by The Great Foodini

For those who have ridden this ride with me and faithfully read my column, thank you. After 20 plus years of foodwriting, I have decided to hang it up. It really does take a toll on my health going to try all of these wonderful restaurants. So, as of this week, I have effectively quit all the food competition judging gigs I do annually and this will be my last Foodini column and my radio shows are cancelled. The Doc gave me worrying news regarding my health and I am going to give up my passion of food writing. So, as a favor to a friend, my last column is about Jacked Up Coffee and Bistro.

Tucked back off of Hwy 90 on Howard Ave. is a cozy coffeehouse called Jacked Up Coffee. It is owned by a local self-made woman who worked her way through jobs like the State Attorney General’s Office of fraudulent checks to now a prominent business woman and city councilwoman.

Dixie Newman, known for her commitment to her community by spearheading an effort to revitalize Hiller Park in her ward, can now be known for one more thing. The attentiveness she puts into her coffeehouse and bistro is evident in not only the superb full-serve coffee-bar drinks she serves. The most prominent feature of the shop is the Japanese Oji coffee drip system. It gives a bit of a science lab feel to the counter as you walk up, but Jacked Up has decided to make coffee a science and customer serve their art.

Dixie has put a lot of her spirit into her shop with the staff wearing shirts say on the back the cup runneth over Psalms 23:5 and the throng of locals who daily stop in and use the coffee shop as not only refilling station, but a hangout and social venue.

The spot offers dozens of delicious drinks, but Alice, the kitchen lead in the back of the shop turns out meals that accompany a quality cup of French Truck Coffee.

The delicious dishes that she serves her customers, particularly the chicken and dumplings makes me think of my great grandmother when I would sit in her kitchen listening to the rain sizzle on the tin roof like bacon in a frying pan.

It brought me back, that’s what Jacked Up’s food does. The dumplings were rich and creamy with shreds of chicken with a broth of almost gumbo thickness consistency. It is hearty, but light at the same time. It will fill you up without making you wish you had stopped halfway down the bowl.

My favorite dish was the Roast beef bowl soaked in red eye (espresso) gravy, scrambled eggs (eggs any way are possible here), grits, cooked in chicken broth and cheddar cheese. This dish is delicious. The espresso flavoring in the red eye gravy sets the dish into a rich and powerful mode with a robust and bold flavor.

Jacked Up is a great spot for Saturday and Sunday brunch as well. A favorite of the brunch crowd is the chicken and waffles. The boneless and battered chicken baked are placed in waffle bowls drizzled with either sausage gravy, maple syrup or praline sauce.

There are other offerings that easily rival the ones I have written about here. Jacked Up is worth trying for the first time if you haven’t yet, or it is an easy spot to make it a regular haunt.