Rachel Driscoll at Cups Espresso Café
Photo by Trip Burns.
There's an art to the first date—an awkward, nerve-wracking, constantly on-your-toes art. Thankfully, this year's Best of Jackson Best Place for a First Date finalists are perfect choices for a romantic evening, whatever that means to you. Just remember, go easy on the talk about exes.
Cups Espresso Cafe
Multiple locations, cupsespressocafe.com
While some claim coffee shops are better as a break-up spot, there are few places in Jackson as instantly relaxing as Cups Espresso Cafe. You and your soon-to-be significant other can grab a coffee and a couch, and start a fun, friendly conversation. With so many locations, just make sure you specify which Cups for your date!
Babalu Tacos & Tapas
622 Duling Ave., 601-366-5757, babalutacos.com
Babalu Tacos & Tapas has the three tenets of any good first-date choice: great service, excellent drink specials and smaller portion sizes so the food won't stuff you beyond repair. With dozens of lighter dining options, Babalu offers many dishes worth sharing before you hit the town. Then, of course, it also won the Best Place for a First Date this year.
King Edward Grill
235 W. Capitol St., 601-353-5464, kingedwardhoteljackson.com
It may sound like we're moving too fast, but you really should take your date to a hotel—for a drink or dinner. The King Edward Grill celebrates Jackson's downtown area with a tribute to southern cooking. Whether your dinner guest has a craving for seafood or simply wants to stop in for a glass of wine or a martini, the King Edward Grill offers that and more in one neat package.
3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633, walkersdrivein.com
If you love a 1950s vibe but don't want to sacrifice modern tastes, Walker's Drive-In can help on both counts. Since Chef Derek Emerson bought the business in 2001, Walker's has become a tour de force in fine dining, snatching the prize repeatedly in the competitive Best Restaurant category, including this year. It's chic and elegant, but more importantly, the food is just tasty. And here's the bonus: If you want to start your evening off with cocktails or wine, you can go to CAET Wine Bar (which Emerson also owns) while you wait for your table at Walker's.
Saltine Oyster Bar
622 Duling Ave., Suite 201, 601-982-2899, saltinerestaurant.com
In its first year of business, Saltine Oyster Bar blew into town and beat plenty of established contenders for both the Best New Bar and Best Seafood awards. With its imaginative menu and much-praised craft-beer infuser, Saltine screams "table for two." Even if your date isn't as keen on deep-sea delicacies, Saltine can cook up non-seafood options, such as spaghetti and meatballs and the Saltine Burger. But, of course, the restaurant offers a wide selection of oysters, some of which have come from as near as the Gulf Coast or as far away as New Zealand. You can even sit on the oyster-bar side and watch as chefs shuck the bivalves. Romantic, no?
See all the 2015 Best of Jackson winners at bestofjackson.com.