Not Your Average Joe’s restaurant review

Yesterday on the way to Ikea, my husband and I got hungry. In order to avoid stuffing ourselves on Ikea’s famous (infamous?) meatballs, we decided to pop into Not Your Average Joe’s for a better quality lunch. NYAJ is a mini-chain that specializes in American staples, with a little twist. We’re usually not big fans of chain restaurants but we’ve been to NYAJ a few times and have found the food to be quite delicious. Their bread + dipping sauce is also out of this world good!

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The bread is a standard focaccia (which I love; “standard” in this case does not imply bland) but the dipping sauce is really what puts this combo over the top. It appears to be quite simple: parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes and quality olive oil, but somehow tastes incredible; beyond what those simple ingredients would suggest. Maybe there is a secret ingredient in there? I would not rule out garlic powder and maybe something else that makes you want to drink this stuff 😆

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Adam ordered a large pizza (kind of by mistake) so he got a choice of a free appetizer (Sunday NFL special). He chose the buffalo-caribbean chicken tenders, hand-breaded and tossed with mango-buffalo barbeque sauce, served with pineapple-jalapeno salsa and blue cheese dip

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I stole one chicken tender 😉 It was perfectly crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. I didn’t realize the sauce was a mango-buffalo bbq sauce until just now reading through the menu, but I enjoyed it nonetheless – sweet and spicy, just the way I like my wings! :)

After eating my weight in baked goods on Halloween, the only thing I wanted was a salad. I ordered one that seemed to have the most veggies – the chopped chicken salad: romaine, kalamata olives, shredded chicken and vegetables (onion, carrots, tomatoes), tossed with creamy sherry vinaigrette and sprinkled with feta. My substitutions included the omitting of onions, goat cheese instead of feta and balsamic vinaigrette instead of creamy sherry, on the side of course.

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The salad was nothing special, but the ingredients appeared fresh and the dressing was pretty delicious (only a few drizzles were enough). I ate about 1/2 and took the rest home. I hate large restaurant portions but like when I can make 2 meals out of them (sounds contradictory but I generally prefer “normal sized portions” because otherwise too often I am unable to stop at just half… which is partially my fault of course, but I’d rather not have the temptation).

Adam’s grilled chicken and prosciutto pizza was also gigantic and we took most of it home. That meant yummy pizza for dinner for me :)

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This doesn’t look too exciting but actually was really nice. I think the key in pizza is the crust and Not Your Average Joe’s got it right. A fun addition was also asiago cheese aside from the standard mozzarella.

Overall, I’d recommend Not Your Average Joe’s. It’s worth it just for the bread and dipping sauce, but their main course are also pretty creative and always fresh. Have you been to NYAJ? How do you feel about chain restaurants? Any exceptions to the rule?

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12 comments to Not Your Average Joe’s restaurant review

  • It’s funny because before I came out to the East Coast for school all I ate at were chain restaurants. Growing up in the midwest those were a lot of the options and I never knew any different. Because of this, I think I’m much less hard on them than other people. I enjoy the occasional meal at the Cheesecake Factory and CPK. Granted, I’d rather go to an independently owned restaurant because I like supporting small businesses and the food tends to be more interesting, but I find some chain food like NYAJ is more interesting than your average independently owned American-style restaurant, sports bar, pub, etc. They used to have a salad on the menu with crab,apple, and goat cheese that I love, love, loved, but I think it may be seasonal because I haven’t seen it in awhile. The one thing I do appreciate about their restaurant, as opposed to other chains, is that they openly welcome substitutions and are very good about it. Far more items seem customizable.

  • Husband Adam

    I really like NYAJ – they are definitely one of the better chains. I’d just wish they’d build one in Boston!

  • I’m generally leery of chains – but LOVE Papa Razzi, and The Counter (burger / salad place – there was one in Ireland and a bunch in the South here I think?)

  • I’ve been to NYAJ a few times after the movies. I like that their menu isn’t the typical chain offering (hence the name). I’d still go to a local restaurant over NYAJ, but they’re definitely at the top of my list of chain restaurants.

  • I love NYAJ. Their bread is so good, I always try to recreate the dip.
    As a whole, I don’t really like chains, but smaller chains, like NYAJ tend to be OK

  • I’ve never been to NYAJ. I’ll have to give it a try. Thanks for the review!

  • KellyB

    Love NYAJ – because we have kids we have take out there. We love the Shrimp Appetizers, the spring rolls, and the BBQ Pizza. There is also a really yummy spring salad with walnuts and fruit that we also get, and usually end it with Key Lime Pie. YUMMY. And they’ll also put the bread and dipping sauce in the bag if you want it. :)

  • Pam

    Looks good…glad you had a nice time!

    Enjoy!

  • Elina

    KellyB – the bread + dip to go could be VERY dangerous. This stuff is too good 😉

  • Oooh, the dipping sauce sounds fantastic. I wonder if we could re-create that at home? Parm makes everything taste better, doesn’t it?!

  • Oh I know what you mean about that bread and dipping sauce. It’s amazing!! I can’t pass it up.

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