Jack’s Restaurant & Bar

meter-good-greatListen, I’m going to be honest here. The main problem with Jack’s is that it’s right next door to the very best pizza joint in the Bay Area. Anytime I find myself at Jack’s, I make a right turn and go to Windy City instead. I just can’t help it. With an effort of extreme willpower, I finally managed to drag myself into Jack’s on a recent Sunday afternoon. The guilt of ignoring this restaurant for so long was causing me to lose sleep at night… or maybe it was those pizza rolls I had right before bedtime. Well, no matter. Here I was at Jack’s, and I was determined to give it a fair review.

You can see this sign from space.

You can see this sign from space.

” It should never be obvious that lamb is actually lamb “

The place was reasonably crowded on this particular Sunday, a good sign, and the sportsbar-ish interior was contemporary and clean. Jack’s has a relatively extensive menu, and while there are plenty of common staples, there are also a good amount of unique offerings. My lunch party and I chose a couple of these: A lamb burger with garlic oregano fries and an order of Italian mac & cheese.

The ingredients are cheese, meat, cheese, cheese, and macaroni. And some meat. And cheese.

The ingredients are cheese, meat, cheese, cheese, and macaroni. And some meat. And cheese.

It didn’t take long at all for the food to arrive, and it looked so good I (nearly) stopped second-guessing myself for not going to Windy City. The Italian mac was nothing short of divine. It’s a simple dish, yes, but it was executed very well and had just the right mix of cheese to sauce to meaty sausage bits. Mac and cheese in general tends to be a throw-away dish; my theory is that too many cooks/chefs treat it like it’s easy to make and don’t spend the necessary time on it. The kitchen crew at Jacks’s did their homework though, because it was exactly as good as I hoped it would be.

This doesn't taste as good as it looks. It tastes better.

This doesn’t taste as good as it looks. It tastes better.

The lamb burger was, fortunately, not too lamb-y. In other words, they used good quality, fresh lamb and cooked it properly. Carefully prepared lamb is delicious and savory, better than the most perfect, tender beef you’ve ever had. It should never be obvious that lamb is actually lamb. The burger had a very good flavor profile all around, and it paired well with the crispy garlic oregano fries. I must report that it did not reheat very well at all, but then again burgers rarely do and lamb even less so. One more reason to just eat the whole thing while you’re still at the restaurant.

Well hey, whaddya know. I made it to the end of the meal without leaving once to get a pizza. Jack’s genuinely impressed me, and I very much enjoyed my meal. It’s a straightforward, honest eatery that does a solid job on execution, and there is enough variety for picky eaters and curious types alike. I rate Jack’s 18 out of 20 pounds of piz… um, I meant lamb burgers. It is most certainly worth a visit, provided you have the willpower to stay away from the deep dish next door.

+ Good menu variety
Sometimes a bit ordinary
+ But there’s something for everyone
+ Great kitchen execution
Overshadowed by the joint next door

Jack’s Restaurant & Bar
Multiple locations around the Bay Area

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P.S. I tried, I really did, but I just couldn’t leave San Mateo without a pizza. I stopped by Windy City on the way out and picked up a deep dish for later. Problem solved.

Windy City Pizza

meter-great+One of my favorite pizza joints in the San Francisco Bay Area is Windy City Pizza. I’ve been going there for years, but it wasn’t until I actually visited Chicago a while back and had deep dish in its place of origin that I understood exactly how good Windy City is. Their light and fluffy crust perfectly complements the mile-deep layer of toppings you’ll find on one of their signature deep dish offerings, and their sauce is worth braving local commute traffic for.

In utter defiance of the Laws of Melted Cheese, these pizzas are not greasy in the slightest. I literally do not know how they do it… but I don’t really care. The cheese is a perfect bubbly golden brown every time, and totally lacking the coating of bleh one often finds in such circumstances.

Now that's some serious noms.

Pepperoni and olives are the only way to rock a pie.

” It’s enough to make one wish they had four stomachs “

Don’t be fooled by the apparently small size of Windy City’s pizzas – they have a molecular density similar to that of depleted uranium. The large measures in at a measly 14″, but it’s way more food than it looks. One slice is a complete meal for a lot of people, and two slices is more than enough for even the oinkiest pizza gluttons, namely myself. Three slices is roughly equivalent to eating an entire moose – I don’t recommend attempting it.

My wife and I particularly love Windy City, as they offer hard-to-find green olives as one of their available toppings (see above picture and be jealous). They don’t have the very best prices I’ve ever come across, but it’s pretty easy to squeeze three full meals-for-two out of a single pizza; that helps offset the cost a bit. If you’re looking for something a little different than the norm, try their barbecue chicken pizza. If you’re feeling wacky and a little bit gourmet, ask to have pineapple added.

Windy City’s menu also contains a full array of outstanding Texas style BBQ, including pit-smoked pork, ribs, brisket, and chicken to name a few. It’s enough to make one wish they had four stomachs.

Overall, I rate Windy City Pizza an outstanding 34.7 out of a possible 41 Golden Pizza Cutters. Go there. Right. Now.

Windy City Pizza
35 Bovet Road
San Mateo, CA 94402
(650) 591-9457

Windy City Chicago Style Pizza on Urbanspoon


Pizza and barbecue. Enough said.