Vegetarians, consider this your warning: stop reading this now. We are going to talk about meat because, let's face it, no one really goes to Big Juds for the grilled cheese. They go for the burgers.
They have chicken and even halibut, but Big Juds has made its reputation in Boise for its signature burgers, and it's not hard to see why. From the quality ground beef used in its patties to the array of toppings--enough to fill a menu on their own--Juds knows how to do a burger the right way.
There's nothing polished about the longtime Boise establishment near Boise State with its small wooden tables and padded black metal chairs. But that's part of its charm.
On a midweek afternoon visit, the small dining room was packed with a mixture of people. The friendly staff maneuvered around the room, while diners waiting for takeout orders checked out the hall of fame photos that memorialize the gastronomic achievements of those who have managed to finish off the behemoth one pounder (which, disturbingly, includes the option of ordering a double).
Feeling a bit less ambitious, I went with the hickory burger ($4.99), which combined several of my favorite things burger items: barbecue sauce, bacon and cheese. While my arteries screamed something about blockages, I drowned them out with my stomach's sighs of happiness over the simply seasoned meat, ideal amount of barbecue sauce, crispy bacon and even a couple of onion rings, which I pulled off and ate as an appetizer rather than a condiment. Every ingredient had enough flavor to stand on its own, so the combined effect was a study in the way a burger should taste.
My eyes were the next organ to register an opinion as they nearly popped out at the sight of my small order of fries ($2.09). These weren't fries, they were potato-based Lincoln Logs. The descriptors "steak fries" or "homecut fries" come nowhere near describing the gargantuan size of these fresh-cut, skin-on fries that laid stacked on top of each other, giving the distinct impression of the storied walls of ancient Troy.
But despite their sheer size, the fries were cooked just enough to be soft and warm on the inside without becoming inedible morsels of charcoal. They arrived unseasoned, allowing the simple freshness of the fries to take center stage.
While I eyed the selection of ice cream near the front counter, and list of shakes and malts on the menu, my digestive system begged me to give it a break. Between the burger and just a couple of the fries, it was already overtaxed, yet extraordinarily happy.
--Deanna Darr loves her place on the food chain.