13 Oct 5 Amazing Restaurants to Visit Near Jackson State University
Jackson State University has a rich tradition dating back to the 1870s of preparing young Black men and women for leadership. Designated “the” Urban University of the State of Mississippi in 1979, this public institution receives accolades for its creative research activity, multidisciplinary learning teams, and faculty. Acclaimed poet Margaret Walker founded the university’s Center for African American Studies in 1979. More recently, Our Mississippi magazine honored JSU President Thomas K. Hudson as one of Mississippi’s Most Influential African Americans for 2022-23.
When visiting Jackson State University, you’ll find yourself in the footsteps of history. As the state capital, Jackson hosted several nonviolent protests during the civil rights era of the 1960s, sparked by over 300 Freedom Riders arriving in town, challenging racial segregation. Several landmarks, including Jackson-Evers International Airport, are named after NAACP leader and civil rights activist Medgar Evers, who was killed at his home in 1963.
Today, Jackson has the nickname the “crossroads of the south.”
It lies halfway between New Orleans, Louisiana, and Memphis, Tennessee, on Interstate 55 and between Birmingham, Alabama, and Shreveport, Louisiana, on Interstate 20. The surrounding area has abundant poultry, livestock, soybeans, and cotton, thanks to Jackson’s hearty processed food industry, among other enterprises. Locals also have called it the “city of soul” because of its lively music scene, featuring gospel, jazz, blues, and folk musicians.
Soul food in Jackson is another point of pride—for good reason. Here are our picks for the best soul food in Jackson, Mississippi, along with other fast food in Jackson to whet your appetite.
1. Sherria’s Chicken Coop 2Go
1214 University Boulevard, Jackson, MS
Sherria’s Chicken Coop 2Go is a food truck in Jackson with a loyal following that adores its hearty eats at affordable prices. (The site Roaming Hunger, which keeps track of local food trucks, finds its Seafood Mac n Cheese mouthwatering.) Sherria’s has partnered with JSU in the past, hosting a tailgating menu at the university stadium featuring Southern fried chicken, fried catfish, sausage and potatoes, turkey necks, chili, corn, and spaghetti. But if you’re yearning for a bite year round, head to its takeout location on University Boulevard, about half a mile from JSU and near Battlefield Park. Sample appetizers such as fried green tomatoes, gizzards, and Southwestern eggrolls; sandwiches such as Phillys, burgers, and po-boys; and entrees including fried or grilled tilapia and lamb chops. There’s even a kids’ menu with “shawty” versions of burgers, fish, shrimp, and chicken for the little ones.
2. Sugar’s Place
168 W. Griffith St., Jackson, MS
Closed on weekends, Sugar’s Place in downtown Jackson is a hotspot for weekday breakfast and lunch, as well as a relaxing dinner. (The restaurant closes for a few hours each afternoon before the dinner crowd.) Located about two blocks from the Mississippi State Capitol building and across Griffith Street from the Mississippi College of Law, Sugar’s boasts some of the best Southern comfort food in Jackson and the state. Dishes include Chicken-n-Waffles, chicken tetrazzini, smothered pork chops, fried catfish and collard greens, and honey bun cake. Online reviews praise the friendly staff and clean, cozy atmosphere, calling it a “jewel in the heart of Jackson.”
3. Johnny T’s Bistro & Blues
538 N. Farish St., Jackson, MS
Local legend has it that Johnny T was a blues musician in the early 1900s who would arrive in Jackson in a shiny Cadillac for one-night-only performances at the city’s juke joints. He’d play until sunrise, then vanish, leaving behind a signed instrument. Befitting its namesake, this sit-down restaurant roughly three blocks from the Mississippi College School of Law has a chic and sultry vibe, with its brick walls and black awnings. The menu includes small plates such as catfish and grits, salmon balls, crab cakes, and shrimp toast. Entrees include Johnny T’s 8-oz. hand-patted fresh Angus burger, slow-baked wings, a Cajun chicken or shrimp pasta, fried Maine lobster tails, and the house special of pan-seared tilapia over a bed of sauteed spinach and seasoned rice, topped with jumbo shrimp and a crawfish cream sauce. Aside from its menu, Johnny T’s is one of downtown Jackson’s premiere food and entertainment venues, hosting the JSU homecoming game afterparty in its upstairs Renaissance Room.
1693 Lakeover Road, Jackson, MS
About eight miles from Jackson State University, this restaurant serves a New Orleans-style menu for dining in or curbside pickup. Favorites include fried or grilled catfish, chicken poppers stuffed with cheese and jalapeños, loaded fried chicken, honey shrimp with Cajun rice, Jerk chicken egg rolls, and gumbo. This red zone also keeps it hot with a Jerk chicken plate, loaded pasta featuring crawfish sauce, po-boys, a bourbon burger, and stir-fry with Cajun rice, mixed vegetables, and an assortment of meats.
5. Famo’s Sandwiches
3645 US-80/Metro Center Mall, Jackson, MS
[RESTAURANT IS TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR RENOVATIONS]