In the Middle of It All: Best of Downtown

It’s no secret that downtown Jackson is rich with history and landmarks that make our city what it is.

Downtown is also home to several restaurants that have been in Jackson for several decades and offer some of the best cuisines in the city. Next time you find yourself near Capitol Street and the surrounding areas, be sure to check out one of these downtown Jackson staples.

Iron Horse Grill-Peach Bourbon Smash

Iron Horse Grill

Built as the Armour Smokehouse in 1906, this legendary Jackson landmark is an icon of Mississippi’s rich heritage.

The old Iron Horse Grill mysteriously burned down twice and was abandoned since 1999, and 15 years later, Iron Horse was brought back from the ashes like never before.

The iconic Jackson restaurant is now serving up everything ranging from pasta, steaks and burgers, fish, and charcoal-grilled fajitas. The drink menu even features Mississippi-made Cathead vodka and honey from Flora bees. The fun doesn’t stop during the weekdays, though, because brunch is also served during the weekends. If you enjoy live music, Iron Horse’s main dining room downstairs features a large stage where bands set up shop. The upstairs dining area overlooks downstairs, so music can be enjoyed from either dining area. Iron Horse is the perfect place for a birthday dinner or just a casual dinner with friends or family members. There’s also a private party room for larger parties or events. Iron Horse Grill is perfect for any and every occasion, and the atmosphere is fun and lively.

Mayflower- Redfish
Credit: Image courtesy of Sherry Lucas:

The Mayflower Café

In operation since 1935, the Mayflower Cafe is the oldest operating restaurant in the capital city.

The classic, Greek-inspired restaurant has been serving up seafood and steak for decades, and the menu has been passed down through the Kountouris family from generation to generation.

The Mayflower Cafe is a downtown landmark, and a few celebrities have even made their way to the Mayflower Cafe. It’s also been featured in a couple films, including Ghosts of Mississippi and The Help. The house salad dressing at the Mayflower has been featured in Maxim magazine as the Nation’s Number One Condiment, and was also featured on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate. If that doesn’t convince you to drive downtown right now, I’m not sure what will.

To go along with the famous salad, customers can enjoy a wide variety of seafood dishes, steaks, chicken, or even pasta dishes. There is also a “lunch only” menu available Monday through Friday that includes sandwiches, burgers, and poboys, as well as plate lunches.

Hal & Mal’s

Established in 1985 by two brothers, Hal and Malcolm White, this local favorite sits in the heart of Downtown.

They self-describe as offering “Southern fare with regional flair, drinks and music in a multi-roomed venue with a funky retro vibe,” and it shows in the menu.


Hal & Mal’s has everything from locally-caught-catfish tacos to red beans and rice and Creole carbonara. It is a city landmark, and if you have any interest in Southern food and great music, this is the place for you.
Sugar’s Place chicken and waffles

Sugar’s Place

Voted Jackson’s Favorite Restaurant in 2017, Sugar’s Place Downtown is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner so that you can get your soul food fix with chicken and waffles or a heaping…

If you stop in for breakfast, served from 7 to 10 a.m., choose from a full breakfast platter with eggs, grits, bacon or sausage and a biscuit; Sugar’s Waffle Meal; Sugar’s Omelet Meal; Chicken & Waffles; Texas Toaster Sandwich; Sugar’s Biscuit Sandwiches; or Sugar’s BLT.

For lunch, customers can “build a meal” by choosing one meat and two vegetables. Meats include fried catfish, fried pan trout, baked chicken, fried chicken wings, chicken tenders, and fried pork chop. The veggies vary daily, but you can expect things like greens, lima beans, mac and cheese, green beans, candied yams, coleslaw, fries, corn and more. Other lunch entrees include pan trout and catfish sandwiches, cheeseburgers, catfish and shrimp po’boys, chicken po’boys, club sandwiches, smoked ham sandwiches and salads. Daily lunch specials are also available and change with the days of the week. Finish off your meal with a slice of cobbler.

A sandwich at Basil's Downtown

Basil’s Downtown

Located just two blocks from the Capitol, Basil’s Downtown is another staple of the downtown restaurant scene.

A popular lunch spot, Basil’s is known for its signature paninis that are made with fresh-baked bread that’s made in-house. Dressings and sauces are also made fresh daily. Customers can also find fresh salads and delicious pastas to go along with their panini or cold-cut sandwiches. You can’t go wrong with a hot panini for lunch. Basil’s also offers daily specials, such as a Grilled Shrimp Garden Salad and a BBQ Plate. They’re open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Paige McKay White

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Paige McKay White

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