Ryan O’Bryan’s Burger Tour Stop # 1 – Jake’s Wayback Burger
I found out earlier this week that May is National Burger Month, so I posed the question both on air and on our Facebook page as to where the best burgers can be found here in the Evansville area with the original idea being that I would compose a list of the most popular suggestions. My wife came up with a better idea; why not try a few of the more popular suggestions and write something about each one. And just like that, the Ryan O'Bryan Burger Tour was born.
Essentially, this will be like a local version of one of my favorite shows, Food Network's Diners, Drive-In's, and Dives, but I'll focus only on one type of food, in this case hamburgers. Plus, it gives me the added bonus of going out to eat and calling it "research".
My first stop on the tour took me to a new place on Evansville's east side, Jake's Wayback Burgers, a suggestion several people made on Facebook. Jake's is a national chain that got it's start in Newark, Delaware back in 1991. The Evansville location opened it's doors back in January of this year with little fanfare, meaning they didn't make a huge announcement about it. They call it a "soft-opening" in the biz. A more publicized grand opening is in the works for sometime in June according to the manager I spoke with Monday evening when my family and I stopped in for dinner.
Speaking of which, let's get to the real reason I went there...the burgers!
Jake's prides itself on fresh never frozen patties and all cooking is done out in the open so you can actually see them take a sizable ball o' meat and throw it on the flat top grill. After giving each side a quick sear, they press the meat into a large, thin patty to finish the cooking process.
Jake's offers a variety of burgers including a one-patty junior burger, the two-patty Jake Burger, and the three-patty Big Jake. All variations can be made as cheeseburgers and can be made into a combo that includes a drink along with fries or onion rings. I opted for the two-patty Jake Cheeseburger with onion rings.
On to the toppings. Essentially Jake's Wayback Burgers are served plain, what goes on it is completely up to you. Choices include the standard ketchup, mustard, and mayo, but also include toppings such as grilled onions, jalapenos, sweet peppers, and chili. I opted for mustard, mayo, lettuce, grilled onions, and since I like my food with a little spice, sweet peppers. All toppings are free of charge (except for bacon, that's an extra 60-cents) so be sure to load up and get your money's worth.
Every burger is made to order which meant we had to wait for our food to be brought to us. No big deal as they weren't busy this particular evening and if given the choice of having food made who-knows-how-long-ago just so I can have instantly or waiting a few minutes for something fresh, I'll take waiting every...single...time. Our wait time Monday evening was no more than five minutes and that was for my burger and rings, my wife's burger and homemade potato chips, my son's junior burger with fries, and my daughters bowl of chili combined.
The wait was more than worth it as the burger came out hot and juicy. Juice literally dripped down my fingers with every bite while the combination of the creamy mayonnaise with the spice of the sweet peppers and the tang of the mustard coupled with the crispness of the lettuce and the soft, buttery bun was perfect.
If there's anything about Jake's that could be turn-off for someone, it would be the price, at least at first glance. My Jake Burger alone was $4.99, making it a combo with a drink and onion rings added an extra $3.99, so just over $9.00 for my meal alone. The total bill for my wife and I and our kids was just over $28.00. Truth be told, I can easily spend more than $9.00 on myself at other fast food joints on lesser quality food, so in the grand scheme of things, the price is perfectly acceptable to me in terms of the quality of food you're getting.
Jake's also offers hand spun milkshakes which I did not partake in as I was too full after my burger and rings to dump a cup of ice cream on top of it. My kids on the other hand each got small mint chocolate shakes. I absolutely hate mint chocolate anything and while I did try a sip of my son's I'll refrain from making any judgment on the quality due to my predisposition to despising the combination of flavors. I will say however, the shake did have a smooth, creamy consistency for what it's worth.
Overall, I was impressed with Jake's. The dining room was clean, the staff was friendly, and the food rocked. It was definitely good enough to warrant several return trips.
Now it's time to figure out where the next stop on my Burger Tour will be, and for that I'm letting you decide.