We're forging ahead with our plans to celebrate Burger Month by sampling a variety of burgers, and reporting back to you on some of them. We'd love to tell you we planned on eating hamburgers every day this month, but we're pretty sure our doctors read our blog. We would rather not have to be admitted for cardiac-monitoring and/or psychiatric evaluation. ;-)
Last week we started at the end of the spectrum that included "places you wouldn't think to order a burger," Taco USA. At the opposite end of that spectrum is a place one would go with the most likely intention of ordering a burger - JAX Burgers, Fries & Shakes.
JAX is a family-owned, local, small-business, much like Taco USA. That in and of itself is a great reason to give them a try - we try to support the "little guy" by patronizing the locally-owned businesses more often than the national franchises. Melissa and John Recio own JAX Burgers Fries & Shakes, named after their two sons, Jake and Max. They must be doing something right - there are currently four JAX locations in the greater-Houston area; Pearland, Magnolia, Spring (on FM 2920) and the most recent addition, Spring on Spring Cypress Road - which is where we stopped in for lunch.
This time, I ordered the Texas Burger, with chili, jalapeños, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion ($8.00) but I usually get a cheeseburger with jalapeños.
I like a good chili burger now and then but, I find the chili at Jax to be a little overwhelming as it tends to defeat all of the other good flavor that I have come to expect in what is one of my favorite burgers.
This was our first visit to the location near Old Town Spring, the one that used to be Jax Place, and we will likely stop back in for future visits. We generally visit the FM 2920 location near Gos Ling Road, as we find the service and kitchen practices to be much more consistent than the FM 2978 location in Magnolia (which is actually closer). I could give you some examples, but that's not what this review is about.
Crown Down - Jax is easily our favorite burger place in the area. The burgers are comprised of nice, thick beef patties that arrive hot and juicy; not to mention that they are served upside down. The usual cooking method results in a well done burger, with just a small amount of crispy surfaces that add a great texture to the wonderful flavor of each bite. Jax beef patties tend to have a lot of black pepper in them giving them a nice 'edge.' If it wasn't for Jax, I would eat a lot less red meat. :) One suggestion I have for them is to consider keeping their tomatoes, lettuce, and pickles as cold as possible before adding them to the sandwich. Not because I question the freshness of these items - more so that having the fruits and veggies cold helps with crispness, as well as a stronger contrast in flavors. That's one thing I notice about burgers from Five Guys; more often than not, these toppings are cold, and it really adds a kick to flavor - for me anyway.
The three JAX locations currently on UrbanSpoon have a combined average rating of almost 97% approval, and about the only thing that seems to consistently keep any one reviewer from giving them a full 100% approval rating is the "value" factor. Now I'll give you that seven or eight bucks can seem a bit high to some. But considering that's for a full half-pound burger with all those fresh toppings, I think it's pretty fair. In fact, I can never finish a full-size burger at JAX. My suggestion? Order a "Lil JAX," which, at four ounces is still plenty large, plus comes with a side of fries and a drink, all for only $4. And then, if you're like me and want something more than lettuce, tomato and standard condiments *ahem*bacon*cough* it can be had for a minor up-charge. It's a great value, and plenty of food.
The great thing about the Lil' JAX is it's just as good as a regular JAX. The buns are the same great, ever-so-s Lightly-sweet, thick-enough-to-not-get-soggy, fresh-baked buns, only smaller. The beef is the same fantastic, simply-seasoned, not-too-dry, not-too-greasy patties, only smaller. And since you don't have to have the burger plain just because it's a kid's burger, you can get anything you want on it, too... only less of it.
Another great thing about getting a Lil' JAX is you can make your side of fries Garlic Fries - or any other fries, I would imagine (thought I'm not sure of the up-charge, if any). But if you like garlic (and who doesn't?), you will LOVE the Garlic Fries. JAX takes potatoes, carves 'em up and fries 'em, then tops them off with the most generous serving of chopped garlic you have probably ever seen a restaurant serve up in your life. Ever.
But all of the fries at JAX are the same, great quality. And in all of our visits, they're always served up fresh, hot, crispy and flavorful. We've enjoyed the "regular" JAX fries, the garlic fries and the sweet potato fries with similar results each time.
JAX has a somewhat limited menu, but in this case, less is more. By limiting the amount of items they offer, JAX has managed to perfect all of them. To us, this reflects a smart business savvy; knowing they only need a limited kitchen, and understanding the limits of that kitchen to produce a good product. Admittedly, it's been a while since either of us has had a JAX Chick (crispy chicken breast, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato sandwich), or the onion rings, but we have fond memories of both and admire how these fringes to the main menu also shine at JAX. As for those milkshakes, well... How can you go wrong with a hand-dipped, Blue Bell milkshake? Of course they're fantastic, if not just a little bit guilt-inducing. Definitely a once-in-a-while indulgence, rather than an every-time choice. So we can't imagine you'd disagree with us if you've ever eaten at JAX, unless you just don't care for hamburgers, cheeseburgers, fries or onion rings. But if that's the case, why would you go there in the first place? :-) Get yourself a JAX burger this week. You can thank us later.
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