Bars are normally just known as watering holes for groups of friends on the town or creepers trying to cruise for some ladies (all dependent on what part of town you’re in, of course). Their drink selections can range from the mundane to the most elaborate with the rise of microbreweries and the sudden rise of professional mixologists, a.k.a. hipster bartenders. However, it’s not often that people associate fresh and/or gourmet food with bar food. True, it may be delicious, deep fried, and coated/stuffed/infused with many different types of cheese but nothing for more elegant palates. This was the case with Jimmy’s Grill in downtown Naperville.
Originally, Jimmy’s was your more typical waterhole that was the starting point of the night with a couple drinks before going to some of the more dance-centric establishments. The food? Just burgers, fries, nachos, and more fried foods up the wazoo.
These guilty pleasures were of average quality and served more as a lining for your stomach for the bender to come rather than a culinary experience. However, I recently visited it for the first time since coming back from Korea. Not only do they have a new logo and color scheme, but according to the menu, they have a new chef in the form of Travis Rodriguez and new management. Looking over the menu, I could see that they really upheld their pledge to utilize, “house braised, grass fed meats, free range chicken, fresh seafood, and baked goods.” I mean hummus? tartare? asparagus? Talk about the transformation of the ugly duckling. After much deliberation, I decided to get the Cubano sandwich ($11) which came with a free side of vinegar chips, salad, or fries. I went with the last option. My dad got the Picasso burger with Swiss cheese on top ($11), and my mom got the pulled pork sandwich ($11).
After a good amount of time taking in the new environs and checking out their ginormous tvs on the patio, they brought out our meals. My Cuban sandwich looked great and tasted even better. Not only did it have the signature grill marks thanks to the panini-esque grill called the plancha, but I could see all of the key ingredients that have made the Cuban sandwich a Miami staple since the early 1960s when Cuban refugees fled Castro’s Commie paradise. From the first bite, I was hooked. The bread was light, crispy, and chewy and gave way to a one-two punch of juicy pork loin and a hefty layer of succulent ham slices. Next came the melted Swiss cheese that gave the sandwich a slightly nutty yet mellow flavor that served as a contrast to the sour pickle slices and tart yellow mustard drizzled over all of the bread. They didn’t spare any expense with any of the ingredients which led to a meal packed with plenty of sassy Latino flavor to the last cheesy bite. The French fries were expertly fried and very lightly salted which scored major points with me. Moving on from there, I luckily was able to steal a nibble from my mom’s barbecue pulled pork sandwich that came with a side of apple jicama slaw and onion rings. The pork was messy yet heavenly with the sweet sauce that coated every strand, and the onion rings were perfect in terms of breading composition and onion stability within the crunchy shell. I didn’t get to try my dad’s burger since I didn’t fancy a ruptured stomach, but he took it down like a champ. Ergo, I’d only assume it was delicious. I did try the vinegar potato chips on the side, and they were crispy yet oh so sour with plenty of white vinegar bite.
Overall, I’d highly recommend checking the newly improved Jimmy’s Grill. Not only is the food delicious but also nutritious for a reasonable price.