Dallas is full of hidden gems.

The city is full of dining surprises, including a variety of roaming food trucks, old-school diners, and an array of taco stands and elotes carts. But as the rise of superstores and high-end markets continues, the traditional family owned shops and stores are becoming fewer and fewer. Fortunately, one East Dallas food store is still going strong and shows no signs of slowing down.

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Jimmy’s Food Store has been providing a vast selection of Italian food and wine for over 50 years. The quaint store sits at the corner of Bryan and Fitzhugh, and if you’re lucky, you might get a coveted spot at the front door. On weekends, expect to park a block or two down because Jimmy’s will be bustling with shoppers. The DiCarlo Family still runs the store and you can’t visit without running into several of their friendly kin working there.

Even without customers, Jimmy’s is cluttered. The narrow aisles are packed with a huge assortments of goods and a great selection of Italian wines. Wine is big deal at Jimmy’s and they regularly have wine tastings in a large room towards the back of the store. Better yet, they provide wine on tap so you can sip while you discover the amazing options the store has to offer. Jimmy’s has a wonderful cheese counter next to the meat counter that features their homemade sausages and meatballs. Visit both stations before picking up some dough to make a self-crafted pizza. The sausages are so good that many local pizzerias feature it as a topping.

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Treat yourself to one of the amazing sandwich options at the meat counter. You should always expect a line, but you’ll be rewarded with a freshly made sandwich every time. Almost every option is under $10, which is truly a bargain considering the sheer size of the sandwiches. Some are offered in 6’’ or 9’’ options, but I cannot fathom how anyone would be able to complete a 9’’ in one sitting.

Take for instance the Muffaletta. The 6’’ offering is filled with a great mix of mortadella, ham, provolone, salami, and olive salad. The deli bread is strong enough to hold in the goodness but not too thick. At first glance, finishing the sandwich doesn’t seem daunting, but trust me, it is quite an undertaking to complete it in one sitting. And this isn’t always a bad thing, because any leftovers are a great snack later in the day.

The Prosciutto Panino offers the same size offerings as the Muffaletta, and again, shares a deceptive experience. At face value, the Panino seems like a very simple and light sandwich. It uses the same deli bread as the Muffaletta and is filled with prosciutto, mozzarella, tomato, olive oil and basil. It is a basic premise, but the use of fresh ingredients elevates this sandwich to a different flavor sphere. Fresh tomatoes and basil make for a great start, but it’s the use of fresh mozzarella that transforms the sandwich. There is a certain lightness to the cheese that mingles well with the prosciutto and fresh veggies. There is a pleasure to enjoying such perfectly constructed simplicity, and Jimmy’s doesn’t overthink things.

If you want a sandwich that has a warmth and a bit of kick, try the Italian Beef. It’s a bargain at $6.99 and includes sliced beef, provolone, and peppers. The juices seep into the 6’’ bun, soaking it without making it soggy. This is a guaranteed food coma sandwich that you’ll be dreaming about well after you finish it. And then there is the “Jimmy Sandwiches” which offers the option between the house-made meatballs or Italian sausage. Both are incredible, but always ensure you include the peppers and onions to gain the full experience.

There are a few tables just outside the store, but they are usually taken, and the small tables just inside the store can be a bit cramped. The wine room is always a nice area for a quiet lunch, but often you have to work around boxes of Italian wine that have yet to be stocked. Thankfully, Jimmy’s allows you to call ahead your order, and this is definitely advisable if you wish to skip the line. Order ahead, pick up your sandwich, then find a great picnic table at a local park and enjoy. Jimmy’s Food Store is unlike any other spot in Dallas, and over 50 years later, it is still at the top of its game.

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Jonathan is a native Texan with two degrees in music and a hunger to learn more about people and places. His journeys always seem to revolve around food and beverage, and often a good hike to work them off. Seeking the advice of locals, he's always finding exciting new hot spots and beloved haunts to share.

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