Hold the formalities, focus on food at Jackson Deli

By By Ken Stickney / American Press

Not every Lake Charles dining spot comes with its rightful fanfare.

Count Jackson Deli among those denied their due.

Located on the east end of a gas

station and convenience store at 3607 Legion St., Jackson’s Deli’s

neighbors are Sowela Technical

and Community College, Chennault International Airport and a

trailer park. Don’t let the surroundings fool you. Expect a big-time

meal in your Styrofoam box.

Jackson’s lure starts with its chef,

Chad Jackson, educated at the California Culinary Academy in San

Franciso, who has cooked

his way across the Golden State and in Europe before landing in

Louisiana. He has served as a chef in New Orleans and cooked

in Lake Charles before opening Jackson’s in September 2010.

Despite his meager surroundings — he

has 12 seats in his deli — he initiated his restaurant with lofty goals.

Among them,

he said, was an intention to cook meals from scratch, “as close to

the ground as possible,” with a commitment to buy Southwest

Louisiana produce.

“I’ve got a blue-collar clientle,” he said, but his commitment is to serve his customers fresh, healthy meals. Almost every

lunch offering comes for $7 or less.

“You have to know your customers,” he said. “Fine dining doesn’t fit here. They want it hot, they want it now and they want

it good. We’ve moved people away from fried foods into healthy meals.”

He said that’s why Jackson’s patrons range from regulars from Grumman, Aeroframe and the two-year college to a “Shell Beach

Drive” crowd that enjoys his salads and dressings, which are made in house.

“It’s a ‘worlds collide’ type of thing,” he said of his diverse clientle.

I chose the Monday daily special,

meatloaf, while my colleague Michael Cooper opted for the chicken mole

burrito. My meatloaf

was perched atop mashed potatoes with greenbeans, and was

complemented by a homemade marina sauce. It was as advertised: hot,

good and delivered quickly.

Cooper opted to add grilled onions, jalapenos, sour cream and American cheese to his burrito. Jackson’s also has a house salsa

and vegetables to build your burrito and there was no charge for these extras.

For Cooper, the mole has become a favorite. He said it is never exactly the same — the color and spiciness of the sauce does

change — but he said he has never had a bad burrito experience.

He passed on an effort to decipher the sauce, but offered this overall assessment: “It is good and I would recommend it to


Both Cooper and I tried the breads, baked by baker Collin Fontenot and priced at $2. Cooper’s house bread was brushed with

garlic butter. “If you are carb enthusiast I suggested you take a trip down and try their wares,” he said.

I went for the focaccia bread, which was served large enough that my slice had to be cut again to fit inside its own box.

I revisited Tuesday — that’s Taco

Tuesday at Jackson’s — and tried the Three Tacos, rice and beans. The

chef promised that

my aversion to salt would not be offended by my choice, and he was

right. My three chicken tacos were served in soft shells,

were presented well in the box and were easy to handle. Nice meal;

7 bucks.

Jackson said he serves about 75 to 100 lunches a day; burgers, meatloaf and tacos, he said, are the biggest sellers. His tacos,

he said, are a labor of love.

Don’t look for formalities at Jackson Deli. Service is brisk, but fun and friendly.

Small price for a big-time meal. It’s worth the drive.

If you go

Location: 3607 Legion St.

Hours: 5 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Phone: 337-513-9987.

Online: www.facebook.com/jacksondeli