Monday, October 17, 2011

Bodega - Jackson

When it come to a business lunch, there are plenty of dining options in downtown Jackson. From the new southern cuisine of Parlor Market to Peaches & Big Apple Inn to the old guard of The Elite and The Mayflower, there’s a choice for nearly ever palate. However, there are a few restaurants that receive sparse attention at best and one of those is Bodega. Part grocery store and part short order restaurant, Bodega is an anomaly in downtown Jackson. While I don’t have much need for the grocery section of Bodega, I’m always eager to explore what a restaurant has to offer.

While the prospect of an all day breakfast was tempting, I knew I could get a good baseline reading by seeing what Bodega offered in the way of a hamburger.

Dressed with melted cheese and a few strips of limp bacon, this burger didn’t look too bad.

However, the juicy and beefy first bite soon led to the annoying truth, this was an overcooked burger. There’s nothing much to see here, keep moving.

The next encounter with Bodega began with the soup special of lobster bisque.

This seemed like an overly ambitious soup for this sort of restaurant, and I quickly realized there was a reason this lobster bisque was so reasonably priced. While quite creamy, there wasn’t the least bit of lobster in this bisque, no flecks, no chunks, no claw meat, or tail, at best lobster stock was used as a base.

Balancing the outlandish idea of lobster bisque from a bodega was the entirely practical pastrami on rye. Going in, I knew this would be pre-made rye and pastrami, but no matter how many times I hear it, I can’t prepare myself to accept the southern idea of someone asking if I want mayo on my pastrami sandwich.


Far from the leaning towers of meat that you see in deliciously clich├ęd New York delis, this was a relatively meager amount of fatty, peppery pastrami.


I would have preferred nice deli mustard to the Dijon that was applied, but this was still a pretty fair sandwich.

While the lobster bisque has been a game of find the lobster, there was plenty of meat in the chicken and Andouille gumbo.


Large chunks of white meat chicken and slices of andouille filled the soup.
This gumbo may not have had the real depth of dark roux flavor that I love in good gumbo, but it was a little on the spicy side and not too bad.

Looking again to the sandwich section of the Bodega menu, it was time to see how they handled a turkey melt.

Unlike the pastrami on rye where meat was a precious commodity, this sandwich had plenty of turkey to go with the mustard and lettuce.


Once again, this wasn’t breaking any new grounds in the world of sandwiches; it was just a simple, honest sandwich.

If there was one thing missing from my Bodega experiences, it was their meatloaf. There hasn’t been much said about Bodega on Urbanspoon, twitter, or any online outlet but what is out there is mostly raving about the meatloaf. So before I could wrap this up, I had to wait for a Thursday and get my hands on an order of Bodega’s meatloaf.

But before I get to the meatloaf, there’s one more soup, the shrimp, corn and chicken chowder.


Once again, Bodega is skimpy with the meat, but once I accepted that fact, I enjoyed this simple, cheesy chowder. There’s plenty of potatoes, corn, and red peppers to make up for the lack of chicken & shrimp and with a little black pepper, this made for a nice lunch intro.

Now for the main event, it’s time for the Bodega meatloaf.

Sure, it looks like a disjointed mess with a little red sauce topping and that’s pretty much what it was.

The large ring of dry beef was a simple indication of just how long this had been sitting but if you look past that you’d find a sweetly flavored, beefy meat loaf that’s full of onions and green bell peppers. As I just mentioned this meatloaf is on the sweet side and that’s only exaggerated by the sugary, ketchup base sauce on the outside but it’s still a fine meatloaf. I can see why this is Bodega’s fan favorite.

By offering groceries, household necessities, and food cooked to order, Bodega sets itself apart from the rest of the downtown eateries. Of course, the lack of cooking facilities plays a role in that as well. If I remember correctly, the owner told me everything is made with a household oven, hot plate, and microwave. Another thing Bodega lacks is pretentiousness. There are no misconceptions about haute cuisine, this is basic, fairly well prepared food that happens to come from a market. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to eat at Bodega, but if you work downtown or live downtown, walk the extra block off Capitol Street and see what this neighborhood location has to offer, you might become the next meatloaf devotee.

Bodega Address & Information

127 Roach Street, Jackson, MS 39201 // 601.949.9254 // Bodega Facebook Page

Bodega on Urbanspoon

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