Daytrippin': On the trail of authentic eats in Manchester, TN
Aside from the numerous hiking attractions spread around Manchester, TN -- such as South
Cumberland State Park and Old Stone Fort State Park -- I find myself being lured to Manchester
for two very unique restaurants: Jiffy Burger and J&G Pizza and Steak House.
Located on Hillsboro Boulevard and serving savory burgers and fries since 1956, Jiffy
Burger is a gem of a restaurant. It’s difficult to miss with its bold, white block letters proudly
displaying the restaurant title on the front of the hut-like building and elevated on the wavy car port roof around the rear (both clearly visible from Hillsboro Blvd); no attractive neon signs are necessary, because the name “Jiffy Burger” itself, is perhaps enough to prompt a chuckle and cause for investigation to those looking for a delicious, greasy meal. Whether you enter from the narrow back door or the front entrance with the welcome sign, you find yourself in a dining room filled with loyal local customers, and not one booth ready on demand for a new wave of customers; it’s a miracle that they can keep enough plates and silverware in rotation, as there is no slow hour during the weekend. I can assure you this constant rush of customers is all for good reason. There’s no gourmet burger style nonsense within the menu; the burger patties are an ideal thickness, so that the meat to cheese ratio is satisfactory. In other words, what you’re tasting is not a large quantity of bland hamburger meat with only a thin slice of cheese on top, that adds no texture, let alone flavor. Instead, the cheeseburgers at Jiffy Burger have a perfect amount of gooey cheese melted on top, whether it’s a double or a single.
The toppings are what would normally be expected from a greasy spoon-type diner, except that the onions are layered in slabs, not just a few rings. Therefore, the burgers have a distinctively crisp bite to them. In addition, the fries are also unusual; they are batter dipped with spicy seasoning, which seems a little too deluxe for a restaurant like Jiffy Burger, but in fact, the prices are equal to those of average fast food restaurant chains, and this is perhaps the most valid reason for eating at Jiffy Burger; it’s a value that cannot be overlooked.
J&G Pizza and Steak House is Manchester’s is my other hidden gem. It opened in 1973, and the exterior design loudly coordinates with that era. The modern-styled architecture includes sharp gables with red trim creating the unique roof lining around the building, while sections of the walls are covered with mimicking cobblestone. The sign is a wacky array of lights, bulbs, and colors with an arrow aimed at the parking lot. Indeed the exterior appearance is a slightly (but not unsightly) 1970s modern creation.
The interior is an unbelievable contrast. Upon entry, dark, low lighted dining rooms, rustic woodwork on the walls, grand chandeliers hanging over most tables, and rich red carpet spanning beyond the buffet, make up the strange atmosphere; yes, this clashing interior is medieval themed. Now, I wouldn’t say that J&G is a tacky-looking restaurant, because it has obviously been well maintained, and looks as if it hasn’t changed much decor-wise since 1973. It is a fine, almost high-class dining experience that is definitely one-of-a-kind, and the food is nothing to shrug at.
Although I have not tried even half of what’s on the menu, I’ve eaten a variety ranging from subs, pizza, and cheeseburgers. Every meal I’ve had is filling and tastes satisfactory. The highlight is definitely J&G’s meatball sub; there’s so much mozzarella cheese stuffed on top of the bun and meatballs that it could make one wonder if the red sauce was forgotten; one bite will reveal that J&G pours the red sauce first in a heavy pool at the bottom of the bun and then places the meatballs topped with the aforementioned mozzarella cheese. With the unique dining atmosphere and exceptionally good food, J&G Pizza and Steakhouse should be a priority destination for a fine meal.
Jiffy Burger and J&G Pizza and Steak House continue to be the main reasons that I
venture over to Manchester, TN, and they both have appeal unmatched from any other
restaurant in the area.