A Burger A Week – JR’s Old Packinghouse Cafe
The burger train is going “old-school” this week!
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The New Pass Grill and Bait Shop, Hob Nob Drive-In, Snook Haven, and JR’s Old Packinghouse Café. Yes, it’s time for a little quiz. What do all of these places have in common?
If you answered something like, “they’ve been around for a while”, then give yourself partial credit. Yes, these places have been around for a while. But they also represent quintessential “Old Florida.” (If that was your answer, then move to the head of the class 🎓)
They all have a look and feel that hasn’t changed much over time. And that’s a good thing. The more the world changes, the more places like these are a comfort.
JR’s Old Packinghouse Café is the youngster in that group of old-timers. They opened up back in 1999. But the look and feel of JR’s is decidedly 1950s.
I LOVE places like this. I’m always keeping my fingers crossed that they NEVER pack it up. New places are just fine. I do like experiencing new and different things. But there is something about a place like JR’s. It oozes a feeling that “new” just can’t replicate.
Like most places that fall into the Old Florida bucket, JR’s has a nice outdoor dining space to enjoy.
Nothing else fits this type of atmosphere better than a picnic table. This style of seating may not be the easiest thing to slide in and out of when you get to a certain age. But it will always suit the character of these kinds of places.
Yes, you can eat inside at JR’s if that’s more your thing.
Of course, they have paper placemats. What else could a place like this possibly serve on!? 🤷♂️
My server today was Kimberly. I think she’s been here a while. She is also very good at what she does. Watching her take care of a hungry lunchtime crowd, pretty much single-handedly, is something that any budding server should watch and take note of. It’s a lot like watching a dance. 💃 (Hey, maybe there’s a YouTube server training video somewhere in Kimberly’s future 🎥).
I think most of us can agree that atmosphere is an important ingredient, but so is good service. If you’ve ever had truly bad service, you know that it will spoil even the most delicious meal.
The home page of any restaurant’s website is pretty much the perfect place to blow your own horn. JR’s touts a pretty lofty accolade. It declares that they have been voted the “#1 Burger”. 🥇
That is quite the proclamation! It’s also one that lots of Sarasota restaurants assert as well. Granted, there are a bunch “Best Of” contests in town. But to win even one of them is a BIG deal.
Let’s get to this, shall we? It’s time to put JR’s OPC ½ lb. Burger with Cheese to the test! Let’s talk about our JR’s Old Packinghouse burger experience…
RESTAURANT: JR’S OLD PACKINGHOUSE CAFE (987 S. Packinghouse Rd. (941) 371-9358)
DATE OF VISIT: MARCH 9, 2023
STOP #: 24 OF 52
BURGER TASTED: OPC ½ LB. WITH CHEESE
📒 OUR TASTING NOTES
🍔 This burger is served as listed on the menu: Mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, dill pickle spear, and chips. Substitute fries for $3.95 ($ 11.95)
• First off, it didn’t come in a basket! (VERY UNEXPECTED!) Most places of similar stature (and atmosphere) go basket vs. plate. The plate is a nice touch without being too fancy.
• This burger oozes meaty goodness. It tastes like a burger should taste. Like beef! 🐮
• I loved the pickle slices. Pickle chips seem to be the preferred pickle cut for burger topping. Not at JR’s! They’re going for slices, and I LIKE IT. 🥒
• Even though this is a BIG burger, it’s surprisingly not a challenge to eat. You will not be wearing it at the end of your lunch or dinner.
• It’s served on a nice, hearty bun. There are a lot of toppings here, so a lesser bun would have been completely soaked through by the time your burger has been eaten.
• The Fries. 🍟 (OH, a friend recently pointed out that he thought I might enjoy the fries better than the burger. Food for thought…). Tortilla chips come standard with the OPC Burger. Do yourself a favor and splurge for the extra $3.95. You WILL NOT be disappointed. These fries were great! (Maybe my friend was right!)
Let’s check out how all of this looked when I ordered it…
BURGER TAKEAWAYS: An “Old Florida” dining experience • They also have a great Cuban Sandwich • It can be a bit tricky getting in and out of JR’s • Great service • It’s not a bad burger value at $11.95 • They have LIVE music six nights a week 🎶• You will not leave JR’s hungry! • As for the #1 Burger claim, I will say that JR’s is definitely “in the hunt” 🍔
👀 SNEAK PEEK: Next week will be the second to last piece of the first half of our list (did you get that?). We’ll also be doing a burger giveaway. We’re going to be doing this one a little differently. It’s going to be Guess That Burger time here at Sarasota Bites! Here’s A LINK TO ENTER! ✅ Have fun and happy guessing!
JOIN SARASOTA’S BEST BURGERS FACEBOOK GROUP HERE!
✅ Did you miss a week? No worries. Here’s a link to our A BURGER A WEEK SERIES ARCHIVE! 🍔
🗓️ SARASOTA FOOD EVENTS 🗓️
Here are some upcoming local food events that we think you might find interesting. All you need to do is make that reservation. We’ve provided you with a link to more info. (If you have an event, send us the details! (EMAIL IT)
WEEKLY POP-UP KITCHEN EVENTS – 99 Bottles Taproom & Bottle Shop
FIRST FRIDAY EACH MONTH – Cheese & Wine – Mademoiselle Paris (Downtown)
MAR 17 – St. Patrick’s Day Block Party – Shamrock Pub
MAR 21 – DAOU Wine Dinner – Michael’s Wine Cellar
MAR 28 – Masterworks Dinner – Sarasota Orchestra
MAR 31 – SPARCC Runway Fashion Show – INFORMATION
APR 1 – Wine Brunch & Charity Auction – Florida Winefest & Auction
APR 8 – 35th Annual Easter Egg Hunt – Sandbar Seafood & Spirits
APR 9 – Easter Buffet Brunch – Mattison’s Forty-One
APR 9 – Easter Brunch – Duval’s, Fresh, Local, Seafood
APR 9 – Easter Brunch – Element – Reservations
APR 9 – Easter Brunch – Harry’s Continental Kitchens
APR 12 – Social Club Wine Tasting – Michael’s Wine Cellar
APR 13 – Stag’s Leap Wine Dinner – GROVE Restaurant
APR 15 – Food Trucks, Tunes, & Brews 5 – INFORMATION
APR 22 – Saturday Wine Tasting – Michael’s Wine Cellar
APR 20 TO 24 – Forks & Corks Food & Wine Festival – INFORMATION
🧑🌾 FARMER’S MARKET INFO 🧑🌾
EVERY SUNDAY – Siesta Key Farmer’s Market – DETAILS
EVERY SUNDAY – Farmer’s Market at Lakewood Ranch – DETAILS
EVERY SUNDAY – The Meadows Farmer’s Market – DETAILS
EVERY WEDNESDAY – The Phillippi Farmhouse Market (Oct-Apr) – DETAILS
THIRD THURSDAY NIGHT – RADD Night Market – DETAILS
EVERY SATURDAY – Sarasota Farmer’s Market – DETAILS
EVERY SATURDAY – Downtown Bradenton Public Market – DETAILS
EVERY SATURDAY – Venice Farmer’s Market – DETAILS
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