Dec 5, 2011

A commoner reviews Jake & Rips, Grenada, Miss.

There are 289 miles of Interstate 55 from Memphis, Tenn. to the Louisiana state line and a whole lot of nothing in between.  But at least it’s a scenic “nothing” compared to Illinois, an equally long state north to south, and I’d much rather look at Mississippi’s pine trees, rolling hills and the occasional magnolia (when in bloom) than flat land, corn and soybeans.  Still, if you’re heading southbound in a driving rain like we were on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, it starts to get a little monotonous after the towns start disappearing about an hour past Memphis. 

One of the few major spots of civilization in rural northern Mississippi is Grenada, or Exit 206 if you’re counting the miles.  That’s where I first discovered Jake & Rips several years ago.  I’ve always had an excellent dining experience every time I’ve visited, and this day was no exception. 

You’ll find Jake & Rips not far off the interstate on Miss. Hwy. 8 among the various fast food joints, chain restaurants, gas stations and the ubiquitous Walmart serving both the community and I-55 travelers.  And it’s obvious when your drive up that it caters to locals as much as the interstate traffic.  The exterior looks like your standard barbecue shack, so you know it’s nothing fancy, but to me it’s larger than it first appears.  There’s ample seating near a fully stocked bar area and a separate section with booth seating. 
Their specialties are barbecue, of course, and catfish, too.  You are, after all, in Mississippi.  You really can’t go wrong with either.  The barbecue stands up to the competition 100 miles north.  The catfish is fresh, flaky and perfectly fried.  And I’ve always found the servings to be very fulfilling and the prices very affordable. 
For a change of pace, if you’re not familiar with the meat and three concept, I highly recommend this for lunch.  On my most recent visit, they actually offered a meat and four lunch (choose your entrée from three selections and four veggies/sides from about six or seven choices).  I opted for the slow-cooked smothered pot roast, fried green tomatoes, turnip greens, black-eyed peas and macaroni and cheese … all for just $7.99!  The pot roast was incredibly tender and extremely flavorful.  The mac and cheese was obviously homemade and decadently good.  The fried green tomatoes are quite simply among the best I’ve ever had.  And the greens and peas, seasoned with ham, will place you in soul food heaven.  As you can probably tell, I was pretty happy with my choice …

I will admit the service can sometimes be a little on the slow side, but every time I have been there, the waitresses are always very friendly and make you feel at home, even if you are a Yankee.  One cautionary tale … when Gypsy and I arrived around 11 a.m. on Sunday, we were unable to get served Bloody Marys since the bar didn’t’ open until 1 p.m.  Oh well, it is the South and it was a church day. 
Anyway, if you’re looking for good Southern style home cooking, and especially if you love barbecue or catfish, give Jake and Rips a try if you’re passing through Grenada.  It’s good quality food at affordable prices, so it has this commoner’s seal of approval. 
I’m eventually getting around to our four nights in New Orleans, and I hope to cover the first couple of nights in my next blog entry.  Please stay tuned.

No comments:

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...