A Blue Ribbon for Jackson’s

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A Blue Ribbon for Jackson’s

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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Most people go to a sports bar to see a game and eat a half-decent cheeseburger. But at Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub, every aspect of the dining experience is better than your average sports bar.

Just blocks from campus on N. 10th Street, the exterior of the building and the surrounding area has the vibe of an old-time brewery. The architecture is historic and serves as a portal to Milwaukee’s past. And while the looks of a restaurant might not be as important as the taste of its food, I can definitely appreciate eating at a place with some visible history.

As soon as I entered the restaurant the smell of burgers and giant soft pretzels immediately filled the air. The pub is known for these two items, and if I needed any clarification as to how big the pretzels were, the item’s menu description included “We mean GIANT!” printed in bold. And while the smell and the thought of a giant pretzel served with honey mustard and beer cheese was enticing, I didn’t come to the pub to shell out $15 on an appetizer.

As I followed my server through the restaurant and over to my table, my focus shifted from pretzel aromas to the beautiful and extremely long shuffleboard table. Not only does Jackson’s have plenty of TVs to watch sports on, it has this great shuffleboard set, as well as some other arcade-type games to play while you wait for your food.

While the interior of the restaurant is full of fun games, I chose to sit outside in the backyard patio area. I saw pictures of this setting before, and it ended up being even more pleasing than it looked online. There are dozens of tables set up as well as a full cornhole (bags) set. They also have soft seating with comfy cushions, allowing you to enjoy a drink or an appetizer in a comfortable outdoor environment. I could picture the patio turning into a great bar scene if the weather was nice and if it got crowded enough, so I felt I made the right choice by eating outside in this lovely garden-like atmosphere.

Speaking of eating, I wish I had enough room in my stomach to order everything on the menu at Jackson’s. I had a hard time deciding between several alluring options, but eventually settled on a buffalo chicken wrap served with french fries and coleslaw.

I made the right decision.

This was no ordinary wrap. It was served in a garlic-and-herb-flavored tortilla that had a subtle spiciness to it. The wrap was filled with tomatoes, lettuce, red onions, bacon and of course, crispy chicken strips covered in the pub’s house buffalo sauce. I opted to get blue cheese crumbles on the side — they normally are served inside the wrap — and I also chose the crispy chicken instead of the grilled option.

I often remove tomatoes and onions from sandwiches and wraps if they don’t taste very fresh. This was not the case at Jackson’s. The tomatoes and onions were oddly one of my favorite parts of this wrap because they tasted so extraordinarily fresh. I was also a bit skeptical of the bacon being included in this wrap. Sometimes I worry that a restaurant will include a second kind of meat if they know their first meat isn’t that flavorful. Luckily, both the chicken and the bacon were outstanding. The bacon added a really nice smokey flavor to the wrap and was just subtle enough that I only tasted it in every third or fourth bite.

This may just be personal preference, but my one complaint about the wrap itself is that I could’ve handled it being just a little bit spicier. However, I recognize that my level of spicy preference is pretty abnormal, so this wrap is likely a perfect amount of heat for most people. If a ten is the hottest thing I’ve ever tasted and a one is just a mild spiciness, I’d rank this wrap a four.

The fries served with the wrap were undoubtedly some of the best I’ve eaten in a long time. I am always a big fan of seasoned fries, and whatever seasoning they used at Jackson’s was perfect. They were also cut quite nicely, so I felt like I had a side of well-seasoned potatoes rather than some greasy french fries.

I didn’t have any complaints about the service either, which is impressive considering the fact that it was about 6 p.m. on a busy, beautiful Saturday evening in Milwaukee. I also felt like my meal was fairly priced at $11.50, especially considering the fact that the wrap was big enough to yield leftovers.

I had a wonderful dining experience overall, and an even better meal at Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub. I can’t wait to order something else from there when I return. Between the nice outdoor patio seating, arcade games inside and delicious food, Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub is an experience so much more than your typical sports bar. And who knows, maybe I’ll come back a bit richer and splurge on the giant pretzel.

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