Where to Drink and Dine in Fondren

With nearly two-dozen restaurants, bars, bakeries and coffee shops in a four-block area, there’s no question: Jackson’s Fondren neighborhood earns its reputation as the culinary jewel of Mississippi.

ALADDIN MEDITERRANEAN GRILL
Flavorful selections, competitive prices and a real neighborhood feel make Aladdin the kind of spot that invites regular travels, and that’s just as owner/chef Yoseph Ali intended. Opened on Lakeland Drive in November 2004, Aladdin’s Mediterranean cuisine wraps in flavors from Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon, a bit of Greece. With the sprawling University of Mississippi Medical Center just across Lakeland Drive and St. Dominic Hospital right down the street, Aladdin is in a sweet spot to reach health-conscious professionals as well as diners in Fondren and beyond with a taste for adventure.

BARRELHOUSE
Barrelhouse is a self-described Southern Gastropub located in the center of the historic Fondren District. Their unique space has an equally unique menu with locally sourced, eclectically inspired small plates, large plates, unique meatballs and delicious salads.

a meat filled sandwich
Basil's

BASIL'S
A go-to for pizza, sandwiches, soups, and salads, Basil’s has reopened after months of closure, partially due to COVID-19, partially for a move across the hall to a much larger and swankier space (the former home of La Brioche, who moved to The District). Basil’s describes itself as a quick-service Southern deli with a mix of Italian and Mediterranean influences. “It’s all about speed for us,” says owner Nathan Glenn, with a five-minute ticket time for fresh-cooked food to order. Each Basil’s has its own in-house bakery to turn out fresh focaccia bread, pizza dough, and chocolate chip cookies.

THE BEAN
The Bean was once known as Sneaky Beans when former owner Byron Knight was around. In early 2020, he sold to Kristy Buchanan, who reopened in early June of the same year. The swanky shop offers the usual slate of coffee-based drinks – still made with locally-roasted Bean Fruit Coffee and Hattiesburg's Grin Coffee – as well as draft beer and wine. Daily breakfast, lunch and evening small plates and desserts are all on the menu, too.

BRENT'S DRUGS
Brent’s style makes it an excellent fit for the historic Fondren District. It’s a fun and comfortable place to take out-of-town visitors. But underneath all the chrome and color, Brent’s Drugs is a neighborhood diner. And that brings with it a whole different set of expectations. The coffee should be good, but not fancy. Everything should come with a biscuit on the side and the option to add cheese. At lunch, burgers rule, with sweet and savory french fries and rings on the side. Or, opt for an egg and olive salad sandwich – just like former longtime employee “Fish” used to make.

CAMPBELL'S BAKERY
Open since 1963, Campbell’s is Jackson’s oldest bakery. Campbell’s is known for their teacakes, petit fours, cupcakes, cheesecakes, cookies, and, of course, cakes. Whether it’s for a birthday party or a wedding, Campbell’s can do it all, and they even have several flavors to choose from like lemon, caramel, carrot, red velvet, hummingbird, Italian cream, devil’s food, strawberry, chocolate fudge and white. For birthdays and other fun occasions, Campbell’s can personalize cakes to include anything you could imagine.

CUPS
Cups is located next to Fondren Public and is home to everyone’s favorite specialty drink: the Blondie Latte. Caramel and white Ghirardelli chocolate combined with espresso and milk, the Blondie is served hot or frozen and has been a favorite of Cups lovers since day one. Other menu items include the Capitol Street Latte, which is caramel combined with espresso and milk, the Brunette Latte, iced coffee, café au lait, several espresso options, and loose-leaf tea options. Cups also makes another great study spot for local college students. The quaint environment is perfect for studying for finals or just hanging out with a few friends after a long day.

a plate of birria tacos
Green Ghost Tacos

FONDREN PUBLIC
Fondren Public is serving up delicious bar bites to go along with your beer or cocktail while you hang out on their backyard patio. Complete with picnic tables, cornhole, and a giant Jenga game outside and board games shuffleboard inside, Fondren Public makes for the perfect hangout spot any night of the week. Not only is Fondren Public a great place to grab a quick bite to eat, but it also makes for a lively and fun gathering place after a long workweek.

GREEN GHOST TACOS
Call it Mexican food, but that’s like calling all food in the U.S. “American.” “There are three distinct regions in Mexico and all of them have different ways of cooking. I wanted to make dishes like they make them back in Mexico — like we make at my house,” said owner Ceasar Torres.Menu standouts are the pastor (marinated pork) burritos and tortas. Many of Torres’ customers love their slow-roasted pork shoulder and chile Rellenos. And, on subsequent visits, we’ve seen more than one order of loaded steak fries up for carryout.

HIGHBALL LANES
Highball Lanes is a the new kid on the block. It has a menu stacked with six appetizers, including cheese fries and shrimp wontons. Six delicious sandwiches, like the prime rib po'boy, also are on the menu. Nearly a dozen entrees (fried shrimp and skirt steak tacos!) and half a dozen sides are available, including classics like cheese grits and fried Brussel sprouts. Oh, and they have a bowling alley! You might also be surprised at the comfortable couches bowlers and diners can enjoy. Highball Lanes also has a bar with craft drinks and a selection of beers. If you are coming to play, you can make reservations online and schedule private events.

MAMA NATURES
Mama Natures, located next to Fondren Fitness, is a plant-based juice bar centered around fresh fruit, roots, nuts and vegetables, locally sourced (like their bread and honey) when possible. The menu offers juices, smoothies, salads, wraps, acai bowls and overnight oats. The best seller (so far)? The “tropical greens” smoothie containing spinach, banana, pineapple, mango, vegan protein and almond milk.

PJ'S COFFEE

PJ’s is locally owned by Jacksonians Anne and Jack Stanton, a franchised location of PJ’s Coffee of New Orleans, founded in 1978 by Phyllis Jordan. The shop, in the former Trustmark Bank Building across from Fondren FroYo, serves a complete line of espresso-based beverages, flavored coffee, and award-winning Original Cold Brew™ iced coffee, as well as a variety of food options like fresh-baked pastries & desserts.

a dish of oysters
Saltine Oyster Bar & Restaurant
Credit: Ben Hon

ROOSTER'S
Since 1984, Rooster’s has been serving the Jackson community with burgers, country fried steaks, red beans & rice and other Southern favorites. The restaurant family, which also includes Basil’s, has taken old, historic properties in Jackson and turned them into hip, local dining experiences, with Rooster’s being a favorite. If you’re looking for something a little different, opt for any of the plate lunches and dinners. Options include hamburger steak, country fried steak, creole hamburger steak, or red beans and rice. Their fried chicken tenders and sandwiches are to-die-for.

SALTINE
Known for their full oyster bar, this Fondren hot spot is much more than just oysters. Other seafood-centered meals include catfish and chips, shrimp and grits, Cajun seafood pasta, wood-fired Biloxi snapper, a low-country shrimp boil, lobster roll sandwich, fried calamari, shrimp and lobster spring rolls and smoked tuna dip. Or, opt for a classic po’boy with your choice of Simmons catfish, fried or grilled shrimp or fried oysters. And, of course, you can wash down that seafood with a signature Saltine cocktail.

SOULÉ COFFEE + TEA
Alongside crafted bubble teas and refreshers, espresso-based drinks, teas, and more, musician and entrepreneur Ezra Brown brings the newest kid to the coffee (and bubble tea) block in Fondren Village near Quizno's.Order and pay for your handcrafted beverage with technology like the cafe's self-serve, cashless checkout experience, and watch for business development events and live music and art openings.

THE APOTHECARY
Tucked away in the back of Brent’s Drugs in Fondren, The Apothecary at Brent’s Drugs has become a local favorite over the last several years. With specialty and seasonal drinks, classic cocktails, small plates, and an ambiance you won’t find anywhere else in Jackson, The Apothecary is perfect for a drink after work, after-dinner drinks, or a relaxing evening on the town. The Apothecary’s speakeasy-type lounge is set up like a pre-Prohibition bar, with nods to the days of old with their craft cocktails and dim, quaint vibe. For classic drinks in a chill setting, Apothecary should definitely be on your list.

A plate of meat, coleslaw and sauces
The Pig & Pint. Image: Ben Hon

THE PIG & PINT
Whether it’s nachos, a salad, tacos, delicious sides, or ‘que plates, The Pig & Pint has something for all the BBQ lovers to enjoy.

To kick off your delicious meal at The Pig & Pint, start with small plates like Pork Belly Corn Dogs, Fried Boudin Balls, Pork Rinds and Queso, or Pimento Cheese. Smoked Wings are also on the menu with flavors like Hot BBQ, Asian Style, and White BBQ.

If you’re into nachos, try The Pig & Pint’s Pork Rind Nachos. Options are pulled pork, smoked chicken, and brisket, and they come topped with queso, smokehouse beans, pickled onions, pico de gallo, jalapenos, BBQ sauce, and sour cream.

WALKER'S DRIVE-IN
Nestled in the middle of Fondren, Walker’s Drive-In offers the culinary specialties of Chef Derek Emerson.

Walker’s offers an upscale experience in a casual atmosphere, featuring local ingredients from the region, sustainable seafood, and only the finest quality aged beef. Signature dishes include redfish Anna, steaks, po’boys and one of the best plate lunches around.

Paul Wolf

Author

Paul Wolf

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