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There’s plenty to do when riding the bus—things you ought not do while driving a car—like checking email and tweeting and trying to catch Pokemon, for instance. But there’s also nothing wrong with just relaxing. Staring out the window. Letting someone else handle the driving while you enjoy a bit of peace.
And, while riding the 022 up Martin Luther King Avenue, it’s hard not to let your eyes fixate on that squat, bright orange building with a sign held high in the air: Geronimo’s Bakery.
I’ve been acquainted with owner Jeff Richards and Geronimo’s Bakery for a few years now and it’s been my great joy to introduce a few of my friends to this wonderful shop. And now, my online friends, I’m introducing you.
Open the front door to Geronimo’s Bakery and you’ll see a few things:
A glass case filled with a variety of donuts.
Chairs, backs pushed against the wall, usually occupied by customers patiently waiting for their order.
The smiling, bespectacled, slightly harried face of Mr. Richards behind the glass case, taking orders and making small talk with the clientele.
Jeff is far from the only reason to visit Geronimo’s, but he’s one of the best. As the owner since 1990, when he took over from his parents, he’s become the enduring face of the bakery and, in some cases, its biggest draw.
That’s not what he’ll tell you, of course. He will point to the menu board hanging behind him, full of tasty treats that most don’t associate with a bakery. That’s because the area needed something more. Donuts are delicious, no doubt, but the neighborhood craved sustenance and the Richards family obliged.
Sadly, there were no donuts for me to eat on my last visit. Richards’ son-in-law was unable to come in that week and he’s the one in charge of making donuts. What I can tell you from memory is that they are rich, cake donuts in either vanilla glaze or chocolate, and cinnamon rolls big enough that, medically speaking, you MUST share.
However, the big seller at Geronimo’s are the burgers. While I was in, several people came by to claim singles with cheese, bacon doubles, and the not-yet-world-famous Geronimo Burger ($4.99).
As a child, I could not fathom why they were called hamburgers when they clearly contained no ham. Had I been served a Geronimo Burger at that tender, impressionable time in my life, I would have thought, “Oh, everybody is just ripping off Geronimo’s, but poorly.”
What you get is a juicy beef patty, covered in cheese, a pile of shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes and onions, a slathering of mayo, and—the pièce de résistance—a pile of thinly sliced, griddle-fried ham, all held together by a bun that, on its best day, probably isn’t up for the job.
This is a greasy, gooey, grab-extra-napkins kind of burger and I love it. I love the melody of textures as you crunch through the veggies and into the tender burger and juicy ham. I love knowing that I need to wipe my mouth after ever bite, lest I become a Carl’s Jr. ad from the early 1990s.
Now, some of you might ask: Will Geronimo’s make me a “Luther”—a burger that uses donuts in place of a bun—and the answer is “yes.” But...it’s not something Mr. Richards recommends. Do it for the ‘Gram, I guess? But the standard Geronimo Burger is over-the-top enough for me.
One of the first times I ever got to talking with Jeff, he told me this: The burgers are good and they sell well, but the item he can’t quit eating is the footlong chili cheese coney ($3.79). One bite of Geronimo’s version and you’ll never go to Sonic again, he said.
Well, Geronimo’s needs more locations, because it sucks only being able to get this piping hot, chili-slathered dog at one place so far away from home. But, boy howdy, he’s not wrong. One thing I really appreciate is the toasted bun. One thing I would really appreciate is if he included about 14-19 additional napkins, because this is enormous and messy.
Jeff will ask if you want onions and—unless you legit love raw onion—I would suggest you say, “A few.” Because otherwise, you’re getting like half an onion under all that chili and it will really light you up.
Can I be honest and say that I didn’t expect much when I ordered the hot wings and fries ($6.19)?
That’s not a dig on Geronimo’s, by the way, but there aren’t many local restaurants that don’t specialize in hot wings that do great hot wings. So you can imagine my delight when I dug into these and found them crispy on the outside and fully cooked and juicy on the inside. (Nothing worse than hitting an uncooked bit in a wing...ugh.)
I think the key is that he doesn’t put the sauce on himself. You want hot sauce on your wings, there are packets included. That means the skin isn’t getting soggy inside that Stryofoam container, and you best believe that’s a problem with a lot of wings.
They were good sized, too. Some wings are, frankly, just way too big, and it causes that raw chicken problem. These aren’t tiny, either, but just a nice serving of fried chicken wings. It’s more proof that this bakery knows a lot more than just donuts.
Speaking of which, the catfish sandwich ($4.99) was another shock to the system. I’m not about to tell you this is life-changing catfish, but it’s tender and crispy on the outside and it tastes real good. It’s another messy one, mind you—the bun is slathered with mayo, topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion and a big piece of fish that hangs over every edge.
There’s not much dining space inside Geronimo’s, so unless you’re going to eat it at the counter or on one of the picnic tables outside, you’ll need to get it to-go. Don’t worry: it travels surprisingly well. The real challenge is waiting with a pile of delicious food in your lap while the bus takes you to your next destination.
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