Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Frady's One Stop

3231 Dauphine Street
New Orleans, LA 70117
(504) 949-9688

The blessing and the curse with New Orleans is that there is a great place to eat on nearly every block. Frady's is a neighborhood staple of the Bywater (or Bi-wuder for us Philadelphian's) and has been a corner store of some kind since 1871. Its current iteration (as Frady's One Stop) has been in operation since 1968. There is a reason this place has stuck around so long...

It serves as a neighborhood meeting spot, and many people pass through, some for a pack of smokes, some for a chat with Frady himself. and some for the INSANE po' boys that are cranked out.

I had the opportunity to speak with Frady at length while my food was prepared. He was incredibly nice, offering up the history of the building and his store, and we even got to nerd out on the Civil War, a particularly favorite subject of mine (and his). He made this damned Yankee feel right at home.

Frady's son and daughter (twins!) do the cooking here, and my word, do they ever do it right. The kitchen is open to the store, giving you a bird's eye view into where the magic happens.

Frady will offer some critiques, and an off-the-wall question/remark when he feels it's appropriate. I love this place beyond belief.

Although it was (by all accounts) still breakfast, I needed to try the oyster po' boy, the roast beef with debris, and a good old fashioned fried egg sandwich to round it all out. I was originally intending to walk somewhere to eat with a view, but I was so hungry/fat that I made it a block before settling on a picturesque wall outside of a factory, next to a chain link fence.

Fried egg, cheese, bacon, tomato, mayo on wheat toast to begin. This came at the recommendation of Frady's son – I gave him free reign on its construction – and there is no better combination in the history of breakfast than these items. Oh, wait, some hot sauce. Yes indeed.

This was about the best breakfast sandwich I have ever eaten in my life. Perfectly runny yolk, creamy mayo, buttered toast, crunchy salty bacon, and some acidity from the tomato and hot sauce combined for the ultimate breakfast experience.

The fully dressed, fried oyster po' boy was served on a perfect Leidenheimer roll which is synonymous with po' boy, it is literally THE only roll that should carry a po' boy. Airy in the middle, with just enough crispiness on the outside to keep it all together, there is no other way.

My $8.50 half was MORE than enough to feed one person.

I absolutely love that they shred the iceberg here. It makes sense, and adds to a coleslaw-like effect with the mayo and hot sauce mix. The fried oysters were delicious, and had a well seasoned breading, housing a briny jewel underneath.

The heavy hitter of this party, however, was undoubtedly the roast beef. My god, this is an amazing sandwich.

The debris was the stuff dreams are made of. Rich, deep, and velvety, I wish this was served in a fountain. And that I was free to slurp it at will, and little pieces of beef could be picked off of the ledge around the fountain, with bites of roll if you so desired. It's that good.

The thinly sliced beef was a thing of beauty, and I deem this one of the top five things I ate in 2013. Two others were also in New Orleans (details coming soon).

If you happen to find yourself in this neighborhood, you would be doing yourself a huge disservice to not stop here and eat. Just be sure to tell Frady I sent you.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Café Olé

2752 N State St
Jackson, MS 39216
(769) 524-3627

That's right, it says Jackson, Mississippi. I've had the joy task of working in Jackson for the past few months and it's getting harder and harder to find new lunch spots - especially good ones.

Last week's adventure took me just over 2 miles north of the central capitol complex to an "up-and-coming" neighborhood known as the Fondren District. It's sort of like the Northern Liberties of Jackson, but with nearby residential housing that's more like the Main Line. Think rich, middle-aged women with boutiques driving Lexus SUVs. No doubt their husbands are all doctors working at one of seven nearby hospitals...

And then there's Café Olé. Run by a Venezuelan transplant, it's housed in what looks like an old gas station on the main strip. Come to think of it, a lot of the Fondren establishments seem to be in old gas stations...

The food is authentic and was a welcome change from the standard "southern fried" options that permeate the market down here. I tried the al pastor torta first. Each entree comes with a side of fresh tortilla chips and choice of salsa. I decided to go with the pineapple version, it seemed like the proper match for the chopped, marinated pork.

The sandwiches are all served on Cuban bread, so I guess they're not 'technically' tortas. That said, it was delicious. Hot off the press, it was warm and still fresh with crisp iceberg laced throughout the tender cubes of seasoned pork.

Second lunch included a beef empanada and a barbecue pork tamale.

Definitely the highlight of the meal was the authentic Venezuelan tamale. Filled with a mixture of masa harina (corn meal, think polenta) and tender shreds of a Latin American-style barbecue pork, this was delicious. It was tender, juicy and full of spicy-sweet chipotle flavor.

The empanada's shell was more like an arepa than the (thinner) crisp, flaky wrapper that I'm used to. It was good, but a little too thick and spongy for my liking. Maybe that's just how they do it for real in South America.

The beef was spot on, and the cheese added a mild tang.

Needless to say, while I'm stranded in Jackson for the indefinite work-week future, it's nice to have some authentic Latin American cuisine in the mix.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Subway Cafe

1000 Herr Street
Harrisburg, PA 17103
(717) 412-7128

So, as I was saying, I was in Harrisburg for the day and hit a few local spots for lunch and dinner and in between.

The final stop in my culinary adventure was a little corner spot in the heart of the city, just a few blocks from the capital complex.

It is truly on the wrong side of the tracks, but I did not let that deter me. I mean, just look at those awnings and sweet neon signage! What an awesomely retro building. There was no way I wasn't going inside this time machine.

It's a really small mom-and-pop style Italian joint, with a bar that seats around 6 and a dining room with about 12 tables. There's a tiny window between the kitchen and dining room where you see little hands reaching up and placing plates full of hot, steamy foods. The special drink was the "oral fixation" and I had to skip it, but I couldn't help appreciating the artistic flair (see below).

Instead, I partook in their famous "fishbowl" of beer.

It's an enormous 32 oz. goblet of ice cold domestic for only $4.25 - yes, I said $4.25 - that's not a typo. Amazing.

With that deal, the Subway Cafe could only get better from there.

And it did. The side salad was pretty much your usual mix of iceberg and Romaine, but I want to note that the tomatoes were exceptionally ripe, considering these kinds of salads usually show up with pink-to-white tomatoes that are completely inedible. I could feel the love coming out of the kitchen.

The pepperoni pizza with extra cheese came out moments after and I had to put down my fork. Mouthwatering.

All of the pies are personal size, about 11 inches each, and it looks like they're cooked in something like a 10 inch pie pan. The edges sort of sit up, but it's not even close to a deep dish pie. In fact, it's the opposite.

The crust is cracker-style, thin and crispy. The cheese goes right on the dough, so it melds together in a chewy crunch, and is topped with a swirl of sweet and tangy sauce. I had to add the thin pepperoni slices, at everyone's recommendation. I mean, this stuff is heavenly.

Did I mention they run $6.50 a piece with toppings coming in at $1.40? I mean, it eats like a meal, but I eat for 2. Obviously, I was due for another menu item. The daily special board advertised lasagne with meat sauce or meatballs and I chose the former.

My god, this was some of the best lasagne I've ever had. The noodles were fresh and cooked just al dente. They were stacked together so the heavily-meated sauce actually sandwiched the noodles. There was very little ricotta, if any, and I realized how much I like an abundance of sweet, tangy sauce taking over.

It also came with a couple of slices of fresh baked Italian bread. When buttered, it made the perfect mop for any leftover meat sauce. Now, I have to let you know that the lasagne isn't officially on the menu, so I'll pray that when you go, it's up on the board so you can enjoy your own little pile of heaven.

Well, second pile of heaven, because any of the pizza pies will be your first. Buon appetito!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Two days after Philly Phoodie's visit, Subway Cafe was named PennLive's Pizza Party winner for 2013. The idea was to "crown a champion pizza that was a cut above those perfectly fine pies found at neighborhood pizzerias." Couldn't be happier about their title. READ MORE ABOUT IT HERE!