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.

24 August 2009

Food: Part One

We’ve established by now that the sole reason we exist as a touring band is to eat at as many Taco Bells as possible. But sometimes you can’t find a Taco Bell, and you have to eat at some totally unkown local restaurant, where you can’t order with the confidence that you can at a Taco Bell. Hell, they might not even have bean burritos. But sometimes these unknowns turn out to be really good.

Thus, this, our civic duty to share this wealth of culinary knowledge we’ve amassed. This will be a two-parter, chronicling the top ten restaurants of the last year of touring. It was gonna be a 2008 year-end list, but then we did another US tour and ate more US food. So now, here it is, after driving around this great land for the last year, the dudes' top 10 restaurants in the USA.

Part one / numbers 6-10:

6. Sokolowski’s. Cleveland, OH. While Tom Jones ate Chinese at the food court back at the hotel, we split for an old Polish cafeteria/tavern on the wrong side of the Cuyahoga. We caught the end of their lunch, and they heaped upon us mounds of what was left of their pierogis
and boats of gravy, unsolicited and gratis. It’s the kinda cafeteria where the cashier eyeballs what you got and makes up an arbitrary price. We were the only ones in their dining room, but gosh, we sure filled it with moans of delight. The pierogis lived in a styrofoam box under the back seat of our van for the next 2 weeks. Also, Bill Clinton ate here in 1993.

7. Tomato Head. Knoxville, TN. Not much to say; just really good. Downtown Knoxville, near that sad little mirror-ball-on-a-stick poor-man’s-Space-Needle 1982 World’s Fair relic. Soup/sandwich/pizza/good-lookin staff/etc. Bonus fact: You know how like all of the 20th century’s great innovations were unvailed at the World’s Fair? i.e., the telephone, the hot dog, the ice cream cone, etc. Well, said Knoxville World’s Fair gave us... Cherry Coke. Marinate on that.

Tim outside Letty's
8. Letty's Casita. El Centro, CA. It’s an hour west of Yuma and 15 minutes north of Mexico, and the only thing it’s (to translate) The Center of is nowhere. But it’s at Letty’s little cottage that you’ll find the greatest machaca - which is more or less reconstituted beef jerky, which doesn’t sound good, but so is; when it’s done wrong, which it almost always is, we gringos can just call it “shredded beef.” Then there’s the mantarraya tacos Will had. That’s manta ray, aka sting ray, and everyone knows the Crocodile Hunter died eating sting ray tacos. Turns out it tastes kinda like canned tuna, which makes you wonder why you can’t ever find that in a taco. When we left here - again, 15 minutes north of the Mexican border - we drove up into the mountains and into a snow storm, thusly giving us the unique distinction of being able to say we were late to our San Diego gig because we got caught in a snow storm.

9. Kit Carson Restaurant. Chehalis, WA. If only because of two dishes, which were more just fine than anything else. One, a heaping pile of any and all morning foodstuffs called Mt. St. Helen’s Eruption.
Kit Carson
The other, unremarkable though it may be, was listed on the menu as C.F.S., which is an acronym that entered and has remained our lexicon. That is, country fried steak. It was also here we learned that steak weights and men’s shoe sizes are congruous. That is, as a rule of thumb, an 11 oz. steak is roughly equal in size to a size 11 foot. And vice-versa.

10. Famous Anthony's. Roanoke, VA. If you’re driving down Interstate 81 in Virginia on a Wednesday night, are looking for an affordable all-you-can-eat spaghetti feast, and dislike flavor, go to Famous Anthony’s. Our 16-year-old waitress had both the cutest southern accent and the cutest cold sore.

and for good measure, avoid these at all costs:
Amigos, North Platte, Nebraska
Fiesta Azteca, Nashville

Stay tuned for more...

12 August 2009

coast to coast to polka

As of today, 2 is now out everywhere!*

* except:
- Japan
- Africa
- maybe China
- Russia?

06 August 2009

F Yeah Fest

We're making both our return to the stage (after almost 5 months!) and our return to the F Yeah Fest (after a one-year hiatus) on Sept. 5, here in L.A. Last year notwithstanding, it's kindof an annual tradition for us. Last time we played it, you'll recall, we played without Tim, who was in the hospital because he got bit on the foot by a rattlesnake in his bathroom, or something like that. Some friends we are. Somehow that turned out to be a really good show though, probably because we just jammed for 20 minutes and split. Tim would go on to make a partial recovery, and still requires the use of a cane.

But that was back when it was on the streets of Echo Park, spread out between 4 different venues along Sunset Blvd. This year, it's a) renamed something weird and awkward, so we'll keep calling it the F Yeah Fest, at least in mixed company, and b) down in that big patch of grass and dirt next to Chinatown, which is apparently a state park, which is at the risk of closure, thanks to the Governator, although I don't know how you can shut down a big patch of grass and dirt. Our pals Sean and Phil and Keith, who put this on, are bringing a lotta needed attention to this gnarly aspect of California's ongoing going-out-of-business sale, as well as putting a charitable twist on it. It'll be more of a proper festival this time, and possibly maybe even more fun than it always has been. Quite a lineup, too.

Most exciting, though: all the new songs we're gonna play. We're psyched.

03 August 2009

Record Release Day Redux

That's right: 2 days shy of the first anniversary of its release in the U.S., 2 is, as of today, finally out in the UK! Anything beyond a year, I think, technically would qualify it as a reissue, so, having squeaked in just shy of that deadline, our record can thankfully still be called brand-new. Which means if you're in the UK, either head down to your favourite neighbourhood purveyor of plastic discs and trade in your £££-age for a copy of our record, or, y'know, if you're in some kind of a rush, you can always do iTunes/ Play.com/Amazon/HMV/Tesco/7Digital. If you want the coveted vinyl edition, you'll have to come to come see us this fall and get it from us, cos that's the only place you'll find it. Clever ploy, no?

As for the rest of Europe, your time will come next week, on August 12! Perhaps we'll remind you when that day comes.

fondest regards,
the dudes