I love when a restaurant is named after its owner. If things don’t go my way, I know just who to complain to.
But at George’s Cafe in northeast Fort Worth, that’s not likely to happen. That’s because George — the actual George — is always at the counter, and he greets most of his customers by name. He takes orders by hand, and he spot-checks entrees as they leave the counter. He does all this with an accent (from Thailand).
It’s indeed his cafe.
“I was an engineer by trade and left that behind in 2004,” he tells me.
“Skinny George,” as his friends call him, would rather flip burgers than flip fractions, and that’s all right with me. I could always use more burgers in my life.
His menu is a collection of, well, everything — from burgers, sandwiches and hot dogs to Tex-Mex, seafood and breakfast omelets. I tried to count the total number of items listed, but everything kept blurring together after 50. Let’s just say it’s close to 100.
Consequently, nothing particularly stands out, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few dishes worth mentioning. Plus, 20 bucks buys you enough grub to feed four people.
We liked the buttery Texas patty melt ($3.69). It’s typical, but made well; cheesy, slightly greasy and goes down easy. The portion matched the price, too.
Same goes for the original Philly cheesesteak ($4.69), a sandwich made of tender, salty, thinly sliced rib-eye on soft bread, topped with provolone and onions. Opt for the classic though, with mushrooms and bell peppers. A cheesesteak should always have bell peppers.
The garlic chicken sandwich ($3.99) and steak wrap ($5.29) failed to satisfy. Garlic is no match for cheese on rib-eye, and the wrap suffered from a poor steak-to-lettuce ratio.
The Swissburger ($3.29), one of 15 burgers on the menu, looks basic but has a surprisingly well-seasoned flavor.
Our two favorites, which also happen to be the two most-ordered entrees, are the club sandwich ($5.49) — fresh with creamy mayo — and chicken-fried chicken sandwich ($4.29) — thinly breaded, juicy and extra-crispy with lettuce and tomato.
If you haven’t caught on, the menu is all about simplicity. My guess is it wasn’t George’s intention to engineer anything fancy. Nothing is more than 10 bucks, so there’s fairly no risk in trying one, two or 10 dishes off the menu — served with virtually no wait. And like with the patty melt, the prices are on par with the portion sizes.
But spend an hour or two at George’s place and you’ll see that it’s not just about low-cost breakfast and lunch options. The dude is genuinely likable, and it’s hard not to respect a restaurateur who knows how to work an old cash register.