Helpful ReplyHot!Our Year in Roadfood - 2018

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buffetbuster
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 06:42:19 (permalink)
scrumptiouschef
I only get to come home to Austin four times a year and I always hit Top Notch for a Little Leaguer. Best hamburger in a city filled with world class ones.


The oddest thing is, most of the people dining around us weren't eating the burgers, they were indulged in some great looking fried chicken.  It was right about noon when we arrived, so we ended up sitting at one of the long, communal tables.  A guy sitting next to Mariton told us he has been eating at Top Notch for 30+ years and has never even tried the burger, because the chicken is so good. 
 
I went back up to try it for ourselves, but the lunchtime line was now out the door.
buffetbuster
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 08:38:15 (permalink) ☄ Helpfulby nagle 2019/01/05 09:38:42
A few more notes about pie...
 
* Man, did I screw up while visiting Iowa back in July and it still stings. 
 
When we were in western Iowa in 2017, we met Mark and Charlene Johnson for dinner.  For those who don't know, they were the owners of the late, great Farmer's Café in Atlantic, IA and Charlene is a pie baker-extraordinaire.  She was kind enough to deliver a complete sour cream raisin pie to us.  Her SCR pie is still the best pie I have ever had in my life.  But, she also informed us that this would be her last SCR pie.
 
In 2018, not knowing exactly what our schedule was going to be, I didn't get ahold of Mark until the day before.  But, luckily they were still able to join us for a dinner of breaded pork tenderloins at Larsen's Pub in Elk Horn.  At dinner, Charlene said that if we had given her more warning, she would have brought a pie with her.  You mean I could have had one of her almost as famous watermelon pies?  When she said she was done making the sour cream raisin pie, I misunderstood it as she was completely done making any pies.  I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever make that mistake again.  Still, we a great time sharing a meal with these wonderful people.

 
* A big thanks to PieDiva and JRPfeff for not only for meeting us for breakfast at McBob's while we were in Milwaukee, but also bringing a whole pie with them.  Not only is PieDiva also a world class pie maker, but you can also count on her for unusual and interesting flavors.  Our table got to share an eye catching and delicious salt and vinegar pie.

 
* Both visits to Hoosier Mama Pie Company during 2018 were memorable.  During a February visit to the original Ukrainian Village location, my wife and ChiTownDiner actually expected me to share the pie slices. 

How disappointing!  How selfish!
 
In September, we stopped at the Evanston location and we were met by pie-aholic Davidsanders

It was never made clear to me if this was prearranged and if we just assumed David would be there.  Now, I'm not saying that he spends a lot of time at Hoosier Mama, but I heard that during his recent tour through Europe with the Chicago symphony, Hoosier Mama was forced to lay off three pie bakers due to his absence.  I am just jealous that has this place so close to home.
 
I did finally get to meet owner Paula Haney and we posed for a group photo. 

Really nice lady and she sure has a great thing going on here.  She was even kind enough to send out a whole Black Cherry Peppercorn Chocolate Pie for our group to try.

post edited by buffetbuster - 2019/01/05 08:46:20
ScreamingChicken
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 08:52:31 (permalink)
Nice variety of burgers...the bean-filled, cheese-drenched one from The Pantry is one of most unusual I've ever seen!
 
Random question time.  Since you have multiple burgers from the Chicago area on your list, do they all pretty much use the same style (flavor-wise) of dill pickle?  And would it be pretty much the same as the CSD pickle?
will_work_4_bbq
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 08:52:51 (permalink)
Davidsanders knows his pastries and sweets!  I am in awe of his talent for finding the most amazing things on any continent!
buffetbuster
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 08:58:17 (permalink)
ScreamingChicken
Nice variety of burgers...the bean-filled, cheese-drenched one from The Pantry is one of most unusual I've ever seen!
 
Random question time.  Since you have multiple burgers from the Chicago area on your list, do they all pretty much use the same style (flavor-wise) of dill pickle?  And would it be pretty much the same as the CSD pickle?


We didn't expect to like the tortilla burger as much as we did.  Apparently it is a New Mexico thing, but this was our first.  You betcha we will be on the lookout from now on.
 
As for the dill pickle question, this should be left to one of our local City of Big Shoulders food experts.
buffetbuster
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 09:00:36 (permalink)
will_work_4_bbq
Davidsanders knows his pastries and sweets!  I am in awe of his talent for finding the most amazing things on any continent!


He sure does!  The man was a born Roadfooder.
 
BTW, will we still be friends after Monday?  Kind of funny that this die-hard Clemson fan is going to Birmingham the weekend after the game. 
will_work_4_bbq
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 10:01:31 (permalink)
buffetbuster
will_work_4_bbq
Davidsanders knows his pastries and sweets!  I am in awe of his talent for finding the most amazing things on any continent!


He sure does!  The man was a born Roadfooder.
 
BTW, will we still be friends after Monday?  Kind of funny that this die-hard Clemson fan is going to Birmingham the weekend after the game. 


I hope we'll, at least, be on speaking terms...and eating terms!    By the way, since the game will be fresh in people's minds, you might want to wear your Clemson shirts with caution while you're here - regardless of the outcome of the game!
MetroplexJim
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 10:36:58 (permalink)
How do you discover places like this:

 
It is literally a little place in the middle of a little town in the middle of  southwest nowhere! 
 
Well, O.K., Cleburne is on the far edge of the greater Metroplex, but we've lived here for 14 years now and I wouldn't have run across Burger Bar in a million more! 
 
(And, I can say the same about the Ponder Steakhouse.  Thanks, WJ !)
leethebard
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 11:16:36 (permalink)
Amazing burgers.Venice California. YES!
joerogo
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 12:03:42 (permalink)
Don't give me too much credit Cliff.....I stumbled outta the liquor store....and there it was!
 
Great report Cliff.  Come to think out it, three visits to New mexico and I've never had a bad meal. I almost did! I sent a GCC back to be redone(while listening to one CTD begging me not to do it).  The remake was perfect. I was peeking in the kitchen door while listening to horror stories about sending food back. 
ChiTownDiner
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 12:53:33 (permalink)
Much like beauty, taste can also be in the eye of the beholder!  
 
I loved Green Gables probably more than you.
 
I dislike Hires Big H after both visits.
 
The Igloo was just plain fun!
 
Tuckers has been on my want to visit list for a while.  It looks great but it is on your secondary list!  
phlmaestro
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 13:47:48 (permalink)
buffetbuster
Every year I do a best meal of the year, but since naming runners up seems to be going well, our second most memorable meal of the year was at Ray's Boathouse in Seattle.

 
My wife and I had our honeymoon in Seattle in 2006. I'm not certain, but I think we had a lunch at Ray's.
 
MetroplexJim
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 16:32:13 (permalink)
ChiTownDiner
Much like beauty, taste can also be in the eye of the beholder!  
 

 
Indeed. 
My one visit to Lexington#1 was profoundly disappointing.
And the fault was all mine.
I was expecting Western Carolina barbecue to be as good as Eastern Carolina.
To my taste, it is not. 
No harm, no foul.
Unrealistic and mal-informed expectations.
I was expecting Grace Kelly ...
… and Minnie Pearl walked in the door.
"My bad."
 
 
buffetbuster
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 18:19:08 (permalink)
ChiTownDiner
Much like beauty, taste can also be in the eye of the beholder!  
 
I loved Green Gables probably more than you.
 
I dislike Hires Big H after both visits.
 
The Igloo was just plain fun!
 
Tuckers has been on my want to visit list for a while.  It looks great but it is on your secondary list!  


I think you did enjoy Green Gables more than me, but it was still one of the first ones out.  Just a matter of there being such high competition this year.  In fact, previously winner Cherry Cricket didn't make the list, either.
buffetbuster
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 18:20:57 (permalink)
joerogo
Don't give me too much credit Cliff.....I stumbled outta the liquor store....and there it was!
 
Great report Cliff.  Come to think out it, three visits to New mexico and I've never had a bad meal. I almost did! I sent a GCC back to be redone(while listening to one CTD begging me not to do it).  The remake was perfect. I was peeking in the kitchen door while listening to horror stories about sending food back. 


Where did you send back the green chile cheeseburger?  
buffetbuster
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 18:32:33 (permalink)
Time for another quiz!
 
Can you name this classic Roadfood restaurant and the localized regional food that they specialize in?

BuddyRoadhouse
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 18:40:56 (permalink)
Can't identify the restaurant, but based on the style of the grill, I'll guess Tri-Tip is the regional specialty.
 
Buddy
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 18:47:42 (permalink)
Buddy, you are most definitely on the right track.
buffetbuster
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 18:49:44 (permalink)
MetroplexJim
How do you discover places like this:

 
It is literally a little place in the middle of a little town in the middle of  southwest nowhere! 
 
Well, O.K., Cleburne is on the far edge of the greater Metroplex, but we've lived here for 14 years now and I wouldn't have run across Burger Bar in a million more! 
 
(And, I can say the same about the Ponder Steakhouse.  Thanks, WJ !)


Sorry, but I can't take credit for finding Burger Bar.  It is in the most recent Hamburger America book.  And Ponder Steakhouse has been in the Roadfood books for years.  


buffetbuster
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 19:11:27 (permalink)
It really does pay to ask the locals where the good places are to eat.  Proof of this happened this last weekend while we were in Albuquerque.
 
Desperately needing a haircut, we pulled into a Great Clips in the NE part of the city.  The young man cutting my hair was named Ricardo, so just making conversation, I asked him what was his favorite restaurant.  His immediate response was El Mariachi, a small mom & pop place he goes to for bacon burritos for breakfast on a regular basis.
 
Once back to the car, I looked up El Mariachi and it was only a few minutes away.  We found it in a small strip mall in a neighborhood we have never been to before.  Walking in at 11:30AM, we were surprised there were no other customers.  Uh oh....
 
The lady who took our order was a real charmer.  Meet Virginia,

a 76 year old Native American with an easy smile, who told us she plans on working as long as she is able.  She was shocked to find out that we were from Pittsburgh and asked how we found them.  When we told her about Ricardo, she laughed and said he is in here all the time and always orders the exact same thing.  She also said she was going to thank him for sending us over.
 
Virginia gave us some recommendations and we placed our order.  The food took a good 15-20 minutes, as everything is made to order.  Mariton loved her order of rolled cheese enchiladas

topped with red and green chile.  She gets a kick out of saying Christmas-style as do I.  My dish of stuffed sopaipillas

smothered in a smoky red chile was superb.  Soft, hot from the oven sopaipillas

come with your meal along with a squeeze bottle of honey.  This meal was just about perfect.
 
Virginia spent quite a bit of time chatting with us and somehow we got onto the subject of languages.  Both Mariton and Virginia were discussing how important it was to pass the languages they grew up speaking down to future generations.  I found it very interesting.
 
By the way, the bill for this great meal?

It would probably be twice this back in Pittsburgh and obviously, not near the quality.  Maybe more than any other city I can think of, I am convinced that Albuquerque is chock full of undiscovered gems like El Mariachi.
post edited by buffetbuster - 2019/01/05 19:12:29
kb612
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 19:34:12 (permalink)
Mystery restaurant looks like the Hitching Post, Casmalia, Calif.
post edited by kb612 - 2019/01/05 19:36:07
buffetbuster
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 19:43:50 (permalink)
Yes!  It is The Hitching Post in Casmalia.  And the style of regional food is Santa Maria BBQ.
 
Great job kb612!  Have you been there before?
post edited by buffetbuster - 2019/01/06 08:39:03
kb612
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 19:49:26 (permalink)
Yes, a number of times. Like Jocko's in Nipomo, a classic Central Coast steakhouse experience.
ScreamingChicken
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 20:18:18 (permalink)
buffetbuster
Desperately needing a haircut, we pulled into a Great Clips in the NE part of the city.

I'm pretty sure you and I have diametrically different definitions of what that means.
 
But those plates from El Mariachi look great!  Mrs. C and I had to cancel our Arizona trip this year and you're not helping me deal with it.
post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2019/01/05 21:28:41
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/05 22:27:09 (permalink)
buffetbuster
Time for another quiz!
 
Can you name this classic Roadfood restaurant and the localized regional food that they specialize in?



Can't remember the name of the restaurant, but that looks like it should be California Tri-Tip over red oak. Although the stuff on the right looks like ribs.
buffetbuster
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/06 08:40:13 (permalink)
Root-Beer Man-
You are certainly on the right track, but the restaurant has already been guessed in a previous post.
buffetbuster
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/06 08:54:49 (permalink)
kb612
Yes, a number of times. Like Jocko's in Nipomo, a classic Central Coast steakhouse experience.


We really enjoyed our one visit to Jocko's, also.
 
I noticed you have been around the site since 2001 and that you have probably been to many Roadfood restaurants.  We would love to hear more from you.  


ChiTownDiner
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/06 09:08:45 (permalink)
MetroplexJim
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Much like beauty, taste can also be in the eye of the beholder!  
 

 
Indeed. 
My one visit to Lexington#1 was profoundly disappointing.
And the fault was all mine.
I was expecting Western Carolina barbecue to be as good as Eastern Carolina.
To my taste, it is not. 
No harm, no foul.
Unrealistic and mal-informed expectations.
I was expecting Grace Kelly ...
… and Minnie Pearl walked in the door.
"My bad."

 
I also had the same experience at Lexington #1.  I was by myself and the meal tasted dry and old.  I was almost dreading it a few years later on the bus tour and it was awesome...I even had seconds....and thirds!  
ChiTownDiner
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/06 09:10:22 (permalink)
buffetbuster
MetroplexJim
How do you discover places like this:

 
It is literally a little place in the middle of a little town in the middle of  southwest nowhere! 
 
Well, O.K., Cleburne is on the far edge of the greater Metroplex, but we've lived here for 14 years now and I wouldn't have run across Burger Bar in a million more! 
 
(And, I can say the same about the Ponder Steakhouse.  Thanks, WJ !)


Sorry, but I can't take credit for finding Burger Bar.  It is in the most recent Hamburger America book.  And Ponder Steakhouse has been in the Roadfood books for years.  






Perhaps, another Fine selection and recommendation!  
 
buffetbuster
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Re: Our Year in Roadfood - 2018 2019/01/06 09:58:00 (permalink)
Our single best/most memorable meal of the year goes to Lady and the Pit

in Fort Worth, TX.
 
No doubt MetroplexJim will be curious how we found this place.  Texas Monthly BBQ Editor Daniel Vaughn had raved about this unassuming little place several times on his Instagram page right before we were flying into Dallas for the weekend.  I mention every once in a while when a place turns out to be much better than expected.  This was not one of those cases.  We had already stopped for kolaches, two burger stands (including Burger Barn) a Tex-Mex meal in Fort Worth and so our appetite was all but tapped out.  If we hadn't expected greatness, we wouldn't have bothered.  And we are so glad we did.
 
One of the things we read before going was that people loved the food, but the place was too hot since their air conditioning wasn't working.  Even though this was October, it was still too humid for us Yankees and the air conditioning still hadn't been fixed.  It was so bad that my wife, who grew up in The Philippines, wanting to go wait in the car until our food was ready.
 
But, that is the only bad thing I can say about Lady and the Pit.  Here is the menu board:

They do have a small menu, but we ordered mostly from the board.  As you can see, they were already out of several items for the day.  The kind young man who took our order (I believe he is the owner's son, but not 100% sure) told us to grab a table in the large dining room

and they would bring the food over.  And food this good takes time.
 
The first thing dropped off was the pineapple cream pie,

a pie you really don't see very often.  Smooth, cool, with subtle pineapple flavor, you can see the three distinct layers.  The thick graham cracker crust was the best part of this pie.  I planned on saving this pie for this post, otherwise, this would have easily been a top ten pie.  Needless to say, this dessert was long gone before the rest of our food arrived.
 
After a good 20-25 minutes in the heat, our food came out.  My sweetie was a little cranky at this point, but all that went away after her first bite.  Her choice was the fried pork chops,

which were thick cut, salty and so flavorful.  This is a dish she orders often in soul food restaurants and she said this was the best she has had.  I went with the chicken fried chicken,

a dish I have only had a couple of times before.  Also plenty thick, it was tender enough that it could easily cut with just the fork.  But the wow factor was from the amazing cream gravy that would probably made shoe leather delicious.
 
As for the vegetables, those were actually the best part of the meal.  By the time I dug into the veggies, Mariton had already sampled them all.  The collards had a nice balance with a slight sweetness and an earthy bitter taste.  When I exclaimed how good they were, Mariton agreed, but then informed it was her least favorite of the four vegetables.  Oh, come on.  That can't be right.  The candied yams, cabbage and especially the squash casserole were all equally as good if not better.  I don't know how squash casserole could be this flavorful, but we both agreed it was the best thing on the entire table.
 
As fantastic as the soul food was, the name of the restaurant still includes the word "the pit".  So in the name of research, we also got a plate of hot links. 

Juicy, with a serious hot spicy kick, this was really good sausage, but did not reach the level of the rest of the food.  But if you go, you should definitely give the bbq a try, too.
 
After she was done eating (she eats much faster than I do), she went out to the car to sit in air conditioning.  Despite the fact we had eaten so much on this day and during this meal, it was very tempting to order more.  But, I didn't want to keep her waiting for too long.
 
The service during the meal was excellent.  He came back and refilled our iced teas and waters on a regular basis, always stopping to chat for a few minutes.  We never did meet owner Natasha Smith, but could see her hard at work inside the open kitchen.
 
If you live in the Metroplex or plan on a visit, I can't recommend this place high enough.
 
Lady and the Pit
2220 Handley Drive
Fort Worth, TX
682-301-1888 
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