200910LUKES

The Stump Burger at Luke’s Deli in Janesville features the spicy hot olive mix by the same name. Beth Webb, a member of The Gazette’s restaurant review team The Four Dishes, lists this burger as her all-time favorite.

JANESVILLE

Luke’s has been my go-to lunch spot for years. It’s where I regularly bring family and out-of-town guests.

I have favorites, but I’m always tempted by the seasonal specials. I also find the service to be fast and friendly, and the food is always delicious.

The interior at Luke’s is decorated in red, turquoise and beige, which portrays an upbeat and lively atmosphere. During COVID-19, however, the dining room is temporarily closed. Fortunately, there is a convenient take-out window, and Luke’s also offers ample outside seating on its two oversized patios with a plethora of tables and chairs.

If you’re in the mood for comfort food, you will find staples here such as homemade chili, grilled cheese and burgers along with popular items such as the garlic turkey wrap and Italian beef sandwich.

I enjoy checking out the menu’s specials that highlight fresh, seasonal ingredients. For example, in the spring, Luke’s takes advantage of the availability of asparagus, offering a delicious cream soup as well as adding asparagus to menu items such as cheese sandwiches.

In summer, you’ll find a bruschetta salad ($7.99), which is fantastic. Every fall, my top choice was the TLC ($7.49), a sandwich featuring shredded turkey and cranberry sauce. Thankfully, I don’t have to wait for autumn anymore, as the sandwhich is now available year-round.

I also saw a keto bowl ($8.99) on the menu that consisted of lettuce, bacon, avocado, egg, tomato, feta and, of course, Luke’s shredded turkey. It’s great to see the restaurant keep its menu current.

It’s been a challenge for our group to figure out how to stay safe while heading out to eat, and this time we decided to visit separately and compare notes afterward.

I got take-out, bypassing the seasonal specials and opting for my all-time favorite, the Stump Burger ($6.49). You might remember the story of how Stump’s was developed locally and featured a spicy hot olive mix. The business has since been sold to another Wisconsin family, but fortunately, we can still get all their great products here.

Luke’s finely dices the spicy olives and then tops the burger with them, adding garlic mayo and pepper jack cheese. There are a few other places in the area that serve a Stump burger, but I’m a big fan of Luke’s version. There’s just a bit of heat and so much flavor.

I also love Luke’s crinkle-cut fries that accompany the burgers. They are always crispy on the outside but thick enough to have a soft inside. They’re simply the best.

Luke’s is well known for its fresh roasted turkey, which is a star ingredient in many of the restaurant’s sandwiches, wraps and salads.

Nikki ordered the turkey artichoke melt ($7.49), fries ($1.99) and added a side of potato salad ($2.49) for good measure. The sandwich was stuffed with so much shredded turkey that the grilled bread was barely holding up.

The homemade artichoke sauce was rich and creamy, and though her fries were not crinkle-cut, they did have the same crispy outside with a tender inside. They also were not overly salted, which was nice.

The mayonnaise-based potato salad is made in-house and had a distinctive taste she couldn’t identify but enjoyed. In addition to potatoes, the salad included hard-boiled eggs and chopped celery. After a quick taste, she ended up saving the rest for the next day. She said it held up well.

On the night Jennifer stopped in, it was a lovely evening with seasonal temperatures, so she decided to stay at the restaurant and dine on the patio with her family. More than half of the tables outside were occupied.

A chalkboard highlights the “In Season” specials, and the avocado BLT ($7.99) with a side of onion rings ($2.99) caught Jennifer’s eye.

Served on toasted whole-wheat bread, the sandwich was piled high with fresh green-leaf lettuce; crispy bacon; a slice of sharp cheddar (an added bonus); sliced, vine-ripened tomatoes and plenty of fresh avocado. By adding cheddar and avocado, Luke’s takes the usual BLT to the next level.

Jennifer’s onion rings were served piping hot and were delicious with a substantial crisp crust. When she and her family finished their meals, they lingered on the patio to take full advantage of the pleasing mid-August weather.

Luke’s Deli has been a popular eating spot in the city for several years. It is a quick-service restaurant featuring fresh food served fast, and its quality ingredients do not go unnoticed.

The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.

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