Southern California restaurateur, David Wilhelm, brings the San Diego bar-centric, gourmet pub Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern to Dana Point

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By Andrea Papagianis

After making his mark on the Orange County scene with creative upscale eateries from Newport Beach to Irvine, local restaurateur David Wilhelm is back at it again, this time bringing a bar-centric concept touting Americana cuisine to Dana Point.

Wilhelm brings Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern—a three-year old waterfront San Diego startup and now staple on the area’s brunch circuit—to a similar Harbor adjacent locale in town. The restaurant, also known as J-FAT, takes an open-minded approach to traditional, regional American cuisine.

In its chef’s gastronomic interpretations of classics like grilled cheese with tomato soup—now an organic tomato bisque with a three cheese grilled panini—and burgers topped with green chilies, jalapeno jam, southern pimento cheese and applewood smoked bacon, diners get that made like mom’s feel with an elevated twist of culinary skill and a swift kick of heat.

Featuring mom's traditional dishes with a twist, Jimmy's serves up an organic tomato bisque with a three cheese grilled panini on the side. Photo by Andrea Papagianis
Featuring mom’s traditional dishes with a twist, Jimmy’s serves up an organic tomato bisque with a three cheese grilled panini on the side. Photo by Andrea Papagianis

They also make their own ketchup.

The days of pounding the glass bottle right on the “57” are unwelcome, as J-FAT makes, bottles and sells their own chipotle tomato ketchup with more of a barbeque texture and a sweet, but tangy taste.

At Jimmy’s, that at-home feel starts when you walk through the door and ends when made-to-order, warm chocolate chip cookies topped with ice cream hit the table.

Jimmy’s transformed the Dana Marina Plaza location into an industrial storefront with a Mid-Century modern flair—from exposed beams, low couches, black steel walls, fire features, a living wall and deep comfortable booths, J-FAT is an open concept with a warm, intimate-feel.

When Wilhelm looked to bring J-FAT north, he looked at locations throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties, but impressed with the city’s events and revamp projects, he decided to settle in Dana Point.

Since being open since late-August, Jimmy’s staff has already joined in the community’s causes and hosted a fundraising event for the Dana Point 5th Marine Regiment Support Group.

And the conscious causes are echoed throughout the J-FAT model as all ingredients are sourced responsibly. Jimmy’s is Green Restaurant Certified and is a member of Seafood for the Future, a nonprofit organization working to encourage responsible and sustainable seafood choices.

Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern is located in Dana Marina Plaza, across the street from Dana Point Harbor at 25001 Dana Point Harbor Drive. The restaurant can be reached by phone at 949.388.8900 or online at www.j-fat.com.

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comments (4)

  • 2nd paragraph, “open-minded” – where’s Andrea Swayne when you need her?

    Otherwise, it is a great article. Food sounds great. I am ready to visit J-FAT tonight! Let’s just find the address in the article. Let’s see, it is apparently somewhere in the harbor area, Dana Marina is mentioned, not sure where that is. Okay, well, I will just give them a ring, let me just grab their number, it must included with the article. Uh oh.

    Look’s like I am not going to J-FAT after all. Drats.

    • Ever heard of Google? Just sayin’. 🙂

    • editor@danapointtimes.com Reply

      Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern is located in Dana Marina Plaza, across the street from Dana Point Harbor at 25001 Dana Point Harbor Drive. The restaurant can be reached by phone at 949.388.8900 or online at http://www.j-fat.com.

      Thanks for the heads-up. This information has been added to the story.

    • Take Golden Lantern down to just before Harbor Drive and take the last driveway right into the center. While on Golden Lantern you will see the building on the right.

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