Soda Jerks is pretty much what you get when Red Robins has an illegitimate lovechild in a threesome with a carnie and an alcoholic.
The menu is absolutely massive and includes wonderful things like a shotgun of Old Milwaukee (can is pre-punched), alcoholic milkshakes and a triple-burger time challenge.
Sounds like fun.
We started with the fried pickles and milkshakes. The milkshakes were superb. I’m not usually a fan of creamy drinks, but this was definitely an exception. They didn’t do anything crazy, just a good blend of ice cream, milk and syrup. To sweeten the deal, you have the option to add shots of hard liquor to your creamy confection.
Now I’m no expert, but my understanding of fried pickles is that you fry slices of pickles to maintain a good pickle to batter ratio, and to ensure that the pickle gets to dry out a bit while frying. We were served thick spears of pickle, dripping with grease and gushing with pickle juice. Phallic imagery aside, they were pretty disgusting. While I’ll never know for sure, it feels like they weren’t drained after being fried.
Because we ordered when we were starving (bad fucking idea), we also got the onion ring poutine. This remained mostly uneaten, but I’m certain that it tastes exactly like street vendor onion rings, high-school cafeteria gravy and Costco cheese curds, which, honestly, make for a pretty great poutine.
Alright, onto the burgers.
In theory, this is a great idea (for the restaurant).
The customer gets to participate in the creation of their meal, it’s different, and there won’t be any complaints as you get exactly what you ask for.
Hell, you even get the customer to fill out the ticket for you.
Now here’s the problem.
Your average diner has NO FUCKING CLUE what they actually want in a burger.
This isn’t an issue with typical burger toppings like lettuce and bacon, but once you start adding things like ice cream, Kraft Dinner and mini donuts onto the list of burger toppings, you give the average customer way too much choice. In the interest of making something Instagram/Snapchat worthy, your customer will also create something that’s absolutely fucking disgusting.
Turns out Hot/Sweet Chili sauce, banana peppers, jalapenos, jalapeno jack and buffalo onion rings all sort of taste like the same thing. I ended up with a burger that tasted like an entire fucking bottle of Franks Red Hot. To be fair, the individual ingredients were great, I’m just an idiot.
My friend, with a bit more experience in building his own burger (and considerably more common sense), actually ended up with something edible.
I had a bag of Doritos for a side, which I did not attempt to eat. If you’re going to serve me something, at least pretend you didn’t buy it in bulk at Costco.
Although we were both uncomfortably full at this point, we ordered dessert and justified it by saying I’d write a blog about it.
Cue the mini donuts and chocolate covered bacon.
The donuts were quite plain and were dusted in cinnamon sugar. The taste was virtually identical to the donuts you would normally get at some sort of carnival or fair, although the texture was closer to that of a cake donut.
Chocolate covered bacon was exactly that. Dark chocolate and a slice of bacon. To be honest, I’m not a fan of the dark chocolate and would have preferred something with more sugar (or just candied bacon).
In the end, the food wasn’t amazing and is a bit pricey.
However, they do have quite a few things that make them worth a visit, namely alcoholic milkshakes and carnie food.
So if you want to get wasted and vomit mini donuts and corndogs, but don’t want to go to an actual festival, Soda Jerks is the place for you.