Friday, August 26, 2011
"I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." This quote, from Popeye's friend Wimpy, is painted across the first cross beam inside J. Wellington's, a burger joint in Wicker Park named for and honoring him. This may be a little confusing unless you know that the full name of Popeye's friend was J. Wellington Wimpy. The small, counter service place has kind of a vintage flare with yellow and brown striped walls and vintage-style pin-up photographs on the walls. The counter is at the back of the restaurant with the menu, featuring 3 named burgers (named for minor Popeye characters), a build-your-own option, a meatloaf sandwich, a chicken sandwich, a fish sandwich, a tofuburger, and oddly enough, a hot dog. All of the sandwiches can be had on a whole wheat, brioche, or pretzel bun. They also have fries that can be had as made, topped with grated parmesan or cheddar sauce, or sweet potato fries as well as chili, mac and cheese, and many different salads. I would also be remiss if I didn't mention their wonderful homemade shakes. The burgers are comparable in size to the average bar burger (about 8 ounces) and J. Wellington's is open until 3 am on the weekends but to compare a Wellington burger to a bar burger would be a little unfair because J. Wellington's is a BYO. While I have been here several times, I seem to always be drawn to the One Eyed Runt which has applewood smoked bacon, blue cheese, a fried egg, and sriracha mayo. Both the regular and sweet potato fries are very good but I went regular the last time around and of course, I had to have a chocolate shake. The ingredients are good and the combinations provide for a lot of flavor but do not go wearing your Sunday best because they are also pretty messy. It might be a little better if it's actually eaten in the restaurant but things get a little sloppy on the ride home.
J. Wellington's is a low key place with good food (even if a little messy) that is good for lunch if I want more than the average burger or a good place to stop after the bar at night to wind down a little when a midnight snack is called for.