Category Archives: bar food
If you are familiar with me, or this blog, at all, you might know that I love nachos. I do a lot of standup so I spend a lot of time in bars, and I tend to order the nachos at almost everywhere I end up. I have had good ones, bad ones, interesting twists on them and scary twists on them. I can’t eat jalapeno seeds anymore, which sucks (they tend to turn my body into what can only be described as a Festival Of Terror), but I am game for any other kind of ingredients. So, when I heard about Loco Pez and their ridiculous nachos, I had to try them.
Loco Pez used to be a bar in Fishtown called The Crazy Fish. Get it? Now it’s a bar with some amazing Mexican food. There is a big bar in the front and a few booths in the back. This, my friends, is where the magic happens.
My friend Jess and I popped in on a weeknight to check it out. The beer selection is pretty great, and we ordered the 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon (It was on special! Yay!).
It’s a wheat beer and usually only available in the summer, so we were both pretty excited it’s back out. It’s a nice summertime beer that has a really cool watermelon aftertaste. Specifically, it tastes like a watermelon Jolly Rancher. Check it out if you can, it’s very unique and delicious.
21st Amendment is a craft brewery from San Francisco and they do something a little different: all of their beers are in cans. Cans help beer stay fresher and they are better for the environment. I am a huge fan of their “Brew Free or Die” IPA as well. Check them out, you’ll be glad ya did!
So, as we perused the menu and drank our beers, we come to the conclusion that we needed to get the “Nachos De Kenzo”. These nachos come with carne asada, pulled chicken and spicy chorizo. Three meats on nachos can’t be bad, right? I was almost sold, until I remembered I had read about ordering them “K&A Style”. This means instead of chips, the nachos are made with…waffle fries. What waffle fries and K&A have to do with each other is beyond me. (for those of you not from Philly, K&A is a stop on the Frankford El and a general section of the city that used to be a place to go shopping, eat and be seen. Now it’s a place to pick up a hooker and 15 percocets on your way back from the metadone center).
But even if they have nothing in common, I could not care less, because these things are amazing. Did I mention they also have Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Oaxaca & Cotija cheeses and Crema on them? Or that they have a giant pile of homemade guac on top that is knockout delicious? Or that the waffle fries themselves are thick enough to hold this crazy monstrosity of nacho goodness?
These are easily the best nachos I have eaten in the history of time. I actually kind of want to try them with chips (which I am hoping they make in house). The meats and cheeses blend so well together: the meats are warm and super tender & the cheeses are gooey and it all dances around some pico de gallo to pull it all together. Someone asked me if the waffle fries get soggy and, surprisingly, they do not. I am not sure how the chef pulls that of, but I am glad he does. I recommend clicking on these images to see a closeup view of these nachos. Words do not do them justice.
Get to Loco Pez and don’t waste any time doing it. Order some nachos, get a 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon and run with it!
One of things I love doing in the spring and summer is stopping by a local bar for happy hour. One place I enjoy going is The Memphis Taproom, which, despite their claims on their website that they are in Kensington (and claims of being in Port Richmond on “Diners, Drive In’s and Dives”), is located in Fishtown on the corner of Memphis and Cumberland Streets. This irritates me. Fishtown is a neighborhood that has gentrified and no one seems to have enough brains to ask the people who live there (and I mean the original inhabitants) what neighborhood it is. Anyway….
We sat outside in their cool yard/beer garden and munched on hot dogs from thier very own truck, served by the very funny Steve Miller-Miller, but it started to get kind of cold so we relocated to the inside bar. We ordered some food and here’s the highlights.
First off we ordered Crawdad Donuts. They are described with “Jalapenos, green onions, shellfish nage”. A “nage” is a broth flavored with white wine, vegetables, and herbs, in which seafood is poached. The liquid is then reduced and thickened with cream and/or butter. In other words: it’s delicious without being too heavy. This nage hit the mark.
And it also has a ton of little bits of crawdads in it, which it was awesome.
I’m not exactly sure why they call them donuts, as I really thought that the texture was more of a beignet, but whatever, potato, potahto. these things were great.
As you can see, they have the green onion in the mix, which really gives the dough a nice tang. As I said above, I think the texture is more beignet-ish, and it soaks up the gravy like nobody’s business!
This is definitely not something I would have ordered normally and I’m glad I took a jump to give it a shot! For $9, it was totally worth it!
The second thing we ordered were Beef and Onion Pasties. A Pastie (pah-stee, not the stripper type pay-stee) is a traditional English food, basically it’s a little fried savory pie. It’s the official food of Cornwall, England and you can stuff them with whatever. These have short ribs in them and sit in a horseradish sauce & parsley sauce.
I have to say, I loved the sauce. It was a little creamy but the horseradish wasn’t ground down so much that you couldn’t taste the texture of the root. It also has a little heat to it, so the horseradish they used to make the sauce wasn’t too old. Here is a tip: you like horseradish but don’t like crazy heat? Let it sit in the fridge for awhile. It tends to lose it’s potency.
Anyway, onto the pasties themselves. Short ribs are things I can eat everyday for the rest of my life. The pairing of the horseradish and the short ribs was smart, because, at least in my family, we smear horseradish all over meat like that.
For once, I was smart enough to let something sit for a few minutes before taking a bite and burning myself, and I’m glad I did. The dough was nice and crisp, and not very greasy at all. The short rib meat inside was moist and delicious. If I had to pick something to nitpick about, I’d say that the pastie could have been filled more. there seemed to be a lot of empty space in there. Maybe put in some mashed potato, or some peas or something. For $9, maybe bulk it up a bit.
Overall, it’s not cheap but if you are looking for some food that is a little left of center to eat while celebrating the end of the week, hit the Tap. It does get super crowded after about 5:30 but if you can get there early, go for it.
Patrick Dodd is a man with three passions in life: Comedy, Food & Sports. Luckily, he is also hilariously funny, so he balled all that up into a great late nite live show called, suprisingly, “Comedy, Food, Sports“. Patrick brings in local and national comics, food celebrities and sports know-it-alls to talk about the holy trinity of awesome.
Patrick was nice enough to do our very first “10 Questions with…” segment! Please go see his show this Friday Night, March 29th at The Twisted Tail (2nd & South, Phila. PA). The guests are James Hesky (host of the new “The Monthly Hour with James Hesky” at the Philadelphia Improv Theatre) and 97.5FM The Fanatic Radio Host Jason Ashworth.
Food, Sports & Comedy are the three things that more or less run my life. How did you decide to combine those three things into a show instead of, say, just doing standup and talking about food and sports?
It’s my three favorite things in the world. I’m a sports nut and I’m an above average cook and I’ve been doing stand up for about 5 years. In the past couple of years I got married and we had a kid about 9 months ago, so I can’t really hit the open mics and work out new material. I knew I still wanted to utilize my creative side, so I threw some ideas around and thought why don’t I just blog about these three topics. I wrote a couple reviews and op-ed type pieces and I realized I should be interviewing the pros in these three arenas. I reached out to Jim Florentine (I featured for him a few times down in Atlanta so we had somewhat of a relationship) and he turned out to be the perfect person to use as sort of template as to how these interviews should go.
The blog really took off and I knew I wasn’t taking full advantage of the potential here. What is now our production team (The two hosts of the NQAPodcast) and I started talking about the idea of a live version of the blog. It started with the concept of just a live podcast and it eventually developed into “Conan O’Brien-esque” talk show. There is still plenty of tweaking to be done, but the concept is rock solid and we’re really happy with it.
We here at DidjaEat? want to punch people when they use the term “Foodie”. How do you feel about the evolution of that stupid term and the explosion of people being interested in cooking, eating and culinary stuff in general?
I HATE terms like that! Everyone in the US that can afford to be a foodie; is a foodie. You know where there aren’t any foodies? Sudan! Terms like that enrage me. There is just this combination of narcissism and abusing of food combinations that has taken over the culinary world and it’s pretty annoying. Every place is now a “gastropub” and serves up some sort of over the top “pork belly and banana burger with chocolate bacon and a fig and absinthe reduction” that they over charge for, but every trendy “foodie” goes there for brunch and writes some shitty blog about it (of course DidjaEat is not one of those blogs!).
Also, I hate when people use the term “well it takes an educated palate to enjoy that.” So you have to teach your mouth and taste buds to like something that it naturally doesn’t?
That felt pretty liberating…great question!
The previous chef at the Ugly American was originally from Rochester and he made a garbage plate that they still have on their menu. It’s kind of deconstructed, almost “sober” version that is good, but much different that the Rochester version. It’s very tasty, but much smaller and it’s missing some crucial elements. It’s more of a gastropub version of it for lack of a better term.
As a kid, I always remember getting ice cream right around the 7th inning stretch. They would put it in the little batting helmet and that was always my favorite part of the game. I don’t do that now, but I remember almost counting the outs and potential batters to figure out how long it will take until it’s ice cream time. It was usually the Triple-AAA Baltimore affiliate that we would go see in Rochester, so if they weren’t playing the Pawtucket Red Sox, I didn’t really give a shit if they won or not really.
Are you a fan of the tailgate? If so, what sport and what is a favorite thing to eat while there, bought or cooked. If not, how about just while hanging out at home or at a bar to watch a game?
When I interviewed Rory Scovel, he said he wishes he could just tailgate all the time. Even if you’re just grilling and drinking beers behind a car in their driveway with no game associated with it. I always thought that was a hilarious take on it, because tailgating is the best. Everyone is drinking and eating and trying to one up each other by having the most over the top set up. I lived in Atlanta for a couple of years and I had season tickets to their games, because anyone can get season tickets basically anywhere they want there. Anyway, the tailgating was out of control. People would have huge tents, with DJ’s, competition size smokers, huge RV’s decked out with Falcons logos, and the food was unreal! Every type of pork imaginable and legitimately some of the best BBQ in the country. Even though Atlanta fans are pretty fair weather and most people down there aren’t even from Atlanta; it’s kind of a must see. When the Eagles came down a couple of years ago (Vick’s first time back to Atlanta), you would’ve thought you were at an outdoor concert and BBQ competition. It’s hard to even explain to be honest.
At a bar, I’m a major sucker for good nachos. Unfortunately, bars fuck this up all the time. First off, lettuce has no business being in nachos! I can’t stress that enough. I would need a full page to explain the rest of my problems I have with most how most bars in the city, and all cities for that matter, serve nachos. McGillin’s Olde Pub probably makes the best overall nachos I’ve ever had. I can’t say enough good things about their nachos or the place itself. Definitely a great spot to watch the game!
When I’m at home watching a game, I try to make everything from scratch. So I’ll usually make a pizza or two with some nachos or wings or something of that sort, but I try to make sure to create everything from scratch. During the NFL season, I usually make something that’s kind of an all day event. I’ll make my meat gravy or chili or something like and just let it simmer till midway through the first games. Meatball sandwiches or just meatballs in sauce are definitely in my top 3 game time at home foods.
Do the comics you have on lean more towards food or sports in their interests?
I’ve somewhat handpicked the comedians I interviewed that I know are into sports and potentially pretty knowledgeable about food, so it’s not super easy to answer that accurately. Florentine knows tons about sports and not much at all about food, while Nick DiPaolo knows a lot about both and then Dan Levy, literally, knows nothing about sports and is really into crazy types of unique foods.
If I had to guess, comics generally are probably more into food. It seems like a lot of comics grew up a little bit more on the nerdy side and that’s a big reason why they are so funny and successful, but their sports knowledge is usually pretty below average. Philly and Boston are probably excluded from that list, because of how into their local teams they are.
You are a member of Red Sox Nation. What foods would you cast as Bill Buckner and Roger Clemens (pre-jerkoff steroid Clemens).
I hate to be “that guy”, but Buckner was a total scapegoat. There were so many poor coaching decisions that put them in that awful situation. That being said, I’ve give him some sort of acai berry, blueberry, super fruit smoothie so he can wake up his brain to have some hand-eye coordination to make a play on a simple grounder that my fucking 9 month old son could’ve made.
For Clemens, I would give him some steroid infused pulled pork. He’s a redneck, so he loves his BBQ and he supposedly started doing roids after he left the Sox. I think the issue was that no one in Boston was giving him his juice. He won back to back Cy Youngs after he started pumping needles in his ass cheeks. The Sox should’ve been feeding him roids from day one!
What is your favorite thing to cook at home and the thing you loathe the most to cook at home?
I love making anything from scratch. I think it’s just a pretty cool feeling when you create something delicious that came from completely unprocessed, raw items.
I’m really started to love the “low and slow” techniques. Something like braised short ribs that just cook all day in just a cornucopia of tasty juices. A lot can be said about how much flavor and texture can be almost perfected with that “low and slow” method. The comfort level is through the roof if it’s done properly!
I really don’t loathe cooking anything. I hate working with processed items, but that’s pretty easily avoidable. I’m not big fan of baking mostly because every measurement has to be so precise. There isn’t much that you can play around with outside of adding a flavor here and there. I really don’t measure anything, so it’s tough for me to follow a recipe completely but you pretty much have to with baking.
Thanks again to Patrick for being our guinea pig for “Ten Questions with..” and check out his monthly show!
In Ocean City, New Jersey there are 2 bridges to get you onto the island from Marmora: the 9th Street Bridge and the 34th Street Bridge. On the road that leads to the 34th Street Bridge (Roosevelt Blvd) is a BBQ place called Pappy’s. As far as I am concerned, you gotta take the 34th Street Bridge because, well, Pappy’s is a world beater in Pork!
I ordered 2 sandwiches*: a Southern Pulled Pork with a spicy BBQ sauce and a Carolina Pork Sandwich with a spicy vinegar based BBQ sauce. I also ordered 2 sides: applesauce and potato salad. I originally asked for cole slaw, but at that time of the night (around 8), they were sold out. So I asked for a recommendation and the girl on the phone was so enthusiastic about the potato salad, I had to order it. I was told the potato salad was made fresh everyday and it was a huge seller (in a very perky teenage voice). In all of this food: NO DISAPPOINTMENT!
Let’s start with the sides.The applesauce was pretty standard but very consistent. I do not know if they made it themselves but it was cold and worked nicely against the Carolina Pork. Also, they gave me a nice size portion. Sometimes when you order a side, you get a very tiny cup of it. I could have shared this with someone. I wouldn’t, but I could have.
The potato salad, after being built up so much by the kid on the phone, had a lot to live up to. The happy verdict is, it did!
The potatoes were cubed kinda large but were cooked slightly al dente, so that they don’t just mush up in your mouth. There was a nice crunchy part with some green onion as well. Nice touch, obviously someone over there is thinking about composition of the potato salad and not just slapping some potatoes and mayo together. The best part? It has bacon in it! *happy bacon dance*. And I don’t mean bacon bits, I mean nice sized pieces of bacon (see it? see it in the picture?), a nice piece in every bite. I want to say I was able to ration the potato salad before I finished the sandwiches, but my pants would be on FIRE.
Now let’s get down to the real order of business here: the pork sandwiches.
I love a good sandwich, as I have blathered on about in the past. But it is hard to get a really good BBQ pork sandwich, mostly because most places are skimpy with the pork. Or skimpy with the sauce. Or the roll sucks. I am happy to say, both of these sandwiches suffer from none of that. NONE.
Let’s start with the Southern Pork. Served on a nice brioche-type bun. The roll was chewy without having to break a tooth to take a bite and stayed together from first bite to the last, absorbing sauce all the way. it was, I can say, a perfect roll. The pork is pretty uniform in the pull too, which I enjoy. It is also obvious that this pork has been marinated in the sauce and these people are not stingy with sharing it. The pork is soft and absorbed the sweet but spicy sauce. I was not covered in the sauce, but would I have minded? Not one bit.
Here you can see the sauce. It wasn’t just squirted on by some pimply kid (like the squeaky voiced teenager on The Simpson) as he quickly wrapped it up and tossed it in a bag. The sauce is just as important as the pork. You can see the pull of the pork here too, which is also important. The shred is immaculate, and totally consistent throughout the whole sandwich.
Here is your money shot. Enjoy!
Now let’s talk a little bit about the Carolina Pork Sandwich. This sandwich comes on the same kinda bun as the one above, and again, it works perfectly. A lot of people do not know what Carolina Sauce is vinegar based and not ketchup based. It gets it’s spice from the red pepper flakes throughout the sauce and it is gooooood.
Again, the pork is pretty uniformly pulled. The shred is great and keeps it from falling apart. The pork is not as wet as the Southern Pork but it’s not supposed to be. The vinegar sauce permeated the pork and mixed with the flakes, turning it into a hot, tangy delicious sandwich of awesome. That is the technical term. Either way, it was hot but also delicious.
Now! Enjoy your money shot!
So, as you can tell, I am now a huge fan of this place, I want to put their kids thru college. I would like to buy them nice gifts, or possibly just tithe to them. I have to settle for pimping their goods. I also want to mention that those sandwiches were only 6 bucks each. Anywhere else and it would cost you upwards of 9 bucks for a sandwich like that. Yet another reason to love this place. If you want to eat in, the place is a BYOB, so feel free to bring your favorite booze and stuff your face with the best pork I have had in many, many years. I hear the ribs are awesome too, I think they are next on my list. Check out Pappy’s at http://www.pappyspigroast.com! They also cater! So check it out!
Disappointment is NOT AN OPTION!
*If you were wondering, I did not eat both sandwiches in one sitting. I ate half of each then put them into the fridge. They were even better the next day.
I do a lot of standup comedy and am friends with tons of comics and comic groups on Facebook. The other day the guys in LawnBoys Comedy posted that they were going to make a bacon milkshake and post it on the ‘net. I asked if I could post it here on Didjaeat and they were pretty enthusiastic about it!
I watched it and laughed all the way thru and you will probably do the same!
Nice job guys!
Here are the details:
Two tablespoons bacon grease
Not one, no two, no three strips of bacon
Half cup of milk
Three huge scoops of ice cream
World’s smallest blender
Fat guy with no shame
Are you ready?
(Kosher folks, please look away, or look on in terror!)
So I realized I had a bunch of stray pictures hanging around. I am the asshole you see snapping pictures of food at inappropriate times (“I know you are having that cookie because of your low blood sugar but it looks cool”…Snap!) but not all of my pics can be a whole blog post unto itself. So, here is a roundup of assorted pics that I thought would be cool.
First up! In a previous post, I drooled all over the internet about a Prime Rib that my cousin-in-law, Bob, the firefighter chef, had made. Well, what I did not mention was that his wife Chrissy cut me a giant piece to take home. So, later on, home alone on New Years Day, I wanted to eat it. But how? I cut it up, threw it in a cast iron skillet and started to just heat it up.
In a little bowl I mixed some ketchup, A1, sriracha, worcheshire sauce and water and threw it in so it wouldn’t get dried out. Then I thought, what should I eat with it? Duh.
It was a thing of beauty. The sauce had cooked down and caramelized on the meat and the eggs were cooked but the yolks were still kinda dippy. I sat in the green leather armchair in the living room with this plate on my lap and welcomed the first day of 2012 (yeah, I had to check) with reckless abandon. And lots of meat!
I was in North Jersey doing some comedy awhile back with my friend Latice. It was a long drive and I was super crazy hungry. I ordered a burger (an aside: please don’t advertise a big giant burger and then give me a big giant…jetro frozen burger. It takes 20 minutes to make like 45 fresh burgers for the week. Salt. Pepper. Maybe something else if you wanna get crazy. It’s cheaper to buy a chubb (haha, yeah that’s what they call it) of meat from wherever you get your meat and make them yourself then to lie to me and make me angry.) and wanted nachos. I love nachos.
And what they served me made me so angry I wanted to burn the building down.
What we have here are the Worst Nachos In The History Of The World. They were over salted regular and blue corn tortilla chips with the bagged shredded cheese and old chili on them. Oh. And olives. Where are the other ingredients? They were on another plate (that I didn’t take a picture of due to being angry) in little cups. There was not enough for the both of us, which irritates the crap out of me, because nachos should be big enough to be shared by at least 3 people. THAT IS WHY THEY EXIST. Some idiot in the kitchen decides to make deconstructed nachos and then doesn’t even mention it in the menu. And then tries to pass off a frozen burger as homemade. For shame. FOR SHAME.
This is what nachos should look like:
There is everything you need there. They don’t make their own chips either, even tho it is simple, but there is height, heft and yes, DELICIOUSNESS.
(And the maraschino cherries for dessert? You really get me internet, you really do…)
My little cousin Matt turned 7 earlier this past year and he wanted a monster themed party (fitting for Matt, but you don’t know him, so this must seem very inside baseball. You’d be right. But, trust me.). So his mom Lorrie made a very cool cake and gave out these monster cake pops!
Lorrie makes such awesome baked goods that sometimes I daydream about keeping her in my basement to just make me baked goods all day long. But then I remember how silly that would be…my cellar isn’t big enough for that kind of operation. A girl can dream tho.
Anyway, aren’t they cool? The hair is oreo crumbs and the cake is a light and airy chocolate. Did I almost get into a fight with another 7 year old over one sitting on a table?
One may never know…(I sure as hell ain’t tellin’….)
I found myself out of my area of cheesesteaks and tastykakes and into another area called Brooklyn. It looks a lot like Philly but with much more annoying Yankee/Giants/Mets crap plastered to all the cards. So instead of making an afternoon out of keying cars, I ended up eating this…a red velvet donut.
I didn’t eat it when first given to me. It sat in the bag for a bit. While I do tend to write about baked goods, I really very rarely eat them because too much carby stuff turns me into a parade float. Ahem. Anywho, this beauty is from the Peter Pan Bakery on Manhattan Ave in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. This thing was freakin’ amazing. Could it have been better with cream cheese frosting? Perhaps. But it was like eating a cupcake, a cake and a dance on a ballroom floor and I’ll take that any day.
I’ll end this hodgepodge post with a cupcake. A plain vanilla cupcake. I don’t remember exactly where I had this thing (it might have been another one of Bob’s creations), but I remember the icing. I hate cupcakes that have skimpy sugar-ball icing. They have no flavor. No panache. No…soul.
This was a perfect cupcake. Cream cheese icing. Tiny sugar crystals. It took me awhile to get down to the cupcake but ya know what?
It was a holiday cupcake and I was in love with it. And that was just fine with me.
One of the things I do on a regular basis is stand up comedy. There is an Open Mic on Monday nights at Urban Saloon called Laughs on Fairmount that I try and hit weekly. It’s a fun mic with a great vibe. Just as importantly, Urban Saloon has some great food. Last week they updated the menu and, being the glutton I am, I decided to give something new a shot. The new Cuban Sandwich.
This Cuban sandwich has pork, ham, cheese, pickles and a nice mustard on both sides. The pork is pulled and the ham was grilled before putting this thing together. They weren’t skimpy with the mustard and it was nice and warm when I got it. Overall, it was delicious.
I opted for loaded tater tots instead of fries (or a side salad) because Urban makes the absolute best with bacon, cheese whiz and green onion. Oh my god, they are awesome! Perfectly fried and the bacon is obviously not from a can or a bag. I have had them many times and I swear to you, you will never find a better tot plate in this city.
The one small problem I have with this sandwich, and it makes it not really a Cuban but a
cuban-ish sandwich, is this: Cubans are made on a roll. Always on a roll. Then you press it and it moves into delicious territory. This sandwich was made on white bread. So, technically that makes it a crazy good grilled cheese with meat..and a pickle. I’m still kind of puzzled about that. Maybe the kitchen didn’t have any rolls? Maybe they dropped the sandwich and it was the last roll and they had to remake it with white bread? I have no idea.
It was a good sandwich (which fantastic loaded tater tots) but not being on a roll was just weird. If they add a roll, this thing could be a huge, huge seller.
My cousin John visited New Orleans for work and tried to jam some good food into his visit. He succeeded!
John says “Beignets from Cafe Du Monde. It’s fried dough covered in powdered sugar. It is something good covered in something great; like a monkey in a gold tuxedo!”.
I can’t really argue with that.
He also sent me a picture of a Po’ Boy he ate there.
John says “Po’ Boy from The Acme Oyster House. A shrimp Po’ Boy to be precise.”.
John is a man of not many words but he knows some good food when he sees it!
Part Two of my trip to LA..the food part anyway….
I do not understand the obsession people have with hot dogs. I am a fan, no doubt (my friends will attest to my love of Dollar Dog Nite at the Phils/Sixers games), but I will not travel a million miles for one. I think it is because I live in the land of cheesesteaks and, frankly, you can’t beat them. Ever. In a million years. With a million hot dogs.
It’s got nothing to do with the old tales of what is actually in a hot dog, or the bit in Upton Sinclair’s book “The Jungle” where the guy falls into the meat grinder. It’s more that I have rarely had a hot dog that has made me stand up and say “Yeow! That’s some good tube steak!”. Ahem.
Anyway, Pink’s Hot Dog’s has been in Los Angeles for 71 years and is the obligatory addition to any Food Network/Cooking Channel/Travel Show about food in that area. So when I was driving around LA and I drove past it, I figured I would give it a shot. That is how a lot of people end up at Pat’s and Geno’s Steaks, which, honestly, don’t do anything for me (but that is another article for another time. Please send your hate email to firstname.lastname@example.org)
If anything, you have to give it to a place that can survive for 71 years. Most *people* don’t even survive for 71 years. This might look like a dinky stand, but the back has some lovely outdoor seating with a mural and the place is spotless. I mean, I used the bathroom and it was spotless. This might not mean much to you, but some people out there, and you know who you are, are delighted to her that.
Let’s get to the goods, shall we?
I decided to get 2 different dogs. I figured I would get 2 different things on the menu in order to get what was going on there. I hate when people just order one thing and pass judgement on a place soley with that. Plus, I found myself a sweet parking spot for 2 hours and I hadn’t eaten that day. So, let’s move on.
The Royal Dog is the one with the bacon. It is 2 dogs in one bun with chili, mustard, cheese, relish and 2 pieces of bacon. They created this one in honor of William and Kate coming to America and it is a limited edition.
The Spicy Ozzy dog is a Polish Dog with Nacho cheese, American Cheese, grilled onions, guacamole and chopped tomatoes. And it is, if you guessed, named after Ozzy.
The Royal Dog is interesting. I have never had a hot dog that was, in fact, 2 dogs on a bun. Even the idea of that is weird to me, and I love eating and trying to turn food on it’s proverbial head.
But I have to admit, it was a good deal for 6 bucks. This thing is hefty and you get your money’s worth!
Check out the heftiness of this thing. I needed two hands to eat it. Actually, I had to cradle it so it wouldn’t get all over me, the tray, the table and the 2 kids across from me who were gawking at all the signed pictures of celebrities on the wall (“Oooohhh…Pat Sajak!”). I was expecting a big dog, but this was ridiculously good. The bacon was precooked and warmed up but not too chewy and the rolls they use are a nice cross between a lunch type roll and a hot dog bun, so you don’t have to lose a tooth ripping off a bite. The chili was a little salty, but it balanced out nice with the dog itself, which was a long dog, but not too bogged down with flavorings so it was actually a compliment to the toppings.
The Spicy Ozzy was another being unto itself. Polish dogs aren’t something we usually have in Philly, in fact I had never had one until I ate this. We have kielbasie (say it: “ka-bahss-ee”) and that suits me just fine. I love smoked kielbaise so much, it is ridiculous. My uncle even likes to butterfly it and put it on the grill. He calls it Polish Ribs. I can’t argue with that. Anyway, it seems Polish Dogs are big in the midwest and out west too. This thing was hot and loaded with fresh guac (which is on everything out there), fresh chopped tomatoes, nacho cheese and many, many fried onions. I think there was supposed to be American Cheese on there too, but I didn’t taste it. No big deal. It was delicious, and the dog itself was the diameter of a buick. It was super good, but I had to put it down because it was just too hot. I got about 89% done. It was a sad time. But, I recovered nicely. Anyway, for $6.50, it’s a great deal!
Has eating these 2 mammoth dogs turned me into a hot dog aficionado? Nah. Has it made me into a big hot dog fan? I think the answer is this: if it’s there I will give it a shot and see how it goes. I’m glad I did, because I supported a business that is doing something right by serving quality food in a clean establishment and not ripping off the customers. I am still thinking about that place…so maybe I *am* turning into a fan!
When I was a kid, I loved going on vacation. We always went someplace different (unless it was Colonial Williamsburg…again) and I really liked seeing different places, eating different foods, staying different places, you get the idea. I haven’t traveled a whole lot as an adult and that kinda sucks, so when I got the chance to crash at my friend Sean’s in LA, I went for it. This is part one of my trip out there, food wise.
I really like bars. Not bars in a strip mall with random shit glued to the walls. Not bars where you have to scream at someone to talk to them. Give me some dark wood and a nice whiskey selection in a capable bartender’s hands and I am a happy girl.
It was a long flight from Philly to LA, and by the time I got to the car rental place and then to my friend’s apartment, I was starving. He suggested we go to Cole’s. As we rounded the corner, we saw that they were shooting some kind of something there (film gear was all over outside, so we went to Pete’s instead. Pete’s has a burger that is kickass, unfortunately, I was so cracked out from traveling I didn’t take a picture. But if you are anywhere around 6th and Main, in Downtown LA, hit them up for the Hellman Burger: a half pound of prime beef, fontina cheese & smoked tomato aioli. Ridiculous.
I promptly fell asleep, the next day took it easy and after Sean went to work, I found myself looking for something to do later on in the nite and found myself walking to Cole’s.
Cole’s is located in downtown LA (DTLA for those hip assholes out there). It’s a downtown area that’s in the middle of changing from kind of ghetto-y ghost town into an area with lots of bars, restaurants, galleries and apartments.
Downtown used to be the Financial District (when the bar was founded, in 1908) and the bar was located right in the train station area, so all the stockbrokers used to come and drink there on the way home.
The place closed for awhile and then was reopened with a whole restoration of the entire place. The Red Car Bar was totally restored and it looks lovely (as you can see in the picture here). There are stations on each end where you can se the bartenders making old school cocktails.
The signature cocktail at this place is The Old Fashioned. Served with bourbon, bitters, a sugar cube and a luxardo cherry. What’s a Luxardo Cherry? It’s a real maraschino cherry, imported from Italy (and it is ridiculously delicious). They also hand chip a solid little block of ice for your drink. Think that doesn’t make a difference? You’d be wrong. And it’s really cool to watch the guys chip the ice to fit right in front of you! It’s also awesome to be asked what kind of whiskey you would like, because, you see, they have a fantastic selection of whiskey so you’ll great recommendation.
They also do variations on the Old Fashioned, this one is a rum version called The Old Devil. It will knock you right back just like the whiskey one, and if you look close, you can see the solid ice cube in there.
And then there are the cocktails. This one is called a Red Car Named Desire. I was a little disappointed at first when it was put in front of me. And then I took a sip. It has Rye Whiskey, Cynar, Luxardo & Maurin Liqueur. It goes down like a velvety fire, and, while not cheap, worth every penny.
Cole’s has a really cool old school drink menu, including a kick ass Manhattan, Sazerac (rye, bitters, and an absinthe rinse), a Moscow Mule (vodka, lime juice, topped with ginger beer and served in a copper mug) and many others. They also offer a special cocktail every few weeks or so. You can check out the drink menu here.
You know, after all that booze, you gotta eat. Cole’s has ya covered. The story is that they invented the French Dip sandwich. There is another place in LA, not too far away, called Philippe’s. They also say they are the home of the French Dip. According to Cole’s menu, the City Of Los Angeles has proclaimed the title to them. I am sure Philippe’s serves a nice sandwich, I did not get a chance to have one. I did, however, eat many Cole’s French Dip’s and lemme say…that’s a damn fine sandwich.
If you aren’t sure what a French Dip is, it’s a sandwich with some sort of meat (usually roast beef or something like that) on a nice crusty roll, that you dip into some Au Jus to soften up the roll and get some more goodness into the roll. Cole’s makes theirs with Prime Beef, which is delicious. The roll is tasty. You get your choice of different cheeses, I kept it simple with a nice cheddar. They offer a spicy mustard that will clear your sinuses and make you do a little happy dance. Put this all together, give it a dip in the nice sized bowl of Au Jus and you got a little bit of fantasticalness that melts right in your mouth.
For a little bit extra, you get what they call The Atomic Pickle. They keep a jar on the bar, and make them right there in the kitchen. I thought, when I ordered it, that it would just be a spicy pickle. This thing slowly explodes in your mouth and then works it’s way to the back of your tongue where it lights your head on fire. If you like hot stuff, this is a 10 on the excellence scale.
I also find it cool they keep the jar on the bar, like in the olden days before bars had refrigeration. It fits right in with the whole vibe of the place and it’s just cool to look at!
Let’s talk a minute about french fries. It’s real easy to make crappy ones. Under cooked, over cooked, freezer burned, luke warm, mushy, reheated, or just bad tasting. People just accept it and stuff them into his mouth. So, when I find awesome fries, I gotta talk about it.
These fries are crispy enough on the outside and fluffy inside. Specifically, these are Garlic Fries, and you can see the fried garlic in there. Needless to say, if you like garlic, dive head first in there. Just be sure you shower when you get home! It is worth every crunchy bit!
Sides! Let’s talk about some sides!
First off, there is Bacon Potato Salad. Otherwise known as German Potato Salad. When my Grandmom was alive, one thing she made that I absolutely loved was her German Potato Salad and my Dad loved it too. Since she died, we would go out to eat and if it was on the menu, we would both order it, hoping it would be like her’s, but it was always disappointing. It got to the point where we would just stop ordering it. I took a chance, and was rewarded kindly.
The potatoes were cubed small & were slightly al dente, so they had some crunch, as opposed to some potato salad thats just mush. The little bit of dill gave it a zing and the bacon popped right out onto your tongue to say hello. Absolutely delicious and a lovely compliment to the French Dip.
The homemade Mac and Cheese was like my Babci makes, very creamy with a nice bread crumb topping. People are usually used to either the Kraft Mac and Cheese (which I am most guilty of loving) or a dry, flavorless Mac and Cheese.
This cheesy, buttery bowl of goodness make me tune out the entire bar as I scraped as much cheese out of there as possible.
Dessert? Oh yeah!
Let me introduce you to the Dark Chocolate Cream Pie. Hellooooo Pie!
An oreo cookie base that is moist and delicious. A chocolate mouse center and a topping that’s a giant pile of delicious whipped cream, sprinkled with chocolate powder.
I’m not even a dessert fan for the most part. I can never get that far in the meal. When I asked Danny the bartender where they got the pies from, he told me they are them right there. A bar that makes it’s own pies….my heart grew 3 sizes.
Last but not least, let me introduce you to 2 bartenders I hung out with during the time I was in town. They made me drinks, kept me laughing and were all around cool dudes.
Meet Danny. Dog lover, comedy writer and the maker of some of the most kick ass drinks I have had in years. I had drinks I didn’t even know I liked and I think he has spoiled me on any other bars for quite awhile.
Meet Max. Max is a great dude, who will recommend 9 kinds of whiskey that all rule, wears a cool bowler for kicks at work, and can juggle 15 different kinds of customers, drinks & goofballs without batting an eye.
These guys are so good at making these old timey drinks & explaining them without that dead look of “you are the 15th person today I have had to explain this”, it’s just fun to sit at the bar and watch them work!
You can have a great building with a great menu but if the people working there suck, you got jack squat. These guys, and the rest of the staff (I’m looking at you, Ms. Bar Manager! Those Fernet shots were crazy!) are awesome. If you find yourself in LA, swing on by. Things might be a little expensive, but you not only get what you pay for, you get a whole lot more.