The Lunchbox

I opened the door and was greeted by a waitress who told us to sit wherever we liked.  Five tables were crammed in the front with several additional ones in two small areas to the back.  The walls were painted a sage green.  Lunch boxes hung from the ceiling along with a sagging fan.  The kitchen was behind a small counter. It looked cramped and well worn.  A television hung on one wall and played an endless series of advertisements.

We took a seat towards the back and waited for a waitress. The table was covered in a beige table cloth.  On top sat a salt and pepper shaker; a sugar/sweetener holder; and a bottle of ketchup. Four light colored wooden chairs awkwardly surrounded the table.  If all of them were full it would be a very uncomfortable situation. A waitress arrived with two menus.  She took our drink order and immediately reappeared with two large plastic tumblers.  She then asked for our order.  I initially went with a burger until I changed it at the last second to a Ruben.

The sandwich and waffle fries arrived on an oval tan plate.  To the left was the Ruben sandwich.  It consisted of rye bread, corned beef, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing.  The sandwich was  golden brown in color and the cook had forgotten to cut it in half.  I should have stuck with the burger.

After remedying the situation by slicing the Reuben in half I took a bite.  The bread was soggy and the predominant flavor was sauerkraut.  It tasted like it was from a can.  The corned beef was sparingly laid on the sandwich and was rather flavorless.  I thought they forgot the thousand island dressing until I peeled back the top slice of bread.  It was there but imparted no flavor to the sandwich.  As for the waffle fries, they were a mass of conjoined potatoes which I had to pry apart to eat. My friend Joe also ordered the Ruben sandwich.  He was disappointed with his and noted the corned beef tasted like packaged deli meat. The sweet potato fries he ordered were sub-par as well, overly greasy, which hid the flavor of the sweet potato.

On the way to the Lunchbox I was excited to show my friend a Tallahassee legend.  By the time we finished I regretted my decision and wished we had eaten someplace else.  While the service was attentive and the place had a funky vibe, the food was below average and the restaurant could use a good cleaning.  Breakfast is supposedly the Lunchbox’s claim to fame, and I would consider stopping in one morning to see if they could redeem themselves with a short stack of pancakes and some crispy bacon.

Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating:
Atmosphere: B
Taste: D
Presentation: D
Service: B
Cleanliness: C
Price: $

Jennys Lunchbox on Urbanspoon
The Lunchbox

20 thoughts on “The Lunchbox

  1. Oh man, sorry you had a bad experience. I will say, I only ever go there for breakfast and I LOVE it. I have never had anything bad with the breakfast fare.

  2. I went to Jenny’s several years ago – when I’m pretty sure Jenny was still mentioned on the sign. The breakfast was good. The parking lot keeps me away on the rare days I go out for breakfast, though. I wonder if the Jenny-less sign and new menu items implies a change in ownership or management?

  3. Jenny’s Lunchbox was sold to new owners and it is now just The Lunchbox. It is not a local favorite establishment. You should really do some research before you write a review. Oh and maybe try eating breakfast at a place that (used to be) known for their breakfast.

  4. I agree with the other folks. You should have gone for breakfast, instead. Though I haven’t been since it’s been “The Lunchbox”, when it was “Jenny’s” the only thing I had there was breakfast, and it was always great.

    • Do you know how long it has been since it was Jenny’s? I have a friend who went for breakfast the day after I visited. She was not impressed. Maybe it’s gone downhill all around.

  5. @AllStarMe – just wanted to say, you’re fantastic because Saves the Day is fantastic. @Kay – I could not disagree with your comment more. There’s no authority or canon of “local favorites.” I’m from Tallahassee and Jenny’s Lunchbox was always a hot-spot/well regarded establishment by both locals and the college scene.

    Circa 2004, it was right up there with other local restaurants (Good Time Charlies, Carlos’ Cuban Cafe, Jim & Milts, etc.) in terms of patronage. They even opened a second location on Dewey St. if I remember correctly.

    That said, I’m not usually a fan of the “nay-nay” but it really bothers me that people are critical about ordering lunch instead of breakfast at a place that has “lunchbox” in it’s name. If it were called “The Breakfast Bowl” and lunch was horrendous, then it would be palm-to-head obvious that you should’ve tried breakfast.

    People hate negative reviews, but if every review was sunshine, rainbows and lollipops there wouldn’t be any integrity.

    Sorry to feed the trolls. I’m stepping down from my soapbox. And, Oxford Comma, maybe I’ll go to Jim and Milt’s BBQ, another local favorite that serves great breakfast AND great lunch.

    • You can put any meal of the day in a lunchbox. It doesn’t have to be lunch… And their claim to fame really is (or was, when it was Jenny’s) breakfast. Again, I haven’t been since it’s been “The Lunchbox”, so it might have all gone downhill.

  6. I thought Jenny just sold breakfast. I noticed that it just said THE LUNCHBOX the last time I passed. Is Jenny no more?

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  8. Hello, my name is Brad and I hopefully i can shed some light for you guys. I own Canopy Road Cafe in Midtown and Killearn, as well as Up in Smoke on Tennessee with my partner Dave, who owns the lunchbox (I do not). The two of us, while at college at FSU worked for Jenny, who was pre-med with David. We both got jobs there and worked there through college. David has owned it for around 8 years, ‘Jenny’ hasnt been part of the equation for quite sometime, she sold the rights to David when her and her husband moved away so she could go to medical school. I moved up from Tampa to start the Canopy Road concept with David around 6 years ago.

    On to the ‘For Sale’ sign…

    The land was owned on a trust and the lady who had the property was looking to unload the property. Up until a couple months ago, we thought a developer was going to come in, kick David out, and level the whole land for development. Then the deal fell through, and the land was sold to another party who wanted to leave the store open and do who knows what with the land. But the land is sold and and as you can see the sign is down and they are trying to lease the bike shop and warehouse spaces underneath.

    On his behalf, let me apologize first for your bad food and the overall cleanliness. Its an old place, very musty, and at the time we were unsure if it would even EXIST anymore. It has always been super small and cramped to eat there, i like to think thats what gave it its charm in a way. But the store itself is in sore need of an updating and complete revamp. I mean the bathrooms are outside, which is atrocious. It used to be a gas station and there was no choice obviously. The reason that we started Canopy was because the parking at the Box was terrible as everyone knows and we felt there was a more efficient, nicer, cleaner, better way to provide great local breakfast. That being said, it doesnt mean that he threw the lunchbox to the wayside while he was working on the other store with me. As my business partner i know he cares very much about quality and his patrons loyalty (some have come in for years, and a lot will say he improved it after he bought it 8 years ago.) What he plans to do with it now is up to him, but im sure with a little spring cleaning elbow grease and a couple pep talks, along with some new chairs that arent falling apart :/ he can get back to where he needs to be.

    As far as food i would have told you to go with the burger as well. They are great for a great price and hand pattied. Im sure the corned beef was probably packaged deli meat as well..there is no hiding behind the obvious. At canopy we slice our own meats and i think he may do turkey and ham over there, but the reuben is not a hot seller over there so i would have told you to get something else for sure.

    When and if you choose to go back i would say to try the breakfast and ill pay for it. I will also relay the info and although im speaking on his behalf he may try and contact you directly to apologize. You seem to like most of the restaurants you try and im sorry the box wasnt on your list. I surf the blogs to check up on Canopy and smoke and saw the review and just felt the need to explain and verify info. Would love to see you pop into canopy or smoke for a bite and let me know your feedback 🙂

    Thanks again, and sorry so long


  9. I was surfing Breakfast Restaurants in Tallahassee to take a group from Utah. I clicked on the Lunchbox because I remember the compliments on the good breakfasts. Glad I read this, not that I don’t believe they serve a good breakfast, I just don’t want to take my guests to a restaurant that needs some elbow grease. Keep up the blogs–saves us time, money and embarrassment.

    • Glad I could help! If you’re looking to take a group out for breakfast I would check out Ruby’s Diner or Angelette’s. Ruby’s is diner fare while Angelette’s is cajun inspired. Both are worth a visit.

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