Izzy’s out on Highway 10 suffers from a malady that afflicts many restaurants: the menu is just too dadgum big. Soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, tamales, pasta — it’s just not possible for one kitchen to be great at all those things. The best restaurants have small menus that they execute with great skill, while restaurants with huge menus tend to never rise above the fair-to-middlin’ level. I say all this not to knock Izzy’s — because some of what we ate there was good — but as more of a lament. There’s obviously some talent in the kitchen at Izzy’s, it’s just too scattered to really shine.
So on to the food. We started with an order of cheese dip and chips, and that in and of itself was indicative of how our meal was going to go: tasty homemade cheese dip served with a basket of pulverized tortilla crumbs from the bottom of a bag. Our server was kind enough to bring us a fresh basket of chips, but they were still cold chips from a bag. That sort of thing is acceptable at grandad’s Super Bowl party, but if you’re a restaurant with cheese dip on the menu, fry your own chips (or at least serve the bagged chips warm). The dip itself was tasty, and fans of the cumin-based dip that Mexico Chiquito made classic will find a lot to love about it.
First main dish was a pizza that was pretty respectable. Plentiful toppings (including a tasty crumbled sausage that the menu says is made in house) on a thin, crispy crust — it was a solid pie. Everything about the pizza seemed fresh, from the mushrooms to the onions, and the portion of the pie we took home warmed up well for lunch the next day. As a matter of fact, the pizza was good enough that Izzy’s should consider turning their focus directly onto pizza-making and jettison some of the other menu items. And by other menu items, I mean the burgers.
Oh, the burger. Problem one comes right when you order it: $1.29 to add cheese. Want to add bacon? It’s also $1.29 — and there’s where my spidey sense tells me something is wrong, because there’s nowhere on planet earth where a slice of cheese costs the same as bacon. A buck twenty-nine for cheese might as well come with a guy in a black cowboy hat with a bandanna to hide his face, because that’s highway robbery. Needless to say, I skipped the cheese.
Problem two comes at the first bite. Izzy’s seems to be of the school that people would rather taste condiments instead of the burger itself, so they slather on enough mustard and ketchup for about five normal burgers. The first bite sent condiments gushing from all sides of the burger, requiring extra napkins and a long drink of water to get the overwhelming flavor of French’s mustard off my tongue. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like mustard. In moderation. But this burger tasted of nothing but mustard, and my hands smelled like it for the rest of the evening, even after washing.
The burger patty itself was bland, overcooked, and not worth talking about. So I won’t.
Bottom line is this: if you live out in the Ranch neighborhood, Izzy’s is probably a go-to restaurant. The pizzas are pretty good, and there’s just not a lot of choice in places to eat out that way. For folks living in the city proper, it’s just not worth the drive, because there are better versions of every menu item within five minutes of Midtown. With some tweaking of the menu, that could change, but for now, I don’t see myself headed back.