The area surrounding the intersection of Belmont and Halsted is largely famous for bars and nightclubs. Peppered around in this mix, however, are a number of excellent restaurants – none better than Jack’s on Halsted.
According to their website, "We are passionate about two things, serving healthful, excellent food and being sensible about our prices. Jack's on Halsted is committed to offering the best food value possible."
Facing out on that busy intersection, Jack’s has been serving up delicious food and hearty cocktails for over 15 years. Jack's on Halsted was selected as best new restaurant of 1998 by Chicago Magazine. A contemporary, American neighborhood bar and grill, Jack's features global cuisine incorporating Asian, Mediterranean and New World making it a true American blend. In short, Jack’s serves excellent, eclectic meals at tremendously reasonable prices.
I was recently invited to check out their summer menu. If you haven’t been there (or haven’t been in a long while), now is the time to visit. My guest and I were invited to Jack’s because they are part of the “VIP Experience” for Blue Man Group.
If you’re trying out that “VIP Experience,” the evening begins with a Prix Fixe dinner at Jack's. This promotional menu includes choice of appetizer, entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverages. Take my advice, upscale the event and try one of Jack's amazing cocktails. Most nights, they have at $7 martini list. Their mixologists are not only talented but they also pour a generous cocktail. For my visit, I tried a dry Hendrick's martini that was filled to the brim and perfectly prepared with both a cucumber slice and a twist. My guest had the Jack’s version of the iconic Moscow Mule. It arrived in the “traditional” copper mug, but these mugs are supersized and the cocktail was superb.
Jack’s clearly excels at cocktails, but their food is equally worth the visit as you can tell from their online menu.
For a simple appetizer, try the tasty Panko Crusted Gulf Shrimp (wasabi cocktail sauce, homemade tartar sauce). One of their best (and most popular) appetizers is the Oven Baked Crab Cakes (lump crabmeat, petite salad with apples, cider vinaigrette, chive oil). These have a generous helping of real crab meat, not mostly filler as with so many restaurants. The small salad is a perfect tart accompaniment to the richness of the crab.
For my meal, I opted for the Tuna Duo (sesame seared, miso-soy-grilled, stir-fried vegetables, wasabi mashed potatoes, ginger caviar, lemongrass-ginger butter). The tuna was superbly prepared and the wasabi mashed potatoes are worth a trip all on their own – not too spicy, but a tremendously intriguing flavor profile.
If you’re a meat-eater, do yourself a favor and try Jack’s amazing Pork Tasting which consists of Asian BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Pineapple-Ginger Chutney, Memphis Pulled Pork on Focaccia, Maple Whipped Sweet Potatoes, and Sweet & Sour Cabbage. The portions are generous and every single different preparation was delectable. The sweet potatoes are also a standout item.
For the vegans in your party, Jack’s does offer a very well-prepared Vegan Vegetable Plate and for those gluten-free and/or health-conscious folks, all burgers can be prepared “Bunless” with a salad or grilled veggies instead of fried. Good for your buns!
Jack's is the place to start or end your night out. The people watching is some of the best in the city, so be sure to ask for a table at the window!