I popped in to the new Thornton Park location of Graffiti Junktion the other day — just ahead of an afternoon downpour — to check out the newest location for the oldest store in the GJ chain.
And it is officially a chain. Franchises available, even. And to think it all just started a little over eight years ago. And two blocks away.
It was December 2008 when I wrote about driving by the corner of Washington Street and Hyer Avenue and noticing a new eatery about to open. This was the space that had been Midnight Blue, Rocco’s, La Fontanella di Nino and Thornton Park Cafe. I may have forgotten one or two.
Anyway, the new eatery turned out to be a place called Graffiti Junktion. It was unapologetically grunge in its manner, with a decor that matched its name and with raucous noise provided by the sound system and the customers. But it served big, fat juicy burgers, so everything was OK.
Today there are 10 Graffiti Junktions, including the original, which moved down the block recently to take over the former Wildfire barbecue restaurant.
It was a good move, literally and figuratively. There’s more space, bigger, even multiple bars, and a corner spot that affords diners a better view of one of downtown’s livelier neighborhoods.
The quality of the burgers made the move, too.
I ordered the Graffiti Double, but when I told my server that I wanted it medium rare, she said that it really couldn’t be done that way. But instead of making up some excuse that the law says burgers have to be cooked medium well, she explained that the Graffiti Double was fashioned out of two thinner patties, which made cooking them medium rare difficult.
Instead, she said, she could have it made using the big and juicy patty from the menu item called the Big & Juicy Burger, which was perfect for medium rarity.
And it was. Besides the appropriately named patty, it was done up with the accouterments of the Graffiti Double, including bacon — so much bacon — and American cheese. Melted onto a burger patty is really the only acceptable use for American cheese and it was just right here, especially with the crisp lettuce, tangy pickles, and tomato slice on the doughy brioche bun. Even the fries were good.
I was especially impressed with my server, not only for her medium-rare save but for her general pleasant demeanor.
The new digs seem a little less graffitoed but is still sufficiently rustic. And there are enough televisions to qualify for official sports bar status. And the expanded seating area should be a big draw. Except when it rains.
Graffiti Junktion Thornton Park is at 700 E. Washington St., Orlando. It is open for lunch and dinner daily, including late night until 2 a.m. The phone number is 321-424-5800.