Best of: Downtown Restaurants

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 cuisine 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.

Elite Yeast Rolls- prepared fresh throughout the day.

Elite Restaurant:
Since 1947, the Elite Restaurant has been serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner to patrons from all over, whether they’re Jackson-area residents or traveling from out of town. The multi-cuisine establishment is loved by many in Jackson and truly is a staple to the downtown dining scene. The Elite Restaurant is known for their Southern, home-cooked meals using the freshest ingredients. The fish is fresh daily and the famous yeast rolls are prepared throughout the day. The menu also includes a wide selection of steaks, chicken breast, and even homemade enchiladas. With such a wide variety of menu options, even the pickiest eater is sure to find something they’ll love at the Elite. You can even find fried pickles and fried green beans to munch on before your meal… if you haven’t filled up on the yeast rolls, of course. The quaint, 1800s-era building on Capitol Street packs in a lot of flavor, and it’s absolutely a Jackson icon that everyone in the area should check out if they haven’t already.

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. Be sure to check it out next time you’re looking for a fun date night or a laid back business lunch.

Image courtesy of Sherry Lucas: Mayflower-Redfish

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. If you’re really looking for a taste of downtown Jackson, the Mayflower Cafe is the place to be.



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. If you’re looking for the perfect place to grab a quick bite downtown, be sure to give Basil’s a try next time. They’re open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. 2 p.m.

Parlor Market-Grilled Chicken Thigh


Parlor Market:
Located on Capitol Street, Parlor Market is located in a 1898 building that once served as a grocery store, also called Parlor Market, that specialized in local produce and meats. Now, the restaurant focuses on locally-grown products, including support for local farmers’ markets and curing their own charcuterie. The grocery store closed in 1926 and housed several other businesses before becoming the popular lunch and dinner spot that it is today. Parlor Market serves seasonal, Italian-inspired cuisine, with other ethnic influences as well. The menu is constantly changing throughout the course of the year so that each seasons’ offerings are highlighted through each dish. The lunchtime menu boasts a large blue plate selection, as well as burgers, sandwiches, pastas, and soup and salad pairings. Dinner selections include veal, hanger steaks, scallops, and even a Prixe Fixe menu that includes a five-course tasting menu that reflects what the chef chooses to highlight that evening. Whether you’re looking for a simple and delicious lunch, an elegant dinner for date night, or just a place to grab drinks during happy hour, Parlor Market will satisfy anyone in your party.


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Paige McKay

eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI is a food magazine dedicated to sharing Mississippi's passion for food with the world. From local chefs making their culinary mark to the many great restaurants this state has to offer, Mississippi's hospitality shines through in the pages of this magazine. It is our desire to preserve our culinary heritage and inspire today's cooks with a new passion for cooking and eating.