My name is Nick Ford and I’ve lived in Jackson almost my entire life. Not until 2018 did I realize how many places there were to have a great meal in the area. There is a venue for every occasion, and a few of them are the cream that’s rose to the top in my mind. Here’s a short list of the “Gems in Jackson,” hot spots, dives, and easily overlooked places to entice your taste buds!
For the coffee connoisseur: Vito’s Espresso
In terms of frequency, there is no place I visit on this list more frequently than Vito’s. My love for a terrific cup of coffee knows no equal outside of this little coffeeshop located on (address). On your first visit, an espresso should feel mandatory, it’s so delicious and is a great way to experience Vito’s at their roots. If you have a sweet tooth, the “Royale” is going to be the path you should take! There are fresh baked goods available every morning, made from scratch, and my personal favorite is definitely the mixed berry muffin, but the cookies or cannoli will not disappoint you.
Best place for a weekend breakfast: Roxy Café
Maybe I lived under a rock for 22 years, but this winter when I visited Roxy for the first time, my eyes were opened to Jackson's “best” place to snag an omelet, stack of pancakes, or any slew of breakfast delights. Pro tip: If you visit on a weekend morning, get there early. This place gets PACKED at an early hour because it’s such a hot spot. Bonus tip: The menu is unique, the cheapest option is the free smile, and the most expensive item is a polished $25,000 Harley-Davidson. Choose wisely.
Best lunch and brunch: Grand River Brewery
The Grand River Brewery is one place I heard good things about all the time, but never visited until St. Patrick’s Day. There was live music, and someone in a kilt and Scottish garb playing the bagpipes! It was a fun way to spend part of the night, but my favorite experience at the brewery was during the Bright Walls event we had in Jackson in early October. I went with some friends in the early afternoo and tried the limited-edition Bright Walls porter, and the “Good Gravy” breakfast pizza. This was my first time being introduced to a biscuits and gravy style pizza, and my mind was blown. Try it, you’ll find a fantastic new food combo! Don’t forget to check out the backside of the building, where there’s a brilliant mural dedicated to the “City of Roses.”
Most exciting dinner experience: Klavon’s Pizzeria & Pub
At this point in time, I feel as though Klavon’s has became synonymous with Jackson. It has the perfect atmosphere to create an evening full of good pizza and conversation with family and friends. The “Chicago style stuffed pizza” is their ode to fame, and a good choice for somebody who loves a “pizza pie” in the truest sense. My personal favorite, however, is the wood-fired margherita pizza. It’s made in a true Italian style with aged dough, a light sauce, high quality mozzarella, and just the right amount of basil. This pizza is light, airy, and worth every penny!
Best spot for a drink: The Dirty Bird
When you want to hang out on a Friday night, watch the game, or make a few new friends, the Dirty Bird is the place to go for a great drink. It’s always busy on the weekends, and for good reason! It’s difficult to choose a favorite beer, because there are over 40 of them on tap at all times, and they rotate regularly to keep things fresh. If you’re looking for a good cocktail, the mint julep is delicious and I highly recommend it.
For your sweet tooth: The Parlour:
Take a step back in time when you visit The Parlour, Jackson’s premiere ice-cream shop. The menu has what feels like an unlimited amount of options, and every single item is darn good. You need to beware the size of the dessert you choose, they are about twice the size of any other ice cream shop! To enjoy the flavors in your spoon even more, order a side of fries, and alternate between the two, or mix them together. That salty and sweet combo is unmatched in the dessert realm! My go-to ice cream is “Tiger Tracks,” an orange creamsicle concoction that may or may not put you in a sugar coma afterwards.
In a rush: Southside Deli
You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and the same goes for a deli. While it doesn’t have the most attractive four walls in Jackson, it has the most delicious Philly Cheesesteak around! To compliment the delectable sub, the prices are fantastic, and the service takes no time at all. Southside deli is perfect in a pinch, when you need some good food now, and don’t want traditional fast food outlets.
A compilation of the “best of the best” in Jackson is not complete without a list of honorable mentions, so here are a few places that were just nudged out of the running by their competitors:
• Westend Farm to Table
• Hinkley Bakery
• Rudy’s Drive-in
• Steaks Eatery
• Roosters Coney Island
• Cascades Ice Cream Co.
Thanks for taking the time to read a little more about some of the “gems in Jackson!” If you’re just visiting, new to the area, or a local looking for new digs, the highlights here will not steer you wrong. If there’s a place that didn’t make the cut and deserves a top spot, please share your recommendations with me on Instagram: @nickfordphotos so we can make an updated list down the road!
--Written by Nick Ford