Food

Jack’s Restaurant Is My New Favorite East Bay Breakfast Place

All through the pandemic, my family has ordered family meals from Jack’s Restaurant in Pleasant Hill. They make heaping, large-portioned platters of family-friendly food that you can order via Doordash. Their family meals were a lifesaver when lockdowns were in full swing and it wasn’t always possible to cook.

On those nights where we needed to feed our family of five and had spent the whole day navigating WFH and pandemic childcare instead of cooking, Jack’s always had our back.

Despite eating Jacks’ food perhaps fifty times through the pandemic, though, I had never actually gone into the restaurant. Last month, I finally visited in person for breakfast. I loved it, and have kept coming back. The restaurant is now my new favorite breakfast place in the East Bay.

Visiting Jack’s Restaurant

Jack’s is located in downtown Pleasant Hill. The restaurant is massive and is nicely designed inside, with tall ceilings, big comfortable booths, a dramatic bar area, and an open kitchen. The decor is upscale yet inviting, with wood paneling and big photos on the wall of people dancing, celebrating, or playing instruments. The place feels modern and upscale, but not at all stuffy or unfriendly. It’s like an updated take on a large neighborhood American restaurant — a place where your parents would feel totally comfortable dining, but where you can still get your Numi organic tea or your non-dairy iced latte.

The food follows the same pattern of well-executed, classy traditionalism sprinkled with a handful of more modern twists. Jack’s primarily serves classic American food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu features such things as burgers, lamb chops, and familiar favorites like spaghetti and meatballs. For breakfast, Jack’s has a variety of similarly traditional offerings, from chocolate chip pancakes to chicken and waffles to a wide selection of omelets. Yet at the same time, the restaurant’s menu includes more updated dishes like the Totally Jacked, an oatmeal dish made with almond butter, blueberries, and bananas, and an Impossible burger made with plant-based meat.

My Thoughts On the Food

One of the appeals of Jack’s is that the food isn’t trying to be overly innovative, unlike at many places in the Bay Area. Instead, the restaurant focuses on taking simple American classics, adding in a little modern flair, and executing everything extremely well. Many of Jack’s dishes taste home-cooked, which is impressive for a restaurant that appears to have seating for over 100 people. The service is speedy, too, the portions are generous, and the prices are reasonable. A “short stack” of pancakes is more than enough for one person, yet still costs under $8. On a recent visit, mine was on the table within about four minutes of placing my order and was accompanied by a hashbrown the size of my head.

There’s a playfulness to Jack’s menu and decor, too. One item on the menu is priced at $4,990 and is called the Memory Recovery. The item is aimed at people who had a bit too much to drink the night before. Jack’s says that if you buy the Memory Recovery, its staff will “contact your friends on social media and have them piece together what you did the night before”, before staging “a dramatic reenactment of the events you can’t remember.” Guests have the option to add a shot of Jameson whiskey to the experience for an additional $9. It’s presumably a joke, but one has to wonder what Jack’s would do if a guest actually purchased it.

The genius of Jack’s is that it serves simple, unfussy American classics, yet it does so to the quality standards of the Bay Area foodie scene. Much of Jack’s menu is the same kinds of dishes you’d find at a 1960s diner, but their versions are done extremely well, with fresh ingredients and obvious care. Add to that reasonable prices, big portions, fast service, and friendly ambiance, and you can see why I’ve been going to Jack’s a lot lately.

How to Visit Jack’s Restaurant

In addition to indoor dining and take-out, Jack’s also has a large covered patio area, allowing for outdoor seating even as the weather gets chilly. The restaurant is open from 8:30 AM to 9:30 PM, providing plenty of opportunities to dine throughout the day. (By all accounts, it gets busy in the evening, so plan ahead.) If you’re looking for delicious, home-style food, fast service, and a pleasant ambiance in Pleasant Hill, be sure to check Jack’s out.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times.

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