27 August 2009

Food: Part Two

Read the prologue here.

As promised, here's part two, numbers 1-5:

1. Pappadeaux. Austin, TX. This was a blowout feast, except in this case we blew our wad here within 30 minutes of arriving in Austin for SXSW. We spent the trip there making big plans to splurge at whatever advertised 8-star steakhouse had the best pull quotes in the in-flight magazine. But this place was next to our hotel on the interstate, it was late, and we were tired and hungry. It’s probably not actually the best seafood on the planet, but for one shining moment in time, it was. Best service on this list though, by a country mile, especially considering we strolled in 5 minutes before they closed. On the other side of the Doubletree this place flanks is sister restaurant Pappacito's, where your jaded high school-aged server will simultaneously make your guacamole at your table and talk shit on everything on the menu.

Happy Thanksgiving!
2. G Michael's Bistro. Columbus, OH. Scene of our high-class Thanksgiving dinner. We only ate here after Rob, Anthony and Will concluded a 30-minute gabfest with a charismatic local vagrant on the shuttered streets of downtown Columbus by spurning his offer to make us boloney sandwiches in his car. But why would George Michael open up an Italian restaurant in Columbus, Ohio? Weird.

3. Bob Sykes Barbeque. Bessemer, AL. It was an accident. Driving out of Birmingham, we took the last exit with any sign of civilization, looking for a billboard-promised KFC. But then this inviting 50’s-era BBQ hut with a giant pig on top popped up. Turns out this is one of those places that always gets written up in all those books on roadside diners. Pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw on it, fried okra, collard greens, lemon meringue pie, sweet tea, etc.

Bob Sykes
4. Irma's Mexican Restaurant. Deming, NM. I think we went into all this under the impression that the notion that Mexican food is better the closer you are to the border is a myth. Well, turns out, it is better down there. This place and Letty’s (see previous post) prove that. Nothing really noteworthy here; this place was just good, straight up. It’s also across the street from another restaurant called Si Senor - that is, Yes Sir. So good that Jared went back for breakfast 6 months later.

Breakfast King
5. Breakfast King. Denver. We go out of our way to eat breakfast here every time we’re in Denver. It was providence that led us here the first time, after getting lost in a byzantine offramp maze trying to get to a freeway-side Denny’s and suddenly finding ourselves in the Breakfast King parking lot instead. They also have one of those 70-year-old celebrity waitresses that can carry like 18,000 plates at once, whose likeness adorns the restaurant in the form of reverential framed-and-mounted Rocky Mountain News articles.

* * * * * * * * * *

Best Taco Bell: Ontario, OR, at Highway 30 and Interstate 84. Even though it was 5 minutes before closing, everything we ordered was exactly as pictured on the menu. Flawless.
Best CFS: Breakfast King, Denver (see above). Although Cracker Barrel does have a good'n too.
Best shrimp 'n' grits: the high-end G. Michael's, Columbus, Ohio, just edging out Atlanta's Flying Biscuit (aka the Flying Beaver, as it's owned by one of the Indigo Girls or something like that)

Honorable Mention:
Fife Restaurant
Welcome Diner
Sollys Hot Tamales
At Random, Milwaukee. Ice cream cocktails in a time warp, ca. 1966.

Tria, Philadelphia. Fancy shit, like wines and what-not.

Fife Restaurant, Birmingham. Die of breakfast.

Bison Witches, Tucson. Say it fast 5 times. Buy sandwiches.

Welcome Diner. Phoenix, AZ. Painfully adorable.

Sollys Hot Tamales. Vicksburg, MS. You can get tamales in the southwest, or you can get a different brand in the Delta - cigar-thin, wax paper-wrapped sodium bombs. Started by a hobo in 1939.


wynnde said...

When you guys come to St. Louis in October, don't miss La Vallesana. Any place on Cherokee is okay, but they've got the best cheap mexican food in St. Louis. http://www.riverfronttimes.com/locations/la-vallesana-329494/

Anonymous said...

It makes me sick to my stomach to see that you went to Austin and ate at a chain restaurant.

Darker My Dudes said...

a) it's only a chain in Texas!
b) it was next to the hotel.

erin4mb said...

Hey! That hobo at Sollys' tamales was my great grandfather...His story is a great one...You should stop by The Tamale Place on the frontage road in Vicksburg and get some real hot tamales. Sollys' Real Original recipe is actually on the Frontage Rd. You're missin' out dude.

Darker My Dudes said...

Whoa. It's called The Tamale Place? And what, they stole the recipe? I just hope they're as salty as Sollys.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's called The Tamale Place. Owned and operated by Henry Sollys' daughter. When my great-grandfather died, these other people fabricated some crazy story that Henry Sollys didn't get along with his family. The judge that was in control of his Will didn't even have the courtesy to wait till the funeral was over to deliver it to my grandmother. We were walking into the sanctuary for his service and the judge (A "Close friend" of Dean McCain) walked up to my grandmother, handed her the Will and said, "Everything was left to Maybelle Hampton and Dean McCain, I made sure of it." This "Will" even gave her the rights to his ashes...She threw his ashes off the Mississippi River Bridge. One thing he never learned to do was swim. He hated the water. When Dean's mother died a few years later, her and her siblings got into a knock-down drag out fight over the rights to Sollys'. I'm glad I'm not related to them.