Sunday, May 27, 2012

Foot-long Chili-Cheese Dog - Jimbo's, Seaside Heights, NJ

The many Boardwalk areas that line the vacation towns of the Jersey Shore are dotted with eateries of all kinds- from the tiny one grill lunch counter to full service restaurants. Most lie somewhere in between- like Jimbo's Bar and Grill in Seaside Heights. The food they serve is the simple, quick, comfort foods you'd expect to find in a carnival setting. Jimbo's has the usual array of grilled items and pizzas, with both self-serve, and sit down service. Despite being primarily a bar, it is a kid-friendly setting.

There are a great many hot dogs out there in New Jersey- including this one. There are dozens of hot dog spots just on the boardwalk, so it's hard to find one that actually stands out. In order to do that you need to get the basics right- a quality dog, cooked just right, good toppings, and great sides. Jimbo's dog may not hit all of those categories, but it does well enough to stand out from the pack. I haven't sampled enough to say if it's the best hot dog on the boardwalk, but it's certainly the best I've had so far.

The dog is clearly a good quality piece of meat, with a nice flavor to it. They do a good job of grilling it, so the casing has a little crisp to it, and enough char for that unmistakable grill flavor. The chili topping is fairly mild, but meaty, and adds a little contrast and life to the dog. As for the cheese- well, it is cheese wiz rather than real cheese- but there's a certain nostalgia to that- much in the same way cheese wiz works on a Philly style cheesesteak. So far, the dog hits the mark. The sides are pretty good, maybe not great or ground-breaking, and the bun didn't really stand out as anything special, even though it serves it's function just fine.

The fries is where Jimbo's gets the big win. The potatoes are cut fresh on site, and are immediately dropped in the fryer. You just can't beat the quality of a fresh thick-cut fry. They are hot, fresh, and cooked just right so they're soft on the inside, but not burnt or oily.There are certainly better fries out there if you look to more upscale restaurants and get into the two-stage fry process using duck fat... but you're not going to find anything close to that on the boardwalk. These are easily among the best fries you'll find in Seaside Heights.

About the only thing I can knock Jimbo's for are their prices- $9 seemed a little high for a footlong and some fries- even though it was a good quality boardwalk lunch, it is still a boardwalk lunch- the pricing seems more aimed at out-of-town vacationers than the locals. This is not really a surprise, considering that Jimbo's is right on the Boardwalk, and right in the middle of the town's main tourist attraction. On the plus side, the staff was pretty good at their jobs, friendly, fast, and very helpful when it came to keeping three rowdy kids happy while waiting for our food.  

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