I was getting desperate. Having stayed in Newark, Delaware for more than a year, I was close to giving up on finding a good burger joint. Delawareans point to their beloved Charcoal Pit as their go-to burger place, but I wasn’t impressed (even though President Obama went there to try their famous milkshake). It didn’t matter how hard I tried to find one; I was always back to square one. Finally, it hit me that there was one last burger joint I hadn’t tried: Jake’s Wayback Burgers. Remember the despair you felt at the end of Empire Strikes back? Jake’s was my last hope. As it turns out, He was the chosen one.
The original Jake’s is located in Newark, DE, and has since expanded to more than a 100 chains in a couple of states across the United States. Even so, I didn’t have high hopes coming to Jake’s. The original “shack” (which is how my friend Eric referred to the shanty-like housing of the restaurant) still retained its humble looks: a white wooden building that didn’t stand out from the grey backdrop along a busy highway. When you walk inside, there are only a couple of tables, and half the space is occupied by the kitchen. You can actually see the entire process of them making your burger, from the fresh beef patties being pressed on the hot grill to bread being toasted in a special toaster. Fast food chains, especially the larger companies, usually hide their cooking from you to prevent you from feeling disgusted with how they prepared your meal.
Don’t think for a second that their menu appears tiny and therefore doesn’t present much variety. The menu actually consists of not only the original classic burgers and signature burgers that come with special ingredients, but also hot dogs, salads, milkshakes, and awesome sides. Let’s talk about the burger first. You first choose the burger (there are a lot of options) and then choose the toppings, from a selection of around 20 different toppings. I got the “Wayback Classic” (2 patties and 2 slices of cheese) with toppings selected “Our [Jake’s] way” that consists of ketchup, mustard, onion, pickles, lettuce and tomato. Furthermore, somebody who was working at the restaurant was indeed very intelligent because the sides were very well crafted and complemented the meal well. Want a combo? You can get it with either fries, more fries or my favourite option, the onion rings. Not a fry day? How about Irish Nachos or Chili. Their sides menu was probably more amazing than their entree menu. I couldn’t have imagined such a small kitchen of being capable of producing such a plethora of dishes.
The presentation of the burger and fries was amazing. Meals were served in metal trays lined with thin brown paper, but their attention to detail would not go unnoticed—the paper was actually custom-made and included newspaper articles and reviews of Jake’s Wayback Burgers praising their unique taste and presentation. The wrapping paper itself totally beats the crap out of what Mcdonald’s give to their customers. Looks can be deceiving, but they don’t have to lie to you since the food tasted really good. The beef patties were juicy, the toasted buns were soft and squishy, and “our way” gives the burger both the mustard’s tanginess along with the ketchup’s sweetness. The combination of these factors led to an interesting, great-tasting take on an otherwise pretty simple burger. Onto the sides – the onion rings were breaded and fried well, while the fries were on the thicker side but well fried throughout.
I was so happy with my meal that I ordered a milkshake for takeout. The front desk explained to me the different sizes even though I told her the option I wanted—she just wanted to be on the safe side. Speaking of the front desk, this place reminds me of a typical Japanese restaurant. The employees will greet you (by shouting) when you are coming in or leaving the store. Their well-trained staff members with a work-hard and friendly attitude were enough reason for me to come back for another milk shake. Their smooth and not too thick milkshake was delicious, so it was no wonder that everybody was getting one to go.
I’m really proud to announce that I have found an awesome burger joint here in Delaware. You might disagree with me, but I think they deserve more attention than they are getting. Jake’s Wayback Burgers reminds me of how restaurants can not only be a place that churns out good food, but also one that actually provides a great meal experience. In case you were still wondering if I will be back there soon, they have an ongoing nine patties burger challenge…and the hand-dipped milkshake flavor of the month is root beer. How can I say no?
Jake’s Wayback burger has multiple locations across the country. Visit their website at http://waybackburgers.com/ to find a location near you. The original restaurant is located at 1100 Ogletown Rd. (Rt. 273) Newark, DE 19711. I had my awesome burger with the editor on 9/10/14 at 7pm.
Edited by E. Chen.