Words By Logan Hollers, Photos By Clarissa Villondo
If you’re looking for classic breakfast food, Jackson 20, located in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, serves a solid traditional brunch.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Solid brunches basically power D.C., but there’s only so much a restaurant can do with bacon and eggs.
Sure, the eggs here are gorgeous, glossy and bright yellow; sure, Jackson 20’s bacon is thick and salty, crispy almost to the point of burnt (a.k.a. perfect). But again – it’s a plate of bacon and eggs. That plate doesn’t get me to leave D.C. proper. That plate isn’t the reason Jackson 20 was just named the 2016 “Best Brunch” in Northern Virginia Magazine’s “Best of NoVa” issue.
To get the most out of Jackson 20, you need to venture beyond a normal breakfast. The real draw here is Chef Brian McPherson’s Southern-influenced fare.
Take, for example, the biscuits and gravy; a trio of housemade buttermilk biscuits combine the best of both worlds, managing to be both moist and crumbly in all the best ways. Thick-cut ham hock trimmings make up the base of the insanely delicious gravy, far more pork-y than salty.
Fried green tomatoes show off the chef’s prowess at the deep fryer, staying hot, crisp, and juicy throughout the meal. (The tomatoes were also outstanding. Mad props to whoever grew that batch.) Like at any good Southern spot, the grits are great – Anson Mills, in fact, blended with cheddar and chives.
Feeling something more substantial? Flip a coin, and go with either the slow-cooked brisket hash, with peppers, onions, potatoes, and two over easy eggs (the bark on that brisket, tho… wow); or the Carolina BBQ pork sliders. The sauce on the latter is subtly sweet and aggressively spiced, with a side of apple cider coleslaw to help offset the deep, rich barbecue. Spongy Parker House rolls are the perfect vehicle for the pulled pork, holding up admirably to the mountain of meat without melting into mush.
There was a waffle, too, with sweet whipped cream and sweet syrup. I had a bite. I bet if you liked sweets or waffles it would be a great choice.
Chef McPherson also recently created a special chicken sandwich called the Rufus: crispy hot chicken on a Hawaiian roll with Bibb lettuce, bread and butter pickles, and ranch mayo. It’s on the brunch menu. It’s delicious. It’s $5. And proceeds from each sandwich go toward the Chef’s fundraising efforts in this year’s Chefs Cycle benefiting the No Kid Hungry campaign.
Old Town Alexandria is beautiful. Jackson 20 is beautiful (huge windows = tons of natural light). Venture away from the traditional breakfast options and stay in a Southern state of mind, and a meal here is definitely worth the trip.