The intersection of Bandera Road and 1604 is a bustle of retail and entertainment options. However, travel just a mile and a half outside of the loop to Helotes and the pace slows to a small-town feel. Nowhere does that small-town flavor come alive like Bobby J’s Old Fashion Hamburgers.
If you look up “burger joint” in the dictionary, you will find a picture of Bobby J’s. The interior is covered in tin sheet paneling, a corrugated tin ceiling and rustic décor with kitschy signs like the one requesting diners to “Be nice or leave!” Bobby J’s is a foam plate and plastic cutlery kind of place and each table has a roll of paper towels next to the condiments.
During this visit, the line at the order counter was almost to the door. Fortunately, Bobby J’s menu is posted on a huge sign for you to see while you wait. The delay is not long, though, so check out the menu while you can – there are almost 24 different options, 100% all-American beef burgers to choose from. There are no wimpy burgers either. Options include either the third- or half- pound patties. There is also a quarter-pound burger, aptly named “The Baby Burger,” for lighter eaters. Burger prices range from $6 to $7.
Among the burger choices are the one-pound Hungry Texan and the Pizza Burger. The Fiesta Mexicana burger comes complete with refried beans, onions, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and cheddar cheese.
If you are really hungry, you can try to tackle the Mighty Gonzilla Burger, made with three pounds of beef. When you add all the veggies, this gargantuan burger tips the scales at nearly five pounds.
The third-pound mushroom and sautéed onion burger, complete with melted swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo, is tender and flavorful, and the mushrooms and onions were deliciously encased in melted swiss cheese. The buttered and toasted bun has just the right amount of crispness on the outside while still light and airy on the inside.
The accompanying sweet potato fries were sliced thin, but the portion was generous and the flavor did not disappoint.
Though you think it would be difficult to cut into a chicken fried steak with a plastic knife, it slid through the tender cutlet with ease. The breading was delicious and well seasoned, and the peppered cream gravy had the perfect consistency. It might not be the largest cut, but the portion is very filling. The fries, sliced thick with the skin still on, melt in your mouth.
As for the rest of the menu, there is something for everyone. There are a couple of vegetarian options and three or four types of salads. You will mostly find good, old-fashioned comfort food at Bobby J’s.
Even the sides lack pretension – each of the dozen items are fried, from the obligatory french fries to fried green beans, fried bottlecaps (jalapeños) and fried dill pickle spears.
In addition to the burgers, Bobby J’s offers a few chicken and seafood dishes, corn dogs, a grilled cheese and a BLT.
Aside from tea and fountain soft drinks, there are three coolers full of bottled beer, additional soft drinks and a few cocktails-in-a-can, such as Sex on the Beach and Bahama Mama. Along with half a dozen of the more popular Mexican beers, expect to find more than a dozen or so of the top domestic beers, including seven varieties of Shiner.
Finally, no burger joint would be complete without live music. Bobby J’s offers entertainment on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. On this visit, The BryanBros, a Helotes-based duo, provided diners with toe-tapping acoustic country, rock and blues tunes. The music is indoors during the winter months, but once March rolls around, the shows move outside to the pavilion.
Bobby J’s is located at 13247 Bandera Rd. in Helotes. They are open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (bands generally play until 10 p.m.) and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.