All sleek chrome and neon, with car-hop service and a menu of burgers and fries, Jerry’s Curb Service looks like someone tried very hard to recreate a dining experience from the heyday of American car culture. But it is not a recreation. It is the real thing, in business since 1947. It is spiffed up, for sure, and the car hops take orders on a mobile device rather than an order pad, but the important thing is that the classic drive-in fare really is classic … and very tasty.
Burgers are too thin for degree of doneness to be an issue, so a double or even a triple makes sense, and condiments are essential lubricants. Jerry’s burgers are bountifully dressed — crisp lettuce, flavorful tomato slices, lots of mayo, etc. Beyond burgers, consider a Herbie (grilled ham and cheese) or, better yet, a Burnt Herbie, for which the ham — sliced see-through-thin, Pittsburgh-style — is deep fried to a bendable crisp reminiscent of bacon.
This does not look like a place where salad would be worth ordering. But in fact, sirloin steak salad might be the most interesting item on the menu. Jerry’s claims to be the original home of the steak salad, invented some time in the early 1960s, by Donna Reed, Jerry’s wife. As served today, it is very Pittsburgh in character (kaleidoscopic), including not only lettuce, tomato, etc., but also cheddar cheese and a fistful of French fries. Plus a tremendous amount of sliced sirloin on top.
Food history footnote: Jerry’s adjoins a Bruster’s ice cream shop. It is the original Bruster’s (now in 19 states, plus Guyana and South Korea), opened in 1989 by Bruce Reed, Jerry and Donna’s son. Bruce now also runs Jerry’s.