Jack Brown’s keeps Charlottesville weird

Serving up lovably quirky burgers, good, old-fashioned fun

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All the burgers are made with Wagyu beef, a half-Japanese, half-American beef bred specially for extra marbling, making each burger perfectly tender and extra juicy. 

Tucker Wilson | Cavalier Daily

If there’s something Charlottesville citizens know plenty about, it’s burgers. Whether a diner burger on the Corner or a chic sandwich on the Downtown Mall, burgers are just about everywhere in our city. So when it comes to burger innovations, one might be hard-pressed to find something different. That is, if it weren’t for Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint.

Jack Brown’s takes an eclectic approach to the classic burger joint. From the moment you walk in, it’s apparent that Jack Brown’s carries itself with a unique sense of style. The somewhat plain base interior — with wooden floors and walls alike — comes alive with the massive collection of wacky decorations. From the loveable antique vibe, like a disco ball hanging from the ceiling or a collection of sign letters exclaiming “Beer!,” to the downright weird — a taxidermied racoon with the ears of a rabbit for instance, or a collection of bras dangling from the rafters. Jack Brown’s looks unapologetically strange, and their wacky and weird decor makes them all the more charming.

Jack Brown’s is first and foremost a bar, and its decor makes sure to reinforce that point. Besides the classic American beer brand paraphernalia, Jack Brown’s is closely in tune with Charlottesville’s craft beer scene. Built for enjoying your local favorites over a plate of greasy food, Jack Brown’s delivers the names any true townie has already come to love. However, as the name “Beer and Burger Joint” declares, Jack Brown’s also prides itself on its burgers, and that’s what I came to try.

A self-proclaimed burger joint needs to bring a killer burger to the table, and boy, does Jack Brown’s deliver. All the burgers are made with Wagyu beef, a half-Japanese, half-American beef bred specially for extra marbling, making each burger perfectly tender and extra juicy. And like it’s off-the-wall interior, all puns intended, Jack Brown’s serves up unique twists on the traditional burger fare. 

Far from the usual lettuce and tomato, the menu features burgers dressed up with homemade mac-and-cheese and barbeque chips or cream cheese and pickled jalepeños. And if that isn’t strange enough, how about a peanut butter and mayo burger or one topped with a split hot dog and cheddar cheese. Jack Brown’s dares to be bold in a world overfilled with burger joints, and I personally love their quirkiness and all the good food that comes with it.

The real stars of the show, however, are the daily specials. Some of my favorites on the menu can only be had on certain days of the week, like Friday’s burger with house-made guacamole, smoked bacon, white cheddar and sriracha mayo — a savory combination with a hard kick. And for those craving true Americanized Mexican style, try Thursday’s beef-chorizo blend patty with a zesty corn queso and Fritos corn chips. 

But the real show-stopper comes on Sundays with The Showalter. The Showalter starts with the same Wagyu beef and a classic bacon, cheese and fried egg topping, but decides to ditch the bun and put the burger right in the middle of a sliced glazed donut. It’s a sinful, calorie-filled combination of savory and sweet. It breaks all known laws of making burgers but manages to come out deviously delicious. The Showalter is a must-try for the complete Jack Brown’s experience — while I’d usually leave the choice of their wackier burgers up to personal preference, for The Showalter, you just have to trust me.

Jack Brown’s describes itself as “a bar that happens to sell a really fantastic burger,” and it’s time to let that really fantastic burger takes center stage. While Jack Brown’s decor is strange and hilarious, its food is nothing to laugh at. Tender burgers with unique and wacky toppings prove that there’s plenty of life left in the burger industry, and Jack Brown’s deserves its spot as the life of the party. Next time you’re craving a burger but tired of the same old thing, give a unique sandwich at Jack Brown’s a try.

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