Hailing from humble beginnings in a renovated Mississippian gas station, McAlister's Deli has revolutionized the concept of fast food with healthy fare recognized by Parents in 2009. Premium ingredients, such as Black Angus roast beef and black forest ham, pile upon stuffed potatoes or artisan bread, sating hungers and silencing stomachs before they recite bank-account numbers. As patrons wait for servers to deliver meals, they sip signature sweet tea, swirled together onsite daily from pure cane sugar and a rainforest-certified black-tea blend as dictated by a closely guarded recipe.
During spring at Jones Orchard, families gather to bound through the territory’s rows of fruit, peeling back leaves to get at the ripest morsels hidden deep within the thicket. Since growing their first peaches more than seven decades ago, the Jones family continues to ripen juicy varieties of peaches, strawberries, and other fruit on their 600-acre farm, eschewing long-distance produce shipping for local distribution, mostly available at farmer’s markets and during the orchard’s pick-your-own fruit season. Inviting families to pick fruit together is one of many ways the Jones family lures visitors to their orchard seasonally—come autumn, the farmers transform the fields into a vast corn maze. Visitors not content to wander the idyllic grounds can enjoy the orchard’s bounty at the Country Café, where matriarch Juanita Jones flavors her fresh pies and preserves with fresh-plucked fruits.
Back Yard Burgers serves up North American Black Angus burgers hash-marked to order on genuine flame-licked grills. Third-pound patties dress for dinner with lettuce, vine-ripened tomatoes, red onions, dill pickles, and a condimental trio of ketchup, mustard, and mayo ($3.59). Or gussy up for patty prom with premium add-ons such as coleslaw, chili, sautéed mushrooms, bacon, and more ($0.35–$0.60 per topping). The grill masters also flip the first white meat, prepping Hawaiian chicken sandwiches with grilled pineapple, mustard, mayo, and lettuce ($4.09). Away from the flames, feel free to enjoy a loaded baked potato ($2.79) and a wide range of pairable plates such as chili cheese fries ($2.59 for regular size), garden salads ($2.19), and sweetly baked fruit cobblers ($1.99).
Though The Hot Box Restaurant & Grill is owner Caitlin Standridge’s first business venture, she is not new to the restaurant world, as highlighted by the Millington Star. In fact, it was Caitlin’s more than five years of experience in the food industry that inspired her boyfriend and the restaurant’s co-owner, Jeremy Payne, to convince Caitlin to take a leap of faith and establish The Hot Box Restaurant & Grill in 2013.
The pair now satisfies locals with Southern soul foods that range from catfish and butterfly-shrimp dinners to sauce-drenched wings and sides of okra and green beans. After meals, diners can be found surfing Hot Box’s complimentary WiFi or playing darts in the spacious dining room. They can also attempt to break personal records on the restaurant’s arcade games, which include the classic Ms. Pac-Man and the more forward-thinking Bet You Can’t Beat Your Personal Record.
At El Mezcal, nachos are so much more than chips covered in cheese. There are 10 types of nachos, from beef- and bean-smothered ones to ones sporting zesty grilled shrimp. The large selection is indicative of the menu as a whole, which compiles several kinds of enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, and tacos. Thankfully, 20 different combination platters allow diners to sample across these categories. There are also signature dishes, such as the El Mezcal Special: grilled rib-eye steak and shrimp mixed with veggies, served with rice, beans, and tortillas. At the bar, servers mix margaritas and pour homemade sangria, in addition to opening bottles of imported beers.