If you’ve been missing the good work put out by Visit Jackson, the Capital city’s convention and visitors agency, you might have missed the six-part documentary series they recently released featuring popular comedian and Jackson native, Rita Brent – or Rita B. as she’s best known.
We really loved the documentary because it really unpacks the wonderful mystery that is Jackson, Mississippi in such a perfect package. Whether you’re curious about this place called Mississippi or you’ve lived in the metro your entire life, we can just about guarantee that you’ll discover something new to discover and love about Jackson, Mississippi in this series.
Episode One: “Oil Boom to Sonic Boom”
The first episode aptly named “Oil Boom to Sonic Boom” gives a peek at some of our favorite places in the downtown and surrounding areas of Jackson, although not all are mentioned by name. So, we thought we’d dish out a little itinerary that might help you find some of what you’ve seen in the video, and some things you didn’t find – that are in the same areas of town.
In the opening of the episode, Rita B is hanging out with Byron Knight, the owner of Sneaky Beans, a popular coffee shop in the Fondren area of Jackson. Sneaky Beans is a fantastic place for a beverage, with one of the best porches in Fondren for classic “porch sitting” and “people watching” anywhere in the Capital city. I guess she was getting her pre-pickup latte or coffee before she headed down to the train station to pick up Annie.
Take Me Downtown
After a brief stop at the Amtrak station in downtown Jackson to pick up her friend Annie, Rita B’s got a several great options just around the corner. She chose to drop in at Cathead Distillery where there’s local and regional beers on tap and tasting flights of their spirit line-up – which is pretty darned good. The line-up includes Cathead Vodka, Cathead Honeysuckle (my personal favorite), Pecan Vodka as well as their Bristow Gin. I’ve done this tour and tasting myself when we hosted a food writers tour a couple of years ago, and it was a big hit, and we highly recommend it.
Another worthwhile stop in the same area is the Iron Horse Grill. (You know “Iron Horse” is what they used to call a train back in the day, right?). And yes, the grill is a stone’s throw from the actual train station. With live music and a huge seating area that can accommodate nearly any size group, as well as their Mississippi Music Experience museum inside the restaurant, this is a great stop for any explorer. Add their famous Iron Horse chips and salsa, local craft beers and an approachable Tex-Mex meets full on American menu, and you’ll be glad you stopped by.
In the documentary, Rita B. heads down to Hal & Mal’s – and you know it’s going to get good. Hal & Mal’s is a classic spot thats been trucking for decades with great bands, exceptional soul food and a welcoming sense of place the second you walk in the door. There’s more music history in the floorboards of that place than in some museums. P.J. Lee keeps the menu and the food rocking as hard as the music. It’s a spectacular finish to any day to wind down with the live music at Hal & Mal’s.
We don’t want to give away the entire episode here, but suffice it to say it’s worth sticking around to the end to see what the Sonic Boom is all about…
Other Spots We Recommend
Following Rita B’s Itinerary, you’ll discover the following great places:
- Sneaky Beans in Fondren
- Amtrak – Jackson, Mississippi train station
- Cathead Distillery in Downtown
- Hal & Mal’s in Downtown
- King Edward Hotel
- Jackson State University & Memorial Stadium
We also recommend these spots for your downtown Jackson, Mississippi adventures…
- The Iron Horse Grill for lunch, supper or Happy Hour
- Parlor Market for supper
- Cups: an espresso cafe for your caffeine fix (locally owned with ten metro locations)
- Johnny T’s for amazing live music, impressive food and drink line-up
- The Pig & Pint near Memorial Stadium for tailgate take-out