While the holidays are a time of giving, that’s not to say you shouldn’t pace yourself. The trick? A little personal pampering as you swim desperately against the yule tide—and local businesses are often you best bet for a rejuvenating pitstop.
In the spirit of nurturing our own holiday cheer through self-care by any means necessary—sugar, caffeine, hops, spices—we’re sharing a few of our favorite Metro Jackson local businesses to help survive the so-called “holly jolly” season.
When you’ve shopped ’til you’ve dropped, but have to keep going, you need a quick sugar fix to restore your energy. We couldn’t think of a better place for the job than Campbell’s Bakery (3013 N State St., Fondren neighborhood and 123 Jones St., in Madison).
There are plenty of tasty reasons Jackson’s oldest bakery is still a fan favorite after more than 50 years and a change in ownership. The two biggest are actually quite tiny: the petit fours and tea cakes, their signature items.
“Campbell’s tea cakes have been getting you off the naughty list since 1962,” says owner Mitchell Moore. “We’re home of the holiday sugar rush.”
Because he knows he has the cure for what will surely ail us this month, Moore is running a special on his almond-flavored delicacies. The petit fours are $19 per dozen, and the tea cakes (iced only) are $18 per dozen. If you want your tea cakes with a little more personality—decorated like a Christmas tree, snowman, or Santa—that’ll cost you an extra $6 per dozen. (Just think of the time it takes to get them all dressed up.)
As much as we look forward to stuffing our turkeys, there’s only so much fowl we can take without feeling like we’re sprouting wings (and feathers).
That’s when our visions of sugarplums morph into the jerk and curry seasoned dishes offered at Taste of the Island. (436 E. Capitol St, downtown Jackson.) Owner Richard Higgins says his Jamaican cuisine is a hit because “you can’t find it anywhere else in the city.”
Though’s open only for lunch, Higgins sells at least 60 plates of jerk chicken every day. Customers also come for the curry goat, oxtails, and the like. Want a real treat? If you’re feeling a little “jerky” on Wednesdays or Fridays, try the ribs. But plan in advance. On the first Friday in December, Higgins had already sold out of the ribs by 10 a.m., and he wasn’t even open yet.
Now here’s a fun fact: in Jamaica (and some other former British colonies), the day after Christmas is celebrated as Boxing Day, so called because it was traditionally the day when aristocrats distributed boxes (with gifts) to the regular folk, who had to work on Christmas day. Yes, Higgins and his crew will be celebrating, too, so don’t even think about heading to his island on Christmas or Dec. 26. (We know. We had that same thought.)
Speaking of coffee (segue fail!) we think it’s pretty cool that a local visionary has successfully blended specialty coffees, fresh baked goods, local beer, a lunch-hour happy hour and live music all under one roof—making it possible to stay there all day once you get comfortable. Could that be why it’s called Sneaky Beans? (2914 N. State St., Fondren neighborhood.)
Let’s just go with that.
While locally roasted BeanFruit Coffee drinks are always on the menu, Byron Knight has some seasonal suggestions, starting with his Mama’s Spiced Tea. “My mom has been making this recipe for as long as I remember during the holiday season,” says Knight, who is the owner/manager/barista/booking agent. “A couple years ago I figured I’d make some and see how well it sells, and it has become really popular.”
Other seasonal offerings include two lattes: the lavish ‘Snicker Doodle’ with brown sugar, cinnamon and white chocolate; and the c’mon-are-you-kidding-me Butter Beer latte—caramel, toffee and powdered cinnamon. (We’re sure that’s exactly what the Italians had in mind when they invented espresso.)
If you prefer a warm mug without the jitters, the hot chocolate options are endless, including peppermint, crème de menthe, and white chocolate. Go during “Latte Happy Hour,” 10 a.m. to noon weekdays, and you can take advantage of a sized-down price (i.e. pay for a 12 ounce, get a 16 ounce).
And no, we didn’t forget the baked goods. (And, you’re right, we shouldn’t type with our mouths full.) Former employee turned pro baker Robert Raymond, who now owns Sunflower Oven, has elevated Sneaky Bean’s baked goods’ game. “He comes in the shop and makes muffin batter and they change each week depending on the season of ingredients that he can buy at the farmer’s market,” Knight says.
Last week, customers enjoyed sweet potato, lemon poppy seed and raspberry muffins, as well as cheddar jalapeño scones, almond and fennel biscotti, and chocolate lava cookies.
“We bake fresh muffins every morning and then as needed throughout the day so they are always fresh with no waste and the shop smells really good doing it this way. And it’s all local!”
Yep, that’s why we love Sneaky Beans.
But… let’s admit it. Sometimes we need something stronger when the full impact of the holidays suddenly hit. (Lookin’ at you, in-laws.) Fortunately that’s the perfect time for one of our newer local businesses, Barley’s Beer Barn, to come to the rescue.
Owner Greg Purnell says, “We love what we do. We carry every beer that we can get – everything from local, regional, and national crafts, imports from around the world and domestics too. We have a Growler Station where you can buy a pint, enjoy a flight paddle and fill your growler while watching the game or just talking beer with us and other customers.”
He tells us the “build your own 6-pack” is a popular product. (And we believe him.) “Customers love to be able to create their perfect 6-pack or pick beers that they’ve never had before. It’s very popular to pick up on the way to a holiday party or a family get-together.”
Did he say “enjoy a flight paddle?” What better place than that to hide out and get yourself back into the holiday spirit?