Best of Jackson 2018: Food and Drink | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Best of Jackson 2018: Food and Drink

Trip Burns/File Photo

Trip Burns/File Photo

Best Happy Hour; Best Place for Cocktails; Best Margarita; Best Mexican/Latin; Best Restaurant; Best Veggie Burger; Best Place for a First Date: Babalu Tapas & Tacos

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Trip Burns/File Photo

(622 Duling Ave., Suite 106, 601-366-5757, eatbabalu.com)

Tacos are having a social-media moment and taking up real estate on your Instagram feed. This is in large part because they are plain delicious. Babalu knows a thing or 12 about tacos, and if you don't believe me, try their Taco Tuesday, where every taco on the menu is a mere $2.

Babalu's taco menu includes ones such as redfish or carnitas (pulled pork) or carne de cerdo (pork belly). Babalu's menu goes deeper than tacos, likely leading to the southern-owned chain's multiple BOJ wins this year. Two popular items are the guacamole and Mexican street corn. For the vegetarians and vegans out there, Babalu offers several side items that can make a meal. They also have a veggie taco, so you can participate on Tuesdays. Babalu's best-known vegetarian option, however, is the black-bean burger, which now has back-to-back BOJ wins.

Dating in Jackson can get rough; however, Babalu was voted Best Place for a First Date again this year, so that's a pretty safe bet for a good first date. There are reasons for this. First, there's the margarita menu, with ones such as the Baba-rita, which has Patron silver tequila, agave nectar, fresh-squeezed sour mix, POM juice and triple sec; and the Champarita, which has sparkling wine in place of the tequila. On Mondays, Babalu's margaritas are only $5 all day. If you can't make Monday, then at least set that date time for Happy Hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The trick to a first date at Babalu is that you can just start there for drinks or apps before hitting up another restaurant for dinner, if things go well. Or if there's no chemistry, you can easily call it a night after margaritas and guacamole because, let's be honest, that can be a meal, too. The beauty of a tapas restaurant is, ultimately, that you can just keep ordering food until you're full. —Arielle Dreher

Best Happy Hour Finalists: Barrelhouse (3009 N. State St., 769-216-3167, barrelhousems.com) / CAET Wine Bar (3100 N. State St., Suite 102, 601-321-9169, caetwinebar.com) / Saltine Restaurant (622 Duling Ave., Suite 201, 601-982-2899, saltinerestaurant.com) The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen (1200 N. State St., Suite 100, 601-398-4562, themanshipjackson.com)

Best Place for Cocktails Finalists: Barrelhouse (3009 N. State St., 769-216-3167, barrelhousems.com) / BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 244, 601-982-8111, bravobuzz.com) / CAET Wine Bar (3100 N. State St., Suite 102, 601-321-9169, caetwinebar.com) / The Apothecary at Brent's Drugs (655 Duling Ave., 769-257-3517, apothecaryjackson.com)

Best Margarita Finalists: Barrelhouse (3009 N. State St., 769-216-3167, barrelhousems.com) / Cinco De Mayo (880 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-957-1882, cinco-de-mayo-ms.com) / Picante's Mexican Grill (960 N. State St., 601-398-1344; 132 Port Gibson St., Raymond, 601-526-9070) / Sombra Mexican Kitchen 
(140 Township Ave., Suite 100, Ridgeland, 601-707-7950; 111 Market St., Flowood, 601-215-5445, sombramexicankitchen.com) /

Best Mexican/Latin Finalists: Cinco De Mayo (880 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-957-1882, cinco-de-mayo-ms.com) / Green Ghost Tacos (1290 E. County Line Road, 601-957-7436, greenghosttacos.com) / Papitos Mexican Restaurant and Grill (multiple locations, papitosmexicanrestaurant.com) / Picante's Mexican Grill (960 N. State St., 601-398-1344; 132 Port Gibson St., Raymond, 601-526-9070) / Sombra Mexican Kitchen (140 Township Ave., Suite 100, Ridgeland, 601-707-7950; 111 Market St., Flowood, 601-215-5445, sombramexicankitchen.com)

Best Restaurant Finalists: BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 244, 601-982-8111, bravobuzz.com) / Char Restaurant (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 142, 601-956-9562, charrestaurant.com) / Lou's 
Full-Serv (904B E. Fortification St., 
601-487-6359, lousfullserv.com) / The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen (1200 N. State St., Suite 100, 601-398-4562, themanshipjackson.com) / Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633, walkersdrivein.com)

Best Veggie Burger Finalists: 
BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 244, 601-982-8111, bravobuzz.com) / High Noon Cafe (2807 Old Canton Road, 601-366-1602 ext. 3, rainbowcoop.org) / Local 463 Urban Kitchen (1000 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 5002, Ridgeland, 601-707-7684, local463.com) / Majestic Burger (1067 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite B, Ridgeland, 601-707-0093)

Best Place for a First Date Finalists: Barrelhouse (3009 N. State St., 769-216-3167, barrelhousems.com) / BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 244, 601-982-8111, bravobuzz.com) / The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen (1200 N. State St., Suite 100, 601-398-4562, themanshipjackson.com) / Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., walkersdrivein.com)

Best Hangover Food; Best Local French Fries; Best Outdoor Dining: Keifer's

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Trip Burns/File Photo

(120 N. Congress St., 601-353-49756; 705 Poplar Blvd., 601-355-6825, keifers.net)

If you're obsessed with French fries, you know that Keifer's is where it's at. Not only do the restaurant's fries make great hangover food, but they also can make a whole meal if you go. The most popular menu item is likely the cottage fries, literally a potato sliced and fried up. These potatoes need no more than your favorite dipping sauce (if you're not getting the feta dressing, are you even living?). Keifer's uses a savory, not-too-much-but-just-enough seasoning on its French fries that is addictive. If you opt out of cottage fries, the curly fries, which are available at the downtown location, are also award-winning. The rest of the Keifer's menu is composed of an array of pita wraps that will please almost everyone you decide to go out to eat with, from falafel to quarter-pound hamburger kebobs, and more.

Keifer's is a great spot to rendezvous the morning after a wild night with friends. However, if the hangover is really rough, you can always get your wrap and fries to go. In any season but winter, Keifer's on Poplar Avenue is a good place to kick back with a pitcher of beer with friends, nomming on fries. The location's wraparound porch is definitely worthy of the Best of Jackson Outdoor Dining nod. On the weekend and during lunch in warmer months, it can be difficult to get a table outside. Downtown location has good outdoor dining, too. —Arielle Dreher

Best Hangover Food Finalists: Brent's Drugs (655 Duling Ave., 601-366-3427) / Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055, fenianspub.com) / Rooster's Restaurant (2906 N. State St., 601-982-2001, roostersfondren.com) / The Feathered Cow (1040 Spillway Circle, Suite A 5, Brandon, 601-605-0414, featheredcow.com)

Best Local French Fries Finalists: Barrelhouse (3009 N. State St., 769-216-3167, barrelhousems.com) / CAET Wine Bar (3100 N. State St., Suite 102, 601-321-9169, caetwinebar.com) / Rooster's Restaurant (2906 N. State St., 601-982-2001, roostersfondren.com) / Saltine Restaurant (622 Duling Ave., Suite 201, 601-982-2899, saltinerestaurant.com) / The Feathered Cow (1040 Spillway Circle, Suite A 5, Brandon, 601-605-0414, featheredcow.com)

Best Outdoor Dining Finalists: Babalu Tapas & Tacos (622 Duling Ave., Suite 106, 601-366-5757, eatbabalu.com) / CAET Wine Bar (3100 N. State St., Suite 102, 601-321-9169, caetwinebar.com) / Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633, walkers
drivein.com) / The Pig & Pint (3139 N. State St., 601-326-6070, pigandpint.com)

Best Local Fried Chicken; Best Lunch Counter or Buffet; Best Soul Food: Mama Hamil's Southern Cookin' & BBQ

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Photo courtesy Mama Hamil's

(751 Highway 51, Madison, 601-856-4407, hamils.com)

Mama Hamil's has been part of the Jackson metro area's food scene ever since the restaurant opened in 1977. Its first location was a small cabin only big enough for 60 people, but these days, the restaurant can accommodate up to 300 people.

The menu includes soul-food classics such as turnip greens, barbecue beans, black-eyed peas, smoked chicken, fried catfish, chicken and dumplings, barbecue ribs, meat loaf, collard greens, mashed potatoes and gravy, pulled pork and more; however, if you're going to Mama Hamil's make sure you try the fried chicken (it is the winner for Best Local Fried Chicken, after all). —Dustin Cardon

Best Local Fried Chicken Finalists: Fannin Mart Restaurant (5419 Highway 25, Flowood, 601-992-0411; 160 Weisenberger Road, Madison, 769-300-2493; fanninmart.com) / Local 463 Urban Kitchen (1000 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 5002, Ridgeland, 601-707-7684, local463.com) / Primos Cafe (515 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-898-3600; 2323 Lakeland Drive, Suite A, Flowood, 601-936-3398; primoscafe.com) / Rooster's Restaurant (2906 N. State St., 601-982-2001, roostersfondren.com)

Best Lunch Counter or Buffet Finalists: Brent's Drugs (655 Duling Ave., 601-366-3427) / McDade's Markets (Multiple locations, mcdadesmarkets.com) / Primos Cafe (515 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-898-3600; 2323 Lakeland Drive, Suite A, Flowood, 601-936-3398; primoscafe.com) / The Country Kitchen (219 County Line Road, 601-991-1056)

Best Soul Food Finalists: Bully's Restaurant (3118 Livingston Road, 601-362-0484) / Gloria's Family Restaurant LLC (2855 Bailey Ave., 601-362-0009) / Sugar's Place (168 W. Griffith St., 601-352-2364, sugarsdowntown.com) / The Country Kitchen (219 County Line Road, 601-991-1056)

Best Place for Hummus; Best Vegetarian Options: Aladdin Mediterranean Grill

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File Photo

(730 Lakeland Drive, 601-366-6033, aladdininjackson.com)

Tucked away in Fondren, Aladdin is a Mediterranean restaurant where vegetarians can eat without having to do mental gymnastics to find suitable options. The menu includes vegetarian dishes such as falafel (a fried mixture of ground chickpeas, onion and parsley). It also offers a popular sauteed vegetarian plate with a mix of squash, zucchini, carrots, celery and mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil and garlic. It is served over basmati rice, and topped with feta cheese; and more.

Aladdin is also known for its hummus. It's a smoothly blended dip made of tahini paste, lemon and pureed chick peas, and topped with a jalapeno pesto, olive oil and sumac. It comes alongside the vegetarian plate, or you can order it as a side with any meal you choose. —Ko Bragg

Best Place for Hummus Finalists: Athenos Greek and Lebanese Cafe (111 Colony Crossing Way, Madison, 601-605-1400, athenoscafe.com / Babalu Tapas & Tacos (622 Duling Ave., Suite 106, 601-366-5757, eatbabalu.com) / Keifer's (120 N. Congress St., 601-353-49756; 705 Poplar Blvd., 601-355-6825, keifers.net) / Krilakis (207 W. Jackson St., Suite D, Ridgeland, 601-790-9463; krilakis.com) / Zeek'z House of Gyros (currently closed)

Best Vegetarian Options Finalists: Babalu Tapas & Tacos (622 Duling Ave., Suite 106, 601-366-5757, eatbabalu.com) / Crossroads Cafe (398 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-790-7141) / BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 244, 601-982-8111, bravobuzz.com) / High Noon Cafe (2807 Old Canton Road, 601-366-1602 ext. 3, rainbowcoop.org)

Best Pub Quiz/Trivia Night; Best Barbecue: The Pig & Pint

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Trip Burns/File Photo

(3139 N. State St., 601-326-6070, pigandpint.com)

Drive by The Pig & Pint on a Monday night (trivia night), and you probably won't find a spot to park or sit at if you don't plan ahead. The restaurant's patio, which is full of long tables, forces unlikely allies to team up during trivia or brings out squads of folks to compete for gift cards.

If trivia isn't your thing, the restaurant was also voted Best Barbecue this year. From brisket to pulled pork, you will not be disappointed. The restaurant only uses charcoal and wood-burning smokers to cook their meat. They also know a thing or two about sauce, and the options, Carolina mustard sauce and Mississippi "sweet" barbecue, sit on every table in the restaurant.

For more information, visit pigandpint.com. —Arielle Dreher

Best Pub Quiz/Trivia Night Finalists: Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055, fenianspub.com) / Hal & Mal's (200 Commerce St., 601-948-0888, halandmals.com) / 
Library Lounge (Fairview Inn, 734 Fairview St., 601-948-3429, fairviewinn.com) / Lost Pizza Co. (multiple location, lostpizza.com)

Best Barbecue Finalists: E&L Barbeque (1111 Bailey Ave., 601-355-5035) / Hickory Pit (1491 Canton Mart Road, 601-956-7079, hickorypitms.com) / 
Little Willie's BBQ (115 Village Square, Suite G, Brandon, 601-992-6328; 3015 Highway 80 E., 601-397-6698; littlewilliesbarbecue.com) / Sylvester's MS Style BBQ (9434 Highway 18, Raymond, 601-346-8000)

Best Meal Under $10; Best Place to Buy Beer: McDade's Markets

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File Photo

(Multiple locations, mcdadesmarkets.com)

When looking for a meal under $10, especially during lunch, a grocery store can sometimes be the best option. McDade's is no exception to this. While the store itself is stocked with everything to make a cheap lunch, from bread to tortillas to peanut butter and jelly, and more, each McDade's also has an affordably priced lunch counter.

Every day of the week, you can find menu items at the lunch counter such as fried or baked chicken, and vegetable soup, but the lunch bar also has items for specific days of the week such as fried pork chops, spaghetti with meatballs and broccoli and rice casserole. Each location's lunch menu varies. McDade's also has a deli, bakery, a meat counter and produce, so whatever kind of meal you want to make for under $10, you'll probably find it there. Also, as the winner for Best Place to Buy Beer should, the grocery store also has an extensive selection of beer, with everything from craft beers such as Lucky Town Brewing Company to imported beers such as Guinness. —Amber Helsel

Best Meal Under $10 Finalists: Aladdin Mediterranean Grill (730 Lakeland Drive, 601-366-6033, aladdininjackson.com) / Basil's (2906 N. State St., Suite 104, 601-982-2100; 120 N. Congress St., Suite L1, 601-944-9888) / Surin of Thailand (3000 Old Canton Road, Suite 105, 601-981-3205) / The Trace Grill (574 Highway 51, Suite F, Ridgeland, 601-853-1014, thetracegrill.com)

Best Place to Buy Beer Finalists: Hops & Habanas (2771 Old Canton Road, 769-572-4631; 123 Grandview Blvd., Madison, Suite N, 601-853-7449; hopsandhabanas.com) / 
LD's Beer Run (5006 Parkway Drive, 769-208-8686) / Lucky Town Brewing Company (1710 N. Mill St., 601-790-0142, luckytownbrewing.com)

Place to Get Coffee; Best College Student Hangout: Cups Espresso Cafe

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(Multiple locations; cupsespressocafe.com)

Cups Espresso Cafe is a staple of the Jackson coffee scene. "We have so many locations, and that means so many ways the reputation could go South, but as a whole it's always very positive" Cody Cox, manager of the Cups in Fondren, says.

Cups' coffee drinks include the famed blondie, which has caramel and white chocolate, and the caramel-filled Capitol Street latte. Cups also has seasonal coffee brews, variations of espresso, noncoffee drinks such as tea and hot chocolate, and more. The coffee shops are also an ideal place to study or work on your next big project. —Seth Reeks

Best Place to Get Coffee Finalists: Deep South Pops (1800 N. State St., 601-398-2174; 4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 173, 601-398-0623) / Fusion Coffeehouse (1111 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite A, Ridgeland, 601-856-6001) / Mocha Mugs (multiple locations, mochamugs.com) / Sneaky Beans (2914 N. State St., 601-487-6349)

Best College Student Hangout Finalists: Deep South Pops (1800 N. State St., 601-398-2174; 4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 173, 601-398-0623) / Fenian's Pub (901 E. Fortification St., 
601-948-0055) / Fondren Public (2765 Old Canton Road, 769-216-2589) / Ole Tavern on George Street (416 George St., 601-960-2700)

Best Breakfast; Best Place for Dessert: Primos Cafe

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Trip Burns/File Photo

(515 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-898-3600; 2323 Lakeland Drive, Suite A, Flowood, 601-936-3398; primoscafe.com)

Breakfast lovers rejoice: While most restaurants may stop serving breakfast around 10:30 a.m., Primos Cafe serves its breakfast menu all day. The menu includes dishes such as the breakfast wrap, or scrambled eggs, onions, peppers and cheese wrapped in an herb tortilla; buttermilk pancakes; and omelets with a choice of ham, tomato, cheese, peppers and more. Primos also has a renowned bakery, with desserts such as three-layer cakes in flavors such as caramel and Italian cream; desserts such as fudge squares and petit fours; and more.

For more information, visit primoscafe.com. —Amber Helsel

Best Breakfast Finalists: Brent's Drugs (655 Duling Ave., 601-366-3427) / Broad Street Baking Company (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900) / Jo's Diner (241 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-988-9000) / The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen (1200 N. State St., Suite 100, 601-398-4562)

Best Place for Dessert Finalists: Amerigo (6592 Old Canton Road, 601-977-0563; 155 Market St., Flowood, 601-992-1550) / Char Restaurant (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 142, 601-956-9562) / La Brioche Patisserie (2906 N. State St., 601-988-2299) / Lou's Full-Serv (904B E. Fortification St., 601-487-6359)

Best Thai Restaurant: Surin of Thailand

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Photo courtesy Facebook/Surin of Thailand

(3000 Old Canton Road, Suite 105, 601-981-3205)

Best Thai Restaurant winner Surin of Thailand is an example of a restaurant that has not been here long but still made a mark on Jackson's culinary scene.

The restaurant's menu includes Thai cuisine mainstays such as coconut soup, but it is also has bounty of Thai curries such ones with chicken and shrimp, noodle dishes such as spicy beef noodles, appetizers such as pot stickers with red curry, and a number of Thai-inspired entrees such as Thai sea bass with coconut-lemongrass-cilantro sauce, lime juice and Thai spices.

If you want a drink with your meal, Surin has cocktails such as a martini made with a lychee fruit puree, and a Mississippi sipper, with has Tito's vodka, St. Germaine, grapefruit juice and club soda.

For more information, visit surinofthailand.com. —Malcolm Morrow

Finalists: Fusion Japanese & Thai Cuisine (1002 Treetops Boulevard, Flowood, 601-664-7588; 1030 Highway 51, Madison, 601-790-7999; fusionjackson.com) / Thai Tasty (5050 Parkway Drive, Suite 7, 601-540-2534) / Thai Time (1405 Old Square Road, 601-982-9991)

Best Seafood; Best Place for Oysters: Half Shell Oyster House

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Photo courtesy Facebook/Half Shell Oyster House

(115 Laurel Park Cove, Suite 105, Flowood, 769-257-7586, halfshelloysterhouse.com)

Half Shell Oyster house has served the Gulf south region oysters and seafood for almost 10 years, with locations in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida. The Gulf Coast Restaurant Group, which owns Half Shell, opened the Flowood location in September 2015.

"The customer favorite is the oyster sampler, which includes the four different types of oysters we make, the oysters Orleans, the oysters Bienville, our charbroiled oysters, and the oysters Rockefeller," Flowood manager Curren Mirando says.

Mirando says the restaurant's red fish Orleans, a blackened piece of red fish with sauteed shrimp and the Orleans sauce, and the crab-and-shrimp dip are also popular items.

Half Shell also serves non-seafood items such as burgers and sandwiches, soups and salads, steak, chicken and pasta.

"We have a big menu but we're trying out new things," Mirando says. —Seth Reeks

Best Seafood Finalists: Drago's Seafood Restaurant (1005 E. County Line Road, 601-957-1515, dragosrestaurant.com) / Saltine Restaurant (622 Duling Ave., Suite 201, 601-982-2899, saltinerestaurant.com) / Seafood R'evolution (1000 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 9015, 601-853-3474, seafoodrevolution.com) / Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633, walkersdrivein.com)

Best Place for Oysters Finalists: Drago's Seafood Restaurant (1005 E. County Line Road, 601-957-1515, dragosrestaurant.com) / Saltine Restaurant (622 Duling Ave., Suite 201, 601-982-2899, saltinerestaurant.com) / Shucker's Oyster Bar (116 Conestoga Road, Ridgeland, 601-853-0105, shuckersontherez.com) / Seafood R'evolution (1000 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 9015, 601-853-3474, seafoodrevolution.com)

Best Brunch: The Iron Horse Grill

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Photo courtesy Iron Horse Grill

(320 W. Pearl St., 601-398-0151, theironhorsegrill.com)

Over the last few years, brunch has become a trend. Jackson restaurants such as The Iron Horse Grill have taken notice of the meal's popularity and have implemented a brunch menu. However, Iron Horse doesn't just have a menu: Each Sunday, the restaurant's chefs operate waffle and omelet stations. During brunch, you go to either station, request what you want and can watch the chef make it. Toppings for waffles include maple syrup, blueberries, cherries, pecans and whipped cream; and omelet toppings include sausage, bacon, mushrooms, bell peppers and green onions. If you like music, Iron Horse normally has someone performing during brunch, and the "Mississippi Experience" museum is also upstairs.

The Iron Horse Grill is open on Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit theironhorsegrill.com.

Finalists: BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 244, 601-982-8111, bravobuzz.com) / Char Restaurant (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 142, 601-956-9562, charrestaurant.com) / Saltine Restaurant (622 Duling Ave., Suite 201, 601-982-2899, saltinerestaurant.com) / Table 100 (100 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-420-4202, tableonehundred.com)

Best Chinese Food; Best Sushi/Japanese: Ichiban Chinese Buffet; Ichiban Hibachi & Sushi

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Photo courtesy Facebook/Ichiban

(multiple locations, ichibanbuffetms.com, ichibangrillms.com)

Brother and sister duo Kam and Ling Ngai opened Ichiban Chinese Buffet and Ichiban Hibachi & Sushi in 2006 to create an upscale dining and buffet experience

However, instead of focusing on one culinary tradition, they went in two directions.

"Chinese and Japanese seemed a good choice, something customers around here would like," he says.

The Pearl locations opened in 2015.

The menu at Ichiban Chinese Buffet, which is a two-time consecutive winner of Best Chinese, includes dishes such as General Tso's chicken, coconut shrimp, egg drop soup; fruits such as orange, honeydew melon and kiwi; cakes such as cream puffs and black forest cake; a Blue Bell ice cream bar; and more.

Over on the hibachi and sushi side of Ichiban, the sushi menu includes dishes such as seafood tofu soup for two, with shrimp, crab and scallops; appetizers such as egg roll, pork roll or shu-mai (steamed or fried shrimp dumpling); sashimi; cucumber, spicy shrimp and spicy crab sushi rolls, and specialty ones such as the spider roll with soft-shell crab, lettuce, avocado, cucumber, fish roe and eel sauce. For hibachi, guests can choose from vegetable, chicken, scallops and more, and the menu also includes noodles and lobster sides.

For more information, visit ichibanbuffetms.com or ichibangrillms.com. —Mike McDonald and Jan M. Richardson

Best Chinese Food Finalists: China Cafe (160 Promenade Blvd., Flowood, 601-919-1388) / Hunan Wok Carry Out (6556 Old Canton Road, 601-956-8988) / Mr. Chen's Restaurant (5465 Interstate 55 N., 601-978-1865) / Wok 2 Go (1030 E. Peace St., Canton, 601-859-0076)

Best Sushi/Japanese Finalists: Bonsai Japanese Steakhouse (1925 Lakeland Drive, 601-981-0606; 102 Clinton Center Drive, Clinton, 601-924-4448; bonsaijxn.com) / Edo Japanese Restaurant (5834 Ridgewood Road, Suite C, 601-899-8518) / Nagoya Japanese Sushi Bar (6351 Interstate 55 N., Suite 131, 601-977-8881; 111 Colony Crossing, Suite 380, Madison, 601-856-5678) / Sakura Bana (4800 Interstate 55 N., Suite 11, 601-982-3035, sakurabanajackson.com) / Sushi Village (398 Highway 51, Suite 100, Ridgeland, 601-898-9688)

Best Bakery: Campbell's Bakery

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Trip Burns/File Photo

(3013 N. State St., 601-362-4628; 123 Jones St., Madison, 769-300-2790; campbellsbakery.ms)

One of Jackson's best bakeries, Campbell's Bakery, is also one of Jackson's oldest. Louis Campbell started the bakery in 1962. After ownership changed hands a few times over the years, Mitchell Moore bought Campbell's in 2011, and has being making pastries, cakes and other baked goods for Jacksonians since. Moore even opened a new Campbell's location in 2016.

Campbell's Bakery serves everything from cakes to cheesecakes to pies to cookies, brownies, teacakes, petit fours and more. For anyone who needs a custom cake, the bakery can do ones themed around film franchises such as "Star Wars" or creative options such as unicorn-themed cakes, and more. —Brynn Corbello

Finalists: Broad Street Baking Company (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900) / La Brioche Patisserie (2906 N. State St., 601-988-2299) / Primos Cafe (515 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-898-3600; 2323 Lakeland Drive, Suite A, Flowood, 601-936-3398) / Sugar Magnolia Takery (5417 Highway 25, Suite F, Flowood, 601-992-8110)

Best Plate Lunch: Georgia Blue

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Trip Burns/File Photo

(111 Colony Way, Suite 130, Madison, 601-898-3330; 223 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-919-1900; georgiablue.net)

With locations around the state, and in the Jackson metro area, Georgia Blue has made a mark 
on the food scene.

Of course, one of the things the restaurant is known for is its blue-plate lunch, which the restaurant serves Sunday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and homestyle dinners from 4 p.m. to close Monday through Thursday. The blue-plate menu includes dishes such as country-fried steak and gravy on Monday, fried chicken on Sunday and fried catfish on Friday, along with macaroni and cheese, fried okra and black-eyed peas as sides.

If you want a drink to go with your blue-plate special, Georgia Blue has an extensive bar, but it has something else of note: its own vodka and bourbon. The restaurant also has New York-style cheesecake that its bakery in Brookhaven, The Georgia Blue Bakery, makes.

For more information, visit georgiablue.net. —Seth Reeks

Finalists: McDade's Markets (Multiple locations, mcdadesmarkets.com) / Primos Cafe (515 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-898-3600; 2323 Lakeland Drive, Suite A, Flowood, 601-936-3398; primoscafe.com) / The Trace Grill (574 Highway 51, Suite F, Ridgeland, 601-853-1014, thetracegrill.com) / Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633, walkersdrivein.com)

Best Food Truck/Mobile Vendor: One Guy Steak and Chicken

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(1494 Old Fannin Road, 601-503-5908, oneguysteakchicken.com)

With more than 25 years in the food industry under his belt, chef Kendrick M. Gordon, a native of the Mississippi Delta and head chef and owner of One Guy Steak and Chicken, is showing Mississippi that food trucks and fine dining can pair well together.

His black, orange and red food truck is probably a familiar sight to those who often drive down Old Fannin Road. One Guy serves a ribeye sandwich with applewood smoked bacon, smoked gouda cheese and fries; grilled filet mignon with leek mashed potatoes with a tarragon cream sauce; vegetarian dishes such as a fried pita with spinach, red onion, gouda cheese, OneGuy sauce; bourbon, Cajun, battered and crispy fries; and more.

One Guy is open Monday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and also Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., though lunch hours may vary. —Brynn Corbello

Finalists: LurnyD's Grille (601-906-9480, lurnydsgrille.com) / Chunky Dunks Sweets Truck (601-506-5951) / Small Time Hot Dogs (662-753-9702, smalltimehotdogs.com) / Green Ghost Tacos (1290 E. County Line Road, 601-957-7436, greenghosttacos.com)

Best Doughnuts: Donut Palace

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Trip Burns/File Photo

(multiple locations)

If you have lived in the metro area for a while, chances are you've had doughnuts from Donut Palace. The business seems to be everywhere: Brandon, Flowood, Ridgeland and more.

The business' options include jelly-filled doughnuts, glazed ones, doughnut holes, eclairs, old-fashioned turnovers, breakfast croissants and more. If you want something a little more savory, Donut Palace also has choices such as ham-and-cheese croissants, sausage biscuits and more. For those who want the perfect drink to go with their doughnuts, the business also has choices such as coffee, milk, juice or sodas.

For more information, find Donut Palace on Facebook. —Rebecca Hester

Finalists: Daylight Donuts (5036 Parkway Drive, 769-572-7733, daylightdonuts.com) / Monroe's Donuts and Bakery (multiple locations, monroesdonutsandbakery.com) / Pillow Donuts (1679 Old Fannin Road, Suite, D, Flowood, 601-992-6040; 707 Beau Pre Drive, Ridgeland, 601-790-9697) / V-Donuts (6745 Siwell Road, Suite 211, Byram, 601-487-6246, vdonuts.blogspot.com)

Best Gumbo: Gumbo Girl

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Photo courtesy Gumbo Girl

(5681 Highway 18 W., 601-790-0486, gumbogirl.com)

Opening a gumbo restaurant is not what Marilyn Kithuka, owner of Gumbo Girl in south Jackson, planned to do with her life, she says.

"We just celebrated two years here, so I guess God's telling me it's what I'm supposed to do," she says.

Kithuka made gumbo for the first time in 1999, when she used a Zatarain's mix. Her family loved it, and later on, she began making her gumbo from scratch. She decided not to open a storefront right away, instead opting to sell gumbo as a caterer. In late 2015, she and husband James Kithuka opened their business in south Jackson.

Kithuka says her gumbo, which includes ones such as chicken and sausage, vegetarian, seafood, and surf-and-turf, has attracted customers from all over the world. The menu also has items such as turkey necks, seafood platters, street tacos and burgers. Gumbo Girl is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. —ShaCamree Gowdy

Finalists: Char Restaurant (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 142, 601-956-9562, 
charrestaurant.com) / Hal & Mal's (200 Commerce St., 601-948-0888, halandmals.com) / Saltine Restaurant (622 Duling Ave., Suite 201, 601-982-2899, saltinerestaurant.com) / Seafood R'evolution (1000 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 9015, 601-853-3474, 
seafoodrevolution.com)

Best Local Burger: Stamps Super Burgers

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File Photo

(1801 Dalton St., 601-352-4555)

Best Burger winner Stamps Super Burgers is tucked in the neighborhood surrounding Jackson State University. The building blends into the surrounding houses, which may make it hard to spot at first, but the smoke from the grill billows into the street, calling in everyone.

The restaurant's large menu includes burgers such as the famed 12-ounce Super Burger (also called the Stamps Burger), the Super Turkey Burger; and more.

The menu also includes dishes such as wings in four flavors—Buffalo, lemon pepper, sweet and spicy, and old fashioned—salads such as a grilled chicken salad with lettuce, cheese, sweet red onions, cucumbers, radishes and pickles; and more.

For more information, find the business on Facebook. —Seth Reeks

Finalists: Babalu Tapas & Tacos (622 Duling Ave., Suite 106, 601-366-5757, eatbabalu.com) / Burgers & Blues (1060 E. County Line Road, Suite 22, Ridgeland, 601-899-0038, burgers
blues.com) / The Feathered Cow (1040 Spillway Circle, Suite A 5, Brandon, 601-605-0414, featheredcow.com) / Mugshots Grill & Bar (4245 Lakeland Drive, Flowood, 601-932-4031; 879 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-978-1972; mugshotsgrillandbar.com) / Rooster's Restaurant (2906 N. State St., 601-982-2001, roostersfondren.com)

Best Italian: Amerigo

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Photo courtesy Amerigo

(6592 Old Canton Road, 601-977-0563; 155 Market St., Flowood, 601-992-1550; amerigo.net)

Amerigo is a perennial favorite for Best Italian. The restaurant, which opened in Ridgeland around 30 years ago and now has a location in Flowood, offers appetizers including shrimp bisque and oven-roasted artichoke cheese dip. Popular pastas include oven-roasted lasagna and spaghetti. The menu also has gluten-free options such as Caesar salad and cedar-roasted redfish. Both locations offer brunch, including a crab-cake Benedict, and a breakfast panini with scrambled eggs, country ham, bacon and Fontina cheese. Diners also love Ameriga's generous dessert.

For more information, visit amerigo.net or find the restaurants on Facebook. —Rebecca Hester

Finalists: BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 244, 601-982-8111, bravobuzz.com) / Cerami's Italian Restaurant (5417 Highway 25, Suite I, Flowood, 601-919-2829, ceramisitalian.com) / Parlor Market (115 W. Capitol St., 601-360-0090, parlormarket.com) / Fratesi's Authentic Italian Cuisine (910 Lake Harbour Drive, Ridgeland, 601-956-2929, fratesis.com)

Best Wine List (at a restaurant): CAET Wine Bar

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Trip Burns/File Photo

(3100 N. State St., Suite 102, 601-321-9169, caetwinebar.com)

CAET Wine Bar in Fondren is a top choice for trying new options. CAET offers 30 by-the-glass wine selections each night. CAET (pronounced "Kate") uses a wine-preservation system called Napa Technology that allows it to offer so many top-quality options. "We try to show a lot of variety and have something for everyone, and I do believe we have accomplished that," Executive Chef Meredith Pittman says.

Choose a variety of large and small nibbles, including one of the best charcuterie boards in the city. —ShaCamree Gowdy

Finalists: BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 244, 601-982-8111, bravobuzz.com) / Seafood R'evolution (1000 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 9015, 601-853-3474, seafoodrevolution.com) / Table 100 (100 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-420-4202, tableonehundred.com) / The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen (1200 N. State St., Suite 100, 601-398-4562, themanshipjackson.com)

Best Steak: Shapley's

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Trip Burns/File Photo

(868 Centre St., Ridgeland, 601-957-3753, shapleysrestaurant.com)

If you're looking for a great steak in the metro, Shapley's is your place. The restaurant opened in 1985; current owners Julie and Scott Koestler bought it in 1998.

Shapley's uses cuts such as filet mignon, ribeye, New York strip, and Porterhouse or T-bone. Guests can top their cuts with toppings including sauteed mushrooms with garlic, wine and herbs, and sauteed jumbo lump crab meat topped with a cream sauce. The restaurant even has its own all-purpose seasoning that diners can buy in the restaurant.

The menu includes appetizers such as fried crab claws and Hudson Valley fois gras pan-seared over a wild mushroom ragout and a port reduction. Popular alternatives to steak include grilled tuna steak and jumbo fried shrimp. —Rebecca Hester

Finalists: Char Restaurant (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 142, 601-956-9562, charrestaurant.com) / ELY's Restaurant & Bar (115 W. Jackson St., Ridgeland, Suite 2E, Ridgeland, 601-605-6359, elysrestaurant.com) / Tico's Steak House (1536 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland, 
601-956-1030, ticossteakhouse.com) / Walker's Drive-In (3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633, walkersdrivein.com)

Best Local Crawfish: The Crawdad Hole

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Photo courtesy The Crawdad Hole

(1150 Lakeland Drive, 601-982-9299)

On the outside, The Crawdad Hole appears to have come to Jackson from the bayous of south Louisiana. The inside has baseball memorabilia, rock-and-roll records, and country music posters.

The business has served its Cajun dishes to Jackson since 1995.

"It started off in an old beer barn on 25, then it moved (to a space near Smith Wills Stadium)," Managing Partner Scott Wesson says. "... We just do our thing and people seem to like it."

The Crawdad Hole offers several Cajun favorites such as boiled shrimp, seafood gumbo and boiled crawfish.

For more information, visit thecrawdadhole.com. —Seth Reeks

Finalists: Mudbugs (1299 Old Fannin Road, Brandon, 601-992-5225; 151 W. Government St., Suite D, Brandon, 601-706-4751; mudbugscrawfish.com) / Sal & Phil's Seafood & Lounge (6600 Old Canton Road, Suite B, Ridgeland, 601-957-1188) / T'Beaux's Crawfish and Catering (941 Highway 80 W., Clinton, 
601-926-4793; 5752-B Terry Road, 
Byram, 769-230-3855; tbeauxs.com) / The Crawfish Hut (6956 Old Canton Road, Ridgeland, 601-956-3474)

Best Local Fine Dining: Walker's Drive-In

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Photo courtesy Walker's Drive-In

(3016 N. State St., 601-982-2633, walkersdrivein.com)

When it opened, this year's winner for Best Local Fine Dining, Walker's Drive-In was a literal drive-in restaurant. It is in the same location, but these days, it's not so much a drive-in as it is a destination for fine dining.

The dinner menu includes dishes such as Niman Ranch pork belly with a buttermilk-herb biscuit, a soft poached egg and apple jam; main courses such as a wood-grilled 16-ounce prime strip steak with truffle fries, spinach, blue cheese butter and a red-wine reduction, and more. For those who want to dine fancy during lunch, the appetizer menu includes fried green tomatoes with spicy crawfish and charred lemon butter and more. No matter what time of day you decide to eat at Walker's, though, you can always sit on the patio, look at the mural on the wall and people-watch in Fondren. —Amber Helsel

Finalists: BRAVO! Italian Restaurant & Bar (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 244, 601-982-8111, bravobuzz.com) / Char Restaurant (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 142, 601-956-9562, charrestaurant.com) / Shapley's (868 Centre St., Ridgeland, 601-957-3753, shapleysrestaurant.com) / Table 100 (100 Ridge Way, Flowood, 601-420-4202, tableonehundred.com) / The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen (1200 N. State St., Suite 100, 601-398-4562, themanshipjackson.com)

Best Place for Pizza: Pizza Shack

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(925 E. Fortification St., 601-352-2001; 219 Garden Park Drive, Madison, 601-856-8600; The Bank by Pizza Shack, 200 W. Leake St., Clinton, 601-708-1708; pizzashackpizza.com)

Best Place for Pizza winner Pizza Shack has been serving Jacksonians since 2005, but the restaurant has undergone some changes over the last few years. Now, it has locations in Jackson, Madison, and Clinton with one called The Bank by Pizza Shack.

While one of the local favorites is the carnivore (pepperoni, Canadian bacon, sausage, beef and bacon), Pizza Shack's menu also includes pizzas such as the veggie deluxe with mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and green and black olives; and the chicken curry delight with curry, smoked gouda, mozzarella, curry chicken, bell peppers, onions and fire-roasted red peppers. The sandwich menu also includes the Philly cheesesteak and more. For more information, find the business on Facebook. —Seth Reeks

Finalists: Lost Pizza Co. (multiple locations, lostpizza.com) / Sal & Mookie's New York Pizza & Ice Cream Joint (565 Taylor St., 601-368-1919, salandmookies.com) / Soulshine Pizza Factory (1111 Highland Colony Parkway, Suite 1, Ridgeland, 601-856-8646; 5352 Highway 25, Suite 1100, Flowood, 601-919-2000) / The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen (1200 N. State St., Suite 100, 601-398-4562, themanshipjackson.com)

Best New Restaurant: Barrelhouse

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Photo courtesy Facebook/Barrelhouse

(3009 N. State St., 769-216-3167, barrelhousems.com)

Barrelhouse has only been open since early 2017, but it has still made foodie waves in Jackson, now winning the 2018 award for Best New Restaurant.

The bar's appetizer menu includes buffalo cauliflower with a Grit Girl cornmeal crust, celery and bleu cheese, and tuna poke nachos with Ahi tuna, avocado, seaweed salad, sesame seeds, wonton chips, a Hawaiian sauce and a spicy aioli. Its entrees include the country Cuban with braised pulled pork, country ham, fried pickles, white cheddar, praline mustard on a Gil's Bread hoagie, and fries; and more.

Barrelhouse extensive bar includes draft and bottled beers, wine, bourbon- and whiskey-based cocktails, and more. The business has social hour from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

For more information, visit barrelhousems.com. —Brynn Corbello

Finalists: Bacchus in Madison (121 Colony Crossing Way A, Madison, 601-707-5733, bacchusmadison.com) /Cantina Laredo (200 District Blvd., 601-982-7061, cantinalaredo.com) / Estelle Wine Bar & Bistro (The Westin Jackson, 407 S. Congress St., 769-235-8400, estellejackson.com) / Yiayia's Greek Kitchen (587 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-853-1110, yiayiasgreekkitchen.net)

Best Place for Healthy Food: High Noon Cafe, Rainbow Natural Grocery Cooperative

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(2807 Old Canton Road, 601-366-1602, rainbowcoop.org)

If you're looking for a healthy place to eat and shop, try Best Place for Health Food High Noon Cafe and Rainbow Natural Grocery Cooperative. High Noon has been one of Jackson's only vegetarian and vegan restaurants for the last 35 years, and Rainbow is the only locally owned organic grocery store. Its menu includes dishes such as the popular seaside cakes, quesadillas, soups and more. Just a few steps away, Rainbow Natural Grocery Cooperative has all the organic groceries, hair-care products, supplements and buy-by-weight grains, beans, spices you could want.

Regular membership to Rainbow is free, and benefits include special discounts. A shareholder membership has a one-time $75 fee.

For more information, visit rainbowcoop.org. —Jan M. Richardson

Finalists: Aladdin Mediterranean Grill (730 Lakeland Drive, 601-366-6033, aladdininjackson.com) / Crossroads Cafe (398 Highway 51, Ridgeland, 601-790-7141) / freshii (748 MacKenzie Lane, Flowood, 601-718-0020; 1250 Eastover Drive; freshii.com/us)

Best Sandwich Place: Room Service

(4659 McWillie Drive, 601-362-4617; 1010 Highland Colony Pkwy., Suite 104, 601-707-3600)

Hays Thompson has been serving up popular sandwiches and salads through Room Service in Jackson since he began delivering them door-to-door in 1986. Now, the catering business has grown to include pick-up, delivery and sit-down eating at two locations. "We've grown from three employees to 36," Thompson says. "We opened our second location in the Renaissance about six years ago."

The menu at Room Service, which has 38 sandwich and 35 salad options, is made up of recipes passed down from Thompson's grandmother, and ones from his own creative instinct. It includes sandwiches such as chicken salad with grapes and pecans, the Big (ham, turkey, roast beef and bacon), and the Texan (spicy roast beef, Swiss, tomato and lettuce). Thompson's personal favorite is the Uptown—grilled chicken, blue cheese, pecans, craisins and more, on honey wheat bread.

For more information, visit roomservicejackson.com. —Abigail Walker

Finalists: Basil's (2906 N. State St., Suite 104, 601-982-2100; 120 N. Congress St., Suite L1, 601-944-9888) / Beagle Bagel (4500 Interstate 55 N., Suite 145, 769-251-1892; 100 Mannsdale Park Drive, Madison, 601-856-4377; thebeaglebagelcafe.com) / Broad Street Baking Company (4465 Interstate 55 N., Suite 101, 601-362-2900, broadstbakery.com) / Steve's (125 S. Congress St., 601-969-1119; 200 S. Lamar St., 601-714-5683; stevesdowntown.com)

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