Operating in downtown Williamsburg since the 1970s, Paul’s Deli Restaurant is a classic American dive bar, with every inch of the walls covered with sports memorabilia and photographs, and serving up a menu nearly as long as its history.
Offering fare ranging from pizza to hoagies and an impressive selection of Greek food, it almost feels like a copout to order a cheeseburger — or at least it does until the plate arrives at the table.
When it comes to the burgers, Paul’s keeps things pretty simple: 1/3 pound of meat, cheese, on a Kaiser roll, with all the toppings you hear in a Jimmy Buffett song: lettuce, tomato, Heinz 57, and served with french fried potatoes and a big kosher pickle. No pineapple or peppers on these burgers. They’re $12.95, cold dry beer not included.
But don’t let the simplicity fool you: these burgers are more than just the sum of their parts.
Nowhere is that clearer than the house specialty: the William and Mary cheeseburger. What makes it the specialty is one additional topping: a literal heap of bacon, to the point there is more bacon than burger between the buns, and more than enough to satisfy the cravings of any carnivore.
The William and Mary cheeseburger may not be exotic, and it may give vegetarians nightmares, but there’s a reason it’s become a staple on campus: it was dubbed a reliable cure all for everything from hunger to hangovers for students.
“When I look for a burger, I look for something that embodies old-fashioned American values: grease, unapologetic fattening, and dubious life choices, none of this frou-frou nonsense of ‘aioli this, umami that,’" said Daniel Sieh, a William and Mary alumnus who calls it a favorite.
“I want a burger that makes me want to reach for my cell phone to dial 911 because I am feeling my heart struggle to keep up — and it delivers.”
It’s not too particular, and not too precise, but when you crave a burger with a big warm bun and a huge hunk of meat — and perhaps a full fistful of bacon — Paul’s Deli Restaurant has just what you’re looking for.
For more information on Paul’s Deli Restaurant, go to: paulsdelineighborhoodrestaurant.com/ or visit the restaurant in person at 761 Scotland St., Williamsburg.
Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email email@example.com, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.