Posted on Nov 05 2021
After a fire ravaged its location in July of 2020, MJ's Fish and Chicken Express was forced to close for four months. When they reopened, the formerly spartan interior had been transformed into a warm and inviting space with a polished wood bar and cheerful decor. "It's like you're coming to dinner at our house, that's the feel we were trying to create," said Margaret Taylor, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Jerome. And although the interior has been updated, the food is still as delicious and comforting as it's always been. "Some of the recipes that we prepare, such as our collard greens, mac and cheese and green beans – those recipes have been in my family for over 100 years," explained Margaret, who grew up in Mississippi. Jerome also comes from a long tradition of cooks. Originally from Cairo, Illinois, Jerome started frying chicken and fish for his families' Friday night get-togethers when he was just a teenager. He eventually moved to the Springfield area and worked for Roberts Distributing/Sysco in the warehouse and as a driver for nearly 30 years before starting MJ's eight years ago. They've been in their current location on Enos Avenue for three years and have since established a loyal following of hungry customers, winning the Best Soul Food in the Illinois Times Best of Springfield Awards two years running.
While they are known for their excellent fried chicken and fish, MJ's also serves up tender slabs of ribs, crispy pork tenderloin and a stellar selection of sides, including fried green tomatoes, sweet potatoes, spaghetti with meat sauce, and succulent fried cabbage. New to the menu this year is a Southern-style cucumber and onion salad, which serves as a welcome foil to the other rich offerings on the menu. Hungry patrons should check out their ever-changing daily specials as well as homemade desserts like caramel cake, cherry cheesecake and lemon meringue pie.
By Ashley Meyer