Jack's Deli tries heroically to offer something for everyone. The 24-page menu, as heavy as a family photo album, jumps around from deli food to Mexican, to vegetarian and low-cal food, to classic Americana and back to deli again.
By the time you read through the menu, it's likely that you'll forget what it was you wanted when you came in. But Jack's is actually a pretty fun place. Two large TVs overlook but don't intrude on the big dining room, which has an Old West atmosphere filled with vintage prints and novelty fans.
For a person who loves to count, the menu is a numerical fantasy. There are 21 omelets and benedicted eggs, 17 hamburgers, 16 salads, 52 sandwiches (hot and cold) and 26 specialty drinks, like the "Creamsicle dream," consisting of Galliano, orange juice, coconut cream and vanilla ice cream.
Nothing could top the beer page, however. There are 136 beers listed, including brews from Norway, Greece, Singapore and Trinidad. One self-described beer expert at our table, just to prove he knew what he was talking about, ordered a Swiss beer that is only brewed on one day of the year. It tasted like a whole year's effort--pretty potent.
The table next to ours was filled with sheriff's deputies, quite imposing in their tan and black uniforms. I noticed that they only ordered salads or huge, juicy hamburgers. One of the officers was eating a venison burger. I just ordered a regular burger, but it was good and juicy. The fries were fine too.
I originally went to Jack's because of the deli in the name, but I found there are better reasons to try this restaurant. For instance, the baby back pork ribs. They're delicious--not fatty, but sweet, tender and tangy. The corned beef and pastrami, meanwhile, are only average and much too salty. The pot roast and potato pancakes should be avoided. And the lox and bagel sandwich is just OK.
Jack's does better with Mexican food. The salsa, with its fresh cilantro, is good enough to put on anything. Guacamole is made from perfect avocados and its seasoning seems just right. Shrimp quesadillas, though not hot, are quite tasty. And the burrito isn't the usual bean-filled stomach-stuffer. It comes with lots of chicken, a little cheese, fresh hot peppers and a good amount of cilantro.
We may have gone to this restaurant for deli food, but we'll be going back for Mexican food.
WHERE AND WHEN
Jack's Deli and Restaurant, Westlake Plaza Shopping Center, Westlake Village, (805) 495-8181. Breakfast, lunch and dinner: Monday-Thursday 7 a.m.-midnight, Friday 7 a.m.-1:30 a.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m.-1:30 a.m., Sunday 7:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Full bar. Parking lot. All major credit cards. Dinner for two, food only, $19-$52.