Thursday, September 22, 2011

Jim Denny's | Sacramento, CA

To say that they are as big as saucers would be an understatement. Some have affectionately called them hubcaps, while others have referred to them as manhole covers. We simply call them decadent, delicious, and filling. What am I talking about? Why, the pancakes at Sacramento's own Jim-Denny's Hamburgers and Chili, of course!

Considered to be one the oldest running restaurants in Sacramento, Jim-Denny's was founded by Jim Van Nort in 1934 on the corner of 16th and J Street, close to where the Memorial Auditorium now sits. As I understand it, his initial reputation was built on grilling up the tastiest burgers that his customers have ever encountered at that time. In fact, my father thinks very fondly of the days when he stopped for an order to go, knowing that the burger sitting at the bottom of the bag would not only be satisfying, but also a treat to brighten up the daily grind as he commuted to and from Dixon, CA.

How did Van Nort please so many? Quite simple. He used nothing but the finest beef and complimentary ingredients that money could buy. Couple that with his positive work ethic AND a well-seasoned grill, which, after 77 years, has become just as much of a treasure as the restaurant itself has become. The people kept coming. Politicians, city workers, commuters, tourists, and families. Jim-Denny's was said to have the "ten busiest seats in town." Still do.

Since those early days, Jim-Denny's was moved to its present location on 12th Street and saw ownership change hands four times. But one thing has always remained constant, the quality of service and food. As the current owners note when they recently acquired the restaurant, "It is our hope to continue the time-honored traditions started by Jim Van Nort (and the other before us) so many years ago." I'd say that they succeeded.

Now, having said all that, a few words to those who have never been to Jim-Denny's and are now jotting it down as a future stop. GET THERE EARLY!!! Or, at the very least, set aside plenty of time and reserve a good deal of patience. This is a small place with an equally small grill (and only one cook to work it). The wait for your order can be time-consuming, especially if there are a row of tickets ahead of yours, you have a large order, or you've included one of those ginormous pancakes to your order. Just one of these pancakes consumes the whole grill and can take as long as 20-30 minutes to properly "bubble and squeek." Should you or someone else ask for one of these bad boys, you will be waiting ... But it's worth it. Trust me!

Jim Denny's
816 12th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

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