Ready to seize the day with a Cultivation Food Hall start? This culinary hot spot at The District at Eastover offers a lot of choices to face first thing in the morning. But trust me, a lucky layout will get you over the hump.
il Lupo Coffee
First stop: il Lupo Coffee. It lives on the left inside the patio door, and a good jolt of damn fine coffee will get the brain gears going. Owner Taylor Triplett brings me up to speed on the name— literally, “the wolf” in Italian — used in the Italian idiom for “good luck.” It’s a tip of the hat to espresso and cafe culture, a way to convey “good luck with your day” and a nod, too, to legendary Mississippi musician Howlin’ Wolf.
All cool info to take in with my first cup of hot black coffee — this morning, Nuevo Amanecer (translation: new dawn). “As it cools, some more orange notes will come through, and it will almost be more tea-like … subtle changes,” says Triplett, who started il Lupo with his wife, Ana. He does estate planning; she’s an attorney and documentary filmmaker. General manager Tyler Emerson, with a background in specialty coffee since 2015, brought operational expertise.
Coffee serves two facets. “On the one hand, we need it as a utility, right? A lot of us need that fuel to push us through the day,” Triplett says. “On the other side, I think we tend to forget, in the blow and go, that it is a fruit. It is a commodity. What we’re getting — it’s organic, it’s harvested from sustainable farms, it’s a really good product.”
The menu at il Lupo includes espresso and milk-based drinks, a rotating selection of drip and pour-over coffees, handcrafted beverages and loose leaf teas. Need to hold the caffeine? Look under “Wolf Cubs.” “Especially in this heat, the Italian cream sodas are delicious,” Triplett says. Il Lupo is dabbling in food now, too, with sweet and savory selections from La Brioche.
Emerson makes me a cappuccino and the heart art in the foam and the flavor in the cup win over even this black-coffee addict.
Fete au Fete Streatery
Fete au Fete Streatery is in my sights for some sustenance, and general manager Miranda Martello hooks me up with the best-selling B.M.C. Special. B.M.C. stands for Bad Mother Clucker and true to that name, it’s a dish that’d suit an appetite as aggressive as any of Samuel L. Jackson’s best-known roles. It’s a cathead biscuit (so big that cat must be Maine Coon-sized!) topped with fried chicken and the white house-made sausage gravy. The stone-ground grits beside it are firm enough to hold a scoop and tasty enough to rival that fried chicken for fork attention. This is how to make humble food braggadocious-worthy.
Fete au Fete specializes in Southern comfort food with a Louisiana twist, and the menu can take you clear through to dinner, but with this substantial start, there’s no way I’d have room for the rest in the same day. The Trash Grits, with pulled pork and smoked Gouda, will likely perk up my plate next time. Unless it’s later in the day, and crawfish poutine or the Cajun Cubano catch my eye.
Fete au Fete is the brainchild of Martello’s brother, Chef Micah Martello, who worked his successful New Orleans restaurant/corporate concept development/North Carolina food truck experience into this venture that now boasts locations in New Orleans (St. Roch Market, Pythian Market) and Baton Rouge (White Star Market) as well as this Jackson location.
“We’re an Italian family. My mother cooked. My grandmother cooked. It was something that was every Sunday at Mawmaw Vita’s house — that’s what we did,” digging into pots of great food, Miranda Martello says. “It’s just in our roots, and he took off with it.”
Fete au Fete’s breakfast “has been a hit here in Jackson,” she says, with repeat customers. “They want what they want. They like what they’re getting.
“I love serving the food. It’s great food. It’s easy to serve something that is delicious, and people come back for and compliment all the time. It’s easy to sell something you believe in.”
After the B.M.C.’s sinful indulgence, I feel the need to atone next time, and I don’t have to go far to do it. Next door’s Local Honey, with its healthy concept, is under the same ownership as Fete au Fete. The cheeky dish titles — Olive this Salad, Get Your Acai in Gear and You’re Kale-ing Me, Smalls — are near irresistible, with a happily healthy (and not holier-than-thou) approach. Avocado toast wins out, with an egg on the side, and I silently vow to try the recommended watermelon salad with feta and blackberry-basil vinaigrette on a future visit.
This morning, the creamy avocado, countered with tangy feta cheese and ripe tomatoes, hits the spot atop toasted sprouted grain bread. And the perfectly poached egg? Well, that’s just gravy.
Redeemed. And ready to sin again. Heavens, what’s for lunch?
Editor’s Note: This is Part 1 in a 3-part series where we explore the myriad of food options available at Jackson’s Cultivation Food Hall. Stay tuned for future installments.