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).

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Reader Submission: Chubby's vs Dalessandro’s

5826 Henry Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19128
(215) 487-2575

600 Wendover St
Philadelphia, PA 19128
(215) 482-5407

This review by reader/blogger Tasty Tripod. For more reviews, recipes, food stuff and general nonsense, visit and follow them @tastytripod.

If you live in the city of Brotherly Love, it’s probably happened to you before: you tell someone you’ve just met where you’re from, and they immediately exclaim some version of “You’re from Philadelphia? CHEESESTEAKS!!!!” then proceed to ask you who makes the best sandwich. Yeah, it’s a stereotype, but as much as you and I hate to admit it, if someone asks for your opinion on steaks, you’re going to have one.

Fortunately, we have a lot of options. Besides the tourist trap nonsense of Pat’s and Geno’s that true Philly residents avoid (unless it’s 3 a.m. and you’re too drunk to care), there’s Jim’s, Tony Luke’s, and John’s Roast Pork, among others. Each has its virtues and its legions of ardent supporters, but we can’t forget two of the best options, even if they’re a little further away.  If you make it out to Roxborough, which is about a 15 minute drive from downtown, you’ll see them right off Henry Ave, directly across the street from each other. Trust me, it’s worth the drive.

Chubby’s has been in business since 1987 and offers up a full menu of steak sandwiches (or chicken), hoagies, finger foods like cheese fries and onion rings and a pretty good selection of bottled beers and beverages to go. They also have a decent amount of seating where you can enjoy some beers on tap at the full bar and watch the game. For convenience, Chubby’s has it in the bag – they’re open until 2 a.m. on weekends and take credit cards, plus they have a small parking lot.

Dalessandro’s, on the other hand, is cash only although there is an ATM on premises.

A neighborhood fixture, their menu is also a little more limited – the focus here is on the sandwiches. You won’t find appetizers or sides on the menu, so if you want fries with your steak, you’ll have to get them elsewhere. Don’t let this deter you, though, because what they offer is phenomenal. During peak hours, there’s a line out the door but service is fast and efficient so you won’t be waiting long – which is good, because parking is street only and limited.

So who serves up the better steak sandwich? It’s a close call. Both use rib-eye on an Amaroso roll. Both come standard with American, although you can add on provolone, whiz, and various toppings. It’s a matter of personal preference, of course, but the general consensus seems to indicate that the difference is in the chop. While Dalessandro’s gives you a generous portion of finely chopped meat – some would say it resembles ground beef – Chubby’s give you a smaller portion that’s less chopped, giving you the more “traditional” steak presentation and, some would argue, more flavor. That’s not the final verdict, though, because there’s a wild card: Dalessandro’s buffalo chicken cheesesteak.

I can say with certainty that once you have the buff chx at Dalessandro’s, anyone else’s version of the sandwich will pale in comparison. It’s that good. It comes with Bleu Cheese and American – add fried onions and hot peppers and you’ll succumb to a pleasant food coma like no other.

Which steak shop is your favorite – Chubby’s or Dalessandro’s?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bruno's Old Style Hoagies

555 Greenfield Rd.
Lancaster, PA 17601
(717) 393-7827

A recent camping trip put me in Lancaster for a pit stop, and in preparation of all of the grilled items to follow, I felt I should fortify myself with a hoagie (or 2). Bruno's Old Style Hoagies sounded right up my alley.

First good sign, Liscio's boxes. My favorite.

I decided to try one turkey and one Italian for good measure. And because I am oh so very glutenous. "The Bruiser" is a spicy turkey with peppered turkey, Cooper sharp, peppershooters, and topped with bruschetta. Curiously, they employed the time honored DelCo meat wrap ordinance, though we were indeed in Lancaster County. The peppered turkey was delicious, the entire hoagie, though hard to eat, was packed full of fresh ingredients. The only part I wasn't thrilled about was the bruschetta. It didn't add much, and pretty much fell out when squeezed. It wasn't bad at all, just me being overly picky. I am, after all, a seasoned hoagie expert.

The hot Italian, however, more than held its own. And let's face it, an Italian is to hoagies as sharp prov is to the provolone family. Everything else is good, but there can be only one king.

This featured a thin layer of fatty, spicy sopressata on the top, and a more traditional cotechino and hot capicola inside. This Italian was about perfect. Thinly sliced meats, made with love, and crunchy veggies down below. Sharp provolone rounded it out. It's good to be king.

This was a hell of a portion on both accounts, and I ate like a ravenous wolf that just stumbled upon a flock of sheep. Lancaster, you have a good hoagie joint.

And no gruff for my famous oil AND mayo request either. Don't hate on deliciousness, South Philly.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Mi Pueblito Taco Truck

Girard at Frankford
(late night edition)

Well, the old neighborhood has certainly changed. Long gone are the days of grabbing a seat at JB's on a warm night and relaxing. It seems the introduction of Frankford Hall and the ensuing gentrification has led to various levels of douchebaggery – from the influx of too-cool hipsters migrating from South Philly, to the college kids who can't handle their liquor, to South Jerseyites (no explanation needed) – the hood has turned into a shitty circus and lost its charm. At least they have this taco truck.

Mi Pueblito sits at Girard and Frankford on the weekend nights and cranks out some of the best Mexican in the city. Cheap, quality, and delicious, it's the triple threat. They also have guacamole salsa, which is one of my favorite things on earth.

Tacos are cheap, $2 a pop, and offer a variety of protein choices. Chorizo and pollo are two of my favorites.

The burritos, however, are the best thing going. Huge, loaded with flavor, and wrapped to go, you don't even have to worry about getting any drips on that expensive vintage-looking shit-your-parents-paid-for/popped collar polo shirt/anything from your personal "Affliction" collection.

The flour tortilla tastes fresh and lardy, like it was just rolled and grilled on the flat top moments before. It glistened in the glow of the street lamps and made my mouth water at first glance.

No joke, all of their meats are tender, juicy and full of complex flavors – and this isn't just the drunk hunger talking, this stuff is the real deal.

As I mentioned earlier, the burrito is wrapped tight and the tortilla's elasticity kept everything in order as I plowed through both. That's right, one of these monsters wasn't enough. I had two.

I'm hoping the crowds die down and that people stay in their own respective neighborhoods so I don't have to fight to get some of the best, most authentic burritos around.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pizza Delicious

617 Piety Street
New Orleans, LA 70117
(504) 676-8482

You may or may not have noticed that I spend A LOT of time in New Orleans. It's a great city, though the food options are predominately of one genre. I LOVE Cajun food, but sometimes you just want a slice of pizza. Well I was tipped off to Pizza Delicious, and figured it was worth a shot. Was it ever.

This place is located in the Bywater, and is run like a well-oiled machine.

I was feeling a bit heavy, largely due to the fact that most of my meals were fried or smothered (or both) for the past few days, so I started with a house salad.

All of the veggies were fresh, and the shaved prov was fantastic.

Next I decided it was time to try some of their signature rolls.

Surprisingly, the cauliflower roll was my absolute favorite. This was a perfectly spiced, well seasoned dough ball packed with cauliflower. Fantastic. On a return trip, they were sold out, which was disastrous for my morale.

The beautiful layering of meat in the pepperoni roll was not to be missed either. Just look at it.

This was one of the best pepperoni rolls I have ever eaten.

The spinach roll was also good, but it was hard to compete with the previous duo.

The Margherita pizza is only available in pie form (compared to slices for the rest), but it is certainly worth it. This was my favorite pie. The crust was even thinner than the rest (likely why it is whole pie only) and the flavorful sauce and creamy cheese did the trick. The crust was literally cracker thin. It was amazing.

Never one to back down from a tasting, I also tried the cheese, pepperoni, and two specialty slices.

The cheese and pepperoni were both good. Thin crust, nice amount of cheese, and a delicious sauce. I would definitely be happy with these for a "grab and go" situation.

Both of the special slices had roasted garlic, one was a white sauce, one a red with sopressata. Both were very tasty, but given one choice, I would rather eat an entire Margharita by myself.

It was a pleasure to find such an east coast-worthy pizza place smack dab in the middle of New Orleans. I will definitely be back, especially when I hit the gumbo wall and need something different to change it up.