You can smell the aroma of smoked meats and fried fish when you exit your car.
Gator Jr’s To-Go at 4556 Siwell Road opens at 11 a.m. and the place fills up quickly – for good reason.
Although the name suggests it may be carry-out only, there are tables and chairs for dining, or for waiting patiently on your to-go order.
Most everything is prepared to order – except the ribs. And most critically, you need to have a back-up order in mind in case they sell the last plate of ribs before you get to the counter. Regrettably, this happened to me twice.
I arrived around 11:30 a.m. and the line was already to the door. By the time I got to the counter, they were out of ribs and it would be about 45 minutes before the next racks were ready. So, I chose the pan trout plate and a chicken on a stick instead. For those of you who are unfamiliar with pan trout, it is simply whiting.
You must be wondering what I could have been thinking by visiting a place known for having arguably the best ribs in Jackson and ordering fried fish and chicken-on-a-stick instead. Well, if you haven’t heard, Gator Jr’s cooks the best chicken on a stick in Jackson and their fish plates rank high among locals in the area.
And with that, I can attest that locals in the area know their food.
The chicken-on-a-stick had huge chunks of chicken breast, potato, onion and pickle. The chicken had been marinated and was moist and flavorful to eat. The batter was crunchy and well-seasoned. After eating one bite of each item pressed together, I knew this was the best chicken-on-a-stick I’ve ever had in my life (no, seriously, it’s that good).
The fish plate came with three pieces of pan trout and lots of fries. It was hot and fresh (the only way to eat fish in the South), well-seasoned and very filling. While I didn’t get a change to try the ribs (not yet, at least), I now know how to increase my chances of catching some during lunch. One must get there early and go often.
Be sure to stop at an ATM because Gator Jr’s To-Go only accepts cash. If you’re like me and you made the trip all the way from downtown Jackson and did not stop at an ATM along the way, don’t fret: there’s an ATM next door in the convenience store.