Big Jacks deserves a post all on its own, this place is so good that it probably deserves a dedicated thread to itself even. Every time I eat here I am grateful to have these guys in my area of town. I just cant believe how long it took to get a truly great and authentic piece of Chicago out here!
So whats so great about his place? In a word; EVERYTHING! There are no holes on this menu. It seems as if they don't put things on the menu just because it will sell, but rather, because they feel its gonna kick ass! Lets analyse the menu to explain what I mean.
"Beefs"; as in Italian Beef. Lake County suburbanites have never had a Beef joint anywhere near here, sorry, it's true. Oh sure allot places offer beefs on the menu, but they don't MAKE THE MEAT THEMSELVES. Generally speaking, they order it up frozen and par cooked from Vienna Beef, or Scalla's. It so bad out here that until now, Portillos was about the only "OK" beef served in Lake County. But fear not you've been saved. Big Jacks bring their Taylor Street area knowledge to Round Lake Park and viola! We now have great beef.
Just how good is the Beef at Big Jacks you ask? I'll put it this way:
Portillos scores about a 4 out of 5 on my "best beefs" scale,
Al's Beef on Taylor St. is a perfect 5,
I rate Big Jacks a 4.75.
The only thing missing at Big Jacks is Taylor street itself! With the Paisan's hanging around at the next table, the Chicago Skyline looming off in the distance, sirens wailing on there way to Rush Presbyterian nearby. Its literally little ambiance things and not the quality of the product. So one could even plausibly argue that if you hate the city, than Big Jacks is even better than Al's Beef on Taylor!!
The beef itself is tender & juicy; the gravy (juice) is spicy and flavorful, with sharp tones of fresh Italian seasonings and garlic, interwoven into the finely shaved beef,so that they balance perfectly. The fresh roll dipped or dry, has the right absorption factor and doesn't sog on the exterior, or tear at the seam. The peppers are cut perfectly, the hot pepper giardiniera is amazing, everthing is all homemade and made fresh daily.
I've now had the beef, the cheesy beef and the amazing combo, which combines one of the best tasting Italian hot or mild sausages I've had (also fresh hand made on premisis), with the amazing beef, truly a sandwich for the gods!
Lets move on, The hot dogs are perfection, they serve Red Hot Chicago with the natural casings. While the "snap" is there, its under control so it isn't like chewing on rubber. They do Chicago Style exactly right, meaning onion, relish, pickle wedge, celery salt, sport pepper & mustard. With that "it's your hot dog" kind of look if you ask for ketchup!
The Maxwell Polish is on a bun with grilled onions & mustard, also Red Hot Chicago sausage link, but its darn tasty, and easily the best in the area, or at least since the Maxwell St Depot closed in Waukegan a little over a year ago that is.
The Burgers are hand formed, char-grilled, thick and tasty. I mistakenly ordered my last one with "everything", not thinking about how meat cooked this good and handled right doesn't really need a salad on top, which just turns the bun into mush anyway, so going forward my burger orders will be for plain with cheese only. At any rate, they are excellent.
The Fries; French fries aren't that a tough of a thing, but you'd be surprised how many places just screw them up. They over salt, add spice coating, bake 'em, air puff 'em or use frozen etc. Its a damn nightmare! Big Jacks hand cuts thiers, the russets arent dropped into the cutter until you order them, and from the cutter they go straight into the fryer. The end result are fries like Al's beef or Gene & Jude's. Simple, the old fashioned way, but well worth the effort.
And oh yeah, as if all the above were not enough, they have an Italian Ice that rivals Taylor Street Ice too.
So whats the tally? Big Jacks gets six "my choice for Best of Lake County" in the Hot Dog, Polish Sausage, Italian Beef , Italian Sausage, Italian Ice and French Fry categories.
And Honorable mention for excellent burgers; I still have a few pub style burgers that I would rate higher, but that's another discussion topic with lots to talk about!
507 N Hainesville Rd Round Lake IL
I'll agree, Big Jack's is definitely one of the better places up here. The beef is good, and by Lake County standards, its really good. Most of the food up here is crap, except for Tony Paisan's (since closed), and maybe Taste of Italy 2, but neither are fast food. Had the burger too, and it does get messy with everything on it, but not in a good Paradise Pup kinda way, like you said, watch how many ingredients you get on there, and its a better than average burger. Love the fries, but they salt them too much for my tastes. Nothing like real fries, and they do remind of of Gene and Judes. Met Jack the other day too, really nice guy. They are definitely on the very small list of places I will go out of my way to eat.
A definate Must Have! Big Jacks is one of my favorite hamburger/hot dog place. Their fries are impeccable. Some people are not into the amount of salt they use, but I am. It's the perfect amount in my opinion. The fries are so fresh, they cut the potatoes right in front of you. And they have the best service. Conversations with you. A++ An amazing restaurant. You should really try it.
It's worth the visit! Be sure its the BIG Jacks on the corner of Hainsville Rd & Washington St in Round Lake Park/Hainsville.
The reason I say this, is that a different place simply named "Jacks" is set to open nearby in Grayslake off Center St and I know they wont even be close to as good, I understand it's the #2 store of the Waukegan Jack's, which is rather unimpressive.