2003: Best of Downtown | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

2003: Best of Downtown

THE VOTES ARE IN, the ballots are counted, and we are thrilled to announce the winners of the first Best of Jackson readers' choice competition. We ran the Best-of ballot starting in Issue No. 1 of the Jackson Free Press, figuring the city had waited long enough for the type of readers' choice balloting that's done by alternative publications in urban areas throughout the country. These competitions lead to some of the most-read, most sought-after editions of alternatives published every year. People keep these issues and refer to them throughout the year. Why? Because readers want to experience and celebrate the best their cities have to offer, based on what they believe, not what the highest-paying advertisers tell them. Our Best-of competition, which we will continue to announce every January, captures our mission exactly: to bring Jacksonians and local businesses together in a community where we can all help each other and be part of something bigger than ourselves. Judging by the winners this year, this is an excellent first step. All of you put thought into your choices and shined a light on community jewels that are often overlooked. Thank you!

Of course, this is a subjective thing, and you may not agree with all the winners. Don't worry: another ballot will be here in late September. But the point, ultimately, is not to say all the others are not good, but to spotlight that this city has so much to offer residents and visitors. And it's meant to celebrate our local businesses, without whom this would just be a little dull bump on the interstate. So please go congratulate our winners and sample their wares. Most important, remember to Think Global, Shop Local. That's what city life is all about. Enjoy.
—Donna Ladd

Best of Downtown
Being that an impressive number of your Best-of choices reside downtown, we thought we'd collect a few of them to show how colorful life in the heart of the city really can be.

Best Gallery: Gallery 119,
119 S. President St., 969-9040

James Patterson, a longtime member of Jackson's creative community, brought the urban art gallery experience to Jackson when he opened the doors to his Gallery 119—with fine Southern art and photography superbly exhibited in a classy, modern space in historic downtown Jackson. You can view a variety of works there on walls that respect the art's need to breathe a bit. Current artists range from Richard Kelso to Tony Green, Emily Hogan to Michael Maxwell to Felandus Thames. 119's chic receptions are the city's best openings and among the most popular gatherings for artists and art-loving Jacksonians. The gallery is a vital part of our growing downtown, and we hope to see it there for a long time to come.
—JoAnne Prichard Morris

Second place: Southern Breeze Gallery, Highland Village, 982-4222
Third place: Bryant Galleries, 4755 Old Canton Road, 362-5060; and Brown's Fine Art & Framing, 630 Fondren Place, 982-4844 (tie)

Best Park Bench: Smith Park
The clock tower of St. Peter's Catholic Church chimes the arrival of the 12 o'clock hour. Birds flutter overhead, while squirrels race from tree to tree in search of lunch. Human subjects gather nearby with their noontime meals in tow. Only one place could serve as the perfect natural accompaniment to grease-soaked bags from Keifer's on President Street or frosty frappucinos from Cups in the AmSouth Plaza – your favorite bench in the middle of Smith Park. Though not a place to frequent after dark, Smith Park affords downtown Jacksonians an ideal location for a solitary moment away from the office or the perfect spot for a midday rendezvous with friends. Of course, that's before the school kids on yet another field trip dash by nearly spilling that hard-earned frappucino.
—Jennifer Spann

Second place: Parham Bridges
Third place: Laurel Street Park

Best Fried Chicken: Two Sisters
707 N. Congress St., 353-1180

This is one of those categories that scare editors of alternative publications. It's a chance for a corporate chain to sashay through the door and take a major award. Church's? KFC? Popeye's? But, nope, Jacksonians showed they're worth their chicken fat on this one, voting for the delightful downtown Southern food spot in the old house, Two Sisters, for best fried chicken. All y'all love the chicken fried in light-ish vegetable oil, along with a full buffet of fried okra, yams, squash, mac and cheese, red beans and rice, you name it. The rolls are to die for. Everyone from the governor to his leading Republican opponent can be seen wolfing down home-cooked vittles that are very healthy, by Mississippi standards. As a vegetarian, I can't eat said chicken, but I sure can gobble up some side dishes. A buffet, after all, is a veggie's dream.
— Donna Ladd

Second place: Popeye's (various locations)
Third place: KFC (various locations)

Best Use for the King Edward Hotel:
Condos and apartments

Did somebody say "Kaboom?" Actually, a lot of you did—although not all of you in so many words. The readers' choice, however, was lofts or condos—which is certainly an interesting choice. If you developers out there are listening, we can attest to at least a little pent-up demand for downtown residential. Just checking. Actually, doing anything with the King Edward would be a great first step, because there are other people down there in the surrounding buildings trying to get a little entrepreneurship done. We happen to think it would work well as a hotel, at least in part, because it's sort of designed that way already. Jackson could use a nice, historic downtown hotel to anchor a burgeoning entertainment district.

The full-on Editor's Choice for the King Edward, however, would be mixed-use. Whenever we drive or walk by the King Edward (yes…walk) we think of that time we spent playing a little more of the computer game SimTower than was really healthy for us. What if the King Edward could be retail and restaurants and a hotel…and apartments on top? Toss in a microtheater—or a microbrewery—or an upscale pool hall and bowling alley. Did you say wine bar? Shopping? Meeting space? Office suites on the second and third floors? Think of Peabody Place with a little less Place and a little more Peabody. Anyone?
—Todd Stauffer

Second place: Hotel and Ka-boom (tie)
Third place: Mixed use

Best Seafood: Mayflower Cafe
123 W. Capitol St., 355-4122

This restaurant may have just won the award for best seafood, but it's probably because we don't have a category for best restaurant owner. Yet. Mr. Mike, the most congenial man in Jackson, will never let you pass without a greeting and a smile.

Which is all the more reason to go there for the redfish, which just happens to be legendary among Jackson natives. Or try the Greek salad with lump crabmeat. There's a faithful crowd over at the flagship restaurant, which has been sitting there on Capitol Street since 1935, shining its neon proudly as other restaurants and shops have left. That gets extra points with the JFP staff. Just be sure to stick with the seafood—it's a sure bet every time.
— Lori Herring

Second place: Sal & Phil's Po-Boy & Seafood, 6660 Old Canton Rd., Ridgeland, 957-1188
Third place: BoDon's Catfish & Seafood, 3881 I-55 South, 372-4700

Best Public Art:
Bust of Andrew Jackson

When the Andrew Jackson bust downtown receives the vote for best public art in Jackson, we know it's got to be time for a change. We think it's the teeniest bit ironic, in a sort of enjoyably grisly way, that the author of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 now stands watch over our great downtown. Think Trail of Tears, which occurred just two years after Jackson's term as president, and which stemmed from Jackson's plan to drive out the people whose land he thought was his.
So let's get creative. Now think Jim Crow, in its earlier minstrel-show days when white folks would put on blackface as entertainment for their white cronies (at the expense of blacks, of course). And think about the later meanings of the phrase, used to describe racial iscrimination, segregation, injustices against African Americans. Maybe we should spray-paint the great Jackson bust black. Now, that would be public art. OK, never mind.
— Lori Herring

Second place: Murals on downtown train trestles
Third place: Windcatchers at Highland Village

Best Chips & Salsa: Cozumel Restaurant
400 East South St., 973-3455

Cozumel's Best Chips and Salsa award isn't completely undeserved. Of the local Mexican estaurants we've sampled in the Metro area, we've found Cozumel's chips are generally warm and fresh, while the salsa is spicy with plenty of tomato taste and not as much of the sweetness that purses our lips in some of the other local frijoles and queso dives that have sprung up in this town like McDonald's restaurants in Mexican tourist towns. We prefer the downtown location because, well, it's in downtown. There is also, reportedly, a location somewhere near County Line Road. We wouldn't know anything about that.
— Todd Stauffer

Second place: La Cazuela Mexican Grill, 1401 E. Fortification St., 353-3014; and On the Border Mexican Grill and Cantina, 6352 Ridgewood Court, 977-9447 (tie)
Third place: Moe's Southwest Grill, 1405 Old Square Road, 713-3767

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Just a kudos and suggestion: Dear Site Administrator, The site looks great. Very professional. Unless I missed it, I think a great addition would be a photo archive and a gallery for the recent issue. I do understand with all of the content already on the site, it would be an addition to your busy schedule and something else to have to juggle. I was wondering, in the future, if there is going to be a way to subscribe to the printed copy? I previously lived in Jackson and now live in Arkansas. I would love to receive the printed version. Again, I have enjoyed your site and the printed copy of the Jackson Free Press. The layout and architectural design of the website is very user friendly. Good work Jackson Free Press! Sincerely, Deah Dillahunty Little Rock, Arkansas P.S. When I e-mailed the site admin, I recieved an undeliverable mail message, so I'm submitting through this means.

Deah Dillahunty

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