Attention to detail

Mimi Rodriguez serves up some breakfast at Jack’s Restaurant & Cantina.

Mimi Rodriguez serves up some breakfast at Jack’s Restaurant & Cantina.


Jack’s Restaurant & Cantina is open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Jack’s Restaurant & Cantina

2325 Kietzke Ln.
Reno, NV 89502

Despite a similar logo and an arcane connection, Jack’s Restaurant & Cantina is a separate entity from Jack’s Cafe in Sparks. Occupying a corner slot of the Franktown Corners shopping center on Kietzke Lane, Jack’s is ready to serve breakfast or lunch whether diners are there just for the food or as part of a sojourn to the Tandy Leather Shop—everything tasteful from what I saw through the window—or the Salon at Franktown Corners.

I was instantly impressed when owner Tony, camped out at the front door and carrying on with various passersby, jumped to cheerfully greet an elderly regular by name. My husband and I, though first-timers, received an equally friendly greeting and accommodation of our request for an outside table; our sprite server, prompt and polite for our entire meal, took over from there.

Everyone from older folks possibly taking belated advantage of the various senior breakfast options ($6 range) to businessmen on the way to talk shop over lunch, milled in, filling the substantial dining hall with a respectable midday crowd. I confess I’ve not been in the loop, but it seems that Jack’s has established a loyal following—and perhaps with reason.

It’s not that I try to avoid superlatives, but I rarely have opportunities for them. However, my husband’s tuna melt was superb. First off, it included light meat tuna—while, let’s just say it, a lot of restaurants chintz with the dark. The Swiss cheese was melted in, not on the tuna, which was pan seared on both sides, rendering a delightful result that my husband actually thought was a mistake at first sight since most places melt the cheddar/American on top of the sandwich. Jack’s iconoclastic approach is far superior—although my husband claims partial credit for substituting a Kaiser roll for the standard rye, which, by the way, was no problem with the staff. His potato salad was a solid if not overly inspired accompaniment.

As a quasi-foodie, I think garden burgers are a great bellwether in an American style restaurant, so I ordered one with fries on the side ($8.25), and it was very good, with fresh mushrooms, avocado and Swiss on a juicy, perfectly cooked, high-quality patty. Where does an average Jane get garden patties like that for herself at home? Do I just wreck them when cooking? As with the tuna melt, Jack’s separates itself from the pack with exceptional work on items at which so many other diner-style places falter.

I must say the fries were not to my liking. They were prepared honestly—straight potato wedges deep fried brown but too soggy and soft. I think the intentions behind this are honorable, but I’d rather my cook just cheat and dust them in flour before frying. I have to have that crunch.

But don’t sweat the small stuff. Besides an extensive breakfast menu covering everything from dry cereal ($2.50) to the forbidding 8 oz. steak and eggs ($10.99), Jack’s has a vast array of lunch options. “Chicken Sandwiches,” “Deli Fresh Sandwiches” and “Specialty Sandwiches” are separate categories comprising six, nine and 15 options respectively. Big eaters need apply; you can buttress your main dish with “sides” of pork chops ($4.99) or steak ($5.99). I’d pay real money to watch a YouTube clip of someone walking in and ordering cereal with a side of pork chops.

It seems Jack’s Cantina focuses on attention to culinary detail and cultivation of loyal clientele. My duties as reviewer make it very tough for me to make a habit of any one restaurant these days, but after my first experience with Jack’s, perhaps I’ll become one of the latter.