Formally known as Tay’s Soul Food, Fred’s Soul Food is quite the buzz on Palmyra Street in Jackson, Mississippi.
If you’re in Jackson Foodies, you may occasionally see this place recommended to those looking for affordable breakfast options in the area. If you haven’t tried them for breakfast or lunch, you should do yourself a favor and head that way.
On any given day, the parking lot fills quickly as individuals stop by to pick up their call-in orders before the 8 o’clock workday begins.
If you’re new to the establishment, Fred will greet you warmly and remind his regulars that there are guests in the building – so they should act accordingly. It’s apparent this is a staple establishment with deep ties in the community. In fact, most of the customers are on a first-name basis and their orders are committed to memory by the staff before they reach the counter. There’s also the occasional friendly and competitive banter like what you would find on someone’s porch or stoop back in the day.
It’s a traditional counter service setting, with a large menu posted on the wall. As prices have changed, they’ve elected to modify the price points with markers to cut down on the costs of reproducing such a menu to scale. If you’re not a Saints fan, this may not be the place you want to find yourself dining in and enjoying. There’s no shortage of Saints décor throughout the place, including a black and gold Saints themed wreath that hangs above your head as you approach the counter to place your order. Speaking of orders, let me get down to the important specifics of my visit: the food.
I had so many choices for breakfast, I didn’t know where to start. With everything from salmon croquettes and rice to thick fried bologna sandwiches, I felt like I time-warped into a summer of the early ’90s at paw-paw’s house. I was somewhere between old school southern foodie paradise and completely overwhelmed.
As I approached the counter, I panicked slightly. There were so many great choices, but only one me and I wanted some of everything.
And so I began with, “Yes, I’d like a full breakfast with bacon, scrambled eggs with cheese, cheese in the grits” to which Fred responded, “Would you like toast or a biscuit, young lady?” I responded sheepishly, “Biscuit, please.”
Now, here’s where things got comical. As Fred began to utter my total, I cut him off and blurted out, “I’d also like a fried bologna sandwich with egg and a pancake.” Fred responded with a drawn-out, “Okaaaaay” and asked me frankly, “Would you like anything else, young lady?” All the while, I’m sure he was wondering if and how I was going to eat all of this food. Admittedly, I wondered that, too.
My wait time was minimal and my order was delivered to my table as items became available.
First arrived the bologna sandwich, then the breakfast plate, then the pancake along with a side of Blackburn syrup. Now, let me qualify this review by saying this: there’s “restaurant” breakfast food variety and there’s “down-home” breakfast food variety, with everything else falling between the two.
Fred’s brings no-frills or fluffs: this is definitely down-home in every sense. Everything about this experience was cultural nostalgia for me.
The bologna was cut thick and burned in all the right places, just like my daddy would make for me after school. The pancake was perfectly golden brown and flipped right on time, just like my mom would make from scratch on the weekends. The full breakfast was something I would expect to eat on any given day of my childhood. It came with a huge dollop of cheese grits, country-style bacon, real eggs – fluffy, seasoned and scrambled with a slice of American cheese. If it wasn’t the size of that bologna, the eggs were enough for me to make this spot one of my regular breakfast locations in my rotations from now on.