Big families and restaurants rarely go hand in hand. But I’ve got a big family and we love eating out together.
One place that I’ve always felt comfortable sitting at a long, full table is Jax Grill. It’s spacious indoors and out, the atmosphere is laid back and casual, but most importantly, both the adults and the kiddos love what comes from the kitchen.
The few arcade games and the toy vending machines help with the kids, too.
Jax serves American fare with a splash of Cajun flavor. I’d call it straightforward comfort food.
My go-to staple items at Jax are the burger and chicken tenders. Both are simple, no frills, but tasty in their uncomplicatedness.
On a recent visit I split the chicken tender basket, which is called the Bellaire Basket on the menu, and fried catfish with one of my table companions.
Both options come layered on a bed of fries.
The breading on the four chicken tenders that come in the basket is crispy, but not flaky, meaning it had the right crunchiness without pieces of the breading falling off. The meat was tender and juicy. My favorite part of getting the tenders is dipping it into the creamy white gravy. It’s thick and a little goes a long way, but a lot is just fine, too.
Fried catfish isn’t usually my first choice when it comes to picking a seafood item. I’ve had too many bad experiences of it tasting too, well, fishy. At Jax I was pleasantly surprised to find the fried catfish did not have an overly fishy aftertaste.
The white fish was fried in thin, small chunks, which were dense and firmer than the chicken. While I’ve heard others compare catfish to tasting just like chicken, I’ve never shared that sentiment. The breading on the catfish is also different. It’s much crumblier.
The fried catfish was also a favorite of my 5-year-old niece who ate all the pieces in her basket.
The French fries proved to be a worthy side. Other than being sprinkled with salt and a little seasoning, there wasn’t much more to them.
On every visit to Jax, my brother gets a side of sliced watermelon. After always stealing at least one slice I finally decided to start ordering my own. Now, it’s just something I naturally want when walking into Jax, no matter which type of meal I get. It’s usually a good option, plus the kids are quick to reach for them.
While I haven’t tried everything on the menu at Jax, everything I have tried I’ve enjoyed, including the Southwest Salad, which includes grilled or fried chicken served over a bed of lettuce with onions and tomatoes and topped with shredded cheddar cheese and tortilla chips.
Address: 1613 Shepherd Dr.
Hours: 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Monday–Thursday, 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Friday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Sunday
Healthy Options: Yes
Star of the show: Bellaire Basket