Way down on south Hydraulic and 61st street sits a rather suspect looking structure that lacks any visible sign of being a dining establishment save for a neon “Open” sign and a small banner on the west side of the house bearing the name Jack’s Coffee Shop. For those in know this happens to be a “restaurant”(I use this term quite loosely) that serves gigantic burgers from 11am to 2 pm Monday through Saturday.
Everything about this place is a well calculated assault on your general expectations of what a restaurant should be. First of all, the name really has no bearing as to what goes on inside, as I saw no evidence of Jack nor anything resembling coffee on my visit. Most coffee shops have Wi-Fi and pastries, this one had an old bed frame and exposed electrical outlets. Jack’s has certainly taken the minimalist approach to interior design, which is evidenced by the concrete floor, mismatched furniture, unfinished plywood counter, non-existent light bulbs, and lack of paint. The exposed kitchen
concept leaves nothing to the imagination as everything from the generic hamburger buns to the small flat top grill is in plain sight. And in one corner sits an old bed frame and dresser. While waiting for our food, my party hypothesized as to the reasoning for having such furniture in an eating establishment. Possible explanations include: Covering up a hole in the wall, a prize for the 10,000th customer, or perhaps some type of tax loophole for a multi-purpose room. Anyway, this place is a dive and a damn good one at that. In fact it is probably the diviest dive I have had the pleasure to visit.
Our order was called in about 30 minutes prior to arrival, which is highly recommended as the large meat disks take some time to cook and the grill can only handle a few patties at a time. Don’t worry about forgetting the menu, your choices are hamburger or cheeseburger. Upon taking a seat, a plastic bowl of communal potato chips were brought out to the table. A plastic tub of pickles and another with pickled jalapenos and carrots were also
made available to us. I have to say that the jalapeno and carrot combination was unexpected, but they proved to be tasty. When our burgers came out, I quickly understood why this place remains open. Before me was one massive cheeseburger and a bun that was woefully undersized to handle such ground beef girth. Our burgers also came with a paper plateful of grilled onions that were shared between the three of us. The only other fixings were generic bottles of ketchup and mustard. Armed only with a plastic fork, my strategy for consuming this burger was to attack the exposed flanks of meat first to get things more manageable before moving onto the bun covered section. Overall the burger was okay. It was
slightly overcooked and I don’t believe any seasoning was used on the patty. The two cheese slices and excellent grilled onions helped balance out the meat. For the price this meal is hard to beat. You get copious amounts of chips, a 3/4 pound burger, and a drink all for $6.50. The pop selection varies from day to day, so be prepared to be flexible in case they are out of Pepsi Max.
For those who like to live out on the edge of the dining scene Jack’s is a place to check out. A lunch here is one of the most unique experiences in town. At this point I probably don’t need to mention it, but they only accept cash.