Culinary — 20 September 2013
Great American Burgers…and beer!

By Hope S. Philbrick

Hold the presses!

A North Dakota restaurant wins our top honors: 21 Plus Salute!

Make that four restaurants, plus the owners also have locations in South Dakota and Minnesota.

JL Beers is a fast-casual restaurant that is exclusively 21+.  Cheers!

Established in 2009, this place has a festive atmosphere, a feel-good vibe and a sense of humor. Servers wear black T-shirts emblazoned with sayings like, “When you win, you deserve beer. When you lose, you need beer.” And, “The problem with the world is that everyone else is a few beers behind.” Some T-shirt text is even a tad naughty. Which is fine, since everyone in the restaurant is a grownup.

In terms of atmosphere and menu, JL Beers is like the love child of Steak ‘n Shake and Taco Mac. (There may have been a love triangle, because some traces of In-N-Out Burger are also discernible.)

The beer list is long and changes routinely. Flights make it easy to try several brews for the price of one full pour. The food menu is focused: ground beef, buns, fries and chips.

Ingredients are all fresh—including the beef since, after all, the restaurants are located on the north end of the nation’s corn-fed beef region. “All of our ingredients come from someone’s backyard,” boast the owners on the website. Why quibble over whether or not that someone’s backyard is really a ranch?

A friend who’s a Fargo native explained the company’s slogan, “Seating for 1,000…49 at a time!” Apparently the first location was squeezed into one of those old buildings that most towns seem to have that usually stand around empty because nobody knows what to do with them: They’re too historic to tear down, but too small to attract entrepreneurs with big dreams. But some old building in Fargo lured these restaurateurs who figured out how to fit 49 seats into the space. That first location grew so popular that people would wait in line to get in—even in a Fargo winter, which is really saying something. Building on the success of that first location, the owners expanded across their home state and have now even stepped into neighboring states. Now even the new locations are designed long and narrow with just 49 seats to keep the tradition, so any given location might feed 1,000 a day but not all at once.

JL Beers has won numerous awards from various regional publications and organizations including Best Burger, Best Craft Beer Selection and Best Lunch.

It’s easy to understand why locals adore JL Beers. The food is full-flavored. And the prices are cheap.

JL Beers burgerThe original hamburger, which is served with pickles, proprietary sauce and a fresh-baked bun is $3.39. The most expensive burger among the nearly dozen options is Mt. Mushmore, which is topped with sautéed mushrooms, Swiss cheese and Teriyaki sauce; it’s $4.89.

Get creative and add onions (raw or grilled), peppers, ‘shrooms, blue cheese, bacon, slaw, an egg, another patty and other options for an additional $0.49 to $2.09.

Potatoes are available three ways: shoestring French fries, steak fries or fresh-cut chips. Get them salted, Cajun-style, barbecue, jalapeno cheddar or ‘Buffalo Blu’ for $2.59-$4.19.

Frankly, it’s a challenge to be anything other than a cheap date here.

One bite and you’ll likely want to return at least 1,000 times.

More Information…

JL Beers
810 13th Ave. E.
West Fargo, ND 58078
701-373-8484
JL Beers on Urbanspoon

Open 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily. Must be 21 to Enter.

Other locations: Bismarck, Grand Forks and Fargo, North Dakota; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Moorhead, Minnesota

JL Beers 21JL Beers flightJL Beers menu

 

 

 

 

 

-Photos © HSP Media LLC

HopeP_144Hope S. Philbrick is founder and editor-in-chief of Getaways for Grownups. Her work has appeared in dozens of publications nationwide. She’s reviewed restaurants for several Atlanta-based newspapers and magazines for more than 10 years. When not writing, she can usually be found on the road or savoring something tasty.

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