Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Famous Jimbo's Burger Palace







I noticed this burger joint near Firecracker's hood, Hamilton Heights, about a year ago but it took a long time for me to meander over there. I had a hankerin' for a burger, and the nearby One Stop Patty Shop was closed- a good thing, since they sell Jamaican Beef Patties- a place I'll return to soon. Jimbo's is on 145th street just off Broadway, with classic lunch counter decor and a bustling business in burgers. For under $20 I snagged three 1/2 lb bacon cheeseburgers with fries to go.
The word "famous" in restaurant literature is always taken with a huge grain of salt, with World Famous being a big warning sign. It conjures images of Nepalese yak herders pining for the cheesecake in some Iowa diner. But let's give Jimbo's the benefit of the doubt. They make a fine, classic juicy cheeseburger the old fashioned way, on a griddle. No flame broiling here- they use a steel serving dish, probably once used for sundaes- to cover the patty as it cooks, steaming it on the grill in its own juices. Mmm, steamed hams!

It's an old-fashioned kind of burger, the classic served in greasy spoons across the nation. And it brought me back to my favorite childhood burgers- wrapped in tin foil, bought at a long-gone lunch counter called Nunzio's, once on the corner of Washington & Chestnut in my hometown of Nutley. I was a crossing guard on their corner as a kid, and a burger with grilled onions was my favorite Saturday lunch, eaten while riding my Huffy bike as the grease ran down my arm. Jimbo's makes a burger that good. It's nothing fancy- no sirloin ground to order, no fancy cheese or brioche buns. They just do the Classic right. The bacon is thick and tasty, they don't skimp on the cheese, and the fries are crisp and tasty. And you can't beat the price.


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