Friday, July 29, 2011

Heatwave Recipes

--Tailgatin' and how to make mofos start playa hatin' (Recipes)

America has had some heatwaves of late, would you say? Man it's been hot and I've been traveling, everywhere is sticky. So what to eat when its so damn hot you don't feel like anything yet your still hungry? I'm not eating tofu bites and a plain old salad aint going to do it. Well it gets hot in Texas don't it? How about a recipe from the King of Texas Eats Robb Walsh. I made this meal using two recipes from 'The Tex Mex Backyard and Barbacoa Cookbook' and it was excellent, perfect for a hot summer day. I said it before and I'll say it again, if you don't own this book and consider yourself a grillmaster, stop thinking you are. You need this in your collection.

Grilled Shrimp and Guacamole Salad

This was an excellent summertime dinner if I may say. If you've ever had lettuce wraps at an Asian joint you'll love this Tex-Mex take on them. No exact recipe, you gotta get the book for that. But what you need is some marinated shrimp (soaked in grapefruit juice) which you'll grill and then throw onto a lettuce wrap atop fresh guac, a supremed piece of grapefruit and sprinkle that with some fresh chopped cilantro, green onion shavings and fresh lime juice. These make for a great appetizer at a party too as they can be made in any size. So good on a steamy day.

Grilled shrimp and guacamole with grapefruit lettuce wraps

Republic of the Rio Grande Grilled Tuna and Grapefruit Salad

This my fellow friends is what you need for dinner on a day it's 99 degrees in the shade. Robb Walsh comes thru yet again. If you thought Tex-Mex was just nachos with processed cheese and fajitas you never got one of Robb's books or been to one of the many food spots in Texas he documents in each book. "A restaurant in McAllen, Texas, called Republic of the Rio Grande Grill and Cantina invented this entrée-size grilled tuna salad with grapefruit sections and red onions on top. It's a classic combination of South Texas flavors—and a very healthy dinner." Order the book for many more great eats like this and if you want to have this for dinner tonight, get the recipe HERE. Who knew being healthy could taste so good? Big Ups to the King of Tex-Mex.

Grilled Tuna and grapefruit Salad in the backyard

See ya next month @chibbqking

Monday, July 25, 2011

Eating Sioux City

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

-Loose Meats & Coney's in Sioux City, Iowa

The goal of my 1st day on my trip to South Dakota was to get thru Iowa and then call it a day so we stopped for the night in Sioux City which is right on the border of Western Iowa across from Nebraska and right below the Iowa/South Dakota border. I wasn't sure what to expect since I've never been here and don't know much about the place. Well you wont be vacationing here but in case you find yourself driving thru or there on business I got some spots for you. Its yet another Midwest river town that seems to be on the decline. So of course they have a gambling riverboat that's nothing special at all along with a bunch of factories, both currently in business and lots of large abandoned buildings long out of biz. Alot of factories were going strong more so than I've seen in most other once thriving Midwest factory cities.

Sioux City, IA

The downtown has some really old historic buildings but like all the cities that have seen better days its got alot of vacated spaces for rent too. The factory district isn't dead and I saw quite a few people walking around working at different spots around the area. They also have a few amateur sports teams and a downtown events center. We stayed at the Holiday Inn downtown which wasn't far from our two dinner stops known for their 'tastee's' and Charlie Boy's aka Loose Meats. First up on the list was Tastee Inn & Out.

a locals favorite in Sioux City, IA

This locals favorite spot is a drive thru with a walk up window so there is no dining indoors, its in your car or outside at one of the picnic tables. The weather was wonderful so we we ate at a table so we went thru the drive thru and ordered up a few loose meats (Iowa's other signature sandwich) along with the roadfood rec'd onion chips which were classic in my book. They take pieces of onions in chip like form and fry them up fresh and they are served with a thousand island/ranch type dressing and make for an excellent fast food eat.

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Onion chips were one of the best fried onion sides I've had

In case you don't know what exactly a loose meat is, its basically a sloppy Joe without the slop or a crumbled hamburger as opposed to in patty form. They arent the most tantalizing sandwiches out there but they're a special regional treat loved by locals and I do enjoy them when I have made them. They are called Tastee's around here and come with ketchup, mustard, pickles and chopped raw onions. One will cost you just about $2 and they also come by the bag with six in each. Yes its true that loose meats are for the most part under seasoned, they also always taste homey and comforting. These had a unique taste to them and were actually my favorite loose meat of the spots we stopped to try them at. I guess I just like loose meats because it wasn't anything to drive out of your way for and I wont fiend for one later in life but I liked it and would go back here if ever find myself back in Sioux City for some odd reason.

Tastee sandwich

There isn't much on the non-chain dining front in SC so after our appetizer it was off to another roadfood rec'd spot for dinner and drinks. The Miles Inn is another classic Midwest tavern just a few blocks from Tastee it's frequented often by locals. In northwest Iowa you'll find more places serving loose meats than hamburgers and you'll also come across more names for them than most foods. In these parts they are called 'taverns' not loose meats nor Tastee's although at Miles Inn they're called Charlie Boys. Try and keep up.

Classic Midwest tavern in Sioux City, IA

We were there on a Monday night and the place was packed for the MNF game. Drinks are cheap and they serve ice cold schooners which were the drink of choice. The menu was simple, Charlie boys, Charlie boy nachos (avail. until 5p) and bags of chips. We sat at the bar and were able to watch the bartender who was working solo that night get at it, making as many Charlie Boys as drinks were poured, and people weren't taking it easy that night on the alcohol. They have a few steam table/pot luck style concoctions that hold the meat and buns and they come with cheese, mustard, ketchup, onions and pickles.

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Sign outside and the view from my seat at the bar

These sandwiches were double maybe even triple the meat of the Tastee's and they come with cheese and are $3. They were full of peppery flavor, maybe a little too much. I liked them but only ate one because it pretty much tasted like black pepper with a dash of meat and toppings. We did end up watching the rest of the first half of the football game and having a few more drinks and enjoyed that very much. The bill was dirt cheap and the service was excellent, the bartender was a cool dude and insisted I be back. I would highly rec stopping in for some drinks since its a classic Midwest tavern with a great atmosphere and while your there, have a Charlie boy just so you can say you've had one.

Charlie boy sandwich from Miles Inn

We called it a night after a short walk around the river boat and I was up the next day at my usual early time. My travel companion isn't an early bird and she was a real trooper on day one so I let her sleep in and I was off to have Coneys for breakfast. If it's an old Midwest city or town that has a working class blue collar community than the odds are with you for there being a Coney dog place somewhere in town. As is the case with Detroit, there isn't just one but two that duel it out for top dog in town. Both the two spots I visited have a history and longstanding presence in the community. The Milwaukee Wiener House and Coney Island are both downtown and within a walk from each other just like the dueling Coney joints in Duluth seen HERE. My first stop was at the Milwaukee Wiener House No. 1.

Since the 1940's in Sioux City

Another roadfood rec'd stop I went in about 8:30a tues. morning and was there for a Coney with everything. There was a table of old timers and a few more that came in as I ate but the place opens at 6a so I'm sure there were a few others earlier in the morning. It was a classic coney joint in every sense. While not as old as some others I've been to it had the look and cafeteria feel and interesting history. It is owned and ran by two immigrants from Greece who are brothers in law and married sisters and bought the business in 1960. One of the owners, Gus, wasn't even the first from his family to go to Sioux City from Greece, his father worked at a meat packing plant there and then moved back to Greece where he married and raised his family on a farm he bought. They have 2nd generation customers and people who moved away long ago but always come back to SC for a Coney.

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View as you enter and the hot dogs sitting on the grill in the window

One of the owners was just getting a new batch of coney sauce which was bright red and greasy just like it should be. I ordered mine with everything which is mustard and chopped onions included and was able to put down the dog in a couple bites, these were like slider dogs. I enjoyed it for what it was. Just like with loose meats, I just so happen to like Coney's as much for their history as anything else. The dogs are almost always Oscar Meyer like but that's how they've always been. Coney's arent for all but they're something I always get when I see an old shop like this one serving them.

Coney from Milwaukee Wiener House

Just a couple blocks from the Wiener House is Coney Island, it's dueling nemesis in Sioux City where I'm sure there have been many heated arguments over who's Coney is better. So you know I had to check out both.

Since 1921 in Sioux City

I headed over here to see what was up and how the two compared and it was just what I expected and just like so many other Coney spots around the Midwest. This place has actually been all in the family since 1921 and has an interesting history. It's actually famous for their taverns (loose meats) which they actually call taverns. It became so when Ye Olde Tavern, the tavern who's owner is said to create the loose meat sandwich, closed down and the owner of Coney Island who was best friends with the owner of Ye Olde Tavern was given the original recipe.

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View as you enter and the hot dogs sitting on the grill in the window

Well as bad as I wanted to try one they were just getting started on making the mixture in back so I only had a Coney which is their other claim to fame. Just like the rest of the spots it came with mustard and chopped raw onions and was good for what it was. The cheap dogs work well with the greasy ground beef sauce and I actually preferred the sauce from Coney Island Wiener House for its spiciness chili flavored factor as opposed to Milwaukee Wiener Houses sweet cinnamon flavor.

Coney dog from Coney Island Wiener House

So after breakfast it was back to the hotel where we got ready to head off to Le Mars, IA located about 40 minutes North of Sioux City and not far off our route to South Dakota. This is where we would be stopping for early lunch. Le Mars is the self proclaimed ice cream capitol of the world and home to Well's Dairy which is the worlds largest producer for ice cream novelties under one roof and most known for its Blue Bunny ice cream. You can visit a museum with old school ice cream stuff and history for a couple bucks but we passed on that and headed to another roadfood rec'd locals favorite called Bob's Drive In.

Le Mars Ice Cream Museum

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Since 1949 in Le Mars, IA

We parked in the gravel lot at this country Drive In similar to so many around the Midwest and the rest of the US. We walked up to the window and took a look at the menu which included the regulars like loose meats and tenderloins as well as plenty of ice cream options. We were there for the loose meat and their most popular item, the Bob Dog. Its a natural casing wiener from the local butcher topped with loose meat and the usual dog toppings of ketchup (of course I got mine without), mustard and onions. The loose meat was ok if anything, not much flavor to it at all but it did have a nice fresh baked bun.

Loose meat sandwich from Bob's Drive In

The hot dog was awesome and an excellent roadfood eat. The loose meat might not of had much flavor but the wiener did and was a-ok by this Chicago boys standards and the bun was great as well. Stop in for one of your ever around, its worth a detour if your a hot dog lover. Hope you enjoyed today's food trip and do stay tuned. Plenty more foodventures to come @chibbqking.

The Bob Dog from Bob's Drive In

Tastee Inn & Out
2610 Gordon Dr
Sioux City, IA 51106-5728
(712) 255-0857

Miles Inn
2622 Leech Ave
Sioux City, IA‎ 51106-5728
(712) 276-9825‎

Milwaukee Wiener House No 1
309 Pearl Street
Sioux City, IA 51101
(712) 277-3449

Coney Island Wiener House
510 Nebraska St
Sioux City, IA 51101
(712) 258-7479

Bob's Drive-In
Highway 75 S
Le Mars, IA 51031
(712) 546-5445

Friday, July 22, 2011

Sticky Rice Thai

-Grubbing in Chicago
Where the locals eat.

So we're you unable to score a ticket to Next 'Thai'? Can't afford one? Wouldn't ever want to pay the regular price? let alone what scalpers are asking? You can still have great Thai. Whether your a resident of Chi or a tourist you need to check Sticky Rice out. Grant and his team arent the first people to bring authentic Thai street food to Chicago but with the buzz and fuss over the most recent menu at Next you would think they have. In fact Chicago is strong when it comes to Thai cuisine with many different regional variations that are found throughout the country available in the Windy City. I became a big fan of Thai food only a couple years ago despite it being available. The posters at LTHforum know their food and will lead you to the city's best Thai restaurants. One of my favorites is Sticky Rice which cooks up Northern Thai cuisine.

One of Chicago's best Thai restaurants

Located on Western just off Irving this is a great example of the bounty of Thai restaurants Chicago has to offer and even better, everyone can visit. I could never explain it as well as the people at LTH so I am going to share some (poor) pics and encourage anyone interested in more in depth opinions to check out the existing Sticky Rice thread's over there. I will tell you, the place is amazing and I go there at least once a month and love it every time. I usually get pick up and so my pics arent great but there will be more on Sticky Rice later as the menu is massive and everything I try both the Americanized and "straight off the streets of Thailand" recipes are great. Check the GNR page HERE for an index to guide to get you thru all the dish rec's with photos and all. Oh and if you want to know about 'Next' they got you covered on that too.

Fried banana and crab rangoon

Their AMAZING Eastern Sausage

Pad Thai

Chicken and cashews

Pad Prik with crispy pork

Pad Prik with Catfish

Thai Eggplant

Shrimp fried rice

Beef lard nar

Pad See Ewe

Shrimp and wide rice noodle

Crispy Pork with Chinese broccoli

Sticky Rice
4018 N. Western Avenue
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 588-0133

Sticky Rice on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

-Chicken Chunks in Joliet, IL

Last summer I was out in Joliet riding along Route 66 when we decided to check out the downtown area of old Joliet. We drove around and passed by a place that was on my radar thanks to a share on LTH. Chicken-N-Spice is one of the few places left in the area. It's seen better times. But they do have a wonderful little baseball stadium which is right downtown. You can catch a Frontier League Baseball game at the home to the appropriately named Joliet Slammers. The areas other big "attraction" is the old Joliet State Prison along Route 66. It's where scenes from the movie Blue's Brothers as well as Fox's TV series 'Prison Break' were filmed, the prison was closed in 2002. Nowadays it's a quiet downtown area but nice place to catch a game. The Metra will take you right to the stadium and Chicken-N-Spice is also right nearby. Lets check it out.

a locals favorite in Joliet, IL

The specialty of the house is fried chicken and their most popular item are the chicken 'chunks'. Seen on their own part of the menu below they come in portions of anywhere from 3 to 100. All were talking here is breasts of chicken coated and seasoned the house way and then fried. They have other options on the menu including regular fried chicken. In fact these chunks are a popular eat around town with their being a few other places that offer them on their menu in and around Joliet. From the outside and inside too, Chicken N' Spice isn't much. Chunks don't sound all that intriguing or original but I liked their chunks and would easily get some again if in the area.

Joliet Chicken Chunks

Chicken-n-Spice Biscuit

They offer the "George & Eddie" special which includes 3 chunks, house made spicy rice, a biscuit and drink for $6.50 and it's not a bad lunch at all. Much better than the corporate fast food outlets around town. The breasts were really good and I normally don't care for chicken breast at all, too boring. But the coated it perfectly and seasoned it well and fried them to perfection so they actually had some juice in them. The rice was pretty damn good too. Just a yellow rice with some minced meat and veggies thrown together with some seasoning. All things considered, price and other options around town, I really liked Chicken-n-Spice.

Chicken Chunks from Chicken-N-Spice

251 North Chicago Street
Joliet, IL 60432-4029
(815) 727-1100

Chicken-N-Spice on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 18, 2011

Calumet Fisheries

-The Shrimp Shacks of Chi

We're in the dog days of summer here @chibbqking. It's only fitting that during July we hit up a long time Chicago legend which is truly an All American shack. Calumet Fisheries has been a fixture at 95th and the bridge since 1948. One of the last few places in the city that takes you back to another time every time when you experience it. Not much has changed at what is now one of the few (fish) smokehouses left in Illinois. Located right at the bridge that goes over the Calumet River, it's the same bridge jumped by Blues Brothers in their Bluesmobile. Calumet was first started by two brothers and its still in the family. Spots like these were the thing in Great Lakes territories back in the day and Chicago had its fair share. Calumet lives up to the term 'house' as you can see in the pic below, it's a small shack and take out only, just like its always been.

a Chicago legend at 95th (just off Ewing) and the bridge

as we enter

The fried part of the menu

Fish/Shrimp is battered that morning and ready to go when ordered

If Calumet Fisheries looks familiar and your not from Chicago nor never been, it's most likely because you saw it on Anthony Bourdain's 'No Reservations' television show during the Chicago episode. Calumet smokes fish out back in their smokehouse and it's some of the best smoked fish anywhere and generations of Chicagoan's have known this since they're youth. Calumet offers all kinds of fish smoked including salmon, trout, whitefish, chub. This is how it was back in the day. Chicago's hard working men and women, many who helped build the city would stop in and eat lunch at Calumet. No tables no bathrooms, you it right there on the hood of your car or take it back down to your boat by the Calumet River. It's said these smoke fisheries were most likely always along the river so that they could get the fish as fresh as possible. Nowadays you'll see abandoned steel mills, large empty lots from long gone manufacturing plants when enjoying your fish. A very different picture of Chicago than Michigan Avenue. These places were once in abundance around this area, Calumet lives on.

Smoked trout with garlic pepper

Smoked Salmon

I would prefer my fish fried to smoked but there's just something about the smoked shrimp at Calumet Fisheries. Everyone should try it once. Smoked fish comes cold if you didn't know. The combo of seafood flesh and smoke makes for a really pleasant taste with a little cocktail sauce thrown on especially on a hot humid day. The shrimp are jumbo things of beauty and come in peel and eat form. Hard to pop just one, they get addicting and make for a great snack for anyone heading to Indiana or Michigan for a quick getaway or just get some and go to one of the many city parks along the lake. Calumet Fisheries is right off the Lake Michigan Circle Tour route too and a great stop on that trip. If your ever feeling like getting out and just cruising the city for some scenic views and good eats, hop on Lakeshore Drive and ride it all the way to Calumet Fisheries, it's a beautiful ride, tasty too.

Pound of Smoked Shrimp from Calumet Fisheries

My favorite item at Cal Fish is a favorite food of mine to chow on. The fried shrimp are some of, if not the best in the city. I would put them in the starting five of 'Chi Shrimp Shacks' for sure. I like the freshly breaded light batter that makes for a perfect bite each time. As with all shrimp shacks in Chicago you have your choice of hot or mild for the sauce and they make a great hot with just the right heat and ting to it. One of my favorite places to eat, everywhere included, is Calumet. Some smoked shrimp with some fried shrimp on the hood of my car overlooking the Eastside. There's a reason this place has been around as long as they has and there's always cars parked around it when theres no other businesses near. Its real deal Chicago. Check it!

Calumet Fisheries Fresh Fried Shrimp

Calumet Fisheries Inc.
3259 East 95th St.
Chicago, IL 60617
(773) 933-9855

Calumet Fisheries on Urbanspoon


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