It feels strange to make a post here after a long silence. I’ve been working near Harrisonburg, VA for nearly a year and a half and have visited every restaurant in the area multiple times while living out of a hotel room for most of the week. Harrisonburg is a college town, home to James Madison University and the somewhat smaller Eastern Mennonite University.
After consistent research, I can definitely say that the best burger in town is available at Jack Brown’s. This isn’t a grey area, approximate idea, it’s a clear consensus (just ask any student around) that is immediately obvious once you bite down into their fresh Wagyu beef, thin griddled patties. The burgers are just around a 1/4 lb and there are different special burgers available each night of the week. Since I’ve been staying in Harrisonburg, several of the nightly specials made their way onto the official menu. My favorite is easily the Elvis burger. It’s a single patty with cheese, bacon, mayo, and peanut butter. The mayo and peanut butter form a slightly sweet compliment to the saltiness from the bacon. This thing haunts my dreams, it just tastes so good.
Jack Brown’s has recently added hot dogs to their menu and there are different specials for each night of the week. There are also fries and an option to get a grilled cheese. If you’re feeling experimental, you can get a grilled cheese version of the Elvis burger, which I also recommend, that has everything but the patty on it.
They also serve deep fried Oreos for dessert. The batter is nearly doughnut-like, so these guys make for a pretty heavy ending to a meaty dinner. One night, I told my friend I’d only get an Oreo if they would wrap it in bacon, gambling that I could escape without dessert. The grill master was feeling the fun that night, so wrapped the Oreo in bacon, battered it, and deep fried it. I shouldn’t have eaten it, but the Oreo was easily twice as good with the addition of bacon. [Just found a photo of the Deep Fried Bacon Oreo for proof, so just added it]
The space is narrow and largely occupied by a long bar that has maybe a dozen stools and a separate table with seating for four. Aside from winter, there is also outside seating with heating lamps for the cooler nights in early spring and late autumn. Due to its small size, you may feel overwhelmed with the possibility of a wait, but if you linger with a beer, you’ll likely find a spot at the bar before you’ve finished. Worst case, you can get your order to go. There are three beers on tap which are usually solid craft beer offerings, often from regional breweries. There are at least 100 beers in bottles, if you’d rather make your selection there.
They do have eating records at both of their area locations. My friend and I witnessed the 2012 record being set at 10 burgers in Harrisonburg and another friend held (is holding?) the 2013 burger record at their Single Wide location in Magaheysville for quite a few weeks at 6.
If you’re in the area and like burgers, Jack Brown’s is a must top and also worth stopping in if you’re driving on I-81 near Harrisonburg.