Having his picture on Big Juds Wall of Fame is both a sense of pride and a source of nostalgia for my younger brother. He was in his 20s and playing rugby for Boise State when he downed the regular Big Jud Special: the giant one-pound burger, side of fries and drink that one must consume if one wants his or her photo on the wall.
The home of my brother's--and countless others'--ground beef greatness is a nearly featureless four-walls-and-a roof on a street that is home to convenience stores, apartment complexes and a rundown small machine repair shop--not exactly the place you'd expect to find the burger that Food Network Magazine named Idaho's must-try burger in their 50 States, 50 Burgers feature earlier this year.
Not a mile from Boise State, Big Juds is a favorite among the college crowd but not exclusive to them. The dining demographic runs the gamut from 20-somethings in orange and blue to suited execs to plumbers in Carharts (my brother) to ladies in mom jeans and appliqued sweatshirts.
It doesn't matter that the booth seats are sculpted from the same torturous material molded school chairs are made from. It doesn't matter that the only decoration in the place are the photos of grinning people who bested the Big Jud Special challenge. What brings the hungry, hungry humans into Big Juds is fresh, juicy burgers at price points that don't mean you have to ignore the electric bill.
We ignored the one-pounder impulse and ordered regular burgers and vacillated between thoughts of "Oh, god. This is going to be too much food," and "Woo hoo! This is going to be too much food!" It was the latter.
My bacon cheeseburger ($4.59) was stacked almost two-hands high, a cornmeal bun teetering over pickle, onion, lettuce, tomato and fat, chewy slices of bacon. Bleu cheese crumbles poked out the side of my brother's burger ($4.99) and the pungent taste I snagged from him afforded me a new favorite burger topping.
Some of Big Juds skin-on, home-cut fries were as thick as lodgepole pine two-by-fours and equally as dense. I'm partial to crispier fries, and Big Juds' giant ones would have to boil in oil for an hour to come close to crunchy. But the thick, softer fry is fine by my sibling, who left nary a shaving of potato skin behind.
If burger isn't a word you use when ordering food, Big Juds will be happy to toss chicken strips, fish, fingersteaks or shrimp into the deep fat fryer. Meat lovers, if your vegetarian cohorts are turning green, Big Juds does grill a mean cheese sandwich and offers a raft of ice-cream choices. Oh, and they also have a green salad on the menu. Pfffft.
--Amy Atkins would love to have her picture on a Wall of Fame.
Boise Weekly sends two reviewers to every restaurant we review. Read what our other reviewer had to say about Big Juds here.