Eat This: Italian Stallion at Jimmy's Food Store
Learning that someone has never been to Jimmy’s before is like discovering that someone has never heard music before. The ability to give them the life-changing knowledge of the location of a tiny Italian market located at the corner of Bryan and Fitzhugh is a gift. Each time that I’m able to impart that knowledge onto someone — whether they’re a tourist, new Dallasite or longtime resident — I feel fulfilled.
To watch a person’s first trip into Jimmy’s is to witness intimidation. The narrow aisles of pastas, wines and pickled produce shield you from the back and the hub where, truly, the sausage gets made. Nobody is ever ready.
Pop quiz: How many Italian cured meats can you name? Odds are that unless your nonna came over from Napoli, then you’re going to top out at three or four off the top of your head. There are some gimmes, like prosciutto and pepperoni, and if you’re particularly carnivorous, then soppressata might be on the tip of your tongue.
Once we start talking mortadella, capicola and porchetta (okay, not technically cured meat, but technically delicious), we’re really talking the language of the old country. Put all of that salumi on one board, maybe add some provolone and mozzarella, and you could have a pretty good time just listening to Giada De Laurentiis over-pronouncing it all.
Put all of that in between a fresh Italian roll and you have the Italian Stallion from Jimmy’s Food Mart, arguably the best sandwich in town. (I say arguably because I will very much argue this with any dissenters.)
Loaded up with the aforementioned prosciutto, pepperoni, soppressata, mortadella, capicola and porchetta plus that provolone and mozz, the Stallion would be sufficiently stuffed as is, but you would be missing out on the regular lettuce, onion and tomato plus cherry peppers and romano cheese.
Anyone who’s been to Jimmy’s for a sandwich before can immediately tell the pros from the uninitiated. The disorganization and lack of a line is a feature, not a bug, as the hesitant will nervously eye everyone around them, hoping that someone will please, just please, tell them if it’s their turn to order yet. It’s important to be nice to these interlopers — we’ll all have our sandwiches soon.
Get a six-inch version of this bad boy wrapped tightly in butcher paper and in your hand for just at lunchtime in East Dallas Monday through Saturday for just $4.99. You could go for the foot-long at $8.99, but did you not just read all the ingredients to this sandwich? You cannot handle that much meat.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of Jimmy’s. Dallas is a city with a notoriously short attention span and a strong aversion to keeping things around for sentimental purposes. When places like Highland Park Pharmacy get swept aside after more than a century, places that have merely been around since the ’70s like Jimmy’s are always on uneven footing as the encroaching gentrification moves ever further east on Fitzhugh.
But if there are more important institutions to the idea that not all of Dallas cherishes the shiny over the well-worn than Jimmy’s, then it’s a very short list. We desperately need it to stick around for generations, to continue to create the flavors of the city with its spicy Italian sausages, its extensive pasta aisles, and, of course, its overstuffed sandwiches that will have you coming back during your lunch hour for decades.