First off, allow me to offer my apologies in advance as it may come off harsh, but I feel it's time I voice what many people are thinking.... Fast food these days sucks, like, seriously.
It's almost impossible for me to put a number on how many time's I've visited one of these glorified microwaves due to the kids being brainwashed by the nonstop commercials on TV and begging for it because of course, they need it to survive.
I am however a big fan of hometown greasy spoons, the places where they cook real food and won't charge you for an extra packet of sauce. Where you don't feel like you got robbed after the bill arrives and unlike chain restaurants, the owners are likely to come out and have a conversation with you to make sure you're enjoying not just your food, but your day as well.
So it was of course a no brainer when we found out about The Jug being located right down the street from our home for the weekend, Cornerstone Manor. With us being fans of these down home establishments, we were interested to see how it would stack up against other "spoons" (as with anything, there are some less than desirable ones around).
Just a few years shy of it's 90th birthday, The Jug opened in 1932 and moved to it's current location in 1939. Born in an era where you dined in your car and your food made it's way to you via a roller skating staff member, most of these types of restaurants have long since closed. The only reminder of this time across the country is via Sonic, which only captures part of the full experience.
We visited The Jug not once, but three times in a 2 week span. That says a lot about how much we enjoyed it. Keep in mind, the latter 2 times we visited, we drove from home, which is roughly an hour and a half away. So yes, the food is THAT good!
You have the option to eat at the counter, have a carhop take and deliver your order to your car (sans roller skates) or sit outside at one of the covered picnic tables. We chose the latter and enjoyed watching the cars cruise by on the strip in full nostalgia mode if you will.
The menu contains all of the classics you would expect from a Drive-In but where most businesses live by the phrases "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" or "Don't try to reinvent the wheel", The Jug actually tinkers with the classic formulas and expands on them to some pretty damn good results!
We ordered so much, where do I start?
"The Jug Boy" - The namesake double burger loaded with cheese, lettuce, tartar sauce & pickles, I can't say enough about this sandwich. Sure there are other restaurants that use similar ingredients, but I can assure you they taste nothing like the Jug Boy, and that's what matters, the taste.
Chili Cheese Coney - This was made just how I think a coney should be, not dressed up pretty for photos with unmelted cheese piled on top. Dressed up by request with onions, cheese, ketchup and mustard (a must on coney's, not up for debate), the cheese was melted, covering almost all of the dogs surface making it messy in a good way. The hot dog itself was cooked perfectly and gave a bit of a "snap" when you bite into it.
Chicken Sandwich - Don't expect to get the typical Chicken Sandwich you'd receive from the "big 3" fast food joints, juicy and full of flavor, Mj rated it "A smooth 21 out of 10 stars" (his lingo not mine).
Double Bacon Cheeseburger - Scoop always orders Bacon Cheeseburgers from the "Redhead girl with freckles", so I knew what she wanted before she saw the menu. The first thing she said when her's arrived was "Wow, this is like 2 burgers from the other place put together" and she was right. She ate 3/4's of it before calling it quits and tapping out.
I'm a firm believer that a burger / sandwich is only as good as it's "co-star" and The Jug has a few notable options that do the job.
The kids were split between the Crinkle and Waffle fries with Mj saying the Waffle fries are what you would chose if you were smart, to which Munchie replied "But Dad says you act dumb, so how would you know?" 😂. Charisse liked the Cheesesticks as they were hot with a lightly crispy and seasoned coating (I know because I snuck a couple of them, which she will find out by reading this), while I enjoyed the Onion Rings which are made of a medium cut onion with a crusting that was fried perfectly.
It wouldn't be an authentic Drive-In without Root Beer would it? The answer is no, no it wouldn't, so there shall be no surprise that you can grab a cold mug of Root Beer at The Jug or you can upgrade it to a float with one of around 40 different flavors of Ice Cream (they've added several flavors since the sign above was printed). We were totally surprised that this little building offered so much variety, especially considering our local Dairy Queen still only offers 2! Munchie and Chipmunk said they no longer like Chocolate after trying the German Chocolate while Vegas dove into the Tutti Frutti.
So Is It Worth A Visit?
Should you visit The Jug? Well if the fact that we loaded up 7 kids in the tank and drove an hour and a half each way, twice isn't enough of an indicator of how good this place is, then nothing is!
The Jug is a tradition in not only Middletown, but Butler County / Southern Ohio as a whole and after our visits we understand why. During our visits, we were pleasantly surprised by the owners (Donnie & Sarah) as they came out to speak to us and always made sure we were taken care of. Afterwords we noticed how they would take their time and individually speak to each person that stopped by, a hallmark of small towns and even better people. Food wasn't the only reason we came back as the staff's hospitality played a huge factor as well.
I can tell you with certainty that our 3rd trip will not be our last!
Find out more about The Jug HERE
or call (513) 424-1677 (Please note that Winter hours can fluctuate, so be sure to call first!)
**Our first visit was compensated for the purpose of this review, however our 2 subsequent trips were on our own dime**