Jackson, Mississippi: Meet the Locals

By: TLP's Partners

Jackson, Mississippi is a city where, everywhere you look, you catch glimpses of a bright, shining movement.

You catch them in the photos dotting the walls of local gathering spots. In the sounds reverberating through the music venues, concert halls, and choir lofts. In the vibrant art spaces and museums. And you see them in the faces of the people you meet. 

Among those faces are some that shine as JXN Icons: individuals who make a real impact on their city, their time, and their community that sometimes goes on to send waves throughout the world. 

Nick Wallace, Dr. Robert Smith, and Bobby Rush are three such JXN Icons who continue to shake up the status quo and shape the place they call home. The three also happen to be, it turns out, great tour guides, too. We’ll let them take you around town to their favorite spots, while we provide you with a few of the many Freedom Movement experiences you’ll only find in the City With Soul.

Meet Chef Nick Wallace

This Chopped winner, Top Chef alumnus, and proud Mississippian thinks Jackson should be anything but a “hidden gem.” However, he has a few gems up his sleeve that are must-sees for any visitor. “It comes down to embracing diversity,” Wallace said. “Jackson is a mixed bag, and that makes it beautiful. I’d never get bored with the amount of things to do and different people to meet.”

“I think the Freedom Movement anchors so much of who we are,” Wallace adds. “Almost every place here, even if it’s just a street name, has an attachment to it. I love that the museums here don’t want to hide away from those stories.”

– Chef Nick Wallace
Wallace’s Go-To Spots 

Food & Drink 

  • Spice Avenue 
  • Elvie’s 
  • Walker’s Drive-In 
  • Zundo Ramen Bar 
  • CS’s 
  • Coffee Prose 
  • Nandy’s Candy 
  • Mr. Chen’s Authentic Chinese Restaurant  
  • Big John’s Restaurant 
  • Johnny T’s Bistro & Blues 


  • Smith Robertson Museum & Cultural Center 
  • Two Mississippi Museums (Museum of Mississippi History and Mississippi Civil Rights Museum)  

Meet Dr. Robert Smith 

Lovingly known as “Dr. Bob,” Dr. Robert Smith is nationally recognized for his leadership in founding the Medical Committee for Human Rights during the height of the Freedom Movement. He is one of Mississippi’s great health care heroes. An advocate for equal opportunity in medical care and beyond, Dr. Smith believes in taking a step back to realize our fundamental similarities, challenge stereotypes, and come together for a greater purpose. 

“[There] are opportunities for us to remind ourselves of the people who have given their lives and careers for believing that God created us all equal. And we all have equal opportunities to live at peace with each other in our communities.”

– Dr. Robert Smith
Doctor Robert Smith setting in front of a shelf full of books.
Dr. Smith’s Favorite JXN Things

The Arts 

  • Thalia Mara Hall
  • JSU theatre department performances
  • Tougaloo College


  • JSU Football and “Sonic Boom of the South” 


  • Maxine’s Old Country Kitchen 
  • Walker’s Drive-In
  • Char

Meet Artist Bobby Rush

The “king of the chitlin circuit” is still thriving and creating his signature “folk-funk” blues, mentoring hopeful up-and-coming musicians, and being one of the biggest advocates for Jackson as a top blues and music destination.

“If you got a good song and keep doing what you’re doing, someone’s going to fall in line with you. I want to promote all our visitors and blues lovers coming here. You’ll be surprised by what you see, what you gain, and what you learn from old men like myself. We welcome you to Mississippi.” 

– Bobby Rush
Rush’s Go-To Blues Spots

Blues Clubs and Venues

  • Johnny T’s Bistro and Blues F. Jones Corner 
  • Martin’s Downtown
  • Hal & Mal’s
  • The Iron Horse Grill


  • Two Mississippi Museums 
  • Mississippi Blues Trail – Jackson Markers 

Record Shops

  • The End of All Music 
  • OffBeat  

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