Best Of Jackson 2012: Food & Drink

<b>Best Chef: Craig Noone</b>

Photo by Tony Davenport

» Looking for the latest results? Click here for the 2014 Best of Jackson™ page.

Parlor Market (115 W. Capitol St., 601-360-0090, http://www.parlormarket.com)
It might seem odd to think a chef could catalyze a movement. But Jackson native Craig Noone was not just any chef. The visionary behind Parlor Market built a restaurant and a community of restaurant-industry people and lovers of Jackson. His passion for all things local extended beyond food, to the city and her people, and infused everything he did.

After graduating from Mississippi College, Craig left to pursue his culinary education. But when he heard of Jackson's renaissance—particularly the reopening of the King Edward Hotel—he knew it was time to return. He convinced rock-star chefs he had worked with in Texas to move to Mississippi and help him open his dream restaurant downtown. "I'm a great hirer," he liked to say about his team.

Craig's concept for Parlor Market included paying tribute to Mississippi's diverse cultures and ethnic influences, with an emphasis on ingredients from local farmers and deep-rooted tradition, drawing inspiration from fresh, locally sourced products and using traditional and modern cooking techniques to create a constantly changing menu that tells a story.

In developing the menu for Parlor Market, the "crazy local" experience he wanted for diners extended to pairing southern wine and craft beers with southern food and getting to know the people from whom he sourced all of his products. He also conducted extensive research on the Parlor Market building's history so that its interior design reflected the property's past uses: he wanted everything about PM to "tell a story": "Southerners are storytellers, and I want people to have that experience through dining," he explained.

Craig was the main character in the story: He effortlessly made rounds at tables in the dining room, speaking to each patron and ensuring that they were taken care of. That spirit of wanting the best for people didn't stop with his own customers; it extended to the broader culinary community. Craig helped other local restaurants and farmers—through collaboration on events and ideas, helping them find new talent, supporting farmers markets—all while continually pushing everyone to strive for excellence and innovation. Constantly striving to be the best and inspiring those around him to do the same, while truly caring for people is what made him not just a visionary, but a great leader.

Chef Noone's life was tragically cut short in a car accident Oct. 14, 2011, just a few weeks after Parlor Market celebrated its first anniversary. The restaurant continues to carry out his vision. Of his career, Chef Noone said, "I want to make people happy." The Parlor Market family will continue to do just that. —Julie Skipper

Second Place: Dan Blumenthal (BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar, 4500 Interstate 55 N., Frontage Road, 601-982-8111; plus all Mangia Bene restaurants) /
Third: Derek Emerson (Walker's Drive-In, 3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633; Local 463, 121 Colony Crossing Way, Madison, 601-707-7684) /
Good showing: Tom Ramsey (Underground 119, 119 S. President St., 601-352-2322), Ryan Bell and Jesse Houston (Parlor Market, 115 W. Capitol St., 601-360-0090)

The Craig Noone 'Rock It Out' Best New Chef Award: Tom Ramsey
Underground 119, 119 S. President St., 601-352-2322, http://www.underground119.com
Just weeks before Parlor Market impresario and star chef Craig Noone died tragically in a car accident, food writer Tom Ramsey wrote one of his typically delightful, high-energy stories about PM's first birthday. In the JFP piece, he mentioned that I had introduced him to Craig the year before.

I was stunned when I read that; it's not like I had known Craig that long myself. Girl-about-town Julie Skipper had introduced me to him one night outside Hal & Mal's, telling me what exciting ideas Craig had for a restaurant in downtown Jackson. I soon told Tom—apparently an excellent chef in his own right—about Craig, and they started hanging out and conspiring, talking about whatever chefs talk about. My favorite memory involving the two of them was a night that Tom, with the help of other chefs including the also-remarkable Dan Blumenthal of the Mangia Bene dynasty, gathered in a friend's beautiful home in Belhaven to cook up a delicious, creative meal and then serve it to us all—while being filmed for a cooking-show pilot.

By that time, Tom was close to fully remaking himself into a chef—apparently his first love—from his former life as a lobbyist and investment baker. Because he was freelancing for the JFP and BOOM Jackson, writing some of the best food pieces we've run, I watched him morph into a chef, even before he had an official gig. You could have called him the chef-about-town, I suppose. At that time, he was teaching cooking lessons through his business, Ivy & Devine, and becoming the person I suspect he'd always wanted to be: He now refers to himself on his website as "a food writer, media personality and general bon vivant."

What is so apropos about readers voting Tom the best new chef in Jackson—a new award in honor of our late friend and visionary Craig Noone—is that Tom was the chief chronicler of the foodies movement that Craig and the other inspiring young chefs at Parlor Market really helped bring to Jackson. As the PM crew became rock stars, Tom wrote about it, in turn helping their celebrity grow. And along the way, he became a celebrity chef himself—even though he initially was a man without a restaurant. I remember wondering when one of the local restaurants would realize that it was his time in their kitchen. Then lo and behold, suddenly in 2011, he became the chef at Underground 119.

There are simply amazing chefs among the finalists, and several of them (like Ryan Bell and Jesse Houston) were part of that original PM posse that made being a chef one of the coolest jobs in Mississippi. Every chef on this list deserves a shout-out, but Tom gets extra credit for deciding to follow his heart a little later in his life's journey toward what he does best.
—Donna Ladd

Second: Jesse Houston (Parlor Market, 115 W. Capitol St., 601-360-0090) /
Third: Alex Eaton (Table 100, 100 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-420-4202 /
Good Showing: Mike Roemhild (Table 100, 100 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-420-4202 / Ryan Bell (Parlor Market 115 W. Capitol St., 601-360-0090) / Robert Rushton (Walker's Drive-In, 3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633 / Nick Wallace (King Edward Hotel, 235 W. Capitol St., 601-353-5464

Best Restaurant, Best Place for Cocktails, Most Innovative Menu, Best Place to Eat When Someone Else Pays: Parlor Market 115 W. Capitol St., 601-360-0090, http://www.parlormarket.com
At Parlor Market, downtown Jackson's history combines with a vision for its future as an epicenter of culinary innovation. In a restaurant that was the dream of late Chef Craig Noone, diners enjoy dishes that make use of locally sourced ingredients and regional ethnic influences on a menu that changes several times a year. The nightly wild game special is a consistent favorite, as are fresh oysters from the raw bar. Drinks are also a treat, as the extensive drink book features Mississippi's first and largest pre-Prohibition and Prohibition-era cocktail menu. From the chefs to the bartenders to the servers, the entire staff strives to make each meal an experience that draws you in and tells a story.
—Julie Skipper

Best Place for Cocktails
Second:
Julep Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, 601-362-1411) /
Third: BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, 601-982-8111) /
Good Showing: Mint the Restaurant (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, 601-898-6468); Babalu Tacos and Tapas (622 Duling Ave., 601-366-5757); Table 100 (100 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-420-4202)

Most Innovative Menu
Second:
Babalu Tacos and Tapas (622 Duling Ave., 601-366-5757) /
Third: Table 100 (100 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-420-4202) /
Good showing: Underground 119 (119 S. President St., 601-352-2322); Mint the Restaurant (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 5002, 601-898-6468); Julep Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, Suite 105, 601-362-8111)

Best Place to Eat When Someone Else Pays
Second:
Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633) /
Third: Char (4500 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, 601-956-9562) /
Good showing: Nick's (3000 Old Canton Road, 601-981-8017); Shapley's Restaurant (868 Centre St., Ridgeland, 601-957-3753); Tico's Steak House (1536 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland, 601-956-1030)

Best Restaurant
Second:
Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633) /
Third: Table 100 (100 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-420-4202) /
Good showing: Julep (4500 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, 601-362-1411); Char (4500 Interstate 55 N. Frontage Road, 601-956-9562); Sportsman's Lodge (1220 E. Northside Drive, 601-366-4551)

Best Greek Diner/Restaurant, Best Outdoor Dining, Best Downtown Lunch: Keifer's
710 Poplar Blvd., 601-355-6825, http://www.keifers.net, 120 N Congress St., 601-353-4976, http://www.keifersdowntown.com
It's Wednesday. You've been at work since 8 a.m., and it's lunch time. The lines on your spreadsheet are little more than a blur, and you need a break from the daily grind. Thankfully, the most popular lunch spot downtown is nearby on Congress Street. There, across from the governor's mansion is a hole-in-the-wall named Keifer's. You place your order for a wrap and cottage fries. Like a well-oiled machine, the assembly line behind the counter prepares your meal. You find a seat and take a bite of Greek deliciousness with a southern flair. Sure, there may be a whole afternoon of work ahead of you, but for the moment, Keifer's provides a comforting and delicious respite.

But Keifer's isn't just about lunch. In this year's Best of Jackson awards, the venerable Poplar Boulevard landmark has again garnered the title of best outdoor dining. Even with a move to a new building on the opposite side of Poplar, Keifer's hasn't missed a beat. This proves the power of its feta sauce. However, there's a plethora of Greek favorites from which to choose. Hummus and falafels, souvlakis and Polish dogs, and of course, the classic gyro. It's been more than 30 years since Rick Olsen and Paula Cole opened Keifer's, but it remains Jackson's favorite for Greek cuisine.
—Andrew Dunaway

Best Greek Diner/Restaurant
Second:
Aladdin Mediterranean Grill (730 Lakeland Drive, 601-366-6033; 163 Ridgeway, Suite E, Flowood, 601-992-7340) /
Third: Kristos (971 Madison Ave., Madison, 601-605-2266); Krilakis (207 W. Jackson St., Suite D, Ridgeland, 601-790-9463); Bill's Greek Tavern (4760 McWillie Drive, 601-982-9295); Vasilio's (828 Highway 51, Madison, 601-853-0028) /
Good Showing: Wraps (1220 E. Northside Drive, 601-366-2006)

Best Outdoor Dining
Second:
Babalu Tacos and Tapas (622 Duling Ave., 601-366-5757) /
Third: Que Será Será (2801 N. State St., 601-981-2520) /
Good Showing: Burgers and Blues (1060 E. County Line Road, Suite 22, Ridgeland, 601-899-0038); Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633); Sal and Mookie's New York Style Pizza and Ice Cream Joint (565 Taylor St., 601-368-1919)

Best Downtown Lunch
Second:
Parlor Market (115 W. Capitol St., 601-373-9841) /
Third: Elite Restaurant (141 E. Capitol St., 601-352-5606) /
Good Showing: Mayflower Café (123 W. Capitol St., 601-355-4122); Two Sister's Kitchen (707 N. Congress St., 601-353-1180)

Best Breakfast on the Run, Best Deli/Local Sandwich: Broad Street Baking Company and Café
4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900, http://www.broadstbakery.com
Broad Street Baking Company and Café is nestled in Banner Hall and is easily accessible from Interstate 55. You can start your day off on the lighter side with your choice of an omelet, homemade granola or a minted fruit salad. If you are looking for a heartier breakfast, choose the breakfast burrito or Belgian waffles. At lunchtime, return to Broad Street for your favorite sandwich, po-boy, salad or wrap. The specials of the day are posted on Broad Street's website so that you can review and make a decision before hand or pick up lunch to go. Broad Street is open 7 days a week. Breakfast starts at 7 a.m.
—Adriane Louie

Best Breakfast on the Run
Second:
Beagle Bagel (4500 Interstate 55 N., 769-251-1892; 898 Avery Blvd., Ridgeland, 601-956-1773; 100 Mannsdale Park Drive, Madison, 601-856-4377) /
Third: Primos Café and Bake Shop (2323 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-936-3398; 515 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-898-3600) /
Good Showing: Mimi's Family & Friends (3139 N. State St., 601-366-6111); Scurlock's Donut Shop and Eatery (125 S. Congress St., Suite 106, 601-326-8520) and Sneaky Beans (2914 N. State St., 601-487-6349)

Best Deli/Local Sandwich
Second:
Newk's Express Café (multiple locations, http://www.newkscafe.com) /
Third: Basil's (2906 N. State St., Suite 104, 601-982-2100; 904 E. Fortification St., Suite B, 601-352-2002; 2906 N. State St., 601-982-2100; 120 N. Congress St., 601-944-9888) /
Good Showing: Beagle Bagel (4500 Interstate 55 N., 769-251-1892; 898 Avery Blvd., Ridgeland, 601-956-1773; 100 Mannsdale Park Drive, Madison, 601-856-4377); McAlister's (multiple locations, http://www.mcalistersdeli.com)

Best Sit-Down Breakfast/Brunch, Best Plate Lunch: Primos Café and Bake Shop
2323 Lakeland Drive, 601-936-3701 and 515 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-898-3600, http://www.primoscafe.com
Primos Café first opened its doors as a bakery in 1929. Although the café has moved and been remodeled several times, it still offers amazing food. I suggest the veggie scrambler and cheese grits along with their signature biscuits. Primos also offers a choice of two blue-plate specials Monday through Friday that includes traditional southern fare like smothered pork chops, turkey and dressing, and chopped steak and gravy. The delicious breakfast, lunch, dinner and tempting desserts prove why Jacksonians make Primos a top choice for dining every year.
—Pamela Hosey

Best Sit-Down Breakfast
Second:
Another Broken Egg (1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, 601-790-9170) /
Third: Broad Street Baking Company and Café (4465 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-2900) /
Good Showing: Mimi's Family and Friends (3139 N. State St., 601-366-6111); Julep Restaurant and Bar (1305 E. Northside Drive, 601-362-1411); Char (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-956-9562)

Best Plate Lunch
Second:
Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., 601- 982-2633) /
Third: The Trace Grill (554 Highway 51 N, Suite. F, Ridgeland, 601-853-1014) /
Good Showing: Cherokee Inn (1410 Old Square Road, 601-362-6388); McDade's (Multiple Locations); Grant's Kitchen (2847 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-665-4764)

Best Italian, Best Place for Pasta: Amerigo Italian Restaurant
6592 Old Canton Road, 601-977-0563, http://www.amerigo.net
It is no surprise that Amerigo is a perennial Jackson favorite. Conveniently located, Amerigo offers fine dining in a romantic atmosphere at a reasonable price. For special occasions and everyday delights, Amerigo is the place to go for a varied menu that includes Amerigo's famous cheese fritters, gourmet salads, brick-oven pizzas, seafood pastas, and amazing entrees such as eggplant—or chicken—Parmesan. Even the most basic pasta pomodoro is outstanding. But be certain to save room for dessert, because you won't want to miss the tiramisu. Trust me.
—Kelly Bryan Smith

Best Italian
Second:
BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-8111) /
Third: Biaggi's (970 Highland Colony Parkway, 601-354-6600) /
Good Showing: Cerami's (5417 Lakeland Drive, 601-919-2829); Fratesi's (910 Lake Harbour Drive, 601-956-2929); Rossini (207 W. Jackson St., Ridgeland, 601-856-9696)

Best Place for Pasta
Second:
BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-8111) /
Third: Cerami's (5417 Lakeland Drive, 601-919-2829) /
Good Showing: Biaggi's (Highland Colony Parkway., 601-354-6600); Fratesi's (910 Lake Harbour Drive, 601-956-292); Rossini (207 W. Jackson St., 601-856-9696)

Best Chinese Restaurant: Mr. Chen's Authentic Chinese Cooking
5465 Interstate 55 N., 601-978-1865
Last year for my birthday, I wanted to go out for Chinese, and I had been hearing great things about Mr. Chen's. All the rave reviews were right on the money. The food at Mr. Chen's was fresh, flavorful and satisfied my craving for authentic Chinese food. While our food was being prepared, my son and I walked around the market attached to the restaurant, where we spotted things like nori, bamboo shoots, bok choy, bean sprouts, ginger, jasmine rice, sake, soju, sweet chili sauce, tobi nuts and Chinese pastries and candies. We've been back several times since. My favorite dishes are the beef chow fun, kung pao chicken and General Tso's chicken. They also carry a variety of refreshing iced flavored-milk teas and fruit slushes (the passion-fruit flavor is my current obsession).
—ShaWanda Jacome

Second: Ichiban Sushi and Chinese Buffet (359 Ridgeway, Flowood, 601-919-8879) /
Third: P.F. Chang's China Bistro (910 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, 601-605-4282) /
Good Showing: King Buffet (6380 Ridgewood Court Drive, 601-956-6700); Five Happiness Chinese Restaurant (2931 McDowell Road Extension, 601-371-8765); Ding How Asian Bistro (6955 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland, 601-956-1717)

Best Meal Under $10, Best Salad or Salad Bar: Newk's Express Café
Multiple Locations, http://www.newkscafe.com
Two things make Newk's a staple to Jackson life. The first is its clever plan to replace all the drinking ware in our cabinets with those handy black plastic Newk's cups. The second is its reputation as a casual, yet stylish, source of fine soups, salads and sandwiches. While there may be fewer "under $10" options on the menu these days, the quality of the café chain's soups and salads make it worth the extra couple of bucks. If that doesn't convince you, just check out the daily lunch line for a testament to Newk's taste and popularity. Now if only there was a way to get them to bring back the Thai pizza ...
—Bret Kenyon

Meal Under $10
Second:
Keifer's (710 Poplar Blvd., 601-355-6825; 120 N. Congress St., 601-353-4976)
Third: Basil's (2906 N. State St., Suite 104, 601-982-2100; 904 E. Fortification St., Suite B, 601-352-2002; 120 N. Congress St., 601-944-9888) /
Good Showing: OEC Japanese Express (Multiple Locations); Primos Café and Bake Shop (2323 Lakeland Drive, 601-936-3701)

Best Salad or Salad Bar:
Second:
Jason's Deli (1067 E. County Line Road, 601-206-9191) /
Third: Mazzio's (4415 Robinson Road, 601-922-2477) /
Good Showing: Cool Water Café (1011 Lake Harbour Drive, TOWN?, 601-956-6332); High Noon Café (2807 Old Canton Road, 601-366-1513); Room Service (4107 Northview Drive, Suite B1, 601-362-4617)

Best Barista: Caitlin McNally
Sneaky Beans, 2914 N. State St., 601-487-6349
Caitlin McNally is probably the nicest barista around. She never pressures me and never makes me feel silly for ordering a frozen drink when it's cold. She makes me believe she's excited to see me, even if we've never been formally introduced. McNally also makes an amazing latte and the best caramel macchiato ever. But with all the great folks working at Sneaky Beans and Cups, it's hard to not have a great barista serve your coffee in Jackson.
—Holly Perkins

Second Place: Leslee Foukal (Sneaky Beans) /
Third Place (tie): Cody Cox, (Cups, Fondren) Eamonn Cottrell (Cups, Fondren) /
Good Showing: Byron Knight (Sneaky Beans), Kirby Coutch (Cups, Methodist Rehabilitation Center), India Jade Clark (Cups, Downtown)

Best Bakery, Best Place to Buy Cakes: Campbell's Bakery
3013 N. State St., 601-362-4628, http://www.campbellsbakery.ms
Campbell's Bakery in Fondren is one of the oldest bakeries in the area. On any given day you are likely to find an assortment of decadent desserts in the display case. If you want to satisfy that sweet tooth, Campbell's is definitely the place. Choose from cupcakes, brownies, a variety of cookies, petit-fours and cannoli. Campbell's is famous for iced-tea cake cookies. They cost $1.42 each or $16.20 for a dozen. Campbell's is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
—Adriane Louie

Best Bakery
Second:
Broad Street Baking Company and Café (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900) /
Third: Primos Café and Bake Shop (2323 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-936-3398; 515 Lake Harbor Drive, Ridgeland, 601-898-3600) /
Good Showing: Crazy Cat Bakers (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 173, 601-362-7448); Corner Bakery Café (108 Market St., Flowood, 601-919-9797; 149 Grandview Blvd., Madison, 601-607-7377); Great Harvest Bread Company (5006 Parkway Drive, 601-956-4406; 500 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-856-3313)

Best Place to Buy Cakes
Second:
Primos Café and Bake Shop (2323 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-936-3701; 515 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-898-3600) /
Third: That Special Touch (2769 Old Brandon Road, Pearl, 601-932-5223) /
Good Showing: Fat Cake Guy (5352 Lakeland Drive, Suite 2000, Flowood, 601-992-9623); Dream Cakes (1006 Top St., Suite D, Flowood, 601-932-7800); Beagle Bagel (898 Avery Blvd., 601-956-1773; 100 Mannsdale Park Drive, Suite 2, Madison, 601-856-4377; 4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 145, 769-251-1892)

Best Gumbo, Best Red Beans & Rice: Que Será Será
2801 N. State St., 601-981-2520, http://www.queserams.com
For the past seven out of eight years, Que Será Será has held the title of Jackson's best gumbo and best red beans & rice. What's the secret to its success? Maybe it's the consistent quality of the roux. Maybe it's the sheer quantity as every bowl of creole goodness arrives overflowing with rice, andouille, oysters, crab and shrimp. Maybe it's a secret that the Noble family will take to their graves. No matter the reason, there's no arguing that this Fondren landmark has a lock on these Louisiana classics.
—Andrew Dunaway

Best Gumbo
Second:
Hal & Mal's (200 S. Commerce St., 601-948-0888) /
Third: Char (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 142, 601-956-9562) /
Good Showing: Fat Tuesday's (6923 Old Canton Road, Suite 105, Ridgeland, 601-956-2971); Table 100 (100 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-420-4202); Broad Street Baking Company and Café (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900)

Best Red Beans & Rice
Second:
Hal & Mal's (200 S. Commerce St., 601-948-0888) /
Third: Fat Tuesday's (6923 Old Canton Road, Suite 105, Ridgeland, 601-956-2971) /
Good Showing: Georgia Blue (111 Colony Crossing, Madison, 601-898-3330); Rooster's (2906 N. State St., 601-982-2001); Cherokee Drive Inn (1410 Old Square Road, 601-362-6388)

Best Asian: Pan-Asia
720 Harbour Pointe Crossing, Ridgeland, 601-956-2958, http://www.pan-asia.com
Pan-Asia has consistently provided an "Asian fusion cuisine" concept that is a step above the rest while providing a modern Zen atmosphere. Feast on one of its signature dishes: firecracker shrimp, panko soft-shell crab or roast duck breast. The menu boasts cuisine from Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Indian-inspired ingredients. While there, order a cocktail from the Gong Bar, which offers some interesting libations like the Fortune Cookie (Godiva white, Smirnoff vanilla and white crème de cacao served with a chocolate-covered cookie). Pan-Asia also has banquet facilities available.
—Pamela Hosey

Second: Thai House (1405 Old Square Road, 601-982-9991) /
Third: Saigon (2640 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-420-4848) /
Good Showing: Fusion (1002 Treetops Blvd., Flowood, 601-664-7588); Spice Avenue (4711 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-0890); P.F. Chang's (910 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, 601-605-4282)

Best Place for Dessert: Char
4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-956-9562, http://www.charrestaurant.com
You might be attracted to Char's menu of surf-and-turf specialties or their gourmet salads, but Char is worth visiting for its dessert menu alone. Grab a date or a friend, or even just take yourself to enjoy one of its outstanding upscale desserts. Chocolate lovers, it doesn't get much better than the rich Chocolate Express. My personal favorite is the pecan caramel butter crunch, an amazing ice cream-topped cake that is the most delicious dessert around. Homemade pecan pie and an apple-cranberry crisp round out this all-star dessert menu.
—Kelly Bryan Smith

Second: Amerigo Italian Restaurant (6592 Old Canton Road, 601-977-0563) /
Third: Parlor Market (115 W. Capitol St., 601-360-0090) /
Good Showing: Sal and Mookie's New York Style Pizza and Ice Cream Joint (565 Taylor St., 601-386-1919); BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-8111); Primos Café and Bake Shop (2323 Lakeland Drive, 601-936-3398)

Best Barbecue: Hickory Pit
1491 Canton Mart Road, 601-956-7079
My introduction to the Hickory Pit was the intense, tangy smell of smoke and meat that enticed me as I was leaving a nearby business on Old Canton Road. It was no surprise to me that Hickory Pit took the top spot in local barbecue places for the fifth straight year. It offers barbecued chicken, pork and beef plates along with burgers, sandwiches, salads and po-boys. As sides, you can get beans, fries, slaw, Texas toast or salad. The Hickory Pit also caters, so you can order the Brunswick stew by the gallon and a party pack of ribs for the Super Bowl. For dessert, try a homemade Hershey's Bar, lemon or pecan pie or carrot cake. Look for Hickory Pit's menu on the JFP menu page.
—Brett Benson

Second: E.& L. Barbecue (1111 Bailey Ave., 601-355-5035) /
Third: Lumpkins BBQ (182 Raymond Road, 601-373-7707) /
Good Showing: Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q (2603 Highway 80 W., 601-355-7434); Chimneyville (970 High St., 601-354-4665); Haute Pig (1856 Main St., Madison, 601-853-8538)

Best Mexican/Latin Restaurant, Best Margaritas, Best Restaurant for Appetizers: Babalu Tacos and Tapas
622 Duling Ave., 601-366-5757, http://www.babalums.com
When you walk through the doors of Babalu Tacos and Tapas, you almost forget you are in Mississippi. The space is a cross between a Cuban cabana and an industrial New York loft. There is a casual, but swanky feel to it with its cool colors, understated tables and chairs, exposed ducts and concrete floor, not to mention, the feature wall where old episodes of "I Love Lucy" are shown. Bill Latham and Al Roberts co-own Babalu and opened its doors in November 2010. Executive Chef David Ferris is the mastermind behind the fresh, colorful and flavorful delights coming from the kitchen.

Tapas are best enjoyed by ordering many different dishes to come together as a full meal. Or you can order a bunch, and everyone at the table can share with one another. Either way it's a great place to enjoy with a group of friends or family.

The menu includes: Hass avocado guacamole (made at your table), tri-pepper corn tamales, carnitas tacos with roasted peanut slaw, braised beef short ribs over Delta grind grits and Carne La Vaca tacos (rosemary marinated CAB flat iron steak with pico de gallo, salsa roja, cotija cheese). But wait, don't forget the libations! Choose from the Pepe O'Malley, Baba-Libra, Baba-Rita or the Tamarind margarita. Tamarind is a pod-like fruit that has a floral flavor and is usually found in Mexican snacks and candies. The tamarind extract that is used in the margarita at Babalu is a unique and vibrant twist to this classic drink.
—ShaWanda Jacome

Best Mexican/Latin
Second:
La Cazuela (1401 E. Fortification St., 601-353-3014) /
Third: Papitos (111 Colony Crossing Way, Suite 1200, Madison, 601-605-0275) /
Good Showing: Las Margaritas Mexican Restaurant (1625 E. County Line Road, Suite 120, Ridgeland, 601-957-7672; 737 Clinton Parkway, Clinton, 601-924-0005); Sombra Mexican Kitchen (The Township at Colony Park, Suite 100, Ridgeland, 601-707-7950); El Potrillo (210 Dogwood Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-9260)

Best Margaritas
Second:
La Cazuela (1401 E. Fortification St., 601-353-3014) /
Third: Las Margaritas (1625 E. County Line Road, Suite 120, Ridgeland, 601-957-7672; 737 Clinton Parkway, Clinton, 601-924-0005) /
Good Showing: Papitos (111 Colony Crossing Way, Suite 1200, Madison, 601-605-0275); Sombra Mexican Kitchen (The Township at Colony Park, Suite 100, Ridgeland, 601-707-7950); Cozumel Bar & Grill (823 S. Wheatley St., Ridgeland, 601-991-0577)

Restaurant for Appetizers
Second:
Julep (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 105, 601-362-1411) /
Third: Parlor Market (115 W. Capitol St., 601-373-9841) /
Good Showing: BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar (4500 Interstate N., Suite 244, 601-982-8111); Underground 119 (119 President St., 601-352-2322); Char (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 142, 601-956-9562)

Best Local Burger: Burgers & Blues
1060 E. County Line Road, Suite 22, Ridgeland, 601-899-0038, http://www.burgersblues.com
Since Steven Sahler opened it a year and a half ago in April, Burgers & Blues has made its way to the top of everyone's favorite burger-joint list. With live blues and southern rock music every week and a sports bar, this family-friendly restaurant is once again Jackson's Best Burger place.

The menu is filled with signature burgers such as "The County Line," and customers can choose from 4-ounce, 8-ounce or 16-ounce patties. They can also try "The Whammy Challenge," three one-pound patties with all the trimmings, a pound of fries and a milkshake. If you finish this eating challenge in 30 minutes or less, the meal is free, and you get your photo on the Whammy Wall of Fame.
—Briana Robinson

Second: Mugshots Grill and Bar (1855 Lakeland Drive, 601-261-3261) /
Third: Stamps Superburger (1801 Dalton St., 601-352-4555) /
Good Showing: Rooster's (2906 N. State St., 601-982-2001); Cool Al's (4654 McWillie Drive, 601-713-3020); Majestic Burger (1491 Canton Mart Road, 601-899-8822)

Best Mediterranean/African and Best Falafel: Aladdin Mediterranean Grill
730 Lakeland Drive, 601-366-6033; 163 Ridgeway, Suite E, Flowood, 601-992-7340, http://www.aladdininjackson.com
When I worked at the JFP, I frequented many of the local eateries in Fondren. One of my regular places was Aladdin. Prior to that, I hadn't really eaten a lot of Mediterranean food, but once I did, I was hooked.

The menu offers something for literally everyone: meat eaters, vegetarians, kids and even those who want to play it safe. Some of my family's favorites were the gyro, shish kabab and tilapia plates and meat and vegetable dolmas (stuffed grape leaves). The basmati rice with saffron and sautéed veggies are to die for and complement any dish perfectly. My son is partial to the cheeseburger grilled with Mediterranean spices and Arabic pickles. I would be remiss not to mention the savory falafels (crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside), the mint-flavored sweet tea and the baklava fingers (yummo!). Oh how I miss being able to make that short walk over to Aladdin—the simple joys in life.
—ShaWanda Jacome

Best Mediterranean/African
Second:
Mediterranean Fish and Grill (6550 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland, 601-956-0082) /
Third: Petra Cafe (2741 Old Canton Road, 601-366-0161) /
Good Showing: Mezza (1896 Main St., Suite A, Madison, 601-853-0876); Keifer's (710 Poplar Blvd., 601-355-6825; 120 N. Congress St., 601-353-4976); Abeba Ethiopian Restaurant (3716 Interstate 55 N., Frontage Road, 601-713-1500)

Best Falafel
Second:
Keifer's (710 Poplar Blvd., 601-355-6825; 120 N. Congress St., 601-353-4976) /
Third: Petra Cafe (2741 Old Canton Road, 601-366-0161) /
Good Showing: Kristos Casual Greek Dining (971 Madison Ave., Madison, 601-605-2266); Mediterranean Fish and Grill (6550 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland, 601-956-0082); Mezza (1896 Main St., Suite A, Madison, 601-853-0876)

Best Beer Selection, Bottled; Best Beer Section, Draft: The Bulldog
6111 Ridgewood Road, 601-978-3502, http://bulldog-jackson.draftfreak.com
The Bulldog, self-declared "draft freaks," offers a fun place to drink a beer with friends after work and on the weekends. They have couches to lounge and watch games in one area and a bar area. Check out their weeknight specials: $2 off select pitchers on Monday, $1 off local pints and $2 off select bottles on Tuesday, free collectable pint glass with every pint you buy on Wednesdays and $2 off micro-brewery pitchers on Thursdays. Happy hour is every day until 7 p.m. with 50 cents off pints, $1 off pitchers, half-priced house wines and a double shot for the price of a single shot.

Choose from more than 60 varieties of beer on tap from the lager, ale, and wheat family originating from places like Germany, Australia, Ireland and Mexico. For the ultimate beer-drinking fan, The Bulldog offers a Beer Journey card. Once you complete your card with all 60 drafts, you'll go home with some Bulldog swag and be immortalized on the "Adventurers" plaque hanging in the bar.

To help soak up all that beer, the Bulldog offers an extensive menu including finger foods, sandwiches, wraps, salads, burgers, desserts and what they call "Other Grub" and "Fork Food."
—ShaWanda Jacome

Beer Selection, Bottled
Second
: Martin's Restaurant & Lounge (214 S. State St., 601-354-9712) /
Third: Sal & Mookie's New York Pizza and Ice Cream Joint (565 Taylor St., 601-365-1919) /
Good Showing: Sportsman's Lodge (1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 100, 601-366-5441); McDade's Markets (multiple locations: mcdadesmarkets.com); Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055)

Beer Selection, Draft
Second:
Sal & Mookie's New York Pizza and Ice Cream Joint (565 Taylor St., 601-365-1919) /
Third: Mellow Mushroom (275 Dogwood Blvd., Flowood, 601-992-7499) /
Good Showing: The Wing Stop (multiple locations: wingstop.com); Buffalo Wild Wings (808 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-856-0789); Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055)

Best Kids' Menu, Best Place for Ice Cream: Sal & Mookie's New York Style Pizza and Ice Cream Joint
565 Taylor St., 601-368-1919, http://www.salandmookies.com
I seriously think kids could eat pizza every day, all day. At Sal & Mookie's, kids have a choice of pizza (of course), plus chicken dishes, hamburgers, PB&J, panini grilled provolone cheese sandwich or pasta with a choice of sauce. And to keep the kids busy they can sculpt their own artwork with a free pack of wiki sticks.

Whatever you do, leave room for ice cream. The ice cream selection at Sal & Mookie's has more than 20 flavors, which you can get in a dish, cake cone, sugar cone, waffle cone or chocolate-dipped candy-rolled waffle cone. They also have shakes, malts, floats, banana splits and sundaes. Who can resist caramel banana crunch, pecan bar a la mode, too much chocolate!, strawberry fields forever, double stuffed Oreo supreme or krispy treat a la mode? But the alpha and omega of all sundaes is the Grand Central Station, a dessert that can "feed the whole table." It features 10 assorted scoops of ice cream covered with chocolate, caramel, pineapple and butterscotch sauces, topped with peanuts, Oreo, Butterfinger and Snickers pieces, chocolate and white chocolate chips, marshmallows, rainbow sprinkles, regular & peanut M&M's and Reese's Pieces, finished with whipped topping and cherries! Now that's sinful and heavenly all at the same time.
—ShaWanda Jacome

Best Kids' Menu
Second:
Broad Street Baking Company and Café (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900) /
Third: Primos Cafe & Bake Shop (515 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-898-3400; 2323 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-936-3701) /
Good Showing: Newk's (multiple locations); Rooster's (2906 N. State St., 601-982-2001); Pan-Asia Restaurant (720 Harbour Pointe Crossing, Ridgeland, 601-956-2958)

Best Place for Ice Cream
Second:
Bop's Frozen Custard (1173 E. County Line Road, 601-952-0661) /
Third: Marble Slab Creamery (1057 E. County Line Road, 601-899-9060) /
Good Showing: Brent's Drugs (655 Duling Ave., 601-366-3427); Sweet Tree Yogurt (772 Lake Harbour Drive, Suite 5, Ridgeland, 601-707-5491); Baskin Robbins (multiple locations)

Best Seafood: AJ's Seafood Grille
361 Township Ave., Ridgeland, 601-856-2844; 223 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-919-1900, http://www.ajsgrille.com
Since John and Lucy Taylor opened AJ's Seafood Grille in 1999, the restaurant has become a pescaterian's dream. Now, AJ's has won its second consecutive award for Jackson's best seafood. Perusing the menu, it's no wonder locals turn to this Ridgeland anchor for their scales and shells. Look to the seafood egg rolls for a creative meeting of East and West.Crawfish and Andouille gumbo is never a poor choice, and the house specialty of Cajun redfish served blackened and topped with crawfish cream sauce is a crowd favorite. Regardless of your choice, it's hard to go wrong with anything from the menu at AJ's. Come hungry and enjoy the finest seafood the city has to offer.
—Andrew Dunaway

Second: Mayflower Café (123 W. Capitol St., 601-355-4122) /
Third: Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633) /
Good Showing: Sal & Phil's (6600 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Ridgeland, 601-957-1188); Parlor Market (115 W. Capitol St., 601-360-0090); Bonefish Grill (201 Colony Way, Madison, 601-607-3334)

Best Ribs: E & L Barbeque
1111 Bailey Ave., 601-355-5035
For another year E & L has managed to maintain its hold on the Best Ribs title. That is no mean feat, as many other contenders remain close on their heels. In this rib war, however, we the customers are the true winners. If you have been living under a rock for the last decade then I can only offer this; you are missing out on the spicy, sweet, smoky and mouth-watering goodness that can only be found at E & L. They also offer a full menu of other delights: rib tips, smoked sausage, pork sandwiches and pig ears (for the bold and daring). And forget about fine china. At E & L, just load up your Styrofoam box, and you're good to go. Sound appealing? Then take a friend, a lover, your kids or even your boss, and show them some ribs worth getting messy with.
—Michael Jacome

Second: Lumpkins BBQ (182 Raymond Road, 601-373-7707) /
Third: Sonny's Real Pit Bar-B-Q (2603 Highway 80 W., 601-355-7434) /
Good Showing: Hickory Pit (1491 Canton Mart Road, 601-956-7079); Chimneyville Smokehouse (970 High St., 601-354-4665); Haute Pig (1856 Main St., Madison, 601-853-8538); Sylvester's (9434 Highway 18, Raymond, 601-346-5530)

Best Ethnic or Specialty Grocery: Rainbow Natural Grocery Cooperative
2807 Old Canton Road, 601-366-1601, http://www.rainbowcoop.org
If you don't know where on earth to find something in Jackson, chances are that you will find it at Rainbow. Quinoa, keifer, probiotics and loaves of bread that don't contain any traces of milk can all be found in Rainbow's cozy neighborhood grocery aisles. If you're trying to eat healthy on the run, Rainbow is the place to grab and go. If you're trying to eat healthy on a budget, check out Rainbow's varied bulk food aisles to get you started on your natural eating adventures.
—Kelly Bryan Smith

Second: Mr. Chen's Authentic Chinese Cooking (5465 Interstate 55 N., 601-978-1865) /
Third: Aladdin's Grocery Store (740 Lakeland Drive, 601-366-2102) /
Good Showing: Patel Brothers (1999 Highway 80 W., 601-353-6611); Van Hung Asian Market (637 Highway 51 N., 601-856-9638); Carniceria Valdez (6350 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland, 601-899-6992)

Best Pizza: The Pizza Shack
925 E. Fortification St., 601-352-2001; 5046 Parkway Drive, 601-957-1975, http://www.thepizzashackjackson.com
The Pizza Shack is back and better than ever in its new Belhaven location around the corner on Fortification Street between Kats Wine Cellar and Fenian's Pub. Despite its new digs, it is still your favorite neighborhood pizza parlor where they probably know your usual order if you are a regular, whether it be a Thai chicken pizza, a spinach alfredo, a Mexican fiesta or even their outstanding plain—but flavorful—cheese pizza. If you're eating in, aim for a night featuring live local music in the eclectic atmosphere.
—Kelly Bryan Smith

Second: Sal and Mookie's New York Style Pizza & Ice Cream Joint (565 Taylor St., 601-368-1919) /
Third: Soulshine (1111 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, 601-856-8646; 1139 Old Fannin Road, Flowood, 601-919-2000) /
Good Showing: Mellow Mushroom (275 Dogwood Blvd., TOWN?, 601-992-7499); BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-8111)

Best French Fries: Mugshots Grill and Bar
4245 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-932-4031, http://www.mugshotsgrillandbar.com
Mugshots Grill and Bar is part of Flowood's rise as a new place to shop and dine in the metro area. The beer-battered fries at Mugshots are served hot, crisp, firm and well-seasoned, and complement the award-winning burgers well, no ketchup needed. The atmosphere is sports bar-ish with Tvs lining the walls showing seasonal sports of interest. There is a small bar at one end of the building, but the restaurant is family friendly (witness the numerous gatherings of youth sports teams and large family outings) with good food and fast, friendly service. Plus, the price is right.
—Richard Coupe
 

Second: Rooster's (2906 N. State St., 601-982-2001)
Third: Stamps Superburger (1801 Dalton St., 601-352-4555)
Good Showing: Five Guys Burgers & Fries (122 Market St., Flowood, 601-983-5555 and 1000 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 2001, Ridgeland, 601-605-1115); Cool Al's (4654 McWillie Drive, 601-713-3020); Burgers and Blues (1060 E. County Line Road, Suite 22, Ridgeland, 601-899-0028).

Best Soul Food: Peaches
327 N. Farish St., 601-354-9267
I can't think of "soul food" without thinking of Peaches Café. The beloved Farish Street establishment has been serving amazing soul food since 1961 but has been slightly overlooked by the young restaurant crowds of Jackson. But this past year, Peaches was brought to a new audience with the help of Parlor Market's "PM Soul." Brainchild of the late Craig Noone, PM Soul brought together restaurants from all over the city to serve soul food in front of Peaches as a benefit and to raise awareness. As new restaurant crop up in the city for foodies, let's not forget to support this classic owned and operated by Willora Ephram and her son, Roderick Ephram.
—Holly Perkins

Second Place: Mama Hamil's Southern Cookin' (480 Magnolia St., Madison, 601-856-4407);
Third Place: Two Sisters Kitchen (707 N. Congress St., 601-353-1180);
Good Showing: Lumpkins BBQ (182 Raymond Road, 601-373-7707); Gloria's Kitchen (2855 Bailey Ave., Suite A, 601-362-000); Collins Dream Kitchen (1439 Terry Road, 601-353-3845)

Best Server: Janis Boersma, Nick's
3000 Old Canton Road, 601-981-8017, http://www.nicksrestaurant.com
Janis Boersma hardly considers her job work. The perennial Best Server truly loves her customers; she knows them all by name. Boersma has been with Nick's for 22 years now, and she's loved every minute. She makes personal connections with those she waits on and holds the position of "best friend" in the lives of many people. Customers report that she cares for them dearly and even remembers their birthdays. Boersma greatly enjoys the social interaction, and hopes to always have plenty of people to talk to.
—Sadaaf Mamoon

Second: Jennifer Breaux (Parlor Market, 115 W. Capitol St., 601-373-9841) /
Third: Cathy Ambrose (Fenian's Pub, 901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055) /
Good Showing: Anne Friday (Hal & Mal's, 200 S. Commerce St., 601-948-0888); Corinn Escude (BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar, 4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 211, 601-982-8111); Ryne Morrow (Fenian's Pub, 901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055)

Best Buffet: Ichiban Chinese Buffet
359 Ridgeway, Flowood, 601-919-8879, http://www.ichibanbuffetms.com
Buffets fit into our busy lives easily. Lucky for Jacksonians, the area's numerous buffet options provide a smorgasbord of yummy food and budget-friendly prices, whether you're looking for an Asian-inspired meal at No. 1 choice Ichiban Chinese Buffet or traditional southern fare of runners-up Mama Hamil's Southern Cookin' or Two Sister's Kitchen.

You'll have no problem giving your appetite exactly what it's looking for at Ichiban. Choose from Japanese sushi rolls, a wide selection of Asian-inspired seafood, or heartier meat and chicken entrees. Add a bowl of soup and a dessert for a complete meal, all starting at around $10 for adults and $5.50 for kids (dinner prices higher Friday through Sunday).
—Ronni Mott

Second: Mama Hamil's Southern Cookin' (480 Magnolia St., Madison, 601-856-4407) /
Third: Two Sister's Kitchen (707 N. Congress St., 601-353-1180) /
Good showing: Spice Avenue (4711 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-0890); King Buffet (6380 Ridgewood Court Drive, Suite I, 601-956-6700); Lumpkins BBQ (182 Raymond Road, 601-373-7707)

Best Steak: Tico's Steak House
1536 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland, 601-956-1030, http://www.ticossteakhouse.com
As I sat down to eat at Tico's Steak House, I saw the Maine lobsters waving at me to come over, the one on the left said, "I just got here yesterday." "No, eat me; I just got here this morning." Could I have accidentally stumbled into Wonderland instead of the winner in the Best Steak category? Had the generous-sized drinks been a little too generous? Nay, the food at Tico's Steak House is just that good. Within this rustic log cabin, diners can choose from the juiciest steaks, tender lamb chops and succulent Maine lobster tails, among many other choices. Servers will gladly assist you with selecting a nice wine that complements the meal. Desserts are changed daily. The overall quality, however, doesn't change. It is always award-winning.
—Michael Jacome

Second: Shapley's Restaurant (868 Centre St., Ridgeland, 601-957-3753) /
Third: Char (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 142, 601-956-9562) /
Good Showing: Olga's Fine Dining (4760 Interstate 55 N., Suite D, 601-366-1366); Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., 601 982-2633)

Best Local Fried Chicken: Two Sisters Kitchen
707 N. Congress St., 601-353-1180
Two Sisters Kitchen opened in June 1989 and has been serving the downtown Jackson community with southern cuisine ever since. You can enjoy your meal inside the beautiful two-story home that was built in 1902 or out on the patio overlooking the Supreme Court building. The buffet line features various healthily cooked southern sides such as cabbage, mustard greens, grits and cornbread. The star, the chicken, is fresh (never frozen) and prepared with the skin off and dusted with a special seasoning. Owner Diann Irving Alford, who runs the restaurant with her daughter, Amanda Griffin, says their special recipe has been passed down for four generations.
—Briana Robinson

Second: Julep (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-362-1411) / 
Third: Primos Café and Bake Shop (2323 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-936-3398; 515 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-898-3600)
Good Showing: Rooster's (2906 N. State St., 601-982-2001); Fannin Mart Restaurant (5419 Highway 25, Flowood, 601-992-0411); Table 100 (100 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-420-4202)

Best Sushi: Nagoya Japanese Restaurant
6351 Interstate 55 N., 601-977-8881; 111 Colony Crossing Way, Suite 380, Madison, 601-856-5678, http://www.nagoya-ms.com
When it comes to sushi, I tend to stay in my comfort zone. Although it's one of my favorite things to eat, I'm a "cooked roll, no sauce" type of girl, who isn't quick to try new things. But if I do ever try anything new, it's always at repeat Best Sushi-winner Nagoya Japanese Restaurant, because I trust that whatever it is, it's going to be delicious. Although I usually stick with my absolute favorite, fully cooked "Crunchy Roll with Shrimp," I've also ventured into the raw territory of tuna and eel. I've still never eaten anything at Nagoya that I didn't enjoy. Nagoya has been voted Best Sushi in Jackson for years, because its service and food are consistently great.
—Holly Perkins

Second (tie): Little Tokyo (876 Avery Blvd., Ridgeland, 601-991-3800); Sakura Bana (4800 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-3035) /
Third: Fatsumo (3100 N. State St.,769-216-3574) /
Good Showing: Ichiban Hibachi & Sushi (153 Ridge Way, 601-919-0097); Bonsai Japanese Steakhouse (1925 Lakeland Drive, 601-981-0606); Osaka (4325 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-936-7000)

Best Hangover Food: Cherokee Inn
1410 Old Square Road, 601-362-6388
It was a night to trump all nights (as far as you can remember), but now you're painfully awake, your mouth feels like cotton, your head is pounding, and Taco Bell and Krystal just aren't going to cut it. Enter the Cherokee Inn. Cherokee's menu is a godsend for those nursing the bottle flu. Start small with its "Crackers and Comeback" (which is exactly that—a basket of crackers and a bottle of comeback sauce), or soak up that alcohol with a plate of gravy fries, a thick bacon cheeseburger, fried chicken and black-eyed peas, or the old staple of fried dill pickles. It's also not a bad place to get a headstart on tomorrow's hangover.
—Bret Kenyon

Second: Keifer's (710 Poplar Blvd., 601-355-6825; 120 N. Congress St., 601-353-4976)
Third: Burgers & Blues (1060 E. County Line Road, 601-899-0038)
Good Showing: Mugshots Grill and Bar (1855 Lakeland Drive, 601-261-3261); Rooster's (2906 N. State St., 601-982-2001); The Pizza Shack (925 E. Fortification St., 601-352-2001, 5046 Parkway Drive, 601-957-1975)

Best Take-Out: OEC Japanese Express
Multiple Locations, 201 E. Layfair Drive, Flowood, 601-932-3588, http://www.oecflowood.com
Do you ever crave hibachi, but rather than getting dressed and going to watch the whole spectacle of chefs cooking it in front of you, you'd like to just eat it at your own table in your sweatpants? This happens to me often, so I'm kind of a regular at OEC Japanese Express. Not only do they offer a wide selection of you-won't-believe-it's-takeout hibachi, like steak and scallops, they also have sushi, tempura and other Japanese fare. Also among Jackson's best takeout options are Newk's Express Café, where you can call in an order or choose from their already prepared selections; traditional takeout favorites of Chinese food at Best Wok; and pizza at Sal and Mookie's New York Style Pizza and Ice Cream Joint.
—Holly Perkins

Second (tie): Newk's Express Café (Multiple Locations, newkscafe.com); Best Wok (225 Meadowbrook Road, Suite F., 601-368-9555);
Third: Sal and Mookie's New York Style Pizza and Ice Cream Joint (565 Taylor St., 601-368-1919);
Good Showing: BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 211, 601-982-8111), Mr. Chen's Authentic Chinese Cooking (5465 Interstate 55 N., 601-978-1865); Wok 2 Go (4329 N. State St., 601-981-2112)

Best Veggie Burger: Cool Al's
4654 McWillie Drive, 601-713-3020, http://www.coolals.net
A staple in the Jackson community, Cool Al's is known for its extensive menu of "superburgers." The vegetarian burger additions have been a favorite among the area's vegetarians. While the garden burger is my absolute favorite, Cool Al's also has the West African and Jamaican veggie burgers that include ingredients such as basmati rice, black-eyed peas and other seasoning that gives these burgers their West African and Jamaican spiciness.
—Pamela Hosey

Second: High Noon Café (2807 Old Canton Road, 601- 366-1513) /
Third: Burgers and Blues (1060 E. County Line Road, Suite 22, Ridgeland, 601-899-0038) /
Good Showing: Majestic Burger (1491 Canton Mart Road, 601- 899-8822); Sal and Mookie's New York Style Pizza and Ice Cream Joint (565 Taylor St., 601- 368-1919)

Best New Restaurant: Table 100
100 Ridge Way, Flowood; 601-420-4202, http://www.tableonehundred.com
The nice thing about writing about restaurant is eating. It doesn't get much better than the Best New Restaurant: Table 100 in Flowood. My wife and I dropped early on a Saturday afternoon, so the place was quiet. But we had excellent service and Chef Mike Römhild's Euro American menu (with strong southern style) made dining a pleasure. My French onion soup was the best I've ever had.

Table 100 is owned by Bill Latham and Al Roberts, the same duo that brought Amerigo and Char restaurants to the area. The restaurant offers everything from hearty $10 plate lunch specials (think meatloaf to turkey scallopini) to pan-seared salmon or redfish and mouth-watering black-angus filets and ribeyes on the dinner menu.

Pair your meal with a perfect wine from Table 100's extensive list or try a cocktail such as the classic Sazarac (made with absinthe, whiskey and bitters) or a mint julep. Check out the Sunday jazz brunch (10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.), offering everything from egg dishes to prime-rib roast with a little music on the side.
—Brett Benson

Second: Sombra Mexican Kitchen (1037 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland, 601-707-7950) /
Third: The Penguin Restaurant And Bar (1100 J. R. Lynch St., 769-251-5222) /
Good Showing: Fatsumo Sushi (3100 N. State St., 769-216-3574), Abeba Ethiopian Restaurant (3716 Interstate 55 N., 601-713-1500), Cosmopolitan Café (2947 Old Canton Road, 601-983-4450), Grant's Kitchen (2847 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-665-4764)

Best Wine List/Selection: BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar
4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 244, 601-982-8111, http://www.bravobuzz.com
At BRAVO! Italian Restaurant and Bar, the wild mushroom ravioli is a favorite. Made with Portobello and porcini mushrooms, mozzarella, and a Parmesan port-wine cream sauce, it's an entrée that's hard to pass up. But which wine do you pair with it? Do you go with a hearty red to match the earthiness of the mushrooms or a light white to pair with the cream? If you find yourself lost in the nearly 30 pages of BRAVO's award-winning wine list, sommelier Mitchell Earrey will be happy to point you in the right direction of taste and price. So, sit back, savor the ravioli and enjoy a glass from the wine list that has garnered years of Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence.
—Andrew Dunaway

Second: Table 100 (100 Ridge Way Road, Flowood, 601-420-4202) /
Third: Parlor Market (115 W. Capitol St., 601-360-0090) /
Good Showing: Char (4500 Interstate 55 N., 601-956-9562); Nick's (3000 Old Canton Road, 601-981-8017); Shapley's (868 Centre St., Ridgeland, 601-957-3753)

Best Wings: Wingstop
Multiple locations, http://www.wingstop.com
Is it madness to choose a home based on its distance to the nearest Wingstop? Perhaps, but I embrace it. With nine electrifying flavors to choose from (atomic, Cajun, original hot, mild, hickory-smoked BBQ, garlic Parmesan, Hawaiian, teriyaki and, my favorite, lemon pepper), you really can't go wrong. But wait there's more! Fresh-cut seasoned fries, potato salad, coleslaw, hot cheddar-cheese sauce, bourbon-baked beans or crispy veggie sticks complement the main course. Super fast service, 50-cent boneless wings, multiple flat-screen televisions and friendly service make Wingstop tempting enough to cause me to put my laptop down and go eat. Order online and be back at home within 15 minutes, or stay and enjoy the game with one of Wingstop's numerous draft beers to choose from.
—Michael Jacome

Second: Buffalo Wild Wings Grill & Bar (808 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-856-0789)
Third: Sal & Mookie's New York and Ice Cream Joint (565 Taylor St., 601-368-1919)
Good Showing: Wing Station (5038 Parkway Drive, 888-769-9464); The Pizza Shack (925 E. Fortification St., 601-352-2001; 5046 Parkway Drive, 601-957-1975); American Deli (3645 Highway 80 W., 601-355-2448); Sportsman's Lodge (1220 E. Northside Drive, Suite 100, 601-366-5441)

Best Taqueria: Taqueria La Guadalupe
6537 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland, 601-206-7776
Moving to Mississippi was a betrayal to my stomach and its love for the quality Mexican food I was raised on. Then I found Taqueria La Guadalupe. Everything is fresh. The menu boasts standard taco meats, such as chicken and pork, as well as options like chorizo (Mexican sausage), barbacoa and tripe. As good as these choices are, they pale in comparison to the carne asada (roasted steak), tacos which rival any taco-cart tacos in Mexico. All tacos are made with corn or flour tortillas and served with lettuce, cilantro, avocado and onion. After your 157th visit, you may even want to try other specialties like elotes (roasted corn), menudo, tamales and tortas (Mexican sandwiches).
—Michael Jacome

Second: Babalu Tacos and Tapas (622 Duling Ave., 601-366-5757)
Third: La Morena (6610 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland, 601-899-8821)
Good Showing: Carniceria Valdez (6530 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland 601-899-6992); Omonia/King Tortas (1290 E. Country Line Road, Ridgeland 601-420-5942)

Best Place for Fried Fish: Cock of the Walk
141 Madison Landing Circle, Ridgeland, 601-856-5500,http://www. cockofthewalkrestaurant.com/reservoir
Perennial favorite Cock of the Walk takes first place again for Best Place for Fried Fish, as it has for several years running. Cock of the Walk proves that specialization works. All it serves is tender, fresh, perfectly fried catfish, chicken, audacious cornbread and various veggie sides. The cooks save their efforts to bring you the best fried catfish you'll find in Jackson, maybe anywhere in the country if you ask former New York Times food critic Craig Claiborne. And you get it all at one wallet-friendly price: $7.95. The restaurant is unpretentious as all get out, with its rustic atmosphere and family-friendly seating and setups, although you can't beat the location: waterside on the rez. Don't worry, vegetarians. Veggie plates are on the menu, too.
—Ronni Mott

Second: Penn's Restaurant (Multiple locations, 601-982-9004) /
Third: Jerry's Catfish House (3326 Highway 49 S., Florence, 601-845-8860) /
Good Showing: Eddie & Ruby's Snack Bar (1268 Valley St., 601-969-2723); Martin's Fish House (5249 Clinton Blvd., 601-922-1150); Valley Street Fish House, (1234 Valley St., 601-354-0939)

Best Doughnuts: Scurlock's Donut Shop and Eatery
125 S. Congress St., Suite 106, 601-326-8520, http://www.scurlockdonuts.com
Jackson voted: Scurlock's again serves the best doughnuts in town. Mark Scurlock has been making doughnuts for more than 20 years. Conveniently located in downtown Jackson across from Jackson City Hall, Scurlock's offers an endless assortment of classic favorites. Doughnut holes, cake doughnuts, bear claws, apple fritters—you name it, and it is in the display case. The doughnuts and pastries are cooked fresh every morning. In addition to its popular doughnuts, Scurlock's offers traditional breakfast items and serves plate lunches each day. Scurlock's is open for business Monday through Saturday at 7 a.m. So whether you need doughnuts for your morning breakfast meeting or a morning treat for yourself, Scurlock's is the place to go.
—Adriane Louie

Second: Donut Palace (multiple locations; call 601-919-8601)
Third: Shipley's Do-Nuts (103 Highway 80 E., Clinton, 601-925-0020)
Good Showing: Pillow Donuts (1679 Old Fannin Road, Suite D, Flowood, 601- 992-6040; 707 Beau Pre Drive, Ridgeland, 601- 790-9697); Monroe's (6310 Medgar Evers Blvd., 601-981-3208) and Sweet Sensations (5036 Parkway Drive, 769-233-7409)

Best Place to Break Up, Best Place to Hang Out With a Laptop, Best Place to Get Coffee: Cups Espresso Café
Multiple Locations, http://www.cupsespressocafe.com
Getting dumped is never an enjoyable experience, but I suppose if it's going to happen, I might like it to happen at a coffee house. There probably wouldn't be any tears, because it's a public place, and I have the option of pouring some scorching hot coffee on my newly ex-boyfriend. That might actually make the experience enjoyable (although Cups coffee is not the kind I'd like to waste). Cups Espresso Café is the best coffee shop to break up in because what better to heal those emotional wounds than a blondie frappe?

Since it's also the best place to get a cup of coffee and the best place to hang out with a laptop, order your newly single self some of the best coffee in town, sit back with your laptop, and go ahead and update your Match.com profile and change that Facebook relationship status to single.
—Holly Perkins

Best Place to Hang Out With a Laptop
Second:
Sneaky Beans (2914 N. State St., 601-487-6349)
Third: Broad Street Baking Company and Café (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900)
Good Showing: Java Ink (420 Roberts St., Pearl, 601-397-6292), Fusion Coffeehouse (1111 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite A, Ridgeland, 601-856-6001), Beagle Bagel (4500 Interstate 55 N., 769-251-1892; 898 Avery Blvd., Ridgeland, 601-956-1773; 100 Mannsdale Park Drive, Madison, 601-856-4377)

Best Place to Get Coffee
Second:
Sneaky Beans (2914 N. State St., 601-487-6349)
Third: Seattle Drip (Multiple Locations, http://www.seattledrip.com)
Good Showing: Broad Street Baking Company and Café (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900), Fusion Coffeehouse (1111 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite A, Ridgeland, 601-856-6001); Java Ink (420 Roberts St., Pearl, 601-397-6292); Koinonia (136 S. Adams St., 601-960-3008)

Best Place to Break Up
Second:
Ross Barnett Reservoir
Third: Club Fire (209 S. Commerce St., 601-592-1000)
Good Showing: The Electric Cowboy (closed); at home; on Facebook

Best Vegetarian Options: Rainbow's High Noon Café
2807 Old Canton Rd., 601-366-1513, http://www.rainbowcoop.org/café.htm

Jackson is not always the most vegetarian-friendly town in terms of varied meat-free menu options, but High Noon Café offers a range of healthy, delicious, budget-friendly fare for vegetarians and vegans as well as those with certain food allergies. Those who are unused to having many options when dining out might even feel a bit overwhelmed by their choices of sandwiches and other healthy but hearty fare. If you can swing it, top of your meal with a slice of the outstanding vegan carrot cake. You would never know that it didn't have butter and eggs!
—Kelly Bryan Smith

Second: Parlor Market (115 W. Capital St., 601-360-0090); Aladdin (730 Lakeland Drive, 601-366-6033)
Third: Cool Al's (4654 McWillie Drive, 601-713-3020)
Good Showing: Spice Avenue (4711 Interstate 55 N., 601-982-0890); Pan Asia (720 Harbour Pointe Crossing, 601-956-2958); Keifer's (705 Poplar Blvd., 601-355-6825)


Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus