A Foodie Friends Weekend To The City With Soul
Join food bloggers Nicki and Nathan as they go on the quest to discover the best food in Jackson, Mississippi.
How To Eat Your Way Through Jackson, Mississippi, Like A Food Blogger
If Nicole (Nicki) Sunderland (@eatlivetraveldrink) and Nathan Aguilera (@foodieflashpacker) could have one motto in life, it would be: Will travel for food. The two globetrotting foodies have made careers out of traveling the world in pursuit of the most-indulgent, -unique and just plain delicious eats. This quest brought Nathan and Nicki to the City With Soul — Jackson Mississippi — where they tried everything from fried green tomato tacos to hand-breaded fried catfish biscuits and more.
During their gourmet weekend through Jackson, the two foodies ate their way through many popular restaurants, such as the beloved barbeque spot Pig and Pint and the upscale but still home-style dishes at Char. They also explored the city’s unique museums, distilleries, live-music venues and quirky neighborhoods. For a food-focused trip to Jackson that gives just the right amount of time to digest and take in the sights and sounds of the city, follow Nicki and Nathan’s indulgent itinerary through the City With Soul.
Day 1: Getting a taste of the city
Receive a Southern welcome at The Fairview Inn
Southern hospitality meets boutique luxury at this landmark bed and breakfast, conveniently located in the heart of Jackson. Not only does the Fairview Inn capture the area’s rich history, local flavor and Southern charm as a completely renovated colonial mansion built in 1908, it features state-of-the-art amenities, including a 24-hour front desk, a full-service gym and spa, and, of course, a renowned restaurant and bar loved by visitors and locals alike.
Jackson offers a unique contrast — the constant mix of vintage charm and vibrant modernism. After Nicki checked in at the Fairview Inn, we sent her to lunch at one of Jackson’s newest and most-talked-about resto-bars, Estelle Wine Bar, at the Westin. Nicki’s choice of meal? The flaky croissant chicken salad and a sweet tea — Mississippi style.
A relaxing visit to the Soul Spa
Best way to avoid a food coma – or maybe make it worse? A relaxing massage at Jackson’s Soul Spa, conveniently located inside The Westin Jackson. Important travel tip: Although you might have the urge to see and explore all of Jackson the moment you check in at your hotel, don’t forget to give yourself a moment to decompress, unload your worries and remind yourself you’re on Southern time now.
Indulgent barbecue at The Pig and Pint
On a sunny day in Jackson, bring your empty stomach to The Pig and Pint, an award-winning barbecue joint located in the Fondren District and one of the city’s most-loved eateries. Place your order, grab a craft beer and enjoy their outdoor patio, the perfect setting to indulge in some smoky ‘que. Whether it’s the BBQ chicken tacos with mango jicama slaw or pulled pork nachos, this is the spot.
When asked her favorite place to eat in Jackson, Nicki said:
“This was tough, but I have to go with The Pig and Pint. Those pork rind brisket nachos are killer.”
Explore the Mississippi Museum of Art
The Mississippi Museum of Art is the main place to go to understand the evolution of the art and culture of Jackson and Mississippi. Museum-goers can find historic photographs, pictures and paintings that depict the state’s rich and often-complicated history, while also participating in such events as slam poetry, live music from local artists, art-therapy events and a constant rotation of exciting exhibitions. Be sure to check out the museum’s events page to see which event is happening during your visit.
Dinner at Barrelhouse
What you’ve been waiting for all day in Fondren District — dinnertime. A uniquely Southern take on the modern gastropub, Barrelhouse is a can’t-miss restaurant for unique takes, such as the sushi burrito and classic Southern dishes like shrimp and grits. If you ask nacho-connoisseurs Nicki and Nathan about their favorite item on the menu, they’d tell you not to skip out on the tuna-poke nachos.
Drinks at the Library Lounge
No day of a foodie-friends weekend in Jackson is complete without cocktails. With bold flavors and unique concoctions in an intimate setting, the Library Lounge is the perfect place to unwind, have a drink and converse before calling it a night on your first day in Jackson.
Day 2: Appreciating the culture, the music and everything with carbs
Enjoy a sweet or savory treat for breakfast at La Brioche
Argentina, France or Mississippi? That’s the question you’ll ask yourself once you enter through the doors of this esteemed bakery started by two sisters from Rosario, Argentina. After studying at a French baking school and making pastries in coffee shops throughout Europe, the sisters opened La Brioche in Jackson. Their innovation resulted in a bakery with worldly influence and, of course, delicious pastries. Nathan’s top pick was a savory bacon and cheese brioche; Nicki opted for a flaky almond croissant with powdered sugar.
Explore the city’s trendy Fondren District
No trip to Jackson would be complete without a trip to the Downtown Fondren Historic District, known simply as “Fondren.” This eclectic neighborhood hosts many of the city’s favorite restaurants and a plethora of bars, coffee shops, art galleries, local boutiques and more. This fun and trendy neighborhood has evolved rapidly in the past few years and continues to do so. Fondren is a great place to explore the birth of blues, thrift shop for a new outfit, taste craft beers and partake in guitar lessons.
Nicki and Nathan made the most of their experience in Fondren by consulting Find it in Fondren, an insider’s view on the fun and trendy neighborhood.”
Wear your elastic pants to Crazy Cat Eat Up
While Jackson is fortunate to have delicious restaurants from all over the world, it still stays true to its Southern roots, with places like Crazy Cat Eat Up, an eatery that describes itself as “first and foremost, a good-old Southern restaurant.” This is the place to visit for no-fuss Southern classics in a farm-to-table setting.
Crazy Cat Eat Up was one of Nicki and Nathan’s fave eateries. Nathan added that his favorite meal in Jackson was the “Bis-Cat,” a homemade biscuit sandwich filled with a fried catfish filet, topped with rich house slaw.
The menu also features other delicious regional dishes, such as shrimp and grits casserole, tamale fritters and a sinfully moist bread pudding with glazed walnuts.
Eat your way through Highland Village
Shopping centers and strip malls usually elicit thoughts of fabric stores and wholesale warehouses, not gourmet dining. But think again when you’re in Jackson! Highland Village is the perfect place to indulge in multiple meals in between your meals (with no shame or judgment).
At Highland Village, travelers can explore upscale boutiques, enjoy plenty of courtyard space to take advantage of Jackson’s beautiful weather and eat at award-winning restaurants, like Char.
Nicki’s favorite stop while exploring this shopping center was indulging in a pecan caramel butter crunch cake at Char. In her words, “It will change your life. Thank me later.”
Try all the pasta at Parlor Market
Two words: Homemade. Pasta.
For pasta enthusiasts (let’s be real, who isn’t a pasta enthusiast?), Parlor Market offers a variety of unique pasta dishes — shrimp and bottarga scampi, duck confit pasta with braised greens, short rib gnocchi, three-cheese lobster ravioli, grilled octopus puttanesca and many more options on the rotating menu. All these pastas are handmade with fresh, high-quality ingredients, and they’re all completely worth the calorie count.
The restaurant also has many decadent dishes beyond its delicious pastas, such as steaks, burgers and seafood. One of Nicki’s favorite meals was the crispy eggplant fries.
“They’re quite possibly the best use of ‘fries’ I have ever seen, with roasted-pepper butter sauce and roasted pistachios,” she said. “I could have easily eaten my weight in these fries. No questions asked.”
Live Music at Hal and Mal’s
Live music is one of the things that puts the “soul” in the City With Soul. Blues rhythms, local bands and a crowd of all ages and backgrounds are deeply ingrained into the culture of Jackson — and nowhere is that more evident than Hal and Mal’s, a live-music venue that’s perfect to hang out, grab a drink, people watch and enjoy the sounds of Jackson. Best of all? On most nights, it’s free!
Day 3: Brunches, boils and civil rights history
Breakfast at the Fairview Inn:
One of the best perks about staying at the Fairview Inn is the delicious breakfast that’s included with your stay. With a wide variety of options, including such favorites as the Southern eggs benedict with grits, indulging in the breakfast here is a no-brainer.
Nicki’s pro tip? The bacon is “truly amazing,” she says.
Brunch at The Manship
If you’re in Jackson for a foodie weekend, then insist on partaking in everyone’s favorite weekend meal: brunch.
The Manship’s brunch is practically famous in Jackson. As a restaurant that describes itself as “rustic European cuisine with deep Southern roots,” a plethora of unique brunch options exist, including the iconic chicken and waffles, beef tenderloin and Nathan’s favorite, the roasted duck leg with smoked Gouda grits. All these dishes are complemented by The Manship’s tasty mimosas, a universal brunch staple.
Exploring the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum
Jackson is practically synonymous with the civil rights era — an integral part of American history that can’t be missed when visiting the state. To understand Mississippi’s past, present and future better, don’t miss out on a trip to the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, no matter your age or understanding of American history. The colorful and interactive museum, which illustrates the tales of slavery and segregation, aims to tell the complete and often-negated tale of the state’s involvement in this important era.
Cathead Distillery: The Crawfish Boil
As the oldest distillery in Mississippi, Cathead became the first legal distillery in the state after the repeal of prohibition. Locals love to kick back, enjoy the weekend and partake in one of the distillery’s many weekly and seasonal events. Be sure to take one of the 30-minute daily tours of Cathead, which includes tastings of the vodka, gin, bourdon and chicory liqueur that are distilled here.
During Nicki and Nathan’s visit, Cathead hosted a crawfish boil, which included a live band and drinks. On a gorgeous spring day, this was the event to be at in Jackson, and was one of the many weekend events the distillery hosted. If you decide to include this distillery in your itinerary, then check out its website and events calendar here.
For you foodies with kiddos, don’t fret: the venue is family and pet friendly, and even includes an outdoor area with games and space to run around.
Dinner at Whisk Creperie
Whisk Creperie, located inside the brand-new, state-of-the-art Cultivation Food Hall, is one of the best spots in the city for all taste palettes – whether you’re a sweets lover, like Nicki, or prefer savory dishes, like Nathan.
Although the crepes are delicious — even if you’re not into crepes — the food hall features all types of cuisine, from New York-style pizza to fresh bowls of poke and more.
Update: Whisk is now La Brioche
Lounging at 4th Avenue
For dining and drinking in a lounge setting that turns into the life of the party as the night continues, head over to 4th Avenue, Jackson’s trendiest lounge. Here, you can enjoy tasty cocktails and scrumptious bites, such as alligator sausage or chicken and waffles. Even if you arrive late, is it ever too late for chicken and waffles?
Be sure to take Nicki and Nathan’s advice and make a reservation before you go, because this spot is often at capacity, especially on Saturday nights.
According to Nathan, “4th Avenue is the newest ‘see and be seen’ spot in Jackson. Part nightclub, part restaurant, this is a great spot for a night out with friends. Start the night off with something from the menu. I might suggest the cheese plate or chicken and waffles, and then order some drinks and dance the night away with friends.”
Ready to plan your foodie trip to Jackson? For more information about Nicki and Nathan’s trip to Jackson, and their top tips on how to re-create their visit, check out their blog posts and leave your questions for them in the comments!