Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Eating BIG in Louisville Pt. 3

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

- More from the Nations Bourbon Capitol

The 141st running of the Kentucky Derby is happening this weekend down in Louisville, a place I've gotten pretty familiar with. For those that don't mind a 3+ hour car ride it's one of the better weekend getaways from Chicago. Just keep in mind this is speaking for those that, like myself, enjoy good food and drink. There's some really quality stuff going on down there and it only continues to grow. Today I have a few more spots to add to the database. At this point I've pretty much eaten at more spots down there than most locals. You can see for yourself by checking out Part One and Part Two.

Shirley Mae's Cafe

a locals favorite since the 80's

"Shirley Mae’s Café cuts no corners. Shirley Mae and Chef Theresa take an enormous amount of pride in the painstaking process of prepping and cooking fresh food every day they open their doors to their eager customers. The marriage of Shirley Mae’s Café’s nostalgic atmosphere with its savory and historically-authentic dishes… straight out of the South…resonates with people who like its down-home-feel and its special one-of-a-kind cuisine…a cuisine that most folk don’t have the time or know-how to prepare for themselves or their families at home. Shirley Mae’s mission is to enable her customers to take Shirley Mae’s Café home with them in any quantity, as well as, dine-in."

a peek inside

Somehow this place totally went under my radar on my previous trips in. Otherwise I would've been there the first trip I took to Louisville. On the day I visited it would be Martin Luther King Day and this place typifies the dream he wanted all to be able to achieve. It also happened to be Muhammad Ali's birthday and seeing as how he's from Louisville this spot was the perfect place to honor both men. The building itself has some rich history as it dates back to 1880. The community where it rests is the oldest African-American living area in Louisville and dating back to 1946 when it housed the J & H Food Bar it's been one of the premiere bars/restaurants for the city's minorities. Service was extra friendly and the old school atmosphere was still there. Then there's the food. Skillet Fried chicken wings are all the rave and the hot water cornbread that comes with it was the best piece of cornbread I've ever had. I don't want it any other way anymore. This is what Roadfood is all about.

Pan Fried Chicken Wings and Hot Water Corn Bread

Morris' Liquors & Deli

A Liquor Store / Deli in The Highlands

This place is so under the radar I'm not even sure what it's called. Some online mentions call it Morris' Liquors & Deli while others call it Karem Deeb Liquors Delicatessen. There's little info online but those in-the-know know that this place puts out a fantastic country ham sandwich and is also a good spot to check for that bottle of bourbon you cant find anywhere else. Lets take a look.

Bourbon and Ham

Cool spot. Definitely a locals place. I actually came here twice last trip and got a signature ham sandwich each time and a bottle of bourbon I hadn't heard of before. The guy that owns the place is very knowledgeable on the subject. The salty country ham pairs great with the recipe for the type of sandwiches your mom used to make you for school. No need for the fancy stuff with this one.

Country Ham Sandwich

Shack in the Back BBQ

Fairdale, KY

Somewhere before my trip I'd heard about this place which is in a suburb of Louisville. The online reviews all give heavy praise and we decided to head there for lunch one day. The best part about the place was the setup. It looked like a cool old school BBQ shack but it ended at that. No smell of smoke and no flavor of it in the meats. There were lots of mentions for the chicken wings which were satisfying but tasted more baked than smoked. The best thing they had going was their Kentucky Burgoo. For whatever reason you need to travel a little further south in Kentucky to find burgoo but this place makes it and it was the most enjoyable part of this lunch.

Kentucky Burgoo

Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Ribs and Chicken Wings

The Anchorage Cafe 

Neighborhood Cafe in downtown Fairdale 

You're not going to find lots of options for amazing biscuits in Louisville. They're just not found this far north, well they are but for the good ones you need to travel a little further south. However there is one place you can find what I consider to be a wonderful sandwich and a fluffy biscuit baked with chives is the bread. Anchorage Cafe is located in a suburb but Louisville is so small it's not far at all. The fillings in this beauty below are country ham and white American cheese. As good as it looks.

Ham and Cheese Biscuit

White Castle

What? I thought you do the mom and pop stops? I do but I also like the unique things found and I've never said I hated White Castle. Down in the 'ville they eat lots of fried bologna sandwiches and White Castle's in the area serve one on their breakfast menu. You know they still makes eggs to order? I respect that, and this sandwich. It was awesome and something I'll stop in for next time thru.

Fried Bologna Sandwich

Repeat Visits

As I mentioned in the opener this wasn't our first rodeo down here and we've developed some favorite places to eat and drink when in town. Spots like Proof on Main, Mayan Cafe, and Milkwood are worthy of repeat visits. On this trip we went back to Proof on Main for drinks and their addicting Hot Chicken Plate. We returned to Mayan Cafe to get a real deal taste of the Yucatan Peninsula and we went to Milkwood twice because their ramen is the best I ever had at a place that doesn't specialize in it. Of course no trip to Louisville is complete without fried chicken at Indi's which you know happened. Read up on these spots in Parts One and Two. Stay tuned, more trips to come.

Nashville Hot Chicken at Proof on Main

Papadzules (Yucatan Enchiladas) at Mayan Cafe

Ramen at Milkwood

Shirley Mae's Cafe
802 S Clay St
Louisville, KY 40203
(502) 589-5295

Morris' Liquors and Delicatessen
2228 Taylorsville Rd
Louisville, KY 40205
(502) 458-1668

Shack in the Back BBQ
406 Mt Holly Rd
Fairdale, KY 40118
(502) 363-3227

The Anchorage Cafe
11505 Park Rd
Anchorage, KY 40223
(502) 708-1880

Proof on Main
702 W Main St
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 217-6360

Mayan Cafe
813 E Market St
Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 566-0651

316 W Main St
Louisville, KY 40202
(502) 584-6455

Friday, April 24, 2015

Frite Street

-Grubbing in Chicago
Food Truck turned Brick & Mortar

The food truck scene in Chicago continues to be amateur at best. Sure theres a few trucks that get to park downtown in areas where most city residents have no interest in traveling too. Thus most of their customer base is people that work nearby wherever it is they setup shop. It's too bad because the more trucks the more chance for abandoned storefronts to eventually be rented once the food truck knows it's going to be a successful brick and mortar. I've seen it in places like Austin and it happens all the time in Portland and other spots. Which isn't to say it's never happened here. Take the Slide Ride for example. This food truck specializing in slider style sandwiches hit the road in 2011. Despite constant rules from the city that were meant to brake them, they survived and now have a brick and mortar in Avondale called Frite Street. Lets check it out.

Avondale shop specializing in Fries

Frite Street is a spinoff of the Slide Ride. They opened at the end of last year and have gained a loyal following the past year. It's a small space inside with enough room for maybe 15 people. The menu sits on the wall and then there's a chalkboard with all the days specials. The theme here is french Fries, but don't call them that. They serve Belgian style frites and offer an assortment of topping options, everything from pork belly to Guinness Gravy Poutine.

Menu (click pic to enhance)

On top of the fries they also serve the sliders that made them a fixture in Chicago's food truck scene. I usually refrain from calling mini burgers sliders but will not be giving a lesson today on why that's so. All you need to know is these little guys are quite the treat. I enjoyed both my bacon cheddar offering as well as the Guinness burger made with a wonderful horseradish cream that goes perfect with beef. At just $3/each these are some of the better burgers for under $5 that you will find.

Sliders from the Slide Ride 

The Frite boxes are a meal in of themselves. The fries are freshly cut and cooked twice to order. Some of the better ones you'll find. But they're actually the supporting actor in most menu options. On a recent Friday visit I got to try the Friday Fish Fry box which was a very satisfying lunch. You don't have many Friday Fish Fry options in town and its nice to indulge in one thats a bit different from the norm. Chunks of juicy fried catfish are topped with a homemade tarter sauce, green onions and a pickles. My only gripe was not putting the sauce on the side. Too much tarter on some fries.

Friday Fish Fry Box

Frite Street
3006 N Elston Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
(312) 925-1911

Frite Street on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 20, 2015

5 More Northwest Indiana Food Stops

-Exploring NW Indiana

It's been a few months since we strolled around The Region in search of gems that might be hiding in plain sight. Today we're going to knock five spots off the list. Like the area itself it's an eclectic group of spots that cater to some of the last of the blue collar workers in the country.  Lets have a look.

Vee & E Original Jamaican Jerk

Gary, Indiana

There seems to be a countless amount of smoked meat shacks in the city where the Jackson 5 was born. You'll see spots set up at gas stations, in empty lots, and a handful of storefronts turning out American style BBQ and or Jamaican Jerk Chicken. One day while riding down Ridge road I got a big old whiff of smoke thru my window and couldn't resist the smell of it. I pulled around and went inside. I knew it was the real deal when I waited some 20 minutes for it after ordering. A tad overcooked is better than undercooked and the spicing was fire. $5 meals don't get much better.

Jerk Chicken Lunch Plate

Super Submarine

Hammond, Indiana

Remember that sandwich shop you loved back in the 70's, Super Sub is it. Upon stepping inside this longtime submarine shop you will be transported to another era when satin was king.

a peek inside

The sandwiches here are also straight out of 1973, for better or worse. They use mid grade meats and pack them high inside. This sandwich below is a monster and it's not a large or double meat, just the normal one they serve when you order. I liked the addition of extra pepperoncini peppers.

Italian Sub

The Quesadilla Company

Highland, Indiana

Next stop up has been open for almost a week now. The Quesadilla Company hopes to bring locals in with $1 quesadillas as well as their signature walking taco, stepped up and put into a cup with layers and layers of toppings. The $1 quesadillas are like the ones so many Midwestern moms have made over the years. Its a quick, cheap, snack and one I'd stop in for if they were a neighbor of mine.

Taco and Quesadilla

Miner Dunn 

Highland, Indiana

Next stop up has been featured on here before. Back in 2009 to be exact. Miner Dunn is still going strong. I hadn't been by there in forever until this past winter when we rolled thru on a trip into the area. Instead of their famous hamburgers we opted to try a couple sandwiches instead.

Reuben Sandwich 

The Reuben was made with corned beef made on-site however it was sliced a little too thin for our liking. To me the whole point of making it yourself is so you can have nice tender hunks that fall apart when bitten into. Better success was had with their roast beef and cheese. The Region appreciates a good roast beef sandwich as is evident in a few spots specializing in them. While MD's specialty is burgers they also do house roasted beef sandwiches and they're pretty damn good. I imagine this is what a beef and cheese from Arby's used to taste like before it went franchise. 

Roast Beef and Cheese

Jodi's Italian Ice Factory

Hammond, Indiana

Don't look now but Jodi's is taking over the ice game in The Region. They just opened their second spot and have a third coming. Reason they've been able to expand is locals love for their Italian ice. Aside from all the usual flavors they're doing unique recipes like horchata and it's really refreshing.

Summer is so close!

Vee & E Jerk Chicken
471 W Ridge Rd
Gary, IN 46408

Super Submarine
7010 Kennedy Ave
Hammond, IN 46323
(219) 845-6705

The Quesadilla Company
2945 Jewett ave
Highland, IN 46322
(219) 531-9293

Miner-Dunn Hamburgers
8940 Indianapolis Blvd
Highland, IN 46322
(219) 923-3311

Jodi's Italian Ice Factory
7322 Calumet Ave
Hammond, IN 46324
(219) 678-2018

Friday, April 17, 2015

Bar Takito

-Weekend Brunchin'

I've been brunchin' a bit more lately and decided to start this new series of posts because of it. First stop up is the oh so cool Bar Takito. I call it cool because that's what I said upon entering. They designed a very vibrant dining room that works great for brunch. Plenty of sunshine coming in thru the windows. Located in the West loop just a stones throw from the Morgan Station this place is the sister restaurant to Bar Takito, an upscale taco place I've enjoyed in the past.

Newly Opened in the West Loop

While Takito focuses mainly on modern contemporary Mexican flavors Bar Takito pays homage to all of Latin America. For starters we went with the Carolina Gold Rice. The top shelf grains are mixed with big juicy pieces of choclo corn, pickled veggies, basil and pistachios. One of the more satisfying non-meat rice dishes I can remember. Light but full of flavor.

Carolina Gold Rice 

Bar Takito boasts designer tacos on both their brunch and dinner menus. Some of the options are on both menus and others are on one or the other. The pork belly option is on both as they should be. I either love or hate pork belly tacos and these got love. In classic Takito fashion they take an array of ingredients I never would of thought up and turn out some stellar tacos using  made in-house tortillas. In this recipe the tortillas are made with turmeric and the pork belly takes a slow 8 hour braise before becoming crispy on the exterior with a moist and tender interior. Toppings are smoked queso fresco, aji amarillo, pickled jicama, locally grown arugula, and pepitas. They know upscale tacos.

Pork Belly Tacos

My entree option was steak and eggs. This recipe was a Colombian play on my favorite breakfast plate. I was disappointed when shortly after I ordered I realized the guy taking the order never asked how I wanted my steak done but it was pretty much smooth sailing other than that. It came out a tad past what I would've liked but with my usual way of attacking this type of plate it basically meant it didn't matter. I like to cut it all up and mix the scraps together into one big disaster and it worked real well for this dish. On top of the grilled steak there was crispy extra thick Colombian bacon, a hearty cheese arepa, pickled vegetables, peanut aji, and cilantro. Safe to say I'm a fan of the Takito team.

Arepa, Steak, and Eggs

Bar Takito
201 N Morgan St
Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 888-9485

Bar Takito on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Frangella Italian Market

-Got Beef? Italian Beef
As seen on 'What's your Beef?'

Those that follow the @hungryhound on social media may have seen his impressive Italian beef crawl he recently did and then wrote about while scoring each stand. What stood out to me was the fact there were a few spots I hadnt been to yet. One of them ranked in the top 5 for the suburbs thus caught my eye. Frangella Italian Deli is a classic family run joint in the Southwest Suburbs. You can get fresh deli sliced meat, imported goods, produce, and food made to order. The business was established in 1993 by Gina and Francesco Frangella, originally from Calabria, Italy.

Locals favorite in Palos Park, IL

Frangella has quite the fresh bread collection. I saw loaves from D'Amato's, Liborio, Gonnella, Turano, and others. They seem to run a pretty well stocked ship when it comes to Italian deli counter needs. While it would have to wait I was very intrigued by the beef and cheddar stromboli listed under the house specialties. It's the type of spot you'd love to call your neighbor.

Beef and Cheddar Stromboli in the display case

Steven pretty much described the process of making it and it's flavors to exactly what I saw and then ate. Although he does mention that they use D'Amato's bread but I'm not sure about that. If they do use them, they use a single sandwich loaf I'm unfamiliar with (as you can see in the pic) as this bread was not cut nor was it crusty. It wasn't bad and held up well to a very generous amount of near perfect roast beef. The giardiniera had subtle kick with extra crunch and the gravy was noticeable in both temperature and taste. I have to say this is one that slipped thru the hole for me. One thing I really appreciated from Da Hounds roundup was his addressing of consistency. It might not be to the level of BBQ but some beef spots do have problems with it, maybe even Frangella.

Beef with Hot from Frangella Italian Market

Rating Scale 5/5

beef: 4
bread: 4
gravy: 4
hot peppers:4

Score: 16/20

Frangella Italian Market
11925 S 80th Ave
Palos Park, IL 60464
(708) 448-2598

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bro-N-Laws BBQ

-Grubbing in Chicago
Where the locals eat.

If you hadn't already heard it's with sad news that I inform you Honey 1 has taken off for Bronzeville. Of course it could be much worse and they could be completely shutting down giving the city one less Chicago style aquarium smoked BBQ. But it still makes for a drag for those on the Northside who frequented their now old Bucktown location. The good news is there's a relatively unknown smoke shack located West on Chicago avenue that may be able to satisfy your tips and link craves.

Chicago Style Smoke Shack on the city's West Side 

I first heard of Bro-N-Laws rebirth when Mike Sula did a little piece on them for The Reader, or maybe it was over at LTHforum, either way the respective people that wrote each review visited the new location together. Bro-N-Laws used to be a little bit East until moving into new digs last year.

Restaurant Artwork on the Wall

The Q received some good words from both guys who tried it and one day when riding by I got a whiff of smoke and decided to see if the consistency was there. It's not easy to put out consistently good meat but it seems as if lunch hour is the time to get here. I ordered a small tips/links combo and came away quite pleased. Pungent smoke aroma filled my car and the well rendered meat was just at the point where it resists for a split second before giving into your craves. I'm not saying it's better than Honey One but it's good and is probably the closest Northside option for this style now. 

Rib Tips and Hot Links 

Bro-N-Laws BBQ
3820 W Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60654
(773) 227-8344

Friday, April 10, 2015

Mott Street

-Grubbing in Chicago  
New to the 'Scene'

After a good year+ on my "to get too" list I finally got over to Mott St. for dinner recently. The Asian fusion restaurant from Edward Kim of Ruxbin down the block opened up to mostly good reviews. The normal weekend diners much like myself certainly like it as it was packed around 10p on a Saturday. There were a few seats open at the bar so we just walked in and sat down. The front of the house was on point as they made sure to let it be known I could park in back which saved me tons of time searching for a spot in an area without many.

Newly Popular spot on Ashland

Our dinner would end up being a step below the service. Our bartender was great and everyone working at the place seemed to genuinely be happy that they were there. The food was hot and miss though, I hate to be critical but it just wasn't what I was hoping for. I wouldn't be opposed to going back but that would have to be with a group of people of which one of them organized a dinner there. With there being just two of us on this trip we still ordered four items but none of them have made for craves afterwards. The chicken wings were massive, not the way I like them. Too big but they were pretty good. I enjoyed the tzatziki sauce served on the side. The brussels sprouts were again, too big. I like one bit pieces not portions I have to eat with a knife and fork. The crab brain fried rice was pretty good, loved the crispy bits but thought there was a lack of funk, certain flavors were missing. Lastly the stuffed cabbage had potential but didn't meet it.  Napa kimchi stuffed with pork butt and sticky rice, pan seared sounded terrific but ended up being way too salty. Maybe it was an off night.

EVERYTHING WINGS - crispy wings glazed with soy, jaggery and dried chilis, tossed with sesame, poppy seed, fried shallots and served with tzatziki

BRUSSELS SPROUTS - wok fried with lamb pancetta and maple brown butter

CRUNCHY CRAB BRAIN FRIED RICE - crab brains, chinese sausage, coconut, bean sprouts, lime

STUFFED CABBAGE - napa kimchi stuffed with pork butt and sticky rice, pan seared

Mott St.
1401 N Ashland Ave
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 687-997

Mott St on Urbanspoon


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