Ever since Antwan Wimberly, son of Jackson Soul Food owner Shirlene Ingrahan, was old enough to chew and walk, he has been munching on any and everything off the restaurant's menu. But it hasn't been the food he has enjoyed most.
"The best part of working here has been the familiar faces," Wimberly says. "I have been lucky to see the transition and meet a lot of people."
What kind of people have crossed his path? Everyone from Nat King Cole to Trick Daddy to Dwyane Wade can be seen pictured along the walls of the dining room, which was renovated in 2008. LeBron James' mother orders the oxtail ($7.95) and Wade devours a tower of pancakes ($3.95 to $7.50) during their visits. Wimberly's favorite dish is quite simply "everything."
"Nothing leaves that kitchen without having gone through my mother's hands," he said. "We are well known for our biscuits and corn muffins, which like everything else are made from scratch with a secret family recipe."
In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Jackson's will open its doors before sunrise at 6 a.m. and stay open until 7 p.m. Ingrahan's talented hands will be in the kitchen preparing a slew of specials for the celebration. In anticipation, Short Order was treated to a bevy of dishes to see what has kept this place open since 1946.
We started off with the pancakes ($3.95) topped and scattered with chocolate chips per Wimberly's recommendation. Jackson's has certainly hit its stride over the past 68 years, and just like the airy biscuits and muffins, biting into the steaming hot pancake is like biting into a cloud.
Next on the list, we tried fried, boiled, and steamed fish. The boiled fish and grits ($14.50) is available on weekends and is served bone-in for breakfast. Boiling the catfish steak cuts gives the fish a very clean taste and a flaky texture. Fried fish ($11.95 catfish, $12.95 tilapia dinner entrees with two sides and a biscuit) was a bit more rough, as could be expected, but lacked the greasy overtones that often come with the average fried fish.
In addition to these varieties, snapper, salmon, and yellowtail show up on the menu. The most popular salmon preparation is the breakfast salmon croquettes ($7.50). Other popular items include the chicken wings ($9.95) smothered with gravy, the fried conch ($13.95), and the fried liver ($10.95).
In addition to offering reasonably-priced breakfast, lunch, and dinner items seven days a week, Jackson Soul Food also hosts brunch starting at 11 a.m. every Sunday -- featuring a live jazz band and specialty brunch items.
Jackson Soul Food is in the process of opening a new location in Opa-locka at 14511 NW 27th Avenue in place of the old McGee's. The location has to be completely re-done and won't be open until June. The next move is to find a suitable location near Homestead.