When the aroma emanating from the catering dishes is so tantalizing that lunch is served an hour early, you know the food is going to be good. Such was the case last week when Rooster’s, a long-time Jackson restaurant, was the featured caterer at a meeting I attended in the Capital City. Meeting organizers had no choice but to let us break for lunch an hour early once we got a whiff of the succulent fried chicken tenders, cheese-infused mashed potatoes, salad with Comeback sauce, homemade rolls, and banana pudding. It's safe to say it was the best meeting I’ve attended in a while, thanks in no small part to the lunch that was lightyears above any standard catered lunch.
Rooster’s has been around since 1984 when the first restaurant was opened in downtown Jackson. Various locations were opened around the Metro Area, with the final move made over 10 years ago to the Fondren Corner Building on State Street. It’s notable to mention Rooster’s was the first restaurant in the Jackson area to hire those with disabilities, setting a great example for others to follow.
In the past, I frequented Rooster’s to enjoy one of its signature burgers, but after tasting its chicken, I realized it’s not just about burgers anymore. One look at the menu and a quick stop by the restaurant revealed Rooster’s has branched out and offers something for everyone looking for a delicious home-cooked meal in a friendly, neighborhood restaurant.
First, I have to recommend the chicken tenders, located on the menu under the creative heading, “#JXNCKN.” That’s “hashtag Jackson chicken” for Twitter novices. Three chicken tenders with honey mustard sauce are served with two sides. I highly recommend the mashed potatoes, but there are numerous others from which to choose, including fries, onion rings, coleslaw, red beans and rice, cheese grits, rice and gravy, and mac and cheese, to name a few.
Another recommendation: ask for Comeback sauce with your tenders and definitely with a salad order. It was so good, I used it as a dipping sauce for the tenders and dressing for green salad. It’s spicy, thick, and delicious enough to be served at any Greek restaurant, which Rooster’s isn’t, of course. I usually refrain from asking chefs for their prized recipes, but in this case, I was sorely tempted.
Other chicken entrees and sandwiches that come with sides are mushroom chicken cutlet ($10.50) topped with sautéed mushrooms and Swiss cheese; tomato cutlet, a pan-broiled chicken breast topped with Rooster’s famous Creole tomato gravy; smothered chicken and grits ($10.95) consisting of tenders smothered in Creole tomato gravy on a bed of cheese grits; hot, hot fried chicken sandwich ($7.75), and fried chicken club ($7.75). Other chicken sandwiches are on the menu, ranging from grilled ($6.95) to chicken jalapeno ($7.95).
I was anxious to see if Rooster’s delicious burgers were still on the menu, and, thankfully, they are. All burgers and sandwiches come fully dressed and come encased in your choice of freshly-baked white, wheat, or jalapeno cheddar buns. Burgers come in two sizes ($6.50 for six-ounce/$7.75 for 8-ounce) while burgers topped with cheese, bacon, mushroom, and Swiss cost slightly more. For a bit of variety, order the “stupid” burger ($7.75/$8.95) topped with caramelized onions, Applewood bacon, and Monterey jack cheese, or the nacho ($7.50/$8.75) courtesy of jalapenos and spicy jack cheese.
I’m a fan of Rooster’s burger, and now, it’s chicken, but for others, it’s the plate lunches that draw them in on a daily basis. Entrees come with two sides and a roll and include hamburger steak with brown gravy and sautéed onions ($10.95), country fried steak with white gravy ($11.95), Creole hamburger steak with tomato gravy and mushrooms ($10.95) and red beans and rice with smoked sausage, jalapenos, and salad ($9.95).
I haven’t tried Rooster’s fried chicken salad ($8.95) but it looks amazing. There’s also a grilled chicken salad for the same price, house salad ($6.95), fried or grilled Caesar ($8.75) and “hot, hot” version called “devil’s Caesar ($8.75).
Don’t leave without sampling Rooster’s banana pudding ($3). I was lucky enough to receive a serving at my work meeting, and it’s utterly delicious.
Rooster’s is located at 2906 N. State Street in the Fondren Corner Building. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.