Category Archives: junk food
National Cheeseburger Day: Five Guys!
Philadelphia, where I am from, live and love, is a town known for cheesesteaks (And soft pretzels and other stuff. But the media focuses on cheesesteaks. Whatever). So when you can look forward to something as awesome as a cheesesteak, nothing else really compares. Chicago has hotdogs (big deal) and New England has lobster rolls (a little pinchy) but none of that stuff has ever really taken hold here. So when burger places started popping up, I was intrigued. All we have ever really had was the run of the mill chain places, and frankly, I love a good burger. The good folks at PYT do an awesome job, Bobby’s Burger Palace is pretty great and even Shake Shack became a favorite for me. I even visited the Holy Grail of Hamburgers, In and Out Burger (nine thumbs up!).
When people started telling me I HAD to go to Five Guys, I was a little skeptical. It looked, from the outside, kinda cheesy. They had giant 50 pound bags of potatoes stacked up with a sign telling you what farm and state they were from. They had boxes of peanuts for the people to munch on. But besides that, it was just a red and white place that was a little sparse. I had heard that you either liked it or hated it. I heard lots of things. I never got over there. On the last day at my old job, I ventured out with Brian and Jen to the Five Guys in Moorestown and, um, almost hurt myself.
First of all, let me say that if you have a peanut allergy, or are planning on taking anyone to this place with a peanut allergy, dont. They have a giant box of peanuts (altho not in a bathtub, oh I miss you Ground Round) for you to eat while waiting. Jen and Brian ordered like humans, and I was assured that one order of fries would be
enough for all 3 of us. I, on the other hand, not knowing anything about the menu, ordered like an animal. 2 burgers: a cheeseburger and a bacon cheeseburger. We self served our beverages and had a seat.
I was informed that the one order of fries would be enough and I figured they would have alot of fries. I’m not a huge fry fan so I shrugged it off…. then I saw the size of the order of fries.
Brian said there was a lot of fries but yeah, I was not prepared. The amount of fries came to the second band of red checkers on that cup. Holy portion control, Batman. Seriously. Wow. And they do come right in the brown paper bag. Before you say “Ew!”, brown paper absorbs oil and grease so that your food stays hot but it doesn’t swim in the residual grease form the fryer and get soggy. In the South, when people make fried chicken, they pop the finished product on folded brown paper bags as well. It’s almost an unspoken industry secret.
The fries themselves weren’t bad. They fry everything in Peanut Oil (and I am sure make a tidy profit selling the oil to a secondary market), so the fries aren’t exactly crunchy, but a little oily and chewy. Some people like fries like that and some, well, don’t. I am on the fence.
I had a fistful of fries but I didn’t go back for too many. But kudos for Five Guys offering malt vinegar for the fries! That was a surprising touch and all three of us enjoyed it.
The burgers on the other hand. Yeah, wow. First of all, here is a tip: if it doesn’t say “little” in front of it, it’s a double burger. I, like I had said, ordered 2 burgers and didn’t realize I’d be eating 2 double burgers. You see what I do for you people? This is what I do for journalism! And for my cardiologist (who apparently will be buying a new boat soon! Called “The DidjaEat?!”)!
The burgers are wrapped in a simple aluminum foil wrap (with stickers to tell them apart). That saves them big overhead on custom printed wrap (So far they have saved on things to put fries in, recycling oil and now burger wrap. Pretty crafty.). Opening this thing up, you have to grin. It’s got handmade written all over it. When you order, there is a laundry list of toppings you can get (for free!). I got mayo, lettuce, tomato, and pickles.
The pickles were thick, the tomatoes were thick cut and fresh and the iceberg lettuce was nice and crunchy. But I am sure you don’t care that much about the toppings, you care about the MEAT!
First off, the bacon was not skimpy and it was not cheap, crappy bacon. It was delicious and you could taste that it hadn’t been cooked too far behind the burger. The burger itself Jen said was juicy and I agree wholeheartedly. It was juicy and delicious. There wasn’t a whole bunch of crap mixed in, no pink slime, no trimmings, no cow meat (just steer and heifer meat, so says the website). Even the cheese was perfect. Needless to say, there was very little conversation while we were chewing.
The regular cheeseburger (the same as the bacon cheeseburger, but without the bacon and tomato) was pretty excellent as well. Jen and Brian gnawed on fries while I, again, complained about what I do for JOURNALISM! They nodded knowingly, with my Mom and Cardiologist on speed dial. They are good friends that way.
Also, a word about the bun. The bun is always the unsung hero of a good burger. Have a crappy one and halfway thru it’s in 9 pieces. Have a stale one and it falls apart. Too chewy and you end up ripping it when you take a bite. This bun was perfect. it stood up to the burger and kept the whole mess in place without ripping, falling apart or dissolving form the grease. Two thumbs up for the best bun I have had in awhile
If I would have had to reorder the food, I would not have had 2 double burgers, but frankly, that was my stupid fault for not checking it out before we got there. I did not have to eat for the rest of the day tho, so that’s something, right?
So, let’s talk about price. I wouldn’t exactly say the Five Guys was cheap. If you wanted to get the same thing at McDonald’s, it would have been about 10 bucks cheaper (in Meal form). But then again, the meat isn’t nearly as delicious. For 4 Double burgers (with as many free toppings as you can stuff on there), the giant vat of fries that they almost had to wheel out on a hand truck and 3 large (all you can drink) sodas, it cost about 40 bucks. I probably wouldn’t eat there everyday (because I’d like to live to 40), but I have to say it was worth the money. Jen and Brian, who had been there before, really liked it too.
I say, if you are looking for a quick lunch that is something a little different, hit them up! Fresh burgers, clean restaurant, and a small business instead of a giant conglomerate who puts god knows what in the burgers? If it’s not In and Out, the go Five Guys!
The Shake Shack Shimmy!
Being a life long resident of Philly, I have to say I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder when it comes to New York. Besides the ridiculous NYC attitude, it is seriously irritating the way they seem to assume that the whole world revolves around them (ps nyc: your town smells like pee). So when I heard that the burger place that is all the rage up there was coming to Philly, I shrugged. Yes, I shrugged. I shrugged when someone said “You gotta check out Shake Shack“.
First of all, expensive burger places are nothing new around here. In fact, Jose Garces’s Village Whiskey was going to be right across the street from the proposed eatery, and they have expensive burgers as well, along with about 900 kinds of whiskey (true story). Plus, there is PYT in the Piazza, Bobby’s Burger Palace, Good Dog and a million other places. One more overrated burger joint wasn’t going to get me excited.
Aaaaand then I went there…twice.
One night after doing the open mic at Helium Comedy Club, my friend Hot Mess Jess mentioned to me that we should stop at Shake Shack. It would be an easy stop because it happens to be on the corner of the block where Helium lives. I mulled it over for about 6 seconds and off we went. Usually there is a giant line outside the place, but we got lucky and it was almost empty since it was around 10pm. We did get a pager, ala The Olive Garden, but the wait was only maybe 8 minutes or so.
The place is pretty standard as far as burger joints go. The menu is giant and bolted to the wall, like the one at Bobby’s Burger Palace. There are a few booths and some tables and some high tops to sit at as well. They have a liquor license so you can get a beer with your burger if you choose (they have outdoor seating but as of the day I went the second time, you still couldn’t take the booze outside yet. I think they are waiting for the permit).
I got the Double ShackBurger for $7.10. It comes with lettuce, tomato, cheese and ShackSauce. Hot Mess Jess got ShackStack, a burger with a fried Portobello mushroom on it. We also split some fries.
First off, let’s talk about the Double ShackBurger. Let’s start with the condiments. The lettuce was fresh, the tomato was juicy, the cheese was…cheesy. I still don’t really know what Shack Sauce is, but it’s a nice mild addition to anything. The bun was spongy enough to hold the mess of a burger but not over chewy. More on that in a bit.
The meat. Oh, the meat. The menu says that they use “100% Angus Beef without any added hormones or antibiotics.”. But is it good? The answer is an unequivical HELL YES.
For years, chefs on tv have been telling people that all you need is a little salt and a little pepper to season a burger. There is a reason for this! Let the flavor of the meat shine! The people at the Shack understand this. Grind it, lightly season it, patty it, flat top it (no pressing or squeezing please) and serve it up. If you looked up “kick ass juicy burger” on dictionary.com, this burger would be pictured prominently. With a big blinking frame around it. And a little band playing a jig. And possibly some fireworks. Yeah. It’s that good. Oh, and they cook all burgers to medium unless otherwise specified. Do yourself a favor and just take it the way it’s meant to be: Welcome to flavor country!
Hot Mess Jess also had an interesting burger. One patty of meat and one patty of Portobello mushroom. She loved it and said it was delicious! You can also order it without the meat (as The ‘Shroom Burger) and have a very fine vegetarian burger! If the bun is vegan (and I am not sure if it is), you could even have an awesome vegan shroom burger with the L&T and they also offer pickle and onion. As you can see, they are not skimpy with the sauce!
One incredibly smart thing I noticed while stuffing my face full of delicious meat was The Hinge. I don’t know if they do this on purpose, or if it just happens with the buns they use but it is GENIUS! You see, the burger is really juicy, the melty cheese is messy and it could end up being quite a mess. And overall, it is a bit messy (neat eaters need not apply). However! With a regular bun, things start sliding around (and sometimes right out the back, which is why you need to eat burgers without The Hinge with The Claw, which is something I will write about some other time) and then you end up with a a disproportionate bun to meat ratio. That makes me angry, like, Hulk angry. MUST SMASH BURGER! HULK SMASH MESSY BURGER!!…ahem…anyway…This bun has a hinge on the back. It keeps the top and bottom from sliding around and it also catches a lot of that juice and cheese so that when you are done, it’s like a sponge of deliciousness. It is also a sponge of genius-ness!
We also got some fries on the side. They were good…basically for crinkle fries that I am sure some kid in the back had to either cut or defrost. They don’t salt them, which I find odd and a little irritating because they come out right away (for the most part), and fresh out of the fryer fries are the best to hit with just a little bit of salt. But, at $2.65, they weren’t bad.
A few weeks later, I revisited Helium with my friend Jackie O to see some friends in a showcase show, and she suggested that we stop at Shake Shack as well after the show. Who am I to say no to my friends? Plus, Jackie is the best! We both got some burgers, but we also got something else they do at Shake Shack. Yeah, this place is not a one trick pony.
They offer something called a Concrete: dense frozen custard blended at high speed with things mixed in. You can make your own but they also have set ones they have that you can order. Jackie O and I both ordered The Center City Pretzel (Vanilla Custard, Philly Style Soft Pretzel, Caramel Sauce, Marshmallow Sauce and Banana).
This thing was pretty kick ass. The Caramel and Marshmallow Sauces kind of blend together, and the banana mingles around the middle, but it all somehow comes together and is dotted inside and out with pieces of pretzel. Be warned however, it is more of a Super Pretzel then a real Philly Soft Pretzel. There is a big difference, but in this case it does work. It would be cool if Shake Shack worked with a local vendor, like PYT does to make their pretzel rolls for the cheesesteak burger, but that’s up to them I suppose.
Anyway, the frozen custard is blended smoothly and each bite feels like you are mingling with all the ingredients. While doing a blend isn’t anything new (Dairy Queen’s been doing blizzards foreeeverrrr), they are doing it well. At $4.25 for a half and $6.50 for a regular, it might be a little high but worth every penny.
So, while I wouldn’t eat at Shake Shack every day (mostly because I’d be dead by the end of the month), it is on my list of places to visit if I am in the area. It might not be as internationally known like Capogiro or the Jose Garces’ place Village Whiskey across the street but it does what it does well! Try and hit it on an off hour and there won’t be much of a wait (I spontaneously combust if I wait in lines for too long for stupid things). I also found that the prices were in line with what they were offering, perhaps on the high side, but the flavors make it worth the trip and the lightening of your wallet.
Eating Our Way Around Citizens Bank Park
A few months ago I got picked in a second chance lottery for Red Sox-Phillies tickets. So, of course, I purchased said tickets. When I say it was forever ago, I mean the game was on May 20th and I purchased the end of February. My usual Phillies game partner in crime, Steve “Chinstrap” Zegray was getting ready to get back on the road with his band (The Dirk Quinn Band) so I asked my friend Pat Farley to come along. He was a little on the fence until I told him what I wanted to do: go early and eat as much stuff as I could before the game started. He then jumped on the game train. So, that’s what we did.
The very first thing we made a beeline to was the stand that sells The Schmitter. The Schmitter is my all time favorite thing they sell in Citizen’s Bank Park. I have been known to walk all the way around the stadium to get it. When the season is over, it’s all I think about to get me through the winter. When it’s baseball time, I get excited to eat one. It also helps that it is named after my all time favorite player: Mike Schmidt. The Schmitter is a sandwich that was created by McNally’s Tavern in Chestnut Hill. In fact, you can get one there all year round (Why don’t I? I am lazy. Next!). So, when I got the Schmitter, Pat and I were a little bit perplexed. Besides being yelled at by the lady at the counter to “walk thru the line” (a maze of rope…with no one in it), the sandwich was missing something. Namely, meat.
Let’s talk about what this delicious concoction is, ok? They broil the inside of a kaiser roll and from the bottom up it’s: cheese, beef, fried onions, tomatoes, more cheese, grilled salami, special sauce (this makes the sandwich, believe it or not) and more cheese. Sounds awesome right? A gooey, sloppy mess of a delicious piece of awesome. It’s the sort of thing you drop down the front of your shirt and when no one is looking, you try and lick it off (Is that just me? Can’t be…).
So, when we got this sandwich (pictured to the right), I didn’t know what to make of it. There was very little in this thing that looked like the Schmitters of old. Of olden times. Of yesteryear. And by yesteryear, I mean last season. This is not the sandwich I remember. The meat was almost nonexistent. There was barely anything on this sandwich. It was like the Schmitter Gods of Old and New had forsaken us. Did we maybe get a bad sandwich? Possibly. Are they scaling back the meat because of the bad economy? Maybe the person working making them was in a bad mood or just felt like slacking off that day. I was seriously disappointed because, well, did I mention they MAKE THE BEEF RIGHT THERE? Yes. In ovens. Right in front of you. And this sandwich is all they sell (besides beer, water and, I think, chips) so it’s not like they are being distracted by other orders. In fact, they just keep making them wether people are there or not. Most of the time they sell so fast, that is the best way to go about it. Anyway, to sum it up: Schmitter, please get your act together. I might be back with Pat to check you out again soon. (PS, Pat was very confused as to my excitement about this thing after he saw it. What followed was a “you had to be there back then” type of explanation. Way to make me look stupid, Schmitter. We need to talk.)
The second thing we ate was something I had never had before, that Pat spied. He had said it was fantastic, so how can I turn that down? Answer: I cannot. Campos is a sandwich place right on Market Street in downtown Philly. I worked around the corner from there for quite awhile and love the work they do. great sandwiches, great bread and decent prices. They have a stand at the ballpark and we got sucked into ordering…The Heater!
The Heater is a spicy cheesesteak with Jalapeno Cheddar and Buffalo Sauce. Oh yeah. I was excited that it had Jalapeno Cheddar and not jalapenos because, uh, I can’t eat the seeds anymore unless I am looking for a nice weekend trapped in the bathroom. TMI? Perhaps. Moving right along…The Cheese itself is welfare cheese orange (say what you will, that cheese made fantastic grilled cheese sandwiches). The sauce is drenched into the sandwich: meaning it doesn’t just make a cursory walk thru. And of course, the fried onions tie it allll together. The only nitpick I have with it, is that I think it could have used more meat. I know the economy is bad and all, but come on. I hate ordering “extra, extra meat”. But besides that, this sandwich is solid, and Campos is a place you should always hit when in the ballpark!
Next up was a stop at Bull’s Bar-B-Que. Greg “Bull” Luzinski played 10 years in left field for the Phillies and now he owns this place in the new ballpark (in 1989 he was also inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall Of Fame). They serve up all kinds of stuff: pulled pork, ribs, and all sorts of sides. They are also a go-to place for those who have to eat Gluten-Free. We decided to get the sampler: one small bbq turkey sandwich, one small pulled pork sandwich and one small serving of ribs. It wasn’t exactly cheap but it wasn’t too expensive. I wasn’t thinking when we were ordering and I assumed it came with a side. I guess it didn’t. Altho the last thing either of us needed was a serving of beans. Ha.
Anyway, first up was the ribs. As you can see, there wasn’t too much there, but it was enough for the two of us, as we were walking towards stuffed. Pat found the ribs to be good but kind of salty and I had to agree. Not salty enough to not finish tho. Ay-o! They had a nice crust on them and overall, they weren’t bad.
What is a nice touch at Bull’s is that they actully have some sitdown tables so that you can actually eat like a person instead of leaning over a bit of metal or dripping sauce on your pants while you try and eat back in your seat. It is also helpful with little kids if you don’t feel like covering all their clothes with stain remover.
Next up is the little BBQ Turkey sandwich. I gave it a “meh” and Pat was not at all enthralled by it either. It seemed like it was just turkey lunch meat that took a swim in some sauce. It was not at ALL what we thought it would be and a lot more disappointing then I expected, which surprised me. Everyone is always babbling on and on about how awesome it is. The roll was nice tho, and the sauce wasn’t too overpowering. And honestly, there was a LOT of that turkey on there, that’s a small plus. So, while it wasn’t the awesomest of all time, it was probably the most disappointing.
Which brings up to the Pulled Pork sandwich. I’m actually really good at making pulled pork, believe it or not. When you are good at making stuff, you feel jaded when someone offers it to you. But I’ll tell ya, this wasn’t bad. The pork was chopped down a little bit much for me, but it is a pretty standard pulled pork and probably would have been good on a nice kaiser roll with a mountain of napkins. I was really into it and I have to admit, I forgot to take a picture. Please forgive me, hungry readers.
Now we come to the part of the day where Pat and I decided we needed some sort of dessert. It only makes sense right? They had a lot of ice cream in different Turkey Hill forms, which I am all for, but we were looking for something different. I mean, how many times can you have ice cream in a little batting helmet? (altho I do love it!) I thought I read about a cupcake kiosk over by the one Turkey Hill stand and low and behold, there it was! We sauntered over, neither of us being very into baked goods but into something different.
The 2 ladies who were working there looked like they were breaking down the stand when we got there. We pointed to the 3 on the top shelf and asked what they were. When she said CANNOLI CUPCAKE, we hi-fived and did a little dance (or, just ordered them, depending on how imaginative you are). This thing had the lightest, most delicious cake bottom, with the top made of fantastic cannoli cream and full size chocolate chips. On the top there were bits of cannoli shell sprinkled about.
You know how when something is really, really good, the people eating stop talking and don’t even notice? Yeah, that was us, standing at the hi-top table, pretending we both didn’t want to lick the paper that had the extra frosting on it. “You go ahead”. “No, you go ahead!”. It was like a Chip and Dale cartoon. In the end, we both had extra frosting, because there was SO MUCH OF IT and it was awesome! The cupcake was $3 but it was easily split by the both of us, which I thought was cool.
That was the day of eating. We had beers as well and walked around to fool ourselves into thinking we were burning it off (escalators don’t count right?) but it was a great day and the weather was awesome. The Phils got their asses handed to them by the Sox, but hey, ya can’t have everything, right?
My favorite thing was the Cupcake, followed super close by The Heater. That sandwich was awesome and I’d like to try it as a chicken cheesesteak! Pat’s fave was The Heater but he says the Cupcake was way better then expected & made it a tough choice as he is not much of a Cupcake guy.
So there ya have it! Will there be a second part of this entry? Possibly! Stay tuned and find out, the baseball season is just getting started!
Guest Eater: Aubrie Williams from ManiPedi
In our surge to try new things this year, we are introducing a new idea: The Guest Eater! This inaugural post is one written by Aubrie Williams, member of the very funny Philly sketch comedy group ManiPedi. They were accepted into the Ladies Are Funny Festival in Austin, Texas and this is the result of some fine eatin’! Congrats to Madonna Marie Refugia, Shannon Brown, Briana Kelly, Kaitlin Thompson, and Aubrie Williams for kicking some Texas comedy butt and making the Philly comedy scene proud!
Choosing a single item for this blog might be one of the hardest things I have done in my life- that is, besides walking uphill both ways to school in the snow with no shoes in 1924. Between the Ruby’s pulled pork sandwich topped with coleslaw, breakfast tacos, migas, fried Mac and cheese, donuts topped with chicken fingers, and Stubb’s BBQ, I was never disappointed. But my winners are (I had to choose 2) the Star’s Frito Pie from Star Seed’s Diner AND the Real BLT from Dock ‘n Roll Diner (SPOILER ALERT: it’s a FOOD TRUCK)!
Let me first explain the Star’s Frito Pie. Now, I didn’t know Frito’s were a staple ingredient in Texan meals (having never been there before), but when I saw this, I cried tears of joy. Anyone who knows me KNOWS that I get nachos for almost every meal, and this thing was basically nachos with Frito’s replacing tortilla chips. It was covered in cheese, chili, queso, diced tomatoes, onions, and served with sour cream. As an added bonus, it was only $5.95 and came with a serving spoon to eat this bad boy. WINS ALL AROUND!
Tied for 1st was The Real BLT. This thing was chicken fried bacon (also something they often do in Texas that my stomach thanks them for), LOBSTER, and tomato, served on what may have been the best roll I’ve ever consumed. Essentially, it was a lobster roll with chicken fried bacon, and I love all of those things- I tried to savor this thing, but was way too excited to eat slow. This guy was a little more expensive, what with the lobster and all, but it was only about $12. Still not bad for that masterpiece.
Austin has my stomach and my heart, which I’m convinced are the same exact thing for me. And it’s a great thing we were at the Ladies Are Funny Festival and got to laugh most (but hopefully, and probably most accurately, ALL) of those calories off.
Taco Bell Doritos Locos Taco: Ole!
If you are in any way a regular reader of this blog, you gotta know this was coming. Taco Bell rolled this taco out a little while ago as a test and now it’s out nationwide. What is it?
It’s the Doritos Locos Taco Supreme!
It’s a taco made with a shell that is a giant Dorito. If you are a fan of Doritos in any way, you’ll really enjoy this. It’s got the cheese, it’s got the crunch and it’s got the taco insides: seasoned beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese and reduced fat sour cream (the only difference between the Supreme and the regular is sour cream).
It’s a really simple idea and, frankly, I am kind of surprised they hadn’t come up with it sooner. Doritos are basically just corn ships, and if Tostitos Scoops have taught us anything, it’s that corn chips can be molded to any shape.
The only problem is that if you don’t eat the taco within a few minutes, the heat from the meat kind of makes it a little pliable, which is kind of weird. (Have you ever eaten a wet Dorito? Or one that’s been in dip? That’s what I mean.) So, if you get one, get to it! If you manage to get into it before the heat does, the shell will crumble a little bit, just like a regular taco shell.
The final question people ask me is this: are your hands covered in cheese when you are done? Like after you eat a ton of Doritos (not that I would know anything about that…)? The answer is: just enough cheese ends up on your hands. If you end up with a fist-full of cheese, then you shouldn’t be cuddling with your Doritos Locos Taco.
So is this taco worth a shot? Most definitely! It’s silly cheap too, so get to it. If you are super hungry, there is a $5 Doritos Locos Taco box that comes with the Doritos Locos Taco Supreme, a crunchy taco, a Burrito Supreme and a drink.
Yes, I Said Bacon Milkshake
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!)
Urban Saloon’s Cubanish Sandwich
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.
LA Trip: Assorted Food Nonsense
I spent a lot of time during my LA trip walking around, wether by myself or huffing, puffing and kind of jogging to keep up with my friend Sean who is 9 feet tall and totally fit. And of course, all the walking makes a person kinda hungry. I did not get to a few places I wanted to go, but I managed to go to a lot of them.
For my birthday I went to Disneyland. Overall, it was pretty kickass, except for the hour and a half wait to get on the Star Wars ride (of which, every 15 minutes I’d turn to Sean and say “this is gonna be awesome!”. He did not slap me, not once. Good man.) But I have to say, I ate 2 things when we were there: a churro, which was pretty great, and a piece of pizza and a soda which sucked beyond belief.
First off, the churro was warm and chewy and cinnamon and sugar deliciousness. There was a churro cart every 5 feet, which I found kind of weird. Hey Disney Corp: why not mix it up a bit more. Secondly, the pizza was 7 different kinds of awful. It was a puffy piece of wanna be pizza hut crap. I mean it was over the top bad. I ate it because it was either that or my arm by that point, but come on! I am going to Disneyworld in Novemeber, so I’ll see how the pizza holds up. But major, major disappointment!
Next up! I was sitting a the bar one nite, annoyed that the kitchen was closed and drinking my bazillionth whiskey. I needed to eat. Danny the bartender told me about Garage Pizza. It was open late! I was up off my barstool and over there in a flash.
- Garage PIzza has 2 locations, one in Silverlake and one in Downtown LA (DTLA). I visited the downtown location, on 7th between Spring and Main. Now, pizza in LA has a bad rap, and I understand why. You live in Philly or NYC, you are used to great pizza. The dough is awesome because of the water, and obviously the water out west if different and makes a different crust. So, I was sort of hesitant when the guys at the bar were talking it up.
- I walked over to the pizza joint. It is pretty bare bones, with a lot of concrete and a few basic booths. A few Latino guys scurried around behind the counter making pizzas, throwing some dough around.
- There was a menu with a bunch of very overpriced pizzas, and a few beers to select from, as well as some salads and sandwiches. I had no need for salads and sandwiches, but I was not too happy with the prices of the pies. Then I saw what made my stomach and heart dance a bit…on mondays, every pizza is $15. That is still kinda high, but the large pizza is a nice size, so what the hell, right?
- I stepped up to order and could not stop laughing in my head because the 2 girls working the counter were dressed like they were in some sort of swanky club, barely dressed and all made up. Honey, you work at a pizza place. But, this was LA, so it’s probably par for the course. Anyway, I walked away with this pepperoni and red onion beauty!
I staggered back to Sean’s place with this pizza. Nine homeless guys asked me for a slice. I think the door guy at the apartment building wanted a piece too. Mine. All mine.
This pizza almost blew me away. It had a nice thin crust, but with nice crunch, and the sauce wasn’t too sweet. The cheese was a little brown but not overdone and the onions caramelized nicely. This was a delicious, beautiful east coast pizza! I had another pizza later on in the week and it was just as good. If you live in LA, give this place a chance (go on mondays!)! Oh, and if you were wondering, it’s just as good cold the next day!
LA Trip: Pink’s Hot Dogs
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 email@example.com)
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!
Old School Doritos…
I was in Shoprite the other day and I saw this:
I don’t know why Doritos (or, The Frito Lay Company) decided to put out their old style bag (altho it does seem to be a trend. I’ve seen soda and cereal and all sorts of things using old packaging. I dig it.), but it caught me by surprise. When I was a little kid, my parents didn’t buy any junk food really. My dad would buy a big bag of Pathmark brand rippled potato chips sometimes. He would keep them on top of the fridge so if I wanted to get them, I had to drag the chair to the counter, climb up the chair, climb onto the counter, then tiptoe on the counter to try and grab them off the top of the GIANT yellow fridge. But besides that, nothing.
My Grandmom on the other hand, always had some kind of junk food laying around, and even better, I, along with my cousins, were allowed to eat whatever we wanted. I was allowed to make my own sandwiches. I could stare into the fridge for like 20 minutes and not get yelled at. Her cream cheese was always moldy, but she always had cool stuff to eat.
Down the basement next to a little closet and an old wooden workbench that had a cool old red vice where I liked to squeeze stuff like crayons and action figures, Grandmom had one of those old fridges form the 50’s with a long latch handle. It was always full of little boxes of Yoohoo (the first time I had ever seen such a thing) and little cans of V-8 and other assorted small sized beverages. In the back of her cellar was a shelf with bags of assorted pretzels and Doritos.
It was the only place I had ever seen Doritos. Little bags of chips weren’t really popular in lunches back in the very early 80’s, people still stuck them in sandwich bags from a larger bag. I didn’t go food shopping with my parents very often either. Philly wasn’t wired for cable until 1985, so I wasn’t inundated with ads for crap food all the time either. So, once I had them (after asking and hearing the “Nicky, eat whatever you want!” yelled down the steps), it was love. I still love Doritos. Sometimes, even with YooHoo.
Are Doritos my Madeline? Nah. But the old school bag does remind me of being really little and finding something new. Oh yeah, and loving it!