The new owner of Jimmy’s in Fells Point has a tough act to follow. The no-frills breakfast and lunch spot has drawn loyal customers — including big-name celebrities and politicians — since the ’40s.
Veteran restaurateur Rustem “Rudy” Keskin, who took over the space from the Filipidis family in December, has given it a major facelift with new furniture, counters, chairs, decor and equipment. There is outdoor seating, too.
Diner purists may find the spruced-up restaurant a little sterile. And, at first, it does seem soulless with all the new pieces — until the staff greets you warmly and a cook behind the counter calls out to see if you like the food.
Don’t misunderstand — the updated dining room is fresh and modern. It just doesn’t have the lived-in look of the former place that so many locals loved.
Jimmy’s still offers American classics for breakfast and lunch, but since June, the restaurant has also served dinner, with an emphasis on Turkish fare. Keskin, who owns Rudy’s Mediterranean Grill in Columbia, includes several dishes from his native Istanbul.
The menu features hot and cold mezze, kebabs, and entrees starring beef, lamb, chicken and seafood. There are also burgers, a crab cake and steaks.
On weekends, a late-night breakfast menu is available until 3 a.m. with choices like a Greek omelet, a waffle with chicken tenders, and eggs with home fries and toast.
We’ll miss the Filipidis family, but they were ready to sell the business after 70 years. Keskin is bringing new energy and culinary options to Fells Point.
SCENE & DECOR: On a recent weeknight, there were only three tables of customers, including us. But that could be because diners haven’t realized that Jimmy’s is now serving dinner. Compared to the diner ambiance of the old Jimmy’s, the updated one has a contemporary vibe with brand-new everything.
APPETIZERS: We started with a delicious baba ghanoush ($7.95), rich with eggplant, garlic, parsley, tahini and lemon juice. It was served with warm pita triangles for dipping. The falafel ($8.95) featured five grilled chickpea balls. They were slightly dry but were aided by the accompanying hummus and tahini sauce, which were both very good.
ENTREES: The chicken adana ($18.95) featured two long, flat patties of minced chicken dolled up with various Mediterranean spices. It was terrific. Our server said the dish can also be made with lamb. We adored the moussaka ($16.95), stacked with sliced eggplant and freshly ground lamb and topped with a creamy layer of bechamel sauce. Charred halves of tomato and green pepper were welcome garnishes. Both entrees were served with a block of white rice and a lovely salad of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions, green peppers and fresh parsley in an olive-oil dressing.
DRINKS: The menu lists red and white sangrias, several wines by the glass, and bottled and draft beers, including Turkish wines and beer. Don’t miss the strong, flavorful Turkish coffee ($3.50).
SERVICE Our waiter was polite and charming. We appreciated his professionalism while listening to him deal with a nearby table of picky diners.
DESSERT We enjoyed a sublime, honey-tinged baklava ($6.75). There is also a dessert case with various cakes and other sweet offerings.
Backstory: Jimmy’s has been a longtime mainstay in Fells Point, owned by the Filipidis family since 1946. When they decided to sell, Rustem “Rudy” Keskin, who owns Rudy’s Mediterranean Grill in Columbia, took over the restaurant in December, refurbishing it and expanding the hours to include dinner and late-night breakfast on weekends.
Signature dish: The moussaka
TVs: Four TVs
Where: 801 S. Broadway, Fells Point
Contact: 410-327-3273, facebook.com/jimmysfabulous
Open: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 5 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday
Credit Cards: All major
Handicap accessible: Yes
Bottom line: The new Jimmy’s has a more stylized decor than its previous diner days. But customers can still count on great breakfasts, while enjoying Turkish dishes for dinner.