Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Chando's Tacos

863 Arden Way
Sacramento, CA 95815
(916) 641-8226

On a recent trip to Sac-town, I was looking for something that just isn't the same on the East Coast. And that thing is West Coast Mexican food. Chando's was just what the doctor ordered (well, not really, because I ate three meals' worth of somewhat greasy food in one sitting).

Much like the beloved cheesesteak stands in Philly, Chando's was a walk up window, but they also featured an outdoor grill, at left. The entire area smelled like deliciously charred meat.

I decided on an al pastor torta, a carnitas burrito, and a steak mulita. I would have gladly eaten everything on the menu.

The carnitas burrito was packed with traditional ingredients, and smothered in sour cream.

The mulita was basically a corn tortilla quesadilla with steak, cilantro, onion, guac, and salsa inside. Delicious and a bargain at $2.50.

The torta was also a winner, tucked nicely into a crispy roll, and perfectly portioned with just enough cream and guacamole to keep it moist. This type of quick stop Mexican food is found locally in food trucks, and I certainly wouldn't mind bolstering the traditionally Puebla-style Mexican in South Philly with a bit of West Coast grab-and-go flair.

So if you're out there and looking to open one up, let me be the first to know.

Monday, August 11, 2014

McDonald's Shakin' Flavor Fries

Limited Time Only
Philadelphia Region

You may have seen the commercials by now, or maybe you haven't, in which case, I'll just tell you about it.

McDonald's has launched a new product in only 3 of their US test markets and Philadelphia is one of them. Along with St. Louis and Sacramento, we have the joy of trying out their newest fad-food: Shakin' Flavor Fries. Now when they say "Philadelphia," they actually mean a huge geographic region that goes as far south as Dover, DE and all the way up through Bucks County. Point is, if you're not in the city to try 'em out, do not fear, they've got the suburbs covered.

The concept is finally making its way to us after nearly 10 years - the chain introduced "Shake Shake" (fries) to their Hong Kong audience in 2005 and they've since spread to menus throughout China, India and Australia. Needless to say, we're way behind the times on this one. And yes, I was invited by the regional PR firm to give them a try...

The idea is that you can order your good old-fashioned regular fries or you can say you want to try one of their 3 new flavors: spicy buffalo, zesty ranch or garlic parmesan. Of course I had to try them all.

You get your flavor pack and an additional bag for which you do the shaking. The idea is to provide a "fun and interactive taste experience." But honestly, that just sounds like additional work for me. Work that I maayyyy be willing to to do...

They encourage you to add as much or as little of the flavor pack as you want. My test run was on the medium size fry, so I was going to err on the side of caution with my flavoring.

Commence shaking! (or "do the shake" as they say.)

They also say "Shake up your tastebuds," which is exactly what these finely ground, little clingy powders do.

They are definitely flava' full. I was a big fan of the buffalo; I only used about 1/3 of the packet and got a very thorough coverage with very little powder. The other two flavors weren't bad either and with the classic McDonald's fries coming hot out of the fryer, there's no problem with getting an even distribution.

I think everyone in Philadelphia, if given the opportunity, deserves to give them a try and even though I didn't have to pay for the extra flavor, I think it's worth the minimal up-charge to shake up your day. See what I did there?

They're only available through the month of August, so go try them and let me know what you think. You can also try to win some free sh*t if you're on Twitter: #shakinphilly. With that, I'm going to end the Shakin' Flavor Fries story with one last tip - if/when you don't use all of your flavor packet, I suggest taking it home and using the rest on some popcorn for a flavor-blasted late-night snack.

Now, since I was there, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to also try their new Clubhouse Burger. Marketed to the people who are interested in the finer things, this one boasts, "thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon, caramelized grilled onions, white cheddar*, crisp leaf lettuce and fresh tomato, all lovingly layered on a quarter pound** of 100% pure beef, then topped with Big Mac special sauce. Served on our artisan roll."

Drum roll, please...
It was all right.
That said, I'll stick with my usual Big Mac order next time.

They'll never stop trying to expand their reach, but at the end of the day, it's hard to do any better than the well loved classics.

*pasteurized process
** weight before cooking 4 oz. (113.4 grams)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Postmates (food delivery app) Promo (COUPON!)

Download Postmates Here

I received an email this morning about a new-to-Philadelphia app that makes ordering food (and everything else) a breeze, and easier than tying your shoes. If you had Velcro shoes, that's probably on the same level. I downloaded Postmates and when I signed in, there was a list of suggested restaurants nearby and when I clicked on Hot Diggity, for example, their menu came up, descriptions and all. I added a dog to my cart and voila! My order was done.

Well, not exactly. There was a $9.25 delivery charge added to the order.

But, if you sign up right now they're offering free delivery through August 17. So it's worth a try.

To make matters even better - we've got our own Philly Phoodie-centric coupon code!!! Sign up and use the code PHLPHOOD and you'll get $25 in delivery fee credit, which looks like you'd get about 3 deliveries for free, which ain't bad at all.

I think it will come in handy for those days when I can't get away from my desk and when a hoagie from the Wawa around the corner just won't cut it on my short break.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Lou's Sandwich Shop

414 E Main St.
Norristown, PA 19401
(610) 279-5415

The much beloved Montgomery County staple, the "Zep," has two Norristown heroes: Ev's and Lou's. Ev's was good, but it was time to write about my personal favorite, Lou's.

Lou's is old school. You can grab a seat at the counter and watch the action, joined by individuals of every walk of life. Seriously, this is downtown Norristown. It's got them all.

Fans of the Zep know that it is an Italian on a soft roll, no lettuce. Lots of onions. Also, they are usually served with a side of hoagie spread. One of my favorite parts. If the the onions are too much, feel free to pull some off, but if you don't have a hot date, just embrace the allium overload.

The Zep comes piled high with thick-ish meat, and a heavy layer of cheese on the bottom.

Everything just kind of comes together with the oil, herbs, spices, and soft bread to mop it up. The salty meat, sliced fresh to order, adds to the attractiveness. This is a hoagie at its most basic. And I LOVE it.

So the next time you get arrested in Montgomery County, or you have to go to a training class in Norristown, do yourself a favor and grab a Zep. It's a throwback that never moved forward, and I wouldn't change it for the world.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Billy Burger & Bakery

2 N 5 Points Rd #4
West Chester, PA 19380
(610) 431-3100

A couple of friends had told me I needed to get out to Billy Burger in West Chester, and it admittedly took me much longer than it should have.

Billy Burger (and Bakery) is a busy operation, with staff members all happily buzzing about, keeping things moving. They also offer an extensive baked goods section, and I was blown away at how good the baked goods at this burger bar were.

Husband and wife duo Bill and Sally are the heart and soul of the operation. Bill has cooked every single burger that the place has put out since opening three years ago. Every. Single. Burger. His attention to detail and love are what make the burgers fantastic. Sally, on the other hand, is the mad genius behind the baking end of things. My god, can she bake.

The burgers are cooked on a gas fired indoor grill, and it gets hot enough to char the burgers perfectly.

Billy working his burger magic below.

I was informed that they were prepping for a local burger competition (hosted the next day) while I was there, and was asked if I would like to try their offering. Obviously. The below burger is topped with Mermaid BBQ sauce (a personal favorite), pineapple sambal, grilled ham, shredded lettuce, and cheese. Unfortunately, the slow roasted pork that was going on the official entry instead of the ham was still in the oven. The charred ham was so good, I don't think I missed the pork!

This burger was sloppy. Up to your elbows in pineapple teriyaki goodness, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I absolutely loved the sweetness of the sauce and sambal mixed with the smoky flavor that both the charred burger and ham contributed. This one was a winner in my book.

The waffle fries were also delicious, fried crispy and well seasoned. Billy Burger has true soul, something lacking in a lot of new restaurants, and you could certainly do worse than to go in there and order anything on the menu (try the chili dog). The owners were incredibly cool, and I have to say, this place rules.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cho Cho San

2018 Hamilton St,
Philadelphia, PA 19130
215) 557-1919

In a moment of weakness, while I was hitting Rite Aid for some Claritin, I decided to get some Japanese food because I didn't feel like doing the Whole Foods thing and I had just had a Wawa the night before...

Enter Cho Cho San. I'm going to keep this one short and sweet, even though nothing about the experience was sweet, save for the salad. And that's saying A LOT.

The lunch specials are severely overpriced and I should have walked away when I noticed page after page of the menu changing cuisines. From American-Chinese, to sushi, to Korean, to Japanese and then some, this place just needs to pick an identity.

The salad was by far the highlight of this sad, depressing meal. Your standard ginger-sesame dressing on iceberg with shredded carrots is sometimes just what the doctor ordered. If anyone has a recipe for this stuff, please do share. I try to replicate it at home, but it's never as good as the real thing. I'm pretty sure it's miso paste that gives it the umami, but I've yet to try it - this stuff is like crack.

And then there was beef teriyaki. Listed at $9.95 with tax $10.75. I received 7 bite-sized pieces of mediocre beef, not even thinly sliced. 2 pieces were so chewy I had to spit them out. See those udon noodles under there? I thought it was a pleasant surprise too! Oh, I'm sorry, did I say noodles? I meant one-thousand raw onions.

No thank you. Terrible on so many levels. Forget I ever went here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Coop's Place

1109 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 525-9053

Although I usually stay off the beaten path, sometimes you get a couple of recommendations for a place that is as touristy as they come, and you must investigate. Enter Coop's Place, a hole-in-the-wall French Quarter spot that has been around for ages.

Coop's showed promise, as the "kitchen" is shown here. Seriously. All questions of vermin aside, this looks like a down and dirty type place that would crank out some amazing fried chicken.

The fried chicken comes with a starch, and I chose my favorite, red beans and rice.

The chicken was not as crispy as I had expected, and lacked any kind of punch of flavor. Although it was passable, it left a lot to be desired. The red beans and rice were pretty tasty, but nothing better than average for the city.

The fried chicken with jambalaya presented the same chicken issue, but the rice side was also much better than the main.

The seafood gumbo, however, was the biggest loser of the bunch. A vapid broth, save for a tinge of fish, this was some of the worst gumbo I have had. Anywhere.

It was not helped by the large and way overcooked oysters milling about. Gross.

I can't really recommend you come here, what with the entire city teeming with delicious Cajun delights, but if you do, get a beer and some red beans and rice or jambalaya, and stay far away from the gumbo (and the kitchen).