Jackson County, Michigan, is known for its diner-styled stops and family-owned delicacies. Whether patrons are looking for a place to dine in or takeout, eat pizza or devour BBQ, enjoy doughnuts or chow down on desserts, Jackson County’s food scene puts its focus on genuine personality, atmosphere, and taste.
So, what makes Jackson County’s approach to food stand out from the crowd?
Historically-operated eateries are around every corner. Many of them have been serving the community for close to a century. With so many restaurants standing the test of time, it’s evident they’re doing something right.
While not all the local establishments share their neighbors’ long-standing tenure, they more than fulfill the local expectation with their stylistic approach to preparing food. Great ingredients and family-secret recipes are not just a tagline around here, they are a reality in Jackson’s best restaurants. Each restaurant presents a unique atmosphere worthy of admiration.
Start your day as any food connoisseur should, with a hardy breakfast full of your favorite eats. Jackson’s breakfast scene is where you can find some of the longest operating establishments in the county. The county is home to the best doughnuts in the state, as declared by MLive. Family-friendly diners littered around the county offer omelets, French toast and so much more that’s good enough to die for.
For lunch and dinner, you’re looking at another wealth of delicious choices. Discover one of Jackson’s many diners that will transport you to the 50’s through classic food and interior aesthetic. You may even find a jukebox or two. Be wary of trying some of the local pizza joints, you may have a tough time going back to delivery.
Most importantly, you can’t say you’ve eaten in Jackson until you’ve visited one of its many Coney Dog joints. Jackson is the birthplace of the Coney Dog, a local delicacy that was the first to hit the scene. The secret is in the sauce, which focuses on a meat-heavy topping instead of a bean-included blend.
These 9 restaurants display these characteristics and then some, exemplifying the culture of Jackson County.
Jackson Coney Island
Take on the Original Coney Dog, a grilled hot dog topped with Coney Island Sauce, finely diced onions and mustard served on a freshly steamed bun. Jackson Coney Island has received multiple awards through the years, and after one bite, you’ll know why.
Another local classic, Schlenker’s first opened in Jackson in 1927. You’ll have trouble finding a better burger somewhere else, as they’ve had over 90 years to perfect theirs. Fresh beef is fashioned into patties daily, no frozen meats here. While it’s mostly known for its quick and easy takeout, a U-shaped bar surrounding the kitchen allows for some seating inside. Be warned, this old-school diner keeps it cash only, no cards here!
Roxy Café’s great taste has been around since 1926. Their quirky traditions have survived as well. Hungry visitors have been entering through the kitchen for as long as anyone can remember. This practice sends you through the kitchen before being seated, creating an experience unlikely to be emulated elsewhere.
Entering through the front door will certainly deem you a tourist in the eyes of the locals. Come any day of the week before they close at 1:00pm and Roxy Café will serve you a great breakfast. Their imaginative creations satisfy cravings of any sort.
Since 1913, residents of Jackson County have not had to think twice about where to get their baked goods. Everything in this 4th generation family owned shop is handmade, from chocolate crescents to glazed doughnuts and so much in-between. Hinkley’s reputation is known for miles, and their list of accolades is no short read. MLive voted their doughnuts “Best in Michigan” back in 2014.
Virginia Coney Island
For another take on Jackson’s famous Coney Dog, check out Virginia Coney Island. Ranked 6th best Coney Dog in the state, you know you’re biting into something special at this local favorite. In true Jackson tradition, this hot dog comes topped with all-meat (no beans) chili, chopped onions and yellow mustard.
Rudy’s Drive In
Burgers and Coney’s and root beer galore! This family owned drive-in exemplifies food culture in Jackson and has been satisfying customers for almost 50 years. The quirky Car-hop service has charmed patrons for decades. In addition to their signature Coney Dog recipe, homemade root beer is made in house every day.
This family-friendly restaurant even encourages pets! Bring your dog in for a complimentary dog treat.
West Texas Barbecue Co.
No need to travel south for your fix of good barbecue, West Texas Barbeque Co. brings great taste straight to Jackson. Come in with an empty stomach and expect to leave with your top button undone, these slow-cooked meats over a hickory flame grill are sure to make short work of your hunger.
Klavon’s Pizzeria & Pub
When it comes to pizza, Klavon’s doesn’t mess around. This Jackson original restaurant is so popular, it had to open a second location to keep up with demand. Their claim to fame is their stuffed pizza, an original take on Chicago-style deep dish, but you’ll find that their entire menu shines.
Grand River Brewery
If you’re looking to enjoy a drink with your food, look no further. Grand River Brewery has a host of craft beers on draft, as well as a healthy amount of homebrewed originals. Their Monkey Mouth IPA was even awarded “Best American IPA” by the New York International Beer Competition.
The food menu takes some tasty liberties from your average bar food, but still has all the classics you can see elsewhere.
All these great eats and more await you in Jackson County. Whether you’re in town for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or making the trip to enjoy all three, you will not be disappointed. Visit ExperienceJackson.com for more information on what to eat in Jackson County.