Last month, Mail Tribune staffer Nick Morgan reviewed local burger establishments, and ever since, members of the newsroom — myself included — have had a hankering for a cheeseburger with all the trimmings and a side of fries.
So when I noticed the lighted "Open" sign in the window of Jake's Wayback Burgers, I jumped at the chance to satisfy this craving. It is National Barbecue Month, after all.
Dining out with
the Mail Tribune
Jake's Wayback Burgers
1251 E. McAndrews Road
Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. See www.waybackburgers.com.
Connecticut-based Jake's Wayback Burgers has more than 70 locations nationwide but only four on the West Coast, including two in California, one in Eugene and now one at 1251 E. McAndrews Road, Medford.
This is the first restaurant venture for Eagle Point owner Eric Jenkins, but Denis Poletto, the manager, has overseen restaurant operations at Black Bear Diner, the Pear Tree Restaurant, Taco Bell and the Hungry Woodsman.
The restaurant has a casual, family vibe and decor that's not overstated. There's red wainscoting, chrome stools at a counter facing the window, black-and-white photos of old diner scenes, pendant lights and large windows that let in so much natural light that I considered wearing my sunglasses indoors.
Jake's has a couple advantages over the Carl's Jr. and Wendy's across the street: The beef is fresh, there are three big-screen TVs so parents can watch the game, and the restaurant has four beers on tap — Coors Light, Blue Moon, Fat Tire and Mirror Pond Pale Ale. It also has 12 flavors of hand-scooped milkshakes.
However, the drawback is that its meals don't come with fries. Fries ($2.19 for a side, $3.19 for a full), onion rings ($3.29) or house-made chips ($1.99) must be purchased separately. Other sides include cheese fries, chili cheese fries and Irish nachos, made with the house-made potato chips.
Friends told my husband and I to expect a wait at Jake's, but our meals and milkshakes arrived in less than 10 minutes.
The burgers and fries were served on newspaper-style, food-grade paper in aluminum tins. Sean ordered the most-popular burger on the menu, the double bacon Jake ($6.99). As its name suggests, the burger features two hand-pressed, well-done beef patties, four strips of bacon and melted American cheese, and is fully condimented "Jake's Way" with ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, lettuce and tomato. The flavor of the fresh beef improves this fairly traditional interpretation of the American classic.
I chose the buffalo bleu crispy chicken sandwich, which I thought was a little too petite for the price tag, $5.99. The sandwich came with a coated chicken breast, tomato, lettuce and a spicy house-made sauce — a combination of buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing — which didn't make an appearance until I was halfway through my sandwich.
To top off our all-American dinner, we also ordered fries and got a sizeable heap of salted, golden-hued, not-too-flimsy straws, as well as junior (12-ounce) milkshakes — chocolate banana for Sean and black-and-white (or chocolate-and-vanilla) for me. I like my shakes thick and barely slurpable. These were a little runny but otherwise cold, sweet and delicious.
Jake's menu touts three signature beef burgers, a create-your-own burger option, all-beef hot dogs, two salads and several signature sandwiches, including ones with veggie and turkey burgers.
Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Call 541-500-1552.
As Jake's employees say, "See you on the way back."
— Teresa Thomas