Crashing at a diner after a long night holds a special place on the list of some of the greatest American pastimes.
It’s up there around one of the other American greats, the one that usually starts it: drinking. Oh, but what a fantastic combination those two pastimes are. I mean, what could seriously be better for the inebriated mind than a brain-melting platter of onions, hash browns, eggs, toast, and pancakes? This beautiful marriage is only made better by the fact that diner food is some of the cheapest food you can come across, a godsend in a time of $5 coffees and $10 breakfast sandwiches from any yuppie-central “artisan” food stall.
Rochester’s got quite a few diners, but only one special diner takes my heart, lathers it with butter, and then gives it back to me in cutlets like a heartbroken teenage boy on prom night: Jim’s on Main. Jim’s is a cozy little spot off Main Street in downtown Rochester, near the Rochester Auditorium. The place is a family-run joint that’s a continuation of the previously established Jim’s Restaurant on Winston Road, which closed down in 2015 after 14 years of operation under the management of Elena Knopp. Now relocated, the new location (still run by Knopp) has been in business for about a year-and-a-half, and is running smoother than a well-oiled vintage six-cylinder Ford engine.
The sight you get once you’ve walked into Jim’s for the first time is a truly pleasant one. With seats packed throughout its entire 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. operating hours on an average Saturday, the hustle and bustle found on-scene at the diner speaks to how much the Rochester natives love their old-school eatery. The walls of the restaurant are adorned with full-sized canvas portraits of the staff who work there, all part of Jim’s family. Those same faces can be seen shuffling between the booths of the diner, left and right, carrying platters and platters of delicious breakfast staples. Meanwhile, a grill sits in the back corner of the place, layered with hash browns, pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage patties, onions, peppers, and toast. The scene looks like something straight out of the background of an episode of “Seinfeld,” and it makes for a warm atmosphere to crawl out of bed to.
On the particular Saturday that I stopped in, my friends and I picked a booth straight in the middle of the place to plop ourselves down on. Each of my friends got their usual brunch picks: eggs Benedict, omelets, and a platter of scrambled eggs with mushroom.
For me, I went with the classic Jim’s “Wham,” a sizeable, runny sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich with a side of onion-speckled hash browns.
Coffee was soon poured for each of the members of our party, except me, since the caffeine jitters get me a lot worse than the others. No siree, I went with some classic OJ to wash my palette of taste after taking each bite out of my delectable delicacy.
Conversation soon started, mostly just about the new iPhone X, and how the science behind its ARKit set works in tandem with its IR camera, which is nice for some lowly programmer like myself to feel I can almost understand, as opposed to my optics bud who sounds like Gandalf on steroids when he starts mouthing off about the physics going on behind the camera.
Our food was delicious and cozy, two necessary checkboxes for getting myself prepped to head back home and take a midday nap. It wasn’t long before we were all stuffed enough to want to pile up into my car and head home. In abiding by typical diner customs, we chatted up our server while receiving our check, and promptly paid the man his tip and covered our charges at the front.
The satisfying feeling of a long drive through the historic Rochester neighborhoods, with the windows all the way down and a belly all the way plump was indescribable. Let it be known around the town that Jim’s is king of the diner game, and that my $6 breakfast can never be beat by any other brunchery in Rochester. Yes, Frog Pond, even you, you delicious bastards.