Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Into The Cold...For Christmas!

Greetings, Readers!

Happy Holidays and Happy Hanukkah to some of you out there!

I am heading home to celebrate Christmas this year in Philadelphia, and like any good trip back east, I am looking for some fantastic sandwiches to enjoy in the City of Brotherly Love.

I'm in the mood for some new, delicious cheesesteaks that I may not have tried yet. So, do you know a great local spot that only your neighborhood knows about? If so, let me know in the comments below.

Also, do you know of another sandwich you've had lately that you would consider a Philadelphia classic, like DiNic's in the Reading Terminal Market?

Leave your suggestions in the comments below, and happy sandwiching to you all!

P.S. - If you haven't read my guest blog for Deli Fresh Threads yet, check it out here!

Until next week...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

They Call Me...

Yukon Cornelius!

Greetings, Readers!

With "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" and Yukon Cornelius trending worldwide on Twitter last night because of it airing on TV, I got to thinking: I would like to create a sandwich that lives up to the name of the North Pole's most famous prospector.

To start, the sandwich has to be hearty, a meal to get a person through the harsh weather of the North Pole.

For me, the the sandwich should consist mainly of corned beef, not only because it's hearty and rich, but also because it sort of shares its name with the character.

While I try to hack out a delicious dedication to this classic character, what would you add to make this sandwich as much of a legend as its namesake?

Until next week...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Post-Thanksgiving Recovery

Greetings, Readers!

I hope your Thanksgiving was excellent, and that your Black Friday Thanksgiving Leftover sandwiches were equally enjoyable. 

There's something about that sandwich that's so enjoyable. Maybe it's the fact that all of the ingredients are readily at your disposal. Or maybe the fact that all of the ingredients of a Turkey Day dinner go so well together on a plate, why not just pile them between two slices of your favorite bread (rye or sourdough for me, please). 

Besides this dish though, there was a quick review I wanted to put out there. A new barbecue restaurant has opened up on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City called Barrel and Ashes. Even though I didn't try out any of their sandwiches on a recent visit, I did try their smoked brisket, which they do provide as a sandwich as well. 

Apologies as I hadn't expected to visit here, I wasn't expecting a sandwich trip.

The brisket was tender, juicy and absolutely delicious. A permeating smoke flavor with some sweetness were the main sensations with an underlying buttery flavor from the melty fat bits throughout the slices. Before we knew what was happening, the meat was gone.

I will definitely be returning here, and most definitely to give their sandwiches an actual try. While I haven't sampled the bread the sandwiches are on, I can't give this trip a full 5 Stars, but if the bread is even half as good as the meat itself, I can only imagine it'll easily grab my highest rating. 

Stop in, have some hoe cake, and enjoy some excellent barbecue.

Until next week...

Smoked Brisket
**** 1/2 Stars
Barrel and Ashes
11801 Ventura Blvd. 
Studio City, CA 91604

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving tomorrow with your family and friends. 

Eat, drink, and be thankful.

And on the following day, enjoy all of those delicious leftover sandwiches!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Difficulties of Sandwiching

Greetings, Readers!

This week I am busily reviewing all of my past sandwich reviews in order to rank some of my favorites. I am writing a guest blog for Deli Fresh Threads to discuss LA sandwiches. 

I have to admit that it's kind of difficult. For one, I wouldn't say there is a definitive LA sandwich. For those who haven't been to the city before, we are more like a city of cities, each with their own cultures and styles. 

So if there is an LA "style" it's that there is variation, and so this post will be filled with plenty of variety. I hope you'll check it out when it's up. 

For now though, make sure you check out his blog here and enjoy the writings of a fellow sandwich lover. 

Also, if you haven't been following me on Twitter, click here for daily updates!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An Ace Up My Sleeve

Greetings, Readers!

I hope you have all recovered from the festivities of National Sandwich Day like I have.

To celebrate this special day, I decided to have some lunch with family at the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles.

The Ace opened earlier this year on Broadway in the historic United Artists Building. Originally built in 1927, the building has been updated but still keeps a lot of its old school charm and feel. Broadway has been going through a bit of a revitalization over the years and this is a gleaming anchor of the district.

The rooftop bar provides not only excellent drinks but a great view of DTLA that is well worth visiting the hotel for on its own. Even better for sandwich lovers though, is the restaurant, L.A. Chapter, on the main floor. Taking a seat on the sidewalk seating, I took my time with the menu. The salads and other eats all looked amazing, but the sandwiches showed someone had taken their time in crafting them.

The Lobster Roll won out over all of the other options, though i'm sure I will be back to try the others. Savory chunks of lobster are stacked in a toasted roll with harissa, celery, hearts of palm and furikake. This savory sandwich surprised me with a bit of sweetness throughout along with a kick of spice. The buttery lobster was an incredible experience and some of the best seafood I've had in awhile.

The roll was buttery and lightly toasted, a great complement to the savory insides of the sandwich.

If you're in Los Angeles, or you live here and want someplace new to check out, hop on Metro (yes it exists) or drive on down to this bright and shiny updated section of Broadway and get to know a little known neighborhood. Starting at the Ace and LA Chapter are definitely the way to start this visit off on the right foot.

Until next week, Readers...

The Lobster Roll
**** Stars
L.A. Chapter at The Ace Hotel
927 S. Broadway
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

National Sandwich Day!

I know it was on Monday, but how did you all celebrate what should be a world recognized holiday?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Sunday Surprise

Greetings, Readers!

Recently, I visited a local eatery that had only become known to me.

Harvest Moon is a quaint stop on a quiet stretch of Magnolia Boulevard in Valley Village. On the day that we stopped here, they were happily celebrating their 2nd anniversary. Quite an accomplishment tin a city with high turnover of eateries.

Walking into Harvest Moon with its wooden tables, great views, and fantastic food on display, I was initially distraught. The menu was written on a chalkboard the size of one of the walls and was covered in chalk with all of the options available.

This was obviously going to be a bit difficult. My eye is always drawn to a cubano, though most of the times I have to talk myself out of it, unless of course it is highly recommended, lest this blog become strictly about that type of sandwich. Turning down the cubano here was tough, though when the menu stated that their BLT was highly rated, I was intrigued.

A BLT is not something I ever seek out at a restaurant. To me, it's incredibly easy to make at home, and I can't remember the last time I ever heard someone tell me about a mind blowing BLT but here it was, in front of my eyes. How could I refuse?

Besides the standard ingredients, I also opted to add in avocado and a fried egg. Joining these two friends between the slices of grilled white country bread were a few slices of sweet and spicy bacon, arugula, roma tomatoes, and lemon aioli. The bacon was amazing. A slightly sweet glaze along with a peppery kick melded together on top of the thick cut slices.

It was honestly some of the best bacon I've ever had.

Combined with the peppery kick of the arugula, the creamy avocado and the savory fried egg, this really was one of the best BLT's I've ever had, and a top sandwich overall. Even if you're not a big bacon fan, I urge you to try this. These strips may change your mind on the matter.

My only thought though is that while I enjoyed the grilled white country bread, I wondered if the sandwich might be more enjoyable with sourdough.

Besides the sandwiches, Harvest Moon has a delicious looking menu with plenty of options for lunch, brunch, or even breakfast. With its location in a quiet part of the city, this is a great restaurant to meet up with friends for conversation and great food.

Oh, and while you're there, make sure to pick up a box of Celia's Gourmet Toffee while you're at it.

Until next week, Readers...

**** Stars
Harvest Moon Kitchen and Marketplace
12456 Magnolia Blvd.
Valley Village, CA

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In Tune With Taste

Greetings, Readers!

You know, sometimes a true gem of an eatery can be so close to home that we end up missing it, or seeing it all together.

Take for example the Tuning Fork in Studio City. There are literally less than three blocks between my desk and their front door, but somehow a visit to this gastropub has evaded me for quite some time.

That all changed this past Friday.

For starters, I highly recommend making reservations for dinner. The Tuning Fork is not a big space at all, and so it fills up quickly, especially on a Friday night for dinner. The size of the restaurant provides a lot of the charm though. It's definitely a space that many other restaurants in the city would have tried to pack another row of tables into, instead there are wide open aisles allowing the place to not feel cramped when at full capacity.

Along with the low light and partially mirrored walls, the space is an inviting and comfortable place to wind down after a week of work.

The exceptional beer list will help with the relaxing while you try to decide which sandwich to get. For me that included a bottle of Aprihop by Dogfish Head as I eventually settled on the Capo Loco burger.

A thick beef patty topped with mozzarella, slices of prosciutto, citrus balsamic glaze, tomato, red leaf, crispy basil and goddess ailio between two slices of a ciabatta bun.

I am a big fan of ciabatta bread, and thoroughly enjoy it when used for burgers, but in this instance it didn't hold together that well until the end. The aioli, the balsamic glaze and the deliciously juicy beef patty conspired to break the bun apart by the end. Aside from that though, the bread was delicious and a good choice.

The beef was cooked to medium and had a fantastic flavor that kept pace with the strong co-ingredients. The prosciutto added a little saltiness to an otherwise mildly sweet burger from the balsamic glaze. The tomato, red leaf and basil worked together to bring a fresh contrast to the overly meaty sandwich.

A bit of sweet, a little salt, and a lot of savory. That's the Capo Loco, and it's delicious.

If you happen to be near Studio City, The Tuning Fork is a great place to meet up with friends for dinner, or to have date night with your significant other. The atmosphere is conducive to whichever way your night is headed, and the food is top notch.

Until next week, Readers...

The Tuning Fork
**** 1/2 Stars
12051 Ventura Place
Studio City, CA 91604

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Swimming Upstream to Boulder

Greetings, Readers!

Last week I told you about the first part of our adventures in the great state of Colorado. Denver and its Beer Festival were fantastic, but there is so much more to CO than just great beer it seems.

Though to be fair, the beer is spectacular. But as could be seen from last week's entry, their food can be equally enjoyable.

Especially after a lot of beer.

Preparing to leave Denver, we decided to round out our trip by visiting Boulder, specifically at The Corner Bar on the main floor of the Boulderado Hotel.

The hotel itself is gorgeous and definitely worth taking a peek inside to see its architecture. A definite look back in time, the classic look will take your breath away. The outdoor seating at The Corner Bar is enjoyable, presenting the relaxing atmosphere of downtown Boulder.

While everything on the menu definitely sounded delicious, how could I ever skip on ordering a sandwich noted as "Boulderado's Famous Salmon Sandwich"? Not only am I a fan of that specific fish, but when something is listed as the top sandwich on the menu, I must have it.

A thick portion of salmon is topped with horseradish aioli, spinach, and red onion marmalade on a roll in this offering. The salmon was delicious, tender, moist and incredibly savory without the typically overpowering fishy flavor usually associated with this fish.

The horseradish aioli offered a bit of kick while also providing that umami sensation while the spinach and red onion marmalade offered contrasting, slightly bitter flavors to the mix. Overall this sandwich was a knockout combination textures and complementary flavors.

The roll was fairly standard, though it did hold together until the end and offered a slightly sweet flavor to the mix. I think a ciabatta roll would have worked slightly better though, but this was still an enjoyable component of the sandwich.

Enjoying this sandwich, taking in the feel of Boulder, and sitting out with the impending approach of Autumn in the air all combined to make an incredible combination that I look forward to repeating sometime in the near future.

If you happen to be in Boulder at any point in your life, I highly recommend you make this stop.

Until next week, Readers...

Boulderado's Famous Salmon Sandwich
**** 1/2 Stars
The Corner Bar at The Boulderado Hotel
13th and Spruce Streets
Boulder, CO

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Next Evolution Barbecue

Greetings, Readers!

I write to you after surviving the onslaught of food and beer that I was subjected to in the great state of Colorado.

But I am not complaining. What I did find out firsthand this past weekend is that not only does Colorado have numerous fantastic craft breweries, but their food is also worth the trip.

While I did not find any sandwiches I would say were specifically from Colorado, I did find two excellent places that I would revisit in the future.

The first stop, which came after a day of driving through the Colorado countryside and visiting three breweries (New Belgium, Odell, and Grimm Brothers), was Smokin' Daves BBQ and Taphouse in Estes Park.

After an exhausting day of sampling 12+ beers at each stop, we all took our time with the menu and relaxed in the atmosphere of this barbecue joint in the middle of the Rocky Mountains. A  I had a hard time deciding between all of the great options, but our waiter easily put the issue to rest.

"So what would you recommend? The Texas Beef Brisket sandwich or the Pitmaster?" I asked, and without hesitation he responded:

"The Pitmaster. It's got three meats." As if the choice was self evident.

Well, good enough for me.

The Pitmaster comes on a fresh hoagie roll and is packed with Carolina Pulled Pork, Texas Beef Brisket and Elgin Cheddar Jalapeno sausage. It's just as intense as it sounds.

Despite the three different meats, the barbecue sauce, and the tangy barbecue mustard I added to it, each bite showed off the three different meat flavors. The overall sensation was filled with tangy, spicy and smoky notes with the savory combinations of the brisket and pulled pork and the kick of the jalapeno sausage.

The roll was a standard hoagie roll that held together well until the end, but it wasn't entirely a noticeable part of the sandwich, not because the roll is bad, but because the barbecue was so good. It was a collection of balanced flavors, textures and smells.

It's also a pretty hefty sandwich, one large enough to help cure a hangover, though you'll probably be taking some home in the end for your next hangover. Now, if you're not huge on barbecue, this may not be the sandwich for you, as it is truly the next stage in the evolution of barbecue excellence.

But then again, if you're hanging out in Colorado for the weekend, why not go for gold?

Our first sandwich excursion in Colorado turned out to be an incredible success, and I think all of us would agree it was a great way to wrap a day of exploring Colorado's beers, but could next week's entry from Boulder top this delicious barbecue offering?

Until next week...

The Pitmaster
**** 1/2 Stars
Smokin' Daves BBQ and Taphouse
820 Moraine Avenue
Estes Park, CO 80517

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Denver On My Mind

Greetings, Readers!

While I am anxiously awaiting the return of "Autumn" here in Los Angeles, I do have an incredible upcoming adventure that is quickly approaching: The Great American Beer Festival.

I have been wanting to go for the last few years so I'll be making sure to go all out not only at the Festival itself, but in the Denver metro area as well.

Which means: sandwiches.

So I reach out to you my faithful readers, where should I head to for a good sandwich in Denver? Is there a style that dominates the sandwich scene in the Mile High City?

Until next week...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Place By Any Other Name...

Greetings, Readers.

This past weekend, I was out looking at houses for sale all around Northeast Los Angeles, so it's only fitting that following a long afternoon of house hunting that we ended up at a restaurant called Home.

I previously reviewed Home's other location in Los Feliz with their Hawaiian Burger, but this time I was drawn quite quickly to their meatloaf sandwich.

These past few days have been incredibly hot for Los Angeles, so while waiting for our food, and trying to cool down after a a day in the sun, it was great to cool down with a pint of Alaskan Amber. This beer has quickly become one of my favorites not only because it's delicious and malty, but because of how refreshing it is for a medium-dark beer.

On this particular Saturday afternoon, Home was mostly empty allowing us to kick back, relax, and chat while waiting for our food. Despite being right next to the I-5 and sitting on a major intersection, Home's interior is incredibly quiet and relaxing.

The food arrived quickly, and the meatloaf sandwich smelled incredible. A thick slice of their house-made meatloaf topped with caramelized onions, melted pepper jack cheese, and a red pepper aioli sauce between two slices of deliciously grilled sourdough bread.

The meatloaf is sliced thick, evenly spiced and thoroughly juicy. The red pepper aioli complements the spices in the meatloaf with a slight pepper kick while the pepper jack cheese ups the heat a little too. Despite this, at no point does that sandwich become too hot to handle, even for those who are heat sensitive.

The grilled sourdough bread added a contrasting flavor to the savory inner ingredients. The slightly sour, slightly buttery flavor popped through and provided a great bookend to this sandwich.

Overall, this was an excellent sandwich, and definitely on par with one of my favorites of this type, the meatloaf sandwich from Little Bear. Add in the relaxing and comfortable atmosphere of Home on a hot Saturday afternoon, and you have an excellent lunchtime experience.

You should definitely stop by the next time you happen to be wandering around on the east side looking for a little relaxation and a little comfort food.

Homemade Meatloaf Sandwich
**** 1/2 Stars
Home Restaurant
2500 Riverside Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90039

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Place Like Home

Greetings, Readers!

Lately, I've been in the process of working on the changes coming to the blog here, and os have had less time to actually pursue new and exciting sandwiches.

But that doesn't stop me completely.

Nearly three years ago, I wrote about a place called HyMart in North Hollywood. It's a great Mediterranean sandwich shop tucked into a strip mall at the south end of the North Hollywood Arts District.

It's a fantastic place, and while I've visited it numerous times since my review, I've never had the urge to write about them again since because I usually get the same sandwich.

While different from the initially reviewed sandwich, The Chicken-iliki is a real stunner. It contains hummus, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pickles, cucumbers, Greek olives, avocado, feta cheese, lemon, olive oil, mint, basil, pepper, tzatziki yogurt, and tahini sauce all on display with the delicious and tender pulled chicken.

The sandwich is an explosion of flavor in your mouth. Each flavor complements the other without being overpowering, and the chicken is flavorful, tender and
juicy. Despite the amount of ingredients, this sandwich is light and refreshing, perfect for a summer afternoon in valley heat.

I could go on about the sandwiches here at this excellent small business, but really the amazing added touch, and the other reason why I will always share the secret about this amazing sandwich shop, is the service.

The people who run and work in this shop always offer up a happy greeting when you walk in. From the second you step inside their door, everyone is happy to see you, as if you're a member of their family and they haven't seen you for weeks. Every time I walk in their, one of the owners always greets me by name (though most of the time it's not the right name, I thoroughly appreciate the extra welcoming).

If you get a chance to check out HyMart (also known as Georgi's Place), definitely stop in. Not only are the sandwiches delicious, but you'll immediately feel at home.

Until next week....

**** 1/2 Stars
HyMart Sandwiches
4795 Vineland Avenue
North Hollywood, CA 91602

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Conquering The Meat Mountain

Courtesy of
Greetings, Readers!

Look, sometimes sandwich shops come up with crazy ideas that actually end up being quite interesting, innovative, and indescribably delicious.

Sometimes, it's like they set out to create Frankenstein's Monster between two slices of rye bread.

Take for example a new sandwich that was brought to my attention this week: The Meat Mountain, a new secret menu item at sandwich chain Arby's.

The Meat Mountain lives up to its title. Composed of two chicken tenders, 1.5 oz. of roast turkey, 1.5 oz. of ham, one slice of Swiss cheese, 1.5 oz. of corned beef, 1.5 oz. brisket, 1.5 oz. of Angus steak, one slice of cheddar cheese, 1.5 oz. of roast beef, and three half strips of bacon between two halves of a bun.

The sandwich is a mouthful. Literally.

I haven't tried this yet, but I have been thinking, maybe this sandwich truly is dangerous. Something that I should seriously pursue.

Not really to rate it (because I'm sure we all know about how many stars this will probably receive from me), but just so I can say I've pursues sandwiches from all sectors of dangerosity.

I mean, I did the Double Down years ago for the blog. Maybe this is the next stage in the progression.

What say you, Readers? Maybe I could tackle this to raise money for charity, or for my impending medical bills after sampling it.

And one last note, as if The Onion isn't already on point with their satire, here is an article they wrote about Arby's over two years ago.  

Until next week, Readers...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An Evening Local and Pleasant

Greetings, Readers!

If you're like me, you also like going to a great local spot, for some delicious food, conversation and atmosphere. Personally, I prefer the pub-style spots, where I feel at home and the servers know a lot about their food and their beer. 

It's a place I can feel comfortable asking my server to surprise me in regards to my beer choice. 

Recently hearing about a gastropub in Sherman Oaks called The Local Peasant, I quickly checked out the menu and their website and was thoroughly drawn to trying out dinner there. 

Upon arriving, Charlene and I were greeted by a full house. People seated at the bar watching the Dodgers game or seated at small tables lining the walls of the pub. Open windows allowed the sounds and air of Sherman Oaks enter the pub, without being intrusive.

Settling down with my first Belgian beer for the evening, we perused the menu which sounds a lot easier than it was. Every option from the appetizers to the desserts looked amazing. I decided to go a different route than I had been lately by sticking away from red meat and instead opting for the Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich. 

My problem with fried food is that in the end most of those foods leave a very distinct fried oil aftertaste. They're usually thickly covered in batter and take away from the flavor of the actual meat being fried. 

This was not the case with this sandwich. 

The light batter covering actually complemented its counterpart, keeping the juices sealed up inside while adding a secondary flavor of batter and spices with a light crunch follow through. On top of the generous cut of chicken was an heirloom tomato, red wine vinegar, lettuce and jalapeno dill spread, all offering lighter flavors than the fried chicken, creating a delicious contrast between two halves of a brioche bun. 

This well crafted and balanced sandwich is a winner from top to bottom, with contrasting textures and flavors sure to leave your mouth happy. 

Besides the sandwich though, the beer selection is phenomenal providing a number of local favorites as well as some excellent Belgian inspired offerings (my absolute favorites). For dessert, I couldn't recommend the Bread Pudding anymore if I tried. It is fantastic and will blow you away. 

So if you're looking for a great place to have a night out and enjoy some good food with a great atmosphere, make sure you stop down at The Local Peasant. 

It's one of my top picks in the Valley at the moment. 

Until next week...

The Local Peasant
14058 Ventura Blvd. 
Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Brisket, Beer and Beachwood BBQ

Greetings, Readers!

As my love for beer increases over the years, I believe it's fairly obvious that I will be visiting more brewpubs and breweries that serve food in order to satiate both of my loves.

This week, and next week's post, will serve to underline that mission.

On a cool Saturday evening recently, we headed down to meet some friends for an Art Walk and dinner in Long Beach.

My prior visits to Long Beach hadn't been very detailed, and usually involved a visit to a local comic book store, so being able to take in the sights and feel of this town were a great way to spend the evening with friends. Even better, we had dinner at a spot that has been on my list for quite some time: Beachwood BBQ & Brewing.

Settling down with their fantastic Mocha Machine Porter (a dark beer with coffee and chocolate flavors), it took awhile to decide between all of the fantastic sandwiches listed on their dinner menu. After debating back and forth, I finally decided on the simplistically straightforward Brisket sandwich.

But just because I phrase it like that, don't expect that it's just plain ordinary.

The sandwich is slow cooked and served on a toasted potato roll with sweet and spicy barbecue sauce. The sandwich is filled with a healthy helping of the shredded brisket soaked in the barbecue sauce. Each bite fills your mouth with competing flavors of smoky and tangy. The meat is tender and cooked so long that it melts in your mouth with each bite. This is barbecue at nearly its finest.

The roll, didn't add too much but was a perfect vehicle for the brisket and held together until the end.

I also added Blue Cheese Grits my side, and I cannot recommend getting these more. Creamy with a little texture, and a mild blue cheese flavor, it's a great complement to the heavily flavored brisket sandwich.

The brisket, combined with delicious grits, amazing beer (besides the Mocha Machine, I tried their hop bomb IPA, Hop Ramen), and a great night out with friends in a great town make this stop at Beachwood BBQ and Brewing a must visit in the city of Long Beach.

Next week, I have a review about a great little Pub in the heart of Sherman Oaks. Until then...

Brisket Sandwich
**** 1/2 Stars
Beachwood BBQ and Brewing
210 E. 3rd Street
Long Beach, CA 90802

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Trip Down Sensory lane

Greetings, Readers!

Temperature have been really heating up here lately in Los Angeles, so summer has officially and finally descended upon the city. As I've said in past years, one of my favorite foods to eat and grill at this time of year is the hot dog/sausage.

While spending time at Tony's Darts Away this past weekend, enjoying a beer and sausage, I started to reminisce about all of my favorite outings since the blog began. So let's take a look back at some of my favorites from previous year.

Hit up the links below!

The Hot Dog Days of Summer

North Hollywood's Hot Dog Heaven

So Long, Summer

Pinch Me, I'm In Beer Heaven

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A New Summertime Favorite

Greetings, Readers!

As I showed last week with revisiting two places that I had eaten at and reviewed previously, there is an inherent problem with this blog: While trying to bring you all fresh new experiences and sandwiches each week, I sometimes don't get the chance to repeat at some of my favorite places.

Take for example Sweetsalt in Toluca Lake. I love this place. It's fantastic, with a great atmosphere, and it's right in the middle of a lot of great shops and stops on the main street of Toluca Lake.

So on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we headed back to this quaint lunch spot.

The previous sandwich I reviewed from them, their duck confit, is still a standout sandwich, but this time around something new caught my eye. Something I've been wanting to try for quite sometime anywhere I could find one: A lobster roll.

Stacked between two halves of a brioche bun, this sandwich is packed with thick chunks of Maine lobster, topped with cucumbers, shallot, dill, and sundried tomato aioli. The creamy smooth texture of this sandwich is punctuated with the pop of lobster chunks and the crunch of the fresh, green cucumber. The lobster is smooth without an overpowering seafood flavor, and the cucumber helps to cut through all the other flavors offering a complementary taste.

The brioche bun, with its buttery flavor, held together until the end.

Overall, this was excellent and gives me hope for the future of lobster rolls to come. So if it's a beautiful Sunday afternoon (which for the next few months here in LA it will be), drive on down to Sweetsalt, pick up a cool drink and a refreshing summer sandwich like their Lobster Roll.

Until next week, Readers...

Lobster Roll
**** Stars
10218 Riverside Drive
Toluca Lake, CA 91602

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Double Dose of Deliciousness

Mo's Royale with Cheese
Greetings, Readers!

I sit here at my desk, composing this week's blog sans glasses! For those of you who did not know, I can still see fairly well without them, though reading a computer screen is mildly more difficult.

Like nose 8 inches from the screen more difficult, so I apologize for first wave typographical mistakes.

But one thing I will not be making a mistake about is the level of deliciousness provided in this week's sandwiches. 

SandwichES. Plural.

I've reviewed sandwiches from both of these places before, so this is more like a quick update. 

The first stop was Mo's in Burbank. Previously I have stopped here while sampling the best burgers of Burbank in which I thoroughly enjoyed their Menage a Trois burger. While I did want to return to that delicious offering again, I decided to switch it up with a Royale with Cheese.

The Royale is an Angus beef burger topped with tempura fried dill pickles, with cheddar cheese, Sriracha Thousand Island and crispy pancetta between two halves of a brioche bun. The pickles and Sriracha Thousand Island added great flavors of sweetness, spicy and a bit of sour pickling tastes. All were great contrasts to the mellow flavor of the medium-cooked Angus beef.

But the crispy pancetta. Wow. Little chunks of crispy-outside, chewy-inside pork not only added a delicious bacon-y flavor, but were a great textural contrast.

The only problem with this sandwich was the bun. While adding its own sweet flavor, it wasn't much to write home about. It held together until the end and did its job though. 

For the second of this week's sandwiches, I returned to Philadelphia and a small tavern called Three Monkeys. My trip back east was a brief whirlwind, but there was still time to get a sandwich and beer with my dad. 

While I previously reviewed their Caribbean Pork Sandwich, this visit was all about the daily special: A grilled cheese sandwich on Texas Toast with 5 oz. of crab meat in the middle. 

I know, fantastic. 

The garlic and butter grilled toast was delicious, added a contrasting flavor to the very mellow and smoky flavoring of the melted cheddar cheese and the crab meat, which was well seasoned and incredibly delicious. 

As far as I know, this sandwich is only a weekend special, so if you happen to be in the area on a weekend, you should definitely stop in and see if it's available. It will be well worth your time. 

Well, thank you Readers for joining me on this double dose of deliciousness this week. I hope it was enjoyable for you, and inspiring as well so that you go out and either try these exact sandwiches or something close enough. 

Until next week...

Royale with Cheese
**** Stars
Mo's Restaurant
4301 W. Riverside Dr.
Burbank CA

Crab Meat grilled Cheese
**** 1/2 Stars
Three Monkeys Cafe
9645 James Street
Philadelphia, PA

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Stroll In The Heart Downtown

Greetings, Readers! And welcome back after a self-imposed exile last week. Apologies for that, I did not mean to deprive you of sandwich goodness, so let's waste no more time and get to this week's sandwich.

While recently walking through Downtown Los Angeles I stopped in at the Artisan House at 6th and Main Streets. Half market, half restaurant this place has a great atmosphere with a beautiful interior of exposed brick and a modern look.

Settling into a seat with World Cup games playing at the bar, I ordered a Snapshot Wheat from New Belgium and looked at their sandwich menu. With a bit of deliberation, I settled on The Artisan Burger. What better choice than to go with a burger named after the place?

Served on a wooden platter, the Artisan Burger is made from grass-fed beef, topped with cheddar cheese, organic wilds baby arugula, tomato, caramelized onions with aioli and dijon mustard. The burger was delicious and juicy, while cooked to a nice pink medium. The arugula and dijon mustard added a slightly peppery spice kick to complement the smooth and delicious beef. The buttery bun held together mostly until the end and the cheddar cheese was a great choose that still pushed some flavor through all of the other tasty ingredients.

If you're looking for a great place to unwind on a Sunday afternoon with a burger, a beer, and some sports on the television without being in a place that is overly noisy, The Artisan House is a great place to head to. If you're looking for a good burger to enjoy any day of the week though, you can't go wrong with the Artisan Burger.

Until next week, Readers...

The Artisan Burger
**** Stars
Artisan House
600 S. Main Street
Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Ice Scream, You Scream

Greetings, Readers!

Just a short post today for you all to celebrate the official start of summertime this past week.

Though if you go by how many times I've been grilling so far, summer started about six weeks ago.

At work recently, we had a visit from Coolhaus, an ice cream sandwich truck here in LA.

With Coolhaus, you are able to not only pick the cookies of your sandwich (you're even allowed to mix and match) but you also get top choose your ice cream in between. For mine I went with the Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookie and Dirty Mint ice cream in the middle.

Dirty Mint has chocolate chips and mint leaves mixed in so you get a strong, natural mint flavor mixed in with all of the sweet chocolate. The combination was savory and refreshing at the same time. It was a great combination to ride out the coming summer months with.

If you are looking for a way to keep cool with a sweet treat as the next few months heat up, I highly suggest you seek out a Coolhaus truck, or visit their brick-and-mortar shops in Culver City and Pasadena.

Until next week, Readers.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip cookies with Dirty Mint Ice Cream
**** 1/2
Coolhaus LA

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sandwich Celebrations

Greetings, Readers!

You know, when people find out that I write a sandwich blog, I am quite often asked which sandwich is the best I've ever had, or at least the best in Los Angeles. Sometimes particular sandwiches stick in my head as favorites (pulled pork or cubanos) but sometimes it depends on the mood I'm in at the moment (I could be feeling pastrami-ish on a Wednesday).

But the thing I usually tell people about what makes a sandwich experience exception is the company.

Sure, exploring places on my own is a fun time because i'm still experiencing great food in great places. but the people who join me on my excursions help take these trips to the next level.

Take for example two weeks ago when my wife and I went to The Fat Dog in Hollywood to help our friend Ross propose to his girlfriend, Katie. Under the ruse of filming a video segment for this blog (there will eventually be some in the future!), we filmed the build up to the proposal and the actual proposal itself.

Following such a life-changing event, could the sandwiches at The Fat Dog be memorable in themselves?

Ordering the Braised Short-Rib French Dip sandwich I braced myself for what could be a sure winner. I've eaten a lot of short rib sandwiches, as well as French Dips from classics like Cole's and Philippe's, so this sandwich had a lot to live up to.

Braised short rib, Gruyere cheese, and caramelized onions sit nicely between two slices of buttered and grilled toast.  The short rib was delicious and well flavored along with the mild, creamy Gruyere. I really enjoyed the buttered and toasted bread (it held together better with dipping) but along with the salty au jus made for an overpowering experience that hid the greatness of the short ribs. While enjoyable, the salt was a little much for me.

The ambiance and experience here at The Fat Dog warrant a second look at their menu. Off topic of sandwiches, it seems like their Fish and Chips would be an excellent choice for an evening there, and a lot of their other options sound equally tasty. My next time around though I'd probably just stick to trying their burger.

Until next week, Readers.

Braised Short Rib French Dip
*** 1/2
The Fat Dog
801 N. Fairfax Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

An Afternoon with a Legend

Greetings, Readers!

After five entries of sandwiches from Hawaii, it seemed difficult at first to find a good sandwich to mark my return to Los Angeles based sandwiches.

How could I find something so good here, in LA that would be able to put my memories of my time in the 50th state behind me for the time being so that I may impartially judge a sandwich here.

Such is the hard life of a sandwichologist.

Taking away the great responsibility of picking a place though, my former roommate Ross suggested we meet at Langer's Delicatessen for a belated birthday lunch. Only a one block walk from a Red Line Metro Station (yes we have a Metro system), I approached what would soon turn out to be a momentous occasion on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Stepping inside this Los Angeles institution, one is transported back in time. The interior hasn't been updated in what seems like quite some time but it absolutely adds to the charm of the place. The warm and welcoming staff don't hurt either. The experience of Langer's reminds me very much of many of the East Coast diners I've been to, and I mean that as a statement of high compliment.

While at times the lines to get into Langer's can be exceptionally long, and the fact that they close at 4pm, this is a great place to order a sandwich, have a drink and soak in the history and homeliness of a fantastic dining establishment.

But you're here to find out if their sandwiches are any good, right? You want to know if it's possible that all the talk about Langer's pastrami or corned beef sandwiches are really worth the hype.

Take it from me, it is not hype at all. It is honest truth.

Langer's is known for their #19, a pastrami, Swiss cheese, cole slaw, and Russian Dressing affair. I had considered going with this, but I am not always a fan of the cold cole slaw contrast with the warm pastrami and so did the #19 without cole slaw.

The pastrami was delicious. Thick, tender cuts stacked high between two slices of rye bread, it's obvious why their pastrami is so famous. Smoky cuts combined with the smoky melted Swiss and a bit of tang and sweetness from the Russian dressing, this sandwich is a great excuse to take Metro and meet a friend for lunch. It's simple and straightforward. This sandwich doesn't need flashy ingredients to make it stand out.

And compared to the other pastrami sandwiches I've had, this one is top notch, conversation or not. If you live here or are just visiting, make sure this is the stop you make if you're looking for great pastrami.

Until next week, Readers...

Pastrami w/ Swiss and Russian Dressing
Langer's Delicatessen
704 S. Alvarado Street
Los Angeles, CA 90057

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sandwich Island Fever (Part 5)

Greetings, Readers!

This week's blog will have both a very sad, and very happy tone.

Very happy because this may be one of the top stops I made on my recent trip to Hawai'i.

Very sad because it was one of the last stops I made in Hawai'i.

But what better place to visit to wrap up our trip there than to stop at Kona Brewing Company on The Big Island. Visiting the brewery and pub was one of my top destinations while we were visiting the state. I'm a huge fan of their beer and wanted to be able to taste some more limited options that are only available on tap at the brewery itself.

The beer, as usual was delicious, and made me wish that the brewery bottled some of these other limited options sometime soon. Duke's Blonde Ale was a fantastically refreshing. I was happy to see that six-packs of their delicious Castaway IPA are now in bottles for the season. Definitely pick that up if you see it and enjoy refreshing IPAs.

But enough of their fantastic beer, let's discuss the sandwich.

The menu has so many delicious sounding options that it did take quite a bit for me to settle on one. Most of them also use their beers as an ingredient. Wanting to stick with the success of the seafood based sandwich from my post two weeks ago, I ordered the Big Wave Shrimp Melt.

A significant amount of tender shrimp are braised in Big Wave Golden Ale (a fantastic beer) and garlic with house made avocado aioli, parmesan and provolone cheeses, roasted garlic, fresh spinach and locally grown tomato thrown on top. Stack this deliciousness between tow halves a hearty roll and you have a great sandwich.

The shrimp were tender but still had a bit of pop to them when you took a bite with plenty of delicious flavor. The parmesan and provolone cheese combined for an incredibly savory, powerful flavor that was very present, but not overpowering of the more mild shrimp flavor.

The fresh spinach and tomato added a contrast of fresh crunch and flavor. The tomato was not mealy in the least and was an excellent contrast to the savory sandwich. The roasted garlic added a great flavor that complemented the cheeses and mild seafood.

Plus, anything with roasted garlic gets a big thumbs up from me.

Stack all of this between the sides of a hearty roll that held it all together until the end of the sandwich, and you have an excellent example and one of the best sandwiches I had during out stay in the 50th state.

If you happen to be in Kona and stop by KBC, definitely take the tour as well. I find it's always great to see the inner workings of a place like this before or after you enjoy their delicious beer. You get to see the process at work and may even get a better understand and appreciation of the craft of beer.

An excellent way to wrap up our stay in the islands for a week and definitely left me wanting to return very soon. Hawai'i is not only a fantastic place to visit, but it's obvious that it is a place where the people understand what makes a good sandwich.

Until next week, Readers...

Big Wave Shrimp Melt
**** 1/2 Stars
Kona Brewing Company
75-5629 Kuakini Highway
Kailua Kona, HI 96740

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sandwich Island Fever (Part 4)

Aloha, Readers!

If you were not aware, these blog posts about Hawai'i have been thoroughly enjoyable for me, not only in the experiences had trying sandwiches in our 50th state, but in the memories brought up by reminiscing about them.

For example, this week's sandwich may not have been the best one I've ever tasted, but the memories of hiking prior to dinner made the day, and this memory all the better.

One of the main stops we wanted to make during our stay on The Big Island was to Volcanoes National Park. Situated at the southern end of the island, this massive park provides a ton of fantastic hikes, beautiful scenery, and the chance to see cooled lava flows and the devastation left behind.

It's really a fascinating experience, and one that we didn't think would take an entire day, but it did. We left the park around five in the evening to find a place to eat before we returned to see the lava glow at Kilauea at nightfall.

There are not many places to stop at in the areas around the park, but we did happen to find one spot that drew us in, not far from the park and off of the main road.

Situated in a densely tree-lined road, Lava Rock Cafe called out to us with its glowing neon in the fading sunlight. The inside was a cozy, cabin-like setting filled up with locals and other hikers from the park. Settling down with a menu, local flavors again caught my eye but in the end I ordered a burger solely because its added ingredients interested me.

The Magma Burger is a local grass-fed all-beef patty with taco seasoning mixed in, topped with salsa and Muenster cheese. With our mindblowing experience at Volcanoes all day, this burger had a lot to live up to, and sadly did not.

The patty was nothing substantial, which I had been looking forward to after a day of hiking. There was a mild flavor, but the taco seasoning definitely did not stand out. The Muenster cheese on top was melted well but only provided a little bit of its sharp flavor. The salsa added a cool contrast with a little bit of spice, but overall this burger did not live up to the high expectations I had hoped for.

Besides the food though, this was a great stop to rest after a day of touring, with a mostly quiet atmosphere and occasional evening music provided by local musicians. Service was excellent and they have quite a few local beers on tap, mainly Kona Brewing though. If there was a better meal or sandwich on this menu, it might have gotten a higher rating. As far as places in the area of Volcanoes National Park though, you could definitely do much worse than the Lava Rock.

Maybe next time I'm there, I'll give it another chance.

Next week, I wrap up my week long stay in Hawai'i with what could potentially be the best sandwich of the five.

Until then, Readers...

Magma Burger
*** Stars
Lava Rock cafe
19-3972 Volcano Rd.
Volcano, HI 96785

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sandwich Island Fever (Part 3)

Greetings, Readers!

While vacationing in Hawai'i, we split our time between the islands of Oahu and Hawai'i. Two very different locations despite being a short flight between each other.

Oahu is much more populated and has a much bigger allure for tourists. The Big Island though can be much more rural in spots, especially in a town on the windward side of the island called Hilo.

Hilo is the type of town where everyone knows each other, all the shops close around 8PM and there's a breathtaking view of the ocean and a volcano no matter where you look.

Walking through downtown Hilo one afternoon, we stopped at a little place called Cafe Pesto. The menu looked fantastic, and I almost ordered something not on the sandwich menu, and then I almost ordered a burger since it was so well reviewed. On considering my lunch options though, I realized that I should pick something more pertinent to my trip to the islands: seafood.

Kalua pork is a staple, and Spam is also a huge hit, but with so much ocean around them, it hadn't occurred to me until I was in Hilo that seafood would be an excellent choice. As long as I could find a good sandwich with it as the showcase item.

Keeping this idea in mind, I noticed a sandwich called Miloli'i, an open-faced sandwich topped with garlic basted shrimp, Pacific crab meat, sliced mushrooms and a blend of cheeses on French Bread.  The blend of cheeses weren't listed but definitely included Mozzarella and Parmesan, along with another one I couldn't quite place. The combination led to a very umami flavor of the sandwich, smoky, smooth and all delicious.

The garlic shrimp cut through the smooth flavors of the cheese with just enough kick to stand out. The shrimp were tender, plentiful and cooked long enough to bring out their flavor but still allow for a pop in your mouth with each bite. The crab meat was mixed in between each of the shrimp and provided a smooth, slightly seafood flavor.

The sliced mushrooms, while not adding much flavor compared to the other ingredients, were cooked just right.

The French bread was toasted to a crisp outside while still having a soft inside, providing a great contrast to the rest of the sandwich. Overall, this was an excellent example of a seafood sandwich from a great location.

The third stop on my trip to Hawai'i was a resounding success, and if you ever find yourself on The Big Island, specifically Hilo, I'd highly recommend you stop by Cafe Pesto and take in the much more relaxing pace of the town.

Until next week, Readers...

**** Stars
Cafe Pesto
308 Kamehameha Ave, Ste. 1
Hilo, HI 96720

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sandwich Island Fever (Part 2)

Greetings, Readers!

As the temperatures spike here in Los Angeles, it is beginning to remind me even more of the fun adventure I recently had in the Hawaiian Islands.

Though it is considerably less humid here.

 While still on Oahu, we spent a long, beautiful morning at Hanauma Bay, a former volcanic crater which had been fillled with sea water over the years. After hours of snorkeling among the shallow reefs, and before heading to North Shore, we decided to stop and have something to eat to recover from our morning outing.

Above Hanauma Bay, near the standard gift shop, is a snack bar. This isn't a place that I would normally point out as a place to stop unless you're already at the bay for snorkeling, as there are plenty of other places on Oahu to visit for a sandwich. But if you're already here, I would have to recommend you stop for the Kalua Pork sandwich with a side salad.

Kalua is a traditional way of cooking in Hawaii in which you end up roasting in an imu, an underground oven. More than likely, the roast pork in this sandwich was not cooked in an underground oven and is probably Kalua in name only, but we won't judge it on that.

Besides the layer of pulled barbecue pork, the sandwich also had sliced tomatoes and spinach between two lightly toasted slices of white bread.

The pulled pork was decent, but not too heavily flavored. It actually felt like it was almost hidden from the flavors of the tomatoes and spinach, which don't have much flavor by themselves for the most part anyway. It worked at the time because the sandwich had a light taste which may have been more enjoyable due to the temperature outside of the time, but in the end was not a standout sandwich in the least.

I had lots of Kalua pork in the islands, most notable at an amazing luau, and this would have to be the least flavorful and enjoyable of the bunch.

That being said, when not compared to standout Hawaiian pulled pork, this was still a decent pulled pork sandwich.

I've had a few people ask me if I had any Spam sandwiches in Hawaii, and I must admit now that i did not. The Waikiki Spam Jam was held this past weekend, a whole week after I had already left Oahu. But while most people know of Hawaiians' affinity for that processed meat in a can, I would like to help further promote the deliciousness of their pulled pork.

Anytime you can try it, I highly suggest it.

Until next week...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sandwich Island Fever (Part 1)

Greetings, Readers!

How have you been? Have you been sandwiching in my absence? Last week, I spent my honeymoon in Hawaii, but have no fear, I still had plenty of time to be sandwiching on the islands of our 50th state.

There were plenty of options for burgers and other sandwiches that I've had on the mainland, but while I was in a new state for myself, why not try something inspired by the tastes of the islands.

Did you know that at one point, the Hawaiian Islands were called The Sandwich Islands, named after John Montagu, the legendary creator of the sandwich? How fitting then that I would have so many to review after my trip.

I've got five sandwiches to review for the blog here over the next few weeks, so let's get started with the sandwich I had only a few short hours after landing in Honolulu.

After we checked into the Outrigger Reef in Waikiki Beach, we headed down to the Shore Bird, a restaurant/bar on the main floor of the hotel overlooking the beach.

Wanting to just unwind, we ordered some beer form Kona Brewing, a delicious pale ale called Fire Rock. To accompany this slightly bitter beer, we added some of the pork sliders with mango salsa. The pork itself had been slow cooked and yet was still moist and delicious. Each bite melted in your mouth.

The slightly savory flavor of the pork was paired with the slightly sweet flavor of the mango salsa, which wasn't overpowering but still shined through the delicious pork. The small, sweet buns that encased this delicious pork (one of many times i'd eat slow roasted pork this past week in the 5-0) were delicious and easily held everything in until the end.

This wasn't the best sandwich of the week (so many other fantastic ones), but it definitely was a great late night eat, paired with a delicious beer, for the first night in Hawaii. The beach location didn't hurt either.

Until next week, Readers...

Mango Pork Sliders
**** Stars
Shore Bird Restaurant (inside of the Outrigger Reef)
2169 Kalia Road
Waikiki, Oahu
Hawaii 96815

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Attack of the Burger Monster!

Greetings, Readers!

Something you may not know about me, unless you follow me on twitter here, is that besides sandwiches I also enjoy reading comic books.

So, in order to fill my love of Iron Man, Hellboy, Spider-Man, Batman, etc, I tend to visit a few comic conventions a year. I've done Comic Con before, Comikaze and a number of other ones, but this past weekend was one of my favorites: Wondercon in Anaheim.

After a day of wandering aisles with friends, looking at trades, art, and numerous things that would fall under the subject of pop culture, we left the Anaheim Convention Center at the end of the day to be greeted with a number of  fantastically smelling food trucks.

Inspecting each of the trucks available, and trying not to decide just with my stomach, I ended up picking Burger Monster. Their burger selections seemed fantastic, and their logo cracked me up. For a true burger lover though, these guys take an obsession to a whole new level.

Their menu itself isn't large, but the sandwiches sure are. Scrolling down the small list of sandwiches, I settled upon the Pigzilla, which seemed to be a special for the day.

A burger topped with Sriracha-marinated pulled pork (yes!), Swiss cheese, coleslaw, a thick slice of tomato, Burger Monster BBQ sauce, and ranch all between two sides of a brioche bun.

The main problem I had with this sandwich happened to be that I didn't exactly know how to eat it. It's a very messy sandwich and not wanting to look like a five-year old after eating spaghetti-o's, this presented a real problem.

Luckily though, with the skills I have gained in eating sandwiches the past few years, I managed to escape without so much as a drop of red sauce on my clothes. The spicy and smoky pulled pork was delicious. It had a bit of tangy punch to it and was soaked with the BBQ sauce and Sriracha marinade. The Swiss cheese added a gooey texture with smoky flavor and the cole slaw added a slightly sweet crunch.

The most impressive part of this sandwich was the brioche bun. Compared to the other ingredients it didn't really add too much flavor or shine through because of the spicy, tangy, smoky barbecue flavor, but what it did do was hold together until the end. That is an accomplishment in itself for how much sauce is on this sandwich.

What made it even better is that there was some bun left over to soak up the remaining sauce.

Overall, this was an excellent follow-up to a great day at a comic book convention. If you can find the Burger Monster truck while around Los Angeles and Orange County, I highly suggest you try them. Even if Pigzilla isn't on the menu that day, the rest of their burgers sound equally delicious.

They even have a vegetarian option for you non-meat eaters who might be interested. So, really, you don't have an excuse to miss this truck.

So, next week I'll be in Hawaii, so I won't exactly have a sandwich review for you (sorry!) but make sure you tune in the following week as I will start the first of a few reviews from the 50th state.

Until next time, Readers...

**** 1/2 Stars
The Burger Monster

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Viva, Las Vegas

Greetings, Readers!

Of all of the places I've visited over the past few years of working on this blog, one of the closest and most notable places that I've missed has been Las Vegas.

Years ago I had an interesting experience in Vegas while stuck in town after missing my connecting flight back to Los Angeles. It's a time I laugh about, but has no place here in a food blog as something terrible happened.

I ate at McDonalds.

I know, I know! But I was stuck in a terrible motel off of the Strip and needed something to eat while waiting for my flight in the morning. Forgive me!

This time around though, the visit was much better. Joining me were a number of friends for bachelor weekend and for Saturday lunch we headed to a place on the strip called Twin Peaks.

In the same vein as Hooters, I'm sure you can now figure out why the place is called Twin Peaks, this place serves up a lot of 'man-food' which amounts to hearty pub-style sandwiches and dishes.

Wanted to kick the day off with a full stomach, I went for the Hangover Burger, a thick all-beef patty topped with a fried egg, American cheese, bacon, red onions, mayo, lettuce and tomatoes. This burger may scream out breakfast to you, but really it's a great sandwich for any time of day. As I've said in some previous burger posts, I've become a huge fan of fried eggs on top of a burger. The change in flavor as well as texture is a welcome addition to the burger.

Topping this off with the fresh flavors of crisp lettuce, tomatoes and red onions was a nice contrast to the meaty patty, thick cut bacon and the the greasy fried egg. All combined though with the thick burger bun, this is definitely a sandwich that can fill you up or get you back into fighting shape after a night of drinking in Vegas.

My main complain here is the American cheese. We really need to have to move past this cheese as an option on a standout sandwich. It's nearly flavorless compared to many of its dairy brethren. A cheddar cheese would have worked much better here and provided an added flavor that would have been much appreciated.

Overall, this time my experience was significantly better in Vegas than last. I have this burger and plenty of friends to thank for that.

Until next week, Readers...

The Hangover Burger
**** Stars
Twin Peaks
3717 Las Vegas Blvd.
Ste. 285
Las Vegas, NV 89109

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I Got That Summertime, Summertime Sandwich

Greetings, Readers!

I hope this latest blog finds you well and full of sandwiches. The past week has seen the start of the new Baseball season, which is officially the start of spring, not some random day in late March.

And with the start of the Baseball season, comes the return of ballpark-inspired foods, and I'd like to talk about one of my favorites today (besides the classic hot dog).

Pulled Pork.

A pulled pork sandwich is one of life's great treats. You could have it spicy, sweet, or smoky. You could have it on a bun, or saddled up next to some potato salad on a plate. You could even just take a fork of it straight from the pot to your mouth.

Any way you shred it, it's a great way to prepare pork for the summer time. Especially paired with a crisp summery beer.

I've done a lot of research of finding the perfect way to make pulled pork and I've certainly tried a few styles, but today I'd like to share with you a recipe I've recently come across that makes excellent pulled pork. You'll need a slow cooker (one of my favorite inventions of all time!) for this one, and the good part of a day to make this.

You'll want to start with a five pound cut of pork. I've used pork shoulder both times I've cooked this. Start by cutting up two medium sized yellow onions into thin slices and four cloves of garlic (more if you want it really garlicky). Line the bottom of the crock pot with this mixture. Pour in one cup of chicken stock so you have the beginnings of a delicious hot tub for your pork to rest in.

In a small bowl, combine one tablespoon of dark brown sugar, one tablespoon of chili powder, one tablespoon of kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Mix this up well and then rum this mixture onto the entire pork shoulder. When you're done, place it in the slow cooker and set on high for six to eight hours. Shred and remove any bones or fat.

I've also added a cup of the liquid in the pot to the final shredded pork for some extra flavor.

The resulting pork has a little bit of smoke flavor, and a noticeable sweet kick to it that brings out the natural pork flavor as well. By getting sweet slider buns, I've made mini sandwiches out of the mixture which are easy to consume with one hand while holding a light colored beer in the other.

If you wanted to counteract the sweetness and add a little crunch to your slider, i'd suggest making a jalapeno slaw (regular cole slaw would be too sweet), or for fun add some potato chips for a saltier addition. Barbecue sauce is also a good ingredient to use, port-cooking, in order to add a smokier/tangier flavor.

Anyway, if you try this out, let me know what you created and added to the pulled pork sliders. I'd love to hear your ideas.

Until next week, Readers...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Sandwiches of Future Past

Greetings, Readers!

I started this blog as a way to not only keep up with my writing, but also to explore many new places not only in Los Angeles, but outside of the city as well. I've come upon so many new and exciting places to eat that my eating experience has been fantastic over the past few years.

The one downside to trying so many new places is that sometimes some favorite, previously oft-visited places are not often returned to.

In my case, that would include Swingers Hollywood.

When I first came out to Los Angeles for an internship in 2005, I spent at least three nights a week at Swingers. It was a great diner-like atmosphere with excellent food, and usually a great spot to see B-list celebrities hanging out after being at clubs and bars.

If I wasn't interested in eating one of their delicious breakfast plates, my usual go-to was the Stuffed Grilled Cheese, which was thankfully still on the menu when my sabbatical from Swingers ended this past Friday evening.

Stuffed with melted Jack and cheddar cheeses, homemade guacamole, grilled onions, sliced tomatoes on sourdough, the Stuffed Grilled cheese is an excellent example of late night eats. The cheese is melty, the bread is lightly grilled and buttery, and the flavor added by the guacamole and onions is excellent.

If you find yourself not able to wait to bite into the sandwich, I suggest you have some water on-hand. The tomatoes can be quite a bit hot in the first few bites, so word of warning, be careful. After that though, this is an excellent sandwich, and perfect eats whether it's for lunch, or for soaking up the night's alcohol.

Since it had been so long since my last visit, I had to have desert here. Following up so much cheese, I could have probably picked a better flavor complement than the thick Peanut Butter and Banana milkshake, but really it was the right decision after all.

If you're in the area, you should definitely add a stop at Swingers to your itinerary. it'll be worth the visit as even the atmosphere is worth the dining experience.

Oh, and the jukebox? One of the best in town.

Until next week...

Stuffed Grilled Cheese
Swingers Hollywood
8020 Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Patron Saint of Burgers

Greetings, Readers!

Hopefully this past week you took some time off to celebrate St. Patrick's Day the way that all good Irish Americans (or Irish Americans for the day) like to: with beer.

And hopefully a sandwich.

Meeting up with friends to catch up, I spent the evening at Stout Burgers and Beers in Studio City to enjoy a burger and beer.

Settling down with a Rosy Barl Sour Ale from Anderson Valley Brewing, and joined that up with a Goombah Burger.

The Goombah was an all-beef burger cooked medium-rare and was topped with Parmasiano flakes, smoked mozzarella, crispy prosciutto, and lemon basil aioli. The lemon flavor was surprisingly noticeable over the smooth and smoky flavors provided by the burger and other toppings. Not too powerful, but definitely on display and an interesting change of pace with a burger.

The patty itself was perfectly cooked and delicious tasting. One of the best things about Stout is that they have such an incredible burger philosophy listed on their menu page, and it shows in both the flavor of their burgers as well as the knowledge of the servers.

I've written about Stout before, and the message remains the same: this is a must visit.

What about you, Readers? Where did you stop to eat on St. Patrick's Day to celebrate?

Until next week, Readers...

The Goombah Burger
**** Stars
Stout Burgers and Beers
11262 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA 91604

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Horse Thief Among Us

Greetings, Readers!

Today, before I even get to discussing the sandwich of the week, there's something I must get out in the open. This week's blog is an incredibly special milestone, one that I could not have achieved without all of you reading my blog each week.

This is the 200th entry on the blog. Seriously. 200.

That's insane. When I first started this blog, I couldn't have imagined that the blog would still be going this long, despite my strong love of sandwiches. So I owe a great deal to you and your readership.

Now, onto the sandwich of the week.

While in downtown Los Angeles this past weekend, I stopped into one of my favorite spots to eat down there: Grand Central Market. It had been a little while since I last visited, and the changes that have happened since then were noticeable.

The market still had lots of its old taco stalls and produce sellers, but now there were a few newer places that had opened. One of the most noticeable was Horse Thief BBQ, on the edge of the market.

On this warm and sunny Saturday afternoon, the idea of authentic Texas barbecue with a refreshing lemonade sounded like a spectacular idea. When I saw that there was a brisket sandwich on the menu, I couldn't pass it up.

The bun here is nothing special, but really would I have expected it to be? The bread simply serves as a delivery mechanism for the delicious brisket. It's obvious through the taste that this brisket was given ample love through the cooking process. The meat was full of a deep, rich and savory flavor with a smooth infusion of smoke and burnt ends. Each bite pulled apart easily and nearly dissolved in my mouth while chewing.

All brisket should be made like this.

For the sides, I chose the cornbread (slightly sweet with some crispy edges) and the absolutely phenomenal bacon and blue cheese potato salad.

Yeah, I said that.

The blue cheese imparted its characteristic flavor, but not with the usual punch that accompanies it. This is a good thing though as too much blue cheese flavor would have been way too intense. Along with the crispy bacon bits and well cooked potatoes, this was an excellent side to have along with the brisket.

If you're downtown in LA, I would always recommend stopping for lunch at Grand Central Market. Now with the revamp, along with the classic taco stands and produce sellers, I recommend it even more. A visit to Horse Thief BBQ should be your first stop.

Thanks again, Readers, for your following over these past 200 posts, I hope to keep you engaged and hungry for 200 more and beyond if you'll allow me.

Until next week...

BBQ Brisket Sandwich
**** Stars
Horse Thief BBQ
324 S. Hill Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Following The White Light to Hog Heaven

Greetings, Readers!

First let me start this blog by saying that if you're Christian, and going through the start of Lent with yoru lack of meat on certain days, this is not a sandwich that will appeal to you.

This may not be for you even if you're not celebrating Lent, because this is a blog about a burger.

A burger with a truckload of bacon.

On a suggestion from a coworker to visit the burger shack known as Slater's 50/50 in Pasadena, I headed out with my usual burger companion Bryan (@818newguy) to see what this place promised in regards to its loudly professed love of bacon.

Slater's offers two options: 1.) the standard set menu, with their deliciously crafted sandwiches listed to make your life easier; and 2.) a Choose Your Own Adventure burger menu, allowing you to craft your dream sandwich, and even name it.

Taking my time with the menu, I crafted a burger that I named Hog Heaven, or "So Long Arteries".

Look, if there's bacon in everything here, I'm going HAM...or...bacon. You know how it is.

Ridiculous in size, here's the "Hog Heaven"
I started with a 2/3lb 50/50 burger. That's 2/3lb. after cooking. The 50/50 patty, the one their known for and named after, if a patty consisting of 50% ground beer, and 50% ground bacon. mine was cooked to medium doneness, allowing for a warm pink interior.

For the bun, in this pub-style setting i thought that a pretzel bun would work great. Not only would it add more flavor over a regular white bun, but I also needed something that could tough it out and handle the burger itself. The twist on this burger though? The pretzel bun had bacon in it too.

I know!

The list of additional toppings contains a dizzying variation of items that you can choose from. Wanting to differentiate Hog Heaven from other burgers I've had, I added dill pickle chips (a standard) but then went in a different direction by adding Fritos for a bit of crunch.

Oh, yeah, and some arugula too. You know, for the peppery bite...and for the illusion of something healthy on this sandwich to counteract all that bacon.

Just because I have an unnatural love of bacon, I added an item from the "Premium" list: Thick Cut Bacon.

For the final selection on the menu, I decided to go with Slater's Bacon Ketchup. I mean, if I was going all-in with bacon, why not, right? The ketchup had some texture to it, somewhat thicker or chunky looking from the bacon included in it. It was delicious as it was like regular ketchup with a bit of bacon-y smoke goodness.

So that was my creation, Hog Heaven. Wild right? But was it any good? Have my years of sandwiching paid off and given me the talents to create a decent sandwich?

The bacon, though thoroughly infuse din this sandwich, is delicious and very present, but not overpowering. I was still able to taste all of the individual ingredients, even the arugula and pickle chips. The Fritos and thick cut bacon both provided the contrasting crunch to the sandwich with their salty kicks as well.

The patty is the real standout here, and it is definitely obvious as to why this is the namesake of the restaurant. The 50/50 patty cooked to medium doneness provides a delicious contrasting of flavors between the smooth and mellow beef flavor, and the smoky/salty cut of the ground bacon. This is a great combination and really brings the burger to life, more so than other all-beef burgers.

Since I can't exactly review my own creation (although I think it's delicious) I can say that if Hog Heaven is any indication of the deliciousness of all of the components, and an insight into the greatness of Slater's 50/50's in-house burgers, it's a fantastic place, and well worth your visit.

Until next week, Readers...

Hog Heaven
Unrated (I feel like I can't review my own sandwich, But Slater's is totally a 5 Star!)
Slater's 50/50
61 N. Raymond Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91103