It’s an itty bitty kitchen, but the staff at Jack’s Hamburgers keeps the piping hot orders streaming through the door. A sheet pan of assembled lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle stacks await to be popped onto sandwiches at the last second, as hungry patrons wait for their names to be called.
I added chunky red onions to a warming cup of Chili ($2.25) which featured two varieties of soft beans and finely minced peppers in a thick, mildly spiced soup. This hearty stew is also available on french fries ($2.75/$3.25) as well as burgers.
Monterey Ranch Chicken Sandwich ($5.85) from the list of daily specials was spectacular. Layered between halves of a large, toasty French roll, was smoky grilled chicken breast, bright lettuce and thick slices of tomato, the same as a regular Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($4.60), with the addition of flavorful ranch dressing and melted Monterey Jack cheese.
The Tri-tip Steak Sandwich Special ($6.05) was served on the same tender roll in which griddled red onions joined grill-marked strips of tender beef. Spicy brown mustard added just the right kick.
Baskets include fries, and between two and three o’clock, the second one is half price. I ordered a Bacon Burger Basket ($6.10). The neat, paper-wrapped burger was hot off the griddle, its three pieces of bacon perfectly chewy, lettuce and tomatoes bright and fresh, and the deli-type pickle slices salty and crisp. Dressed with a thousand island-type sauce, I added ketchup for a filling, five-napkin meal. I also splurged on a Chocolate Shake ($2.40) which was thick and sweet.
If burgers aren’t your style, sandwiches such as Egg Salad ($4), Tuna Salad ($4.25) and BLT ($4.50) are available, as are hot dogs and corn dogs.
Jack’s Hamburgers, 202 Lincoln St., Santa Cruz, 423-4421. Open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Sunday.