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*Best of: Nightlife

Best No Cover,
Best Karaoke,
Best Open Mic Night
Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows:
Fenian’s 901 E. Fortification St.,601-948-0055

Every time I walk through the door of Fenian’s, I hear the theme song from “Cheers.” I hear this because “making your way in the world today” is made a lot easier with a good beer and a seat at the bar. Fenian’s is the best neighborhood bar in Jackson. There are a myriad of reasons this place is full most weekend nights, and most days, too.

Open-mic night celebrates those of us in town brave enough to get on stage and showcase our talents to the greater Jackson area. Karaoke gives me a night to be brave, get on stage, and showcase my lack of talent to the greater Jackson area. The fact that I can do all of this for no cover and wearing just about anything I want makes the joint one of my top three places to hang out in Jackson. Come visit, I’ll be in the back booth with seven of my loudest friends having an Irish Car Bomb.
—Ali Greggs

Best No Cover
Second place: Hal & Mal’s (200 S. Commerce St., 601-948-0888)
Second place: Martin’s (214 S. State St., 601-354-9712)
Third place: Hal & Mal’s (200 S. Commerce St., 601-948-0888)

Best Karaoke
Second place: Martin’s (214 S. State St., 601-354-9712)
Third place: Todd at Hal & Mal’s

Best Open Mic
Second place: Hal & Mal’s (200 S. Commerce St., 601-948-0888)
Third place: Martin’s (214 S. State St., 601-354-9712)

Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows
Second place: Martin’s (214 S. State St., 601-354-9712)
Third place: Hal & Mal’s (200 S. Commerce St., 601-948-0888)
Good showing: WC Don’s (218 S. State St, 601-969-6962)

Best Hotel Bar:
Hilton 1001 E. County Line Road, 601-957-2800

How about sitting in a comfortable chair and listening to tickled ivories while watching business people scurry through the halls? The Hilton lobby wins the reader’s choice for best hotel bar, although that may be in part because people think of the “Hilton” as offering a few different nightlife options, such as Huntington Grille (steaks, seafood) and Fitzgerald’s (sandwiches and light entrees), both of which often offer libations and live music on the weekends. Don’t miss Ed St. Pe and Rhonda Richmond when they perform in Huntington Grille.
—Todd Stauffer

Second place: Edison Walthall (225 E. Capitol St., 601-948-6161)
Third place: Marriott (200 E. Amite St., (601) 969-5100), Cabot Lodge (2375 N. State St., 601-948-8650) (tie)

Place with the Best Shot,
Best Place to Hear a Band:
Hal & Mal’s
200 Commerce St., 601-948-0888

Hal & Mal’s bartender Anna Barber tells me that their most popular shot is probably the “Jägerbomb”—a potent mixture of the Red Bull energy drink and so-called “herbal liqueur” Jägermeister. Other fan-favorites are Kamikazes, Purple Hooters and Red Snappers. My money’s on the Red-Headed s***—a sweet, quick drunk variously composed of Crown Royal, Jägermeister, cranberry juice and/or peach schnapps—depending on what’s available and what the bartender feels like cooking up.

Ask any Jacksonian where they saw their favorite show, and you’re going to hear the same answer. Music just feels better at Hal & Mal’s, and there’s so many places you can hear it: rock ‘n’ roll and hip-hop in the Red Room, big acts in the back (recently featuring The Strokes and Gillian Welch), bluegrass in the Restaurant, blues in the Brewpub. That variety, and the fantastic music they bring to town, made Hal & Mal’s Jackson’s favorite place to hear a band.

Hal & Mal’s has allowed us to host the now-annual Chick Ball there, as well as benefits for Katrina Victims (with the M.A.P. Coalition), as well as for tsunami victims. We salute them.
—David McCarty

Place with the Best Shot
Second place: Martin’s (214 S. State St., 601-354-9712)
Third place: Julep (1305 E. Northside Drive., 601-362-1411), Fenian’s (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055) (tie)

Best Place to Hear a Band
Second place: Martin’s (214 S. State St., 601-354-9712)
Third place: Fenian’s (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055)
Good showing: 930 Blues Café (930 N. Congress St., 601-948-3344)

Best Place to Shoot Pool:
The Green Room 444 Bounds St., 601-713-3444

The Green Room Restaurant, owned by Truett Hawkins, has 15 different pool tables. All levels of experience come here to play. The Green Room has been in business for around six years. Since there’s always room for a big crowd in this spacious pool hall, the Green Room is the place to be with friends after a hard day’s work.

The bar serves beer and mixed drinks. Huge speakers and your choice of music on the jukebox sets the mood. The kitchen staff has food ready to cook up after a hard game of pool. In the near future Hawkins plans to have pool tournaments in the Green Room; keep an eye out.
—Skyla Dawn Luckey

Second place: Jokers (4637 McWillie Drive., 601-981-3041)
Third place: Cherokee Inn (1410 Old Square Road, 601-362-6388)
Good showing: Sportsman’s Lodge (1220 E. Northside Drive #100, 601-366-5441)

Best Place to See State Legislators:
Schimmel’s2685 N. State St., 601-981-7077

Jay Schimmel should be given props for not only creating some of the finest food the Fondren area has seen, but for his ability to create a restaurant that is just plain sexy. Schimmel’s turns each dining experience into a night created to make you feel like you just ate the best food, drank the best wine, and are looking at some of the best-looking people in Jackson. Often, these best-looking people have been making our laws and running our state. Schimmel’s is the place to catch our elected officials playing in the down time this session. Go eat a bit of meat (or pasta) with the elite.
—Ali Greggs

Second place: Tico’s (1536 E. County Line Road, Ridgeland, 601-956-1030)
Third place: Hal & Mal’s (200 S. Commerce St., 601-948-0888)

Best Biker Hangout:
Hooters 4565 I-55 N., 601-981-0480

I went to Hooters one time, so of course I’m the staff member most qualified to say, “Hooters is the Best Biker Bar in Jackson!” Why, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you since I am the expert.

My friend Jimbo loves the place because every time he lunches there, the bartender yells, “Jimbo didn’t lose his job today, so he came to Hooters!” I think that makes Hooters the Cheers for the underachiever or something. Actually, I’m not sure WHAT that means, but I know Jimbo just loves, loves, loves to tell that story.

However, I am intrigued by the origin of the word “hooters.” When that guy in Pearl yelled out of his Camaro, “Show me your hooters!” I wondered who first coined the “hooter”? Is it the wisdom associated with femininity and motherhood that lends the mind toward the “owl” who “hoots”? Or perhaps it’s simply the double o. (OO) See. Get it? Ha, ha! Oh how clever! And as Mr. Owl says, “The world may never know.”

What I have learned is that Hooters was created as a “melting pot” much like our forefathers had envisioned, where everyone is accepted and there are no class distinctions. (I’m not kidding. Google it yourself.) So I guess I can see that. I’ve never known a judgmental biker, and I have seen lots of crotch rockets in the parking lot.
—Emily Braden

Second place: Cherokee (1410 Old Square Road, 601-362-6388), Pop’s (2636 S. Gallatin St., 601-355-3853), Shuckers (116 Conestoga Road, Ridgeland, 601-853-0105) (tie)
Third place: Warehouse (5440 Highland Drive, 601-362-8891)

Best Live Band:
Living Better Electrically

At the last LBE show I went to I stood dazed in a crowd plainly gripped in the throes of rapture. On my left was a girl with flame tattoos running up her neck and tears running down her cheeks. To my right was a serious young man with Buddy Holly glasses, scribbling furiously in a notebook.

I yanked it out of his hands and pushed him down. He’d written (David Bowie + Marc Bolan)2 / (ELO – strings) + Faces = LBE. I ripped the page out and bought him a beer.
—David McCarty

Second place: The Vamps
Third place: Rainmakers
Good showing: Colour Revolt and The Rockwells

Best Local Band Album:
The Rockwells – “The Rockwells”

Maybe it’s the drums—those simple opening rhythm bangs that open the album on “Wax Paper.” Or maybe it’s the power keyboards that quickly follow after a strong declaration of electric guitars. Either way, the Rockwells’ self-titled EP has rocked Jackson for over a year now. With the sweetest combination of Nielson Hubbard production, longing vocals (lead singer Dent May’s voice is all-a-quiver with sex, teenage drama and passion), catchy keyboard notes and a solidly anchored bass, it’s no wonder this four-some has the kids grasping for more at the stage during every concert.

And runners-up LBE out-Bowie David Bowie in ways the latest trendy indie bands could never imagine. Forget the Killer—on “Leather Affair,” Joshua Clark puts sex back into music, and “The World is a Joke” is the song Ziggy Stardust wishes he had written. The album is perfectly elaborate—a complicated combination of poetry and instruments. Now, give me my full-length, guys!
—Casey Parks

Second place: LBE
Third place: King Elementary
Good showing: Golden Hearts

Best Bartender:
Cotton Baronich, Edison-Wathall

Cotton is back! Long-time Jackson bartender Cotton Baronich (since 1960!) took the honors in the first year of the JFP’s Best of Jackson poll. Then, the last two years, two young whippersnappers snuck up and took the honors. But as any professional barkeep will tell you, the kids come and they go. But real bartenders earn their stripes by running a tight bar, being an ear for all sorts of idiocy and being grumpy when they need to be grumpy. They are in charge, and this Gulf Coast native has been in charge on the downtown bar scene for longer than some of the upstarts have been walking upright.
—Donna Ladd

Second place: Jay Losset at WC Don’s
Third place: Shannon Thornton at Hal & Mal’s
Good showing: Ryan “Chubb” Turman at Martin’s

Best Beer Selection:
Lager’s World Grill and Draft Emporium
6111 Ridgewood Road., 601-956-3416

Lager’s is a beer connoisseur’s dream and rightfully takes first place in the category again this year. Although the interior décor is a bit generic, sit down at the bar and gaze instead at the 50 beer taps that line the wall. Their extensive draft selection has all the major beer regions represented; U.K. (McEwan’s Export, Newcastle Brown Ale, Guinness Stout); Germany (Spaten Franziskaner, Weihenstephaner Hefeweissen, Warsteiner); Belgium (Hoegaarten White Ale, Leffe Blonde); and the U.S. (Abita, Anchor, Rogue, Sierra Nevada). If what you are looking for isn’t on tap, ask your bartender for their even more extensive bottled beer list.
—Alex Slawson

Second place: Martin’s (214 S. State St., 601-354-9712)
Third place: Fenian’s (901 E. Fortification St., 601-948-0055)
Good showing: Mellow Mushroom (275 Dogwood Blvd., 601-992-7499) and Hal & Mal’s (200 S. Commerce St., 601-948-0888)

Sexiest Bartender:
Lori Leech of the Red Room, Hal & Mal’s

Lori Leech, 26, is not only the sexiest bartender but a schoolteacher as well. While teaching at Ridgeland High School, the Mississippi State University graduate decided to make some extra cash by being a cocktail server at Fenian’s. Then after George Street re-opened (the last time), she ended up behind the bar. Then the Red Room at Hal & Mal’s hired her. She bartended there for about 10 months and made an impression on her patrons with her pretty smile, down-to-earth personality and, yes, sexy outfits. (Even if she’s just wearing jeans.) Leech is leaving her home state to move to Atlanta at the end of this month to pursue a teaching job. She will be missed in more ways than one.
—Skyla Dawn Luckey

Second place: Jay Losset of WC Don’s
Third place: Duane Smith at Que Sera Sera

Best Wine:
Bravo! Italian Restaurant & Bar
4500 I-55 N. #244, 601-982-8111

It is surely a tribute to the judgment and refined palette of Bravo! sommelier Lesley McHardy that the restaurant has taken top honors for best wine selection. Actually, it doesn’t make us at the JFP look too bad either, since Lesley is our wine columnist. Bravo! is one of the few restaurants in town to have won the Wine Spectator Award for Excellence, and the servers there actually know something about the wines on their list, which is rarer than you might imagine. The last time I made it to Bravo! was for lunch, so my girlfriend and I indulged ourselves with a bottle of Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc from Napa. It was crisp but full without a trace of bitterness. Bravo! is the perfect place to linger over your meal as you gaze out at Highland Village, a half-full glass of wine in your hand.
—Brian Johnson

Second place: Julep (1305 E. Northside Drive, #105, 601-362-1411)
Third place: Char (4500 I-55 N. Highland Village, 601-956-9562)
Good showing: Shapleys (868 Centre St., Ridgeland, 601-957-3753)

Best Martinis:
Elixir Restaurant & Bar4800 I-55 N. #6B, 601-981-7896

Elixir knows martinis. Not long ago, I was in Elixir for the first time celebrating with friends. I don’t usually drink martinis, but when I do, I’ll have none of that fruity stuff, thank you. No, I ordered a dry, slightly dirty Stolichnaya martini. Now this is actually a good way to test a bartender, because ordering a martini “dirty” means that you want a dash of olive juice in the shaker. If the bartender puts in too much, you’re gagging on brine, and tastes vary considerably on this score. Too little, and you can’t even taste that bracing olive goodness peeking out at you from the liquor. At Elixir, they poured my martini just right. It was cold as the Arctic and smooth as obsidian. They also have plenty of fruity martinis on hand, in case you’re with women or a metrosexual. There’s the venerable Cosmopolitan or more exotic temptations like the Key Lime Martini or the Martini Vienna, which is made with Godiva Liqueur. They also have a full kitchen that serves delicious food. Whatever you order, you are in for a treat.
—Brian Johnson

Second place: Julep (1305 E. Northside Drive, 601 362-1411)
Third place: Bravo! Italian Restaurant & Bar (4500 I-55 N., 601-982-8111)
Good showing: Char (4500 I-55 N., 601-956-9562) and Bonefish (201 Colony Way, 601-607-3334)

Best Sports Bar:
Sportsman’s Lodge
1220 E. Northside Drive #100, 601-366-5441

More often than not, a sports bar will try to sell itself on atmosphere and clientele and figure American food like chili cheese fries can be dumped out of a bag and tossed into the microwave like somebody’s dirty laundry because nobody gives a damn as they’re too busy watching Troy Palamalu’s hair flying around. Don’t be fooled. Good American-style food is more than neon lights and illuminated Miller Beer signs.

If you want real food, you simply have to drop by the Sportsman’s Lounge in Maywood Mart. Go on and try their foot-long chili dogs. Dig into the shrimp po-boy. Think you’re man enough to handle one of their cheeseburgers? Go for it. I dare you.
— Adam Lynch

Second place: Time Out Sports Cafe (6270 Old Canton Road, 601-978-1839)
Third place: Buffalo Wild Wings (808 Lake Harbour Drive, 601-856-0789)

Best Dance Club: Headliners
6107 Ridgewood Road, 601-957-6110

Headliners is one of those mega-clubs where everyone can find something (or someone) to get their juices stirring. It has a huge dance floor—and popular dance music pumped in that appeals to all sorts of people. Everyone is welcome to crowd onto the dance floor and let go—that’s the main requirement in the dance-club category: People. Hot. Sweaty. Moving.

Likewise, ballroom espositos Mardi Gras takes the No. 2 slot to get that body party started. And who better to put the bootie in bootie music than Jack and Jill’s where gay and straight alike crowd the dance floor.

In truth Phingaprint (see “Best Deejay”) is the reason Freelons gets the votes for one of the best dance clubs in town.
—Herman Snell

Second place: Mardi Gras (824 S. State St., 601)-351-3300)
Third place: Jack and Jill’s (3911 Northview Drive, 601-982-5225)
Good showing: Freelons (440 N. Mill St. 601-949-2535)

Best Club DJ:

If you like dancing your butt off to some good old-fashioned down ‘n’ dirty grooves, it doesn’t get better or sweatier than Freelons Bar & Grill’s resident disc master DJ Phingaprint. Blessed with nimble fingers that manipulate records into one big nasty hip-hop/r&b groove with the precision of a trained surgeon, the Jackson-born turntable wizard has literally rocked parties all over the world. We’re lucky to have him here, spinning those wheels of steel.
—Charlie Braxton

Second place: All Headliners DJs
Good showing: DJ Alan, Jack and Jill’s, and DJ C-Lecta, Seven*Studioz

Best Casino for Gaming:
Ameristar 4155 Washington St., Vicksburg, 800-700-7770

Best Casino Gaming goes to the perennial winner, Ameristar Casino. It’s a fun place to spend a few hours, whether you want to play one of their table games or slot machines. When I go to the Ameristar, I head for the penny slots, paper money and player card in hand. For a few hours, I’ll bet a penny per all 15 or 20 pay lines on machines like Sea Monkeys, Enchanted Unicorn, Cleopatra, Tabasco, Money to Burn or Jackpot Party, with their colorful, quick-changing screens that sound off when I’m lucky enough to win a bonus round or free spins or cash to play with again. —Lynette Hanson

Second place: Beau Rivage (Biloxi, 866-368-7399) (temporarily closed)
Third place: Silverstar (Choctaw, 866-44PEARL)

Best Casino for Shows:
Beau Rivage (Biloxi, 866-368-7399) (temporarily closed)

None of us who saw it over and over again on TV will ever be able to shake the image of Hurricane Katrina’s high water pounding the sign in front of the Beau Rivage in Biloxi. However, when the casino reopens, tentatively set for this August, you can bet that people will be lined up to personally make that image grow so weak as to be invisible in their memories. Live entertainment at Beau Rivage meant big names, lots of light, sound and action. You know that’s what the casino will bring back to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Until then, check out the Web sites for Ameristar in Vicksburg and the Pearl River Resort; both have great entertainment links. Go out and have fun.
—Lynette Hanson

Second place: Ameristar (Vicksburg, 800-700-7770)
Third place: Pearl River Resort, (Choctaw, 866-44PEARL)

Best Category We Left Out:
Public Nudity?

Your creative desire to honor a person, place or thing shines each year as you labor over that last blank on the ballot. Some of you even graciously fill in your own answers.

Food, alcohol or nightlife-related suggestions include: “Best Convenience Store,” and “Best Food Delivery” (Steak-Out). Elixir took these two categories, “Best Bar to Spill Something on Your Shirt and Have the Bartender Get It Out” and “Best Place to Pick Up Lonely Divorcees.” There’s more. “Best Sommelier” (Norm Rush), “Worst Food & Drinks,” “Best Onion Rings” (Rooster’s picked up this one), “Something Where the Public Can Vote to Have Night Club on the Reservoir,” “Something to Replace the Dock,” “Best Fried Pickles,” “Best Watering Hole for Young Professionals” and “Best Next-day Leftovers.” Musiquarium and the Dutch Bar got votes in “Best Bar That Closed Its Doors.”

Other types of businesses and careers garnered votes: dance studio (Dance Connection got lots of votes), doctor, lawyer, Indian chief—oops—I meant real estate, massage therapist, mechanic, auto repair shop, potter (Thomas Morrison), gaming store (Game Zone at Northpark Mall), library, chiropractor (Drive Leo Huddleston’s fans still read the JFP), night school, day spa, new artist, salesperson (Stephanie Price), dog groomer, floral designer, dance instructor (Mike Day), disc golf course, regular golf course, spoken word artist (C. A. Webb), spoken word poet (Ya Ya), local market (the Greater Belhaven Market returns in the spring), limo driver (that went to Rick Cox) and place for eyebrows (Incense).

Then there those of you who voted for best place for public nudity (breasts and legs were
suggested as Best of categories, too).

Finally, I vote that this suggested category appear on the 2007 ballot: “Best Thing(s) to Get Rid Of” with the provided answer being Jackson’s Current Mayor and The Clarion-Ledger. Unless drastic changes come about in 2006, that provided answer will work then, too.
—Lynette Hanson


As usual, a great list. But you might want to add one more category:

Best Place for geeks and/or intellectuals hang on the weekend?
This Thread and This Thread give some insights (yet another shameless plug!).

Still, Herman said in that last thread building has beer... they just need to install coffee and a kicking magazine section in there.

Back to the Home PageTop of the page.Post comment.  Posted by: Philip on Jan 26, 06 | 7:03 pm

Well, just two weeks removed from it's reception of the "best beer selection" award, Lagers is apparently out of business. I was told by somebody that drove by last night that the windows were boarded up. And then I called just to check, and the girl that answered the phone said they "closed down" on Monday.

It's not hard to believe, seeing that the place was managed as poorly as I've ever seen an establishment managed. But I hope that this doesn't doom the prospects of similar establishments opening in town.

Back to the Home PageTop of the page.Post comment.  Posted by: millhouse on Feb 07, 06 | 7:08 pm

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