A restaurant’s historic roots is an odd recommendation, but it's the first adjective that comes to mind when I’m asked about Lou’s Full Serv Neighborhood Kitchen in Jackson. In fact, it’s such an interesting place to eat (I’ll get to the amazing food in a minute) that it’s worth a detour when you’re in the Jackson area or en route to other areas.
Here’s what first comes to mind when I think of Lou’s Full Serv. It’s located next to Jitney #14 in the Parkins Pharmacy building. Yes, I know, neither of these two establishments still exist. However, in my mind, and I’m quite sure in the minds of many others, these buildings will always be associated with and called by the names of their former occupants.
Another fact that is part of my personal Jackson history: owner and executive chef Louis LaRose was formerly a chef at POET’S, Sam’s Westside, and Bravo! – three of my regular hangouts during the two decades I lived in Jackson and surrounding areas.
History aside, today, Lou’s projects an energetic, yet laid-back vibe in a restaurant that's part history/part modern-day courtesy of original features from the previous century like subway tiles and an old post office window combined with metal features and industrial-like lighting.
Guests can take their pick of one of several tables in the open dining room or dine al fresco on the adjacent patio. On any given day, especially when the Mississippi legislature is in session, seeing legislators and state and city officials dining next to office workers and physicians is a normal occurrence.
Novelty and historic factor aside, ultimately, it’s the food that draws people to Lou’s. LaRose takes innovative dining to a new level with fresh, creative dishes that manage to taste homemade despite the necessity of serving a steady stream of customers that begin arriving at 11 a.m. and doesn’t end until late in the evening. Lou’s offers a delightful mix of southern and coastal flavors in its menu options, including seafood dishes, salads, sandwiches, burgers, steaks, and daily blue plate-like specials.
While you’re waiting on the main dish to arrive at lunch, sample one or a selection of what Lou’s calls “snacks.” In some cases, you may not feel the need to move past this section.
Sample-worthy appetizers are crawfish cake with local sausage cracklins and Chile butter ($17), mushroom toast ($12), salmon dip ($12), crawfish fondue and seasoned steak fries ($17), and onion rings with smoked tomato remoulade ($8).
Many come to Lou’s for its creative sandwiches topped with homemade sauces and dressings. Believe me, they don’t disappoint. There’s the bacon-wrapped meatloaf sandwich topped with Lou’s dill pickle mix and mustard aioli on sourdough bread ($13), Chick-Fil-Lou ($13), a crispy chicken thigh topped with Comeback sauce and pickles, grilled cheese ($13), filled with ham and bacon, caramelized red onions, and mayor on crusted sourdough, Cuban ($14) stuffed with ham, pork, pickles, Swiss cheese, and brown mustard in a hoagie bun and roast beef ($15) composed on Waygu eye of round, shoe string potatoes, herb aioli, and homemade mustard on sourdough.
If you’re a burger-lover, you’ve come to the right place. Mile-high choices like Burger No. 7 ($15) is piled high with candied bacon, grilled green tomatoes, caramelized red onion, smoked tomato-bacon aioli, and provolone on a house bun. Or, try the D-Luxe burger ($16), an appetizing albeit somewhat unusual concoction of griddle pork belly, fried egg, barbecue aioli, vegetables, smoked gouda, and a house bun. Each one of these and others on the menu are served with your choice of salad or onion rings or fries.
You can’t go wrong with the daily rotating place lunches ($12) that include red beans and rice, crispy chicken, meatloaf, pork chops, and shrimp and crawfish etouffee. Entrees come with vegetables, tea, salad, and bread, making it one of the best deals on the menu.
There are also a variety of salads filled with your choice of toppings or meat additions on the menu.
For dinner, things are kicked up a notch, especially in the “snacks” section. A favorite stopping-off place for those heading to downtown events after dark, Lou’s is famous for appetizers served with house-made sauces. Selections include the chef’s board (market price) filled with sliced meats, vegetables and other small bites, shrimp crunch ($17), crispy Gulf oysters ($15), and Lou’s famous onion rings ($8), among others.
Besides salads, burgers, and sandwiches similar to the lunch menu, dinner selections include heartier meals like Bolognese over fettuccine ($25), shrimp and grits ($27), redfish ($28), salmon ($28), short rib ($26), filet ($36), and ribeye ($38). They’re taken to greater heights with the addition of creative sauces, locally-grown vegetables, and house-made breads and side dishes.
Dessert is another treat you don’t want to overlook. Dishes like tiramisu, salted caramel blondie, bread pudding, and blueberry cobbler ($10) are perfect endings to any meal.
Lou’s is located at 904B E. Fortification St. next to Froogle’s Market. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Lou’s is closed on Sunday.