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 V.25 No.4 | January 28 - February 3, 2016 

Restaurant Review

Hospital Food

Jersey Jack’s guide to healthy living

Most things worth doing in this life have at least a small chance of putting you in the hospital. The only one I know of that is guaranteed to get you there is the sloppy delicious menu of Jersey Jack's. Dripping in butter and grease, these sandwiches are an absolute nightmare for anyone worried about their cholesterol count or life expectancy, but that's not what I mean.

To get to this little esoteric gem of culinary delight, one has to walk at least a hundred paces through a crowd of nurses and doctors on break and past the frowning countenances of hospital patients and their visitors. Jersey Jack's, home of the foil-wrapped butter-sponge called simply “Jack's,” and one of the best sandwich shops in the city, happens to be located on the first floor of UNM Hospital.

Jersey Jack’s
J. Grisham
Jersey Jack’s
I stumbled onto this place the same way most people probably do. I was visiting my sick father-in-law (he's all better now, thanks), listening to the sound of the minutes slowly dripping by while watching closed-caption daytime television in a waiting room. Looking for anything to fill the time, I ventured downstairs to find the cafeteria and its traditional fare of chewy Jello and Salisbury steak.

Instead, I found a literal hole in the wall surrounded by neon signs and emitting the sounds and smells of a busy deli. The cramped space inside was full of meandering customers grabbing cellophane-wrapped dessert bars from a cooler or staring up dazedly at a menu board covered with over 50 choices.

This sort of thing has always bugged me about sandwich places, although I understand that it's an industry standard. I can only read the description of one or two items before my eyes start wandering, and I just give up. I've seen much worse than Jack's, though. Like the shop in Dallas that had over a hundred items written in chalk, filling up five or six lined up blackboards (#firstworldproblems).

The Roadrunner
J. Grisham
The Roadrunner
I didn't even take the time to get overwhelmed, just scanned for the first sandwich I saw with avocado on it, “the Roadrunner” ($8.49) on sourdough.

The dining area was a spattering of pristine formica tables and booths lit by a huge window that held a view of a small courtyard where patients in robes and hospital gowns sat on benches soaking up the sun. Most of the other diners wore scrubs and ate while studying papers from manila folders. Around the perimeter surged the clicking heels of a busy crowd moving from one end of the hospital to the other.

My number flashed red on the wall. I was handed a slippery styrofoam to-go box and a stack of napkins. Inside was a sandwich tightly wound with foil and a pile of beautiful golden fries. I have very specific tastes when it comes to fries. I don't dig all these fancy coatings that are so popular with the kids these days, and in the eight years I spent living in the Asshole of the Universe (Louisiana), I never once saw a Cajun make orange fries. So the impact of Jersey Jack's perfect, crispy, old-school skinny frenches really knocked me back. I ate about half the pile (sans ketchup) before I even thought to peek inside the foil and get a look at my sandwich.

“The Roadrunner” is basically an “Albuquerque Turkey” with avocado, which is a simple variation that has impressive effects. Stacked atop turkey, green chile and jack cheese, it brought a cool wash to every bite. The sourdough was a little too greasy (which, I'm ashamed to admit, is the way I like it) and started to disintegrate the moment I picked it up.

It was messy. It was disgusting. It caused a carpet bombing of farts for days. It was absolutely amazing.

Patty melt
J. Grisham
Patty melt
I ordered two more sandwiches to go. The patty melt ($7.69), traditionally presented with a ton of grilled onions and Swiss on rye, was lackluster. The onions were perfect, but the patty was hard and dry. But they quickly made up for it with the infamous “Jack's” ($7.99), a beast of a monster consisting of delicious Boar's Head turkey pastrami, crunchy bacon and American cheese on sourdough.

Jersey Jack's was a surprisingly good eat. And although the sandwiches “suffered” from the aforementioned grease issue, anyone with a health-conscious sensibility will be comforted to know that should any complications arise, they are a mere shout away from some of the most talented and dedicated individuals known to the medical profession.

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Jersey Jack’s
2211 Lomas NE
(505) 925-7590
jerseyjacks.com
Hours: 24 hours Monday-Saturday
12am-8pm Sunday
Vibe: Low-key
Extras: Immediate health care
Alibi recommends: Jack's, the Roadrunner, fries

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Tomorrow's Events

Balloons and Breakfast at Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum

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