and legendary Jackson restaurant, it's hard to image a visitor wanting to skip this place. Just prepare yourself of spending somewhat more than you think the meal will be worth.
On a Saturday afternoon, I walked around the entire Jackson downtown looking for a place to eat and could find nothing but the Marriott hotel restaurant. Jackson restaurants are open during the weekdays for the bureaucrats, but close during all other times. There are no nightclubs or fine dining restaurants in downtown Jackson, the largest city in the state of Mississippi.
This is an established restaurant that caters to local politicos, weddings and banquets. the service was great.
Favorite Dish: My wife ate the special of the night-bbq shrimp on corn bread. Crazy as it sounds, it was great. The cornbread has a terrific flavor, very little sugar. I had the fried shrimp. Also, very good.
Downtown Jackson. This is the place for lunch and to meet with the local folks . Friendly staff and service with a smile.
Favorite Dish: Any daily special served with mustard greens, homemade rolls, and corn bread.
The rolls are supposed to be the best in town, so is the seafood.
I eat at this place once or twice a week. I even had my birthday party there. All of my friends (aged 25-35 and professionals) LOVE this place. Little Tokyo might have been the sushi place at one time but Nagoya has far surpassed it. I would say that their sushi is the best in town while their Hibachi is not (that award goes to Bonsai). They have great cooked rolls -- soft shelled crab, nagoya roll, rock and roll, snow mountain. Their squid, seaweed, and yum yum salads are great. I enjoy their smoked salmon very well and their miami roll is made with it as well. I always eat sushi when going out of town and I have not found better sushi in the country. The prices are quite reasonable and are lower than the other sushi restaurants in town. There is also a Nagoya in the nearby Madison, MS.
Favorite Dish: Nagoya Roll, snow mountain
Stix is a classic hibachi grill that is sure to please. The name, which is obviously a play on chop sticks, is only important or slightly clever because of the neon sign is easy to see from the road.
The meal starts off as most other Japanese hibachi places. There's a salad with dressing, a broth-like soup, vegetables, and an assortment of meat. The best part: everything is cooked before your eyes with flair and entertainment.
Tricks/Entertainment: the egg spinning and tossing, the witty quips and comebacks, the onion volcano, the huge oil flame, and the tossing of shrimp into patrons' mouths.
The chicken and steak combo is excellent.
Favorite Dish: What is unique about Stix when compared to the typical Japanese hibachi places is the sound. There is a constant drumbeat from one table or another. It's not just the click-and-clack sounds that accompany the chefs as they bang out salt and chop dishes. It?s a rhythmic drum beat that each chef utilizes -- surely a sound has been standardized by the restaurant -- that creates more togetherness between the restaurant's atmosphere, the chefs, and the guests. I know it sounds cliche, but it was harmonious.
Roadhouse is almost as dirty as the Double Deuce (Roadhouse the movie), but not in a bad way.
The lighting is very dark and there is graffitti on every wall. Additionally, the restaurant invites messiness; throwing peanut shells on the floor is allowable. In fact, it's encouraged.
The food was better than average, but not great. The steak and all sides were cooked as ordered, without any outstanding qualities. It was solid, but nothing to write home about.
Favorite Dish: The most distinct menu item is not even food; it's not even a drink; it's the cubs. Every drink is served in a mini-jug, a jar in which you'd expect to see strawberry jam.
It gives the restaurant a relaxed feel, as if visiting the grandparents. It was a nice touch, especially since the jars are big enough that a refill will probably not be needed.