Winter finally arrived in North Texas, and so we were in the mood for something hearty. Wine was also a must, especially because the next several stops for our Saturday involved buying lots of Christmas decorations. SO, where to go for a quick, hearty, delicious lunch? Right down the street from our house at Jimmy's Food Store, that's where.
Lots of people know Jimmy's as the preeminent Italian grocery store that it is, with a fabulous all-Italian wine selection. Others know it as the place to get wine right before heading next door to Cafe Urbano for dinner. But fewer people seem to order sandwiches there and sat down for lunch (a fair amount actually do take sandwiches to go). Jimmy's is a staple lunch destination for us in the late Fall and Winter--when we can sit inside with a nice bottle of red wine--as well as in the Spring--when we can sit outside with a bottle of Prosecco. This particular Saturday was a Jimmy's sort of day.
First thing you need to do when you go to Jimmy's (after trying to find a parking spot) is immediately head back to the meat counter to order your sandwich. Their sandwiches are all hand-made, and sometimes take a little while to make. And they're always busy with custom orders, so getting your order in early is a must.
Cameron always goes with the hot / spicy Italian beef (provolone cheese, hot thinly-shaved roast beef, spicy pickled veggies, and a beef broth "gravy" over a thick chewy bun), while Natalie always goes with the Italian sub (mortadella, capicola, sopressata, pepperoni, provolone, lettuce, and Italian dressing). Both are excellent choices. If you like spicy, go with the hot Italian beef--it's not just hot (as in a warm sandwich), its spice can also make your eyes water, depending on how many spicy picked veggies you want added on. For extra spicy, ask for extra veggies. If you're not into spicy, just have them include the veggies on the side. If you don't like either of our regular choices, well then screw you (just kidding--they have lots of other great options).
Now that your sandwiches are ordered, go pick out some wine. Because you can't have a great Italian sandwich without some great Italian wine, right? And, you've had a long, hard week, so you deserve it. However you need to justify the choice, just do it, OK!
Since Jimmy's often does wine tastings each Saturday, there's usually several wine reps wondering the store that just happen to be experts on Italian wine. Imagine that. Grab any of them, and ask them what you should drink with your sandwich choices. No matter your price point, you'll likely end up with something very drinkable and that will pair well with your food. On this trip, we went with a 2013 San Fereolo Valdiba, made from the Dolcetto grape (If you haven't heard of Dolcetto, don't worry. Italy has over 3,000 different grape varietals). At less than $20, and with some pedigree, we thought it was a good value.
At this point, you may be tempted to run back to see whether your sandwiches are ready. They probably aren't. So chill out, go wait in line to pay (just tell them what sandwiches you decided on), grab a couple of empty wine glasses and some plates/napkins, and have the nice cashier open your bottle for you.
After you're all paid-up, go back to the place you ordered your sandwich. It likely still won't be ready, but that's not why you're headed back there anyway. See, to the right of the counter where you ordered is a little walkway that looks like it will take you right through the kitchen (it actually will). Follow that walkway. Don't worry--if you act like you know what you're doing, you'll be just fine. The walkway will lead you into a narrow hallway, which will lead you to the bathrooms. BUT, just past the bathrooms is exactly what you are looking for--Jimmy's "wine room," where you can sit, relax, and enjoy your sandwich and wine. For as busy as Jimmy's usually is on a Saturday (generally "hard to walk through the aisles" busy), most people don't know the wine room is back behind the kitchen, so it's usually quiet and a great place to eat. Set your stuff down, then head back to check on your sandwiches. They're probably almost ready at this point. And, so are you.
On our latest trip, our sandwiches were wonderful, as usual. Cameron likes his extra-spicy, so we had a few watery-eye, runny-nose moments. He said he wasn't crying. No-one believed him. But we made it through just fine. Oh, and in case you were wondering, the wine was great. Fruit forward with dark berries and hints of leather, but still soft. Stood up well to the spice of Cameron's sandwich and the freshness of Natalie's. And it had a good tannic bite at the end that helped keep us both warm on a cold dreary day.
So, next time you're in East Dallas, head over to Jimmy's. Get a couple sandwiches and a bottle of wine. Enjoy their wine room. And grab some home-made pasta on your way out to enjoy for dinner. Jimmy's is an East-Dallas gem that we both love.