In her essay “Finding a Voice,” Eudora Welty described the capitol city of Jackson as a “region to itself.” So it remains. Rich with soul food buffets and catfish houses, and with upper-crust dining rooms and humble Green-American tavernas, too, Jackson is a crossroads of Mississippi multicultural history.

Take Farish Street, the city’s once-bustling African American business district. During Freedom Summer in 1964, at the height of Civil Rights Movement, Willora Ephram—nicknamed “Peaches,” because she is so sweet—opened Peaches restaurant in the 300 block of that street. From that summer forward, her restaurant served activists as a meeting spot. Down the street at the 1930s era Big Apple Inn, you can still request a smoke and an ear and eat exactly what you ordered.

In the early 1900s, Greek immigrants came to Jackson looking for opportunity. Many began new lives in the restaurant industry. George Kountouris and John Gouras, friends from the island of Patmos, opened the Mayflower Café in 1935. Twelve years later, the Zouboukos brothers, Peter and Jimmy, established the Elite Restaurant. In the 1950s, Paul Crechale opened his eponymous restaurant. Bill Matheos of Bill’s Greek Tavern followed suit. Their restaurants serve broiled Gulf fish, Greek salads, and a thousand island-meets-remoulade dressing and dipping sauce called Comeback.

A region to itself with a rich culinary history, this is Jackson.

TAGS: Mississippi, Immigration, restaurant, bakery, Jackson's Iconic Restaurants, Ballery Tyrone Bully, Beatty Street Grocery, Big Apple Inn, Bill's Greek Tavern, Brent's Drugs, Campbell's Bakery, Cherokee Drive Inn, Collins Dream Kitchen, Crechale's, Eddie's Snack Bar, Elite Restaurant, Mayflower Café, Peaches Restaurant