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I've heard about Jimmy's Famous American Tavern for several years through friend's birthday posts and finally redeemed their generous birthday offer - $25 off during your birthday month! For more ideas, check out our master list of birthday freebies and deals.
The original San Diego location opened in 2010 and has since expanded to Dana Point, Brea, Santa Monica, and Woodlands California. Our local spot is in the Point Loma area along Harbor Drive. There's a dedicated parking lot for the businesses nearby so we parked close. Walk yourselves around the building toward the ocean to find the front of the restaurant. You can see they were rocking and ready for the holidays!
The middle section hosts the bar while the left and front areas have spacious dining areas with huge windows. It's right by the pier so you have an ocean view in the patio but depending on what time you go, there's also the chance of a shiny glare! There's a decent list of brunch items along with a lunch menu available. We did a little of both on our visit.
Sirloin and Black Bean Chili Bowl with cornbread ($12)
A choice had to be made between a cup (~6 oz) or a bowl (~12 oz) of the chili. The large size came with corn bread muffins so we couldn't resist the extra treat. These moist, delicious nibbles held together without crumbling and were not too sweet. The texture was springy and perfect for dipping but they were TINY in size! We enjoyed the chili as well. At first, you didn't taste much spice but it did build up, leaving a pleasant tingle on your tongue. This version with black beans made me want to recreate more at home! Half went home as leftovers.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Malted Ale Waffles ($18) - Thyme Gravy, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Maple Syrup
The fried chicken used meatier pieces than Lazy Hippo plus had an excellent cripsy batter. Bacon was also crisp and medium thick cut and I added some to the burger entree. We like having gravy with this kind of dish and their version was mild in flavor, herby, but still creamy. Waffles had pan toasted edges, fluffy insides, but not much flavor by itself. I wonder what the malted ale adds. I generally judge chicken and waffles based on the meat which was satisfactory here. I have yet to find a favorite waffle in town.
California Burger ($15?) - Guacamole, Chili, Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion
JFAT is famous for their burgers so we went for one! The burgers had three or four options, and Dennis chose the California Burger with guacamole and a large chili inside. This half pound burger arrived with the bottom bun already soaked by the juices. That did change the experience a little as we had to flip the burger upside down for a better hold. The patty could have used a little more salt but overall the roasted chili, melty cheese and veggies created a tasty and filling entree. On the side was a huge pickle to match up with the huge burger.
Parmesan Truffle Fries (+$1.75) - upgrade fries
Dennis upgraded his side to parmesan truffle fries and basically inhaled these delicious fries. The faint truffle flavor and oiliness perfectly coated the crisp skinny fries hiding among the parmesan shavings. We especially enjoyed their house-made ketchup with a hint of chipotle and smokiness, and ended up buying a bottle to go for $8. I can imagine us doing a happy dance as we dip other foods into that ketchup!
We waddled out after paying the bill and briefly explored the pier. Jimmy's Famous American Tavern seems like a fun place to meet up with friends for a casual meal or drinks. Feel free to "Get in here" like this sign says.
Jimmy's Famous American Tavern (San Diego)
4990 North Harbor Drive
San Diego CA 92106