Florida: Sundaes, Burgers and Nostalgia at Jaxson's in Dania Beach
As home to "The Original Kitchen Sink," Jaxson's serves one of the biggest sundaes you've ever seen.
It's always ice cream weather in Miami, but even if it weren't, that wouldn't stop droves of locals from waiting in line at Jaxson's. A true fixture—it's been around since the 1950s—Jaxson's delivers far more than the best ice cream in the greater Miami area (it's located north of Miami in Dania Beach). In fact, it's home to my favorite burger, an Old World candy shop, and the kitschiest décor I've ever seen—50+ flavors of amazing home-churned ice cream aside.
Even from the outside, it's apparent that Jaxson's does things the old-school way. Their signage features vintage type surrounded by flashing lights, and plastered all over the exterior windows is praise from 60 years of success and acclaim.
Inside, waiters wear red-and-white-striped aprons and hats, and a wallpaper of customers' old license plates (dating as far back as the 1910s) is the backdrop to anything curiously old-looking: kitchen appliances, unicycles, you name it. The atmosphere is instantly set for a one-of-a-kind, throwback dining experience, but because this is the way it's been done here since the start, it's genuine rather than a make-believe hack.
The food isn't the main draw—the ice cream is—but Jaxson's nails American diner classics, elevating them to a particularly bizarre level of perfection.
Enter Jaxson's Famous Bigger, Better Burger ($11.25). It could have something to do with my childhood nostalgia, but I've never eaten a burger that's satisfied me more. A half-pound (though they won't reveal the cuts), it's a hefty burger without being overwhelming. She may not be a looker, but she's griddled to just the right sort-of pink center to retain all the juices, and slid onto the piece de resistance: a homemade, buttery, lightly toasted Challah roll. I'm not normally one for fancy buns, but any burger would benefit by being wrapped in Jaxson's Challah roll. And the fries? Crinkle-cut and fried to order, the perfect ratio of uber-crispy exterior to soft, pillowy insides.
As for the rest of Jaxson's dinner menu, the chicken fingers are particularly delicious, but just make sure you save room for dessert. As home to "the Original Kitchen Sink," Jaxson's serves one of the biggest sundaes you've ever seen. The titular sink ($12.75 per person) is exactly what it sounds like: a kitchen sink filled with about 40 scoops of ice cream and nearly unlimited side-cars of homemade toppings. Tackle it as a group (the restaurant will only serve it to parties of four or larger), and you'll trigger a siren if you manage to finish. Expect to roll out of the restaurant as a human-turned-ice-cream-ball.
For a more manageable portion, try the "colossal parfaits" and "spectacular goblets," and get creative—all of the pre-created flavor combinations can be customized to suit your tastes. My favorite picks? The Chocolate Suicide: a triple-chocolate-chip ice cream flavor called "Death by Chocolate," homemade brownies, hot fudge, whipped cream, chocolate chips, and a side car of extra fudge (every childhood chocolate dream come true?).
As I've outgrown the chocolate-only rule at ice cream parlors though, my attention has shifted towards the custom creations with the phenomenally gooey fudge—get the Fudge-Ana (three scoops of vanilla topped with bananas, pecans, and fudge). While the vanilla ice cream is plenty delicious, I sub it with a combo of chewy fudge (sense a theme?), fruit-packed strawberry, Oreo cookie, or cappuccino flavors. Though unusual flavors like black cherry, mango, and peppermint abound on the long list, it's the old-time ones like the berry-flecked, creamy strawberry that shine most.
Jaxson's may have started as a soda and ice cream parlor decades ago, but it's still got plenty of appeal today. Just look at the long line that forms each night at the front door as the sun sets and the beach crowds head out. I, for one, have never been able to visit Miami without paying pilgrimage.