There’s definitely no shortage of wood-fired cuisine restaurants in Boca Raton. We’ve got Houston’s and Pinon Grill for American food, about a half-dozen pizza joints for wood-fired pizza, and let’s add another American’s spot to the list – J. Alexander’s.
With locations around the country, and three in South Florida (Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach Gardens), it was time to see how J. Alexander’s compares to the others in the wood-fired category.
We made a reservation because I heard the restaurant is usually very busy, has a wait, and most of the time the bar is full. We arrived at 8pm on a Sunday and saw two seats available at the bar. We decided to snag those and free up our reservation for someone else who was waiting for a table.
The dining room is dimly lit and has a good number of booths and tables. The bar is u-shaped, pretty large and is the centerpiece to the restaurant and its open kitchen.
The bartender took our drink order and presented us with menus. Like the other two restaurants I mentioned earlier, J. Alexander’s menu isn’t large and confusing. One page, no frills, no confusion.
We both enjoyed a dirty Martini which was prepared to our liking. I also asked for a club soda, which came from a bottle – at an additional charge – instead of from the soda fountain. I don’t mind paying for club soda, but very few places offer it in a bottle and charge for it. When it was time for a refill on that, I asked for a soda water to see if it would come from the fountain, but no. Another bottle, another charge.
We decided to skip appetizers as most of them were on the “heavy” side and we had a big lunch. However, the selection included deviled eggs, crispy chicken and fries, smoked salmon dip, calamari and soup among others. Instead, I went with Alex’s Salad (bacon, cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers and croutons) – $10. It was a good for a starter salad, but the price was a little steep.
When it came to mains, the menu features burgers and sandwiches as well as more substantial entrees such as steaks, chicken, prime rib and seafood. I decided to go with the Old Fashioned Cheeseburger – $15. I asked for it to be cooked well done, which it wasn’t. It still was pink inside, but I’m not one for sending food back, so I ate it anyway. The cheeseburger is topped with Tillamook cheddar cheese as well as lettuce, tomato, raw onion and pickles. A lot of toppings made for a sloppy burger that kept sliding off the bun.
Sloppiness and temperature aside, the burger had a good, wood-grilled taste and was served with shoestring fries that pretty much tasted just like McDonald’s fries – points for that.
My husband decided to go with the BBQ Baby Back Ribs – $28. This was a full rack of ribs slathered with Plum Creek BBQ sauce and served with those same fries and cole slaw. The ribs were fork tender and had a very good, smoky taste. While they weren’t as good as the ribs at Pinon Grill over in Town Center, they were close. Pinon, in my opinion, has a better tasting sauce that kicks theirs up to the top of my “Favorite Rib” list.
Overall, for a chain, J. Alexander’s isn’t a bad choice. The bartenders were very attentive throughout our meal, made a good drink and our food, despite some issues, was pretty good. It’s going on the “try again” list, but we may hit up either Fort Lauderdale or Palm Beach Gardens for our next visit.