But back in the day, before telecommuting set us all free, there was a reason to maintain regular office hours: Jackson’s Deli, a block and a bit away on West Sixth. It’s long gone now, but Chow, Baby still remembers Jackson’s mushroom-Swiss burger – the manager, Wally, would grill the mushrooms and onions to that perfect balance between soft and still-toothy, scrape it all over a big medium-rare burger, then melt the Swiss over all that so the cheese melted into all the goodies. Delish.
You know that lazy-writers’ device where, after a set-in-the-distant-past paragraph, they transition to the present with “Fast-forward to … “? Such a stupid cliché. Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago: Chow, Baby, cruising aimlessly around Arlington, happened upon a familiar sign at 1615 W. Park Row. Jackson’s! And inside was Wally! Wally bought Jackson’s a few years ago but for some reason – probably so Chow, Baby could stumble across him one day – didn’t change the name to his own, which is Radaideh. Wally has made other changes, though: Except for phone cards and the like, he’s pretty much eliminated the deli part and has added pizzas, both standard and creative. But the important thing is, the burgers are as flavorful and juicy as memory had them. Prices are just as reasonable, too (1/3-lb burger combo, $4.69). There’s other stuff on the menu (chicken, sandwiches, Italian plates), and Chow, Baby may try them once it gets its fill of Wally’s perfect mushroom-Swiss. That’ll take years; got a lot of catching up to do.
This nostalgia trip prompted Chow, Baby to wonder whatever became of another downtown burger place it used to frequent. Having a choice, Chow, Baby generally prefers not to wrestle with downtown traffic and parking, and certainly not on a “whatever happened to” whim. But the early part of the week had been spent fighting with the dipsticks at AutoZone over who was at fault for repeated wrong-part selling (the high-maintenance Chowbaby-mobile celebrated his 30th birthday this year; believe it, Chow, Baby knows how to order a freaking car part) – so what’s a couple more auto-related hassles? After a quick and satisfying stop at S&S Auto Supply (proving yet again Chow, Baby’s thesis: Indie is better than chain), downtown we raced.
Sandy Potter bought 7th St Hamburger Co. from her brother a couple of years ago and renamed it 7th Street Grill (411 W. 7th St.), presumably to highlight that more than burgers get grilled here (chicken breast sandwich, $4.80). But the off-grill stuff rocks too. There’s a nice variety of salad plates, most in the $5 range, and the salad bar is a bargain at $5.25 – plus each day there’s a little something extra on the bar. On Wednesdays it’s beef tacos: Build your own, as many as you can gobble, out of the nicely seasoned ground beef and all the fixings. One of Wednesday’s daily lunch specials ($5.25) is a terrific chicken-fried steak, fork-cuttable and with great gravy smothering the homestyle mashed. Almost makes Chow, Baby wish it had to work downtown every day. Every Wednesday, anyway.
Contact Chow, Baby at firstname.lastname@example.org.