We all know southern Dallas could use more restaurants, and it could absolutely use grocery stores selling fresh food. I like to think we have people working on it (and I’ll just keep passive aggressively mentioning it in stories until they do).
But there are some places serving good food, and we’re going to do our best to share more of those with you. To get started, I focused on South Dallas/Fair Park, and asked my friend and councilman for the area, Adam Bazaldua, some of his go-tos.
A double at Black Jack's, on crisped, griddled bread with plenty of mustard.
One of those took us to MLK Jr. Boulevard, not far from Fair Park and just a few blocks away from the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. The wide street doesn’t have all that much traffic, with small businesses on one side and houses on the other with large “Voting is Power” signs sitting in front lawns.
I’ve been in productive meetings at the community center and those houses, but this was my first time to step into Black Jack Pizza.
The pizza won't blow your mind, but anything with that much cheese can be fairly satisfactory.
The name of the place had us ordering a pizza, going with some sausage, pepperoni and jalapeño slices — that’s the dealer’s choice (a large with sausage and pepperoni, $14.99) with the added heat. It’s perfectly fine, a thinner crust that crisps well on the bottom edge while allowing a softer top to house the ingredients sunken into cheese.
“This is what pizza used to taste like,” said one tablemate, referring to pizza shops she visited in the early 1990s that were yet to be commercialized and scaled to a larger production.
We have plenty of local pizza places, of course, each offering its own spin on a pie. This one’s perfectly fine, and we welcome spots that offer pizza by the slice, which they do here for $4 each.
But what we’ll happily return for is the burgers.
This was the first double burger of my life; that's what I get for sharing with another person.
A thick patty cooked right in the middle of medium is topped with still-melting cheese and the expected crisp red onion, pickles, tomato, shredded lettuce and plenty of mustard. The allowance of so much mustard along with meat from a well-used griddle produces a flavor I haven’t had since my grandmother was around to cook small cheeseburgers during my childhood summers.
Here, these ingredients are sandwiched in a bun that’s griddled: There’s not too much bread to overtake the more important aspects, and the top is cooked to a just-enough greasy crispness.
Black Jack Pizza is a small spot, one you can easily miss if you're looking for it while driving.
There are other things on the menu, from spaghetti to chicken salad and a chicken sandwich. Our next visit will have to include the black beanry, a bowl of red beans and cornbread ($4.45).
Next time, we’ll also remember to bring cash, because this spot doesn’t take credit or debit cards. But for that tangy, griddled burger, a stop at the ATM is worthwhile.
Black Jack Pizza, 2536 MLK Jr. Blvd. Open 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday; noon to 10:30 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday.