Hearty Hospitality: Plus-Size Foodie Jeff Jenkins in JXN

Award-winning content creator Jeff Jenkins (and now Nat Geo host of "Never Say Never") is helping “chubby people travel the world.”

Featured in Forbes, The New York Times and Essence, and a winner of Lonely Planet’s Diversity and Inclusivity in Travel award, the Austin, Texan’s journey brought him to the City With Soul.

Credit: Jeff Jenkins

Jeff claimed comfortable walking, the friendliest people and “some of the best food on the planet.” Hey, that shirt doesn’t lie, does it?!

“I really enjoyed myself in Jackson, Mississippi!” Jeff said. “To be honest, I did not know what to expect before going… (but) if you like museums and incredible food, then this is the place for you!”

Jeff offers his take on the city with tips and a four-day itinerary, sure satisfy your appetite for exploration.

Jeff at The Pig & Pint
Credit: Jeff Jenkins

Settle in After a Day of Travel at The Pig & Pint

Jeff’s first Jackson meal was in Fondren at this Memphis in May award-winning competition bbq joint.

From Pepsi-Cola glazed baby ribs to fried green tomatoes, Jeff raved about the meal, which also included smoked brisket, pulled pork nachos (on pork rinds instead of tortilla chips) and white chocolate bread pudding. The Pig & Pint set a high bar for what was to come.

On the walk back to his hotel, The Homewood Suites by Hilton Jackson Fondren Medical District, Jeff stopped by Campbell’s Bakery, where first-time visitors always get a free iced tea cake.

See What Legends Are Made of at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame

Just a quick ride share away, Jeff learned about Mississippi’s sports history and saw interactive exhibits that help tell the state’s athletic greats’ stories. “One of the best parts… being able to see so much history in every locker was awe-inspiring," an exhibit set up like a locker room.

Dine Downtown with Johnny T’s

The hip spot on Farish Street is in the home of the former Crystal Palace where Red Fox, Louis Armstrong and Sammy Davis, Jr. once played. “This is a straight vibe,” Jeff said. “I just walked in, feeling the groove and I’m ready to party.” Of the food – Cajun pasta, wings, fried lobster tails and more, Jeff said, “Chef Brian really rolled out the red carpet” for his visit.

Jeff Jenkins Johnny Ts
Credit: Jeff Jenkins
My cameraperson and I could not stop talking about how friendly the people of Jackson were! They were very hospitable and kind. I just want to thank all the wonderful people that I have met in Jackson. Jeff Jenkins

Start the Day with an Amazing Breakfast at Elvie’s

An all-day café at Belhaven Town Center, Elvie’s specializes in New Orleans-inspired dishes from Chef Hunter Evans. When duck fat hashbrowns and eggs Cochon (coffee-rubbed pork, poached egg, grits and maple red-eye gravy) were put in front of Jeff, he emphatically declared, “Hands-down, one of the best brunches I have ever had.”

See the Greats at the Mississippi Museum of Art

Mississippi’s largest art museum has over 4,000 works, including the world’s most extensive collection by and relating to Mississippians and their diverse heritage.

On this stop at the downtown museum, Jeff got to see “some of my favorite impressionistic artists.”

From rotating exhibitions to the museum’s permanent collection (and outdoor art garden), MMA is a cultural treasure for the city and state.

Jeff added, “This museum is incredible.”

For “Do You See This?” Moments, Do Lunch at The Iron Horse Grill

Deep-fried broccoli, mac and cheese, smothered chicken and more had Jeff inviting his Instagram followers to drool along with him for this southern, coal-fired restaurant on the western edge of downtown Jackson.

Later that evening, Jeff was back for live music and touted a “good time.” Afterward, the free, “don’t miss” Mississippi Music Experience Museum upstairs – featuring life-size figures of BB King, Elvis and others had Jeff saying, “I love this!”

At the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame
Credit: Jeff Jenkins

Enlighten Your Visit with The Two Mississippi Museums

The Museum of Mississippi History encourages people to explore more than 15,000 years of state history. It’s sister museum, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum – under the same roof – shares the stories of a Mississippi movement that changed the nation.

Jeff’s visit left him inspired. He called it an “incredible, state-of-the-art facility with lots of history.”

The Civil Rights Museum hit Jeff as it does for most, “deep and hard at times to see the history that America has gone through.” He noted his impression of the museum’s finale exhibit, “This Little Light of Mine,” as “powerful.”

“Checking out all the museums, murals, and monuments requires a lot of walking,” Jeff said. “(But), these excursions did not have a lot of steep hills and rough roads, making walking easy and enjoyable!”

Swim Over to Saltine for Brunch

Seafood-influenced and nautically themed inside, Jeff started with Saltine’s lobster roll before moving on to the catfish. “Watch out now! He said. It’s “so good.” With options for beer-battered or cornmeal fried fish, Jeff proclaimed the meal made him “one happy man.”

Jeff had high praise for Jackson’s food scene. “This is not an exaggeration. The food was incredible! From barbecue to American style cuisine to seafood – Jackson had my palate doing a happy dance. Seriously! When I tell you I had some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life, (it) would be an understatement.”

Gator Grabbing at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science

With an aquarium housing over 200 species of native fish, reptiles and amphibians and a 300-acre nature area outside, this LeFleur Museum District stop tells an ecological story of rivers, streams, lakes, marshes and the Mississippi Sound.

“This place was so much fun,” Jeff said of his experience where he held a live baby alligator (“nothing to it”). “I got to be a big kid!”

Visit “One-of-a-Kind International Museum of Muslim Cultures

The first of its kind in America, the International Museum of Muslim Cultures, is dedicated to educating the public about Islamic history and culture, the contribution of Muslims to the global community, and the Muslim community’s diversity: past, present and future.

Jeff declared it “one of my favorite museums while I was in Jackson,” noting how unique it was and unlike anything he had ever been to. “I definitely recommend it.”

Southern Hospitality, Soul on Display

Jeff repeatedly said, while here and after his visit, that he was overwhelmed by Jackson’s kindness.

“My cameraperson and I could not stop talking about how friendly the people of Jackson were!” Jeff said. “They were very hospitable and kind. I just want to thank all the wonderful people that I have met in Jackson.”

If you’re on the fence, Jeff’s advice is to book it to Mississippi.

“It was a great experience! And I truly hope that you keep Jackson in mind on your next road trip or weekend getaway.”

From barbecue to American style cuisine to seafood – Jackson had my palate doing a happy dance. Jeff Jenkins

Jeff’s full itinerary included:

Day 1

Lunch at The Pig & Pint

Visit the Mississippi State Capitol – FREE

Visit the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame & Museum

Dinner at Johnny T’s Bistro & Blues

Day 2

Breakfast at Elvie’s

Visit the Mississippi Museum of Art

Lunch at The Iron Horse Grill

Visit the MS Music Experience Museum at The Iron Horse Grill

Visit the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum & Museum of Mississippi History

Dinner at Rooster’s

Live Music at the Iron Horse Grill

Day 3

Breakfast at Brent’s Drugs

Visit the Jackson Zoo

Lunch at Saltine Restaurant

Do the FREE Public Art/ Murals Self-guided tour

Dinner at Fine & Dandy (closed Feb. 2022)

Day 4

Breakfast at Sugar’s Place

Visit the International Museum of Muslim Cultures

Visit the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science

Jeff Jenkins enjoying public art
Credit: Jeff Jenkins
Hickory Pit pulled pork plate with beans, fries and Texas toast

As seasons change, what could be better than an outdoor picnic in the City With Soul?

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