The first stop in Jackson was at a small hotel restaurant. It turned out to be the perfect jumping-off point.
What do you think of when you think of Jackson?
I bet your mind is overrun with images of racial inequality, poverty, fried fish, barbecue, and blues. What may not come to mind is Jackson's brew selection. While flavors of those traditional items plague my taste buds with longing, my search today was for a good local brew and a decently tasting meal.
After considering a selection of restaurants and getting the input of our chatty shuttle driver Reggie, we settled upon Alumni House Sports Grill conveniently located in a hotel we, unfortunately, were not staying at. The major deciding factors were a coupon (we forgot to use) and confirmation that Alumni had a Lucky Town Brew on tap, specifically, Ballistic Blonde. (Lucky Town was one of our “must go” places as it is the only microbrewery in Jackson and recently opened to the broader public.)
Reggie packed us into the minivan that would lead us to the promised land of fermentation, saccharification, and mastication. Driving up to our destination, Reggie let us out at the hotel which was home to our restaurant of choice. Tucked in the corner of the hotel lobby with just enough of the bar visible to the front counter, we saw our food haven and decided to saddle up to the bar for quick service (both for beer and food). While the beers came quickly, the food was slightly delayed due to the tremendously welcome and insightful conversation with the tenders of the bar Sarah and Andrew who became our unofficial food and drink guides.
Sarah, with a little prying, provided us with a list of about twelve local eats and drinks where we could test out our taste buds. Forgetting momentarily, but not for long, that we went to drink and eat, we thrived off of a conversation over suggested food items and beer varieties at the local eateries. After remembering how empty our stomachs were, we opted to place our order with Andrew who not only a bartender but is a caterer and an aspiring chef with a deep passion for the invention as well as the celebration of flavors and foods.
While waiting on our order, our empty glasses were refilled and we were delighted with a bonding conversation about various types of food and each of our preferences for those foods. Andrew, likely sensing he had happened across two foodies that had a love affair with flavors as much as he did, questioned us on what utensil is best for eating grits. Evidently, Eric and I had given the wrong answer because Andrew launched into the reasoning that a fork was best for eating grits as it would prove to the consumer that the grits were creamy but not so watery that nothing would stay on the utensil.
It was not a long wait before our identical orders were laid before us. Drenched in homemade pepper-jack queso and garnished with white corn chips, our pound and a half Pepper Jack burritos were nothing to sneeze at. The intoxicating smell of sauteed aromatics and fresh salsa alone was enough to send me into full-blown salivation. Full of well-marinated and juicy ground beef, sauteed peppers and onions, and more cheese, my mouth was begging for a taste. It could have been that I was very hungry or it was the fantastic Ballistic Blonde, either way, a complete and utter foodgasm wrecked my senses leaving me wanting nothing but another pint and another bite.
While not the most glamorous restaurant, Alumni offers a great selection of beers on tap as well as by-the-bottle and is also home to not only the Pepper Jack burrito but the 3.5 lb burrito challenge. If you have 15 minutes and feel like stuffing your face beyond belief, stop by Alumni, tell Sarah and Andrew we said, “Hi.” and have a pint of for us! Cheers!
Alumni House Sports Grill is located in Pearl, Mississipi at the Holiday Inn. It is located near outlet malls and shopping and is open every day 6 am to 9 pm