Friday, July 31, 2009

iBurritos Muy Buenos!

My mom's birthday was yesterday so of course we had to take her out for dinner. Her choice: Lopez:

It's a Mexican/Southwestern eatery so we started things off with the house chips and salsa, natch, but at Lopez these standard starters are better than most. The salsa is thick and sweet, with a generous portion of cilantro and just enough garlic to let you know it's there, but not over power your taste buds for the rest of the evening. And to wash it all down? Margaritas, of course! If you come to Lopez looking for that green slush they sling at most Mexican joints you've come to the wrong place. Lopez makes their Margaritas themselves the proper way, no overly acidic or too tart mixes here, and serves them on the rocks with a salted rim.

After a drink and some chips and some time to talk to the friends we'd invited it was business time. Like the chips and salsa and the Margaritas the menu at Lopez is a cut above your everyday Mexican fare, exploring the usual south-of-the-border items and expanding upon or deconstructing them. For example, taking off on the enchilada my mom's friend ordered the Mexican lasagna, filled with pulled chicken, chorizo, and spinach this lasagna subs in tortillas for the traditional noodles and oaxaca for the usual Italian blend. All this is held together by an amazing charred tomato sauce that would put your Italian grandma's to shame.

As for me, I opted for the Grilled Duck Burrito. I received a generously sized burrito filled pulled duck, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, and oazaca cheese. This was topped with a handful of colorful field greens and came sitting atop what Lopez calls "pineapple mojo," a salsa verde sweetened with pineapple. As delicious as it was filling, I happily polished off the other half for lunch this afternoon. The gaminess of the duck mixed with the richness of the mushrooms and cheese nicely, and all was complimented by the sweetness of the pineapple in the salsa and the bitterness of the spinach, the only thing this dish really needed was a boost on the Scoville scale. I know, I know, not all Mexican food is spicy, but damnit the stuff I like usually is.

While Lopez is easily in the top three Mexican restaurants I've ever been to, it's not an every-day-eatery--that means it's pricey--but a great celebration destination. Plus it's in a great neighborhood, just a block away from the Cedar-Lee Theater and all the great bars in that area, but, hey, you got good Margaritas you don't need to drink anywhere else.

My only complaint: no caipirinhas

Next: The Thurman!

Healthy Ice Cream

This was an intriguing link on the MSN homepage this morning, boasting some of the nation's most health conscious frozen treats:

Up next: giant burgers and duck burritos!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Happier than a pig in a slop sandwich...

Inspired by what Anthony Bourdain called "the greatest sandwich in America," I put this into my body on Saturday:

That's a breaded, fried pork tenderloin with American cheese, fried egg and bacon on white bread. I was going to have a sausage patty added to this too, but I chickened out at the last second. This was surprisingly delicious, considering that I bought it from a bait shop in rural Indiana.

Still, this is not the most ridiculous sandwich I have come across in my travels. Not by a long shot. So far, that crown belongs to Louisville's Hot Brown:

Yes, folks, that's a sandwich. Open-faced turkey, covered with Mornay sauce, cheddar cheese and bacon. Just looking at that should make your arteries afraid...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Midway Munchies

The greatest amusement park in the state/country/world, Cedar Point (duh), has been posting a steady stream of YouTube videos about their fine fun-fair. Dealing with rides, plans for the future, and daily operations, the casts are generally pretty interesting. The most recent posting, however, is a two-parter dealing with the all the great, greasy fare they offer up to settle your stomach after being flipped, flopped, and flung around the park all day.

Here's part one, I'll post part two when they do:

Ride On!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ridiculous Eats VI: Local Heroes (pt. 1)

With all my nattering about gigantic and ridiculous foods, I seem to have skipped over my home state. As a Midwestern state, Ohio knows a few things about bigger, badder food. And Cleveland especially is home to a restaurant know for their more-is-more approach to sandwich making. I'm speaking, of course, of Lakewood's own Melt Bar and Grilled.

Located on Detroit Avenue in Lakewood, a suburb of Cleveland, Melt serves a variety of interesting takes on the classic grilled cheese, from the Kindergarten: your choice of cheese of fresh, thick cut bread; to the Spinach Pie: garlic spinach, roasted red peppers, grilled onions, and feta. Melt has something for every taste and appetite. I'm a pretty big fan of the Mushroom Melt, with meaty garlic portabellas, smokey sweet caramelized onions in Port wine reduction, and rich provolone. I also endorse the Wake & Bacon, a breakfast-for-dinner sandwich with fried eggs, bacon, and American cheese.

Not only does Melt boast some of the best sandwiches you've ever wrapped your sweaty little mouth around, they've got beer for days, too! A constantly rotating selection of amazing draught beers is backed by a binder full of bottled selections and, as always, the $2 mystery beer, which is always a fun surprise. I recommend the Old Rasputin Imperial Stout when they have it, full bodied, rich, smokey, and malty. One of the best I've ever tasted.

But the real reason we're here today is Melt's menu monster: the Parmageddon!

A mega-mouthful to be sure, the Parmageddon stacks vodka infused kraut, onions, and Cheddar cheese on top of... wait for it... perogies! It's a meal within a meal!
This isn't Melt's only foray into the land of Ridiculous eats, either. The restaurant boasts an ever changing lineup of monthly and seasonal mammoths, most notably the Godfather which crammed a heaping slice of lasagna between two pieces of bread and a hardy helping of mozzarella. And more recently they've upped the ante with the Purple Parma, an eggplant parm sandwich, and the Big Popper: a beer battered sandwich filled with Cheddar, herb cream cheese, mixed berry preserves, and hand battered jalapeno poppers.
Hungry? Check out their website for details:
Up Next: It Came from Columbus: the Thurman Burger!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Foods that Time Forgot

While reading The Onion's A.V. Club section earlier I found this silly list in their "Inventory" section. While not as funny as a recent list detailing R. Kelly's sexual fantasies from his new mix-tape, or as hilariously accurate as the examination of Woody Allen's faults as a filmmaker, this forgotten foodstuffs compilation is certainly the most prescient to our little blog here. Enjoy!,29955/1/

Diet and Nutrition

For those of you that ran right out and built your own Bacon Explosion! after reading yesterday's post, congratulations! I'm sure it was delicious and I really hope you enjoyed, but you're going to have to do some serious healthy eating to try and balance out the damage you just did to yourself.

To help you on your road to recovery check out this article ( about some foods you should definitely be eating more of. Nothing too new or terribly shocking on here, but interesting none the less.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ridiculous Eats V: Death by Bacon!

While scouring the tubes for ever more absurd, and possibly health altering, foodstuffs I re-discovered this king of calories: the Bacon Explosion!

Concocted by the fine folks at BBQ Addicts, the Bacon Explosion! is a monument of meat. Starting on a foundation of bacon, woven together into a meat blanket, the B.E! is filled with sausage and, you guessed it, more bacon. Seasoned with a dry rub and smoked to perfection, the Bacon Explosion! is a true testament to man's desire to kill himself with the most delicious things possible.

For more pictures and how-to's check out the article on the BBQ Addicts website, here:

But you may want to consider this along with it:

Friday, July 17, 2009

Do's & Don't's For A Healthy Lifestyle (As Learned From Last Night's Decision-Making)

DO: Take advantage of good weather in Columbus, Ohio by walking, biking or some other outdoor activity. These mild July days don't come around that often.
DON'T: Sit at your desk with the AC cranked taking random quizzes on (Did you know that the adjective to describe "bear-like qualities" is "ursine?")

DO: Enjoy a social drink now and again with friends.
DON'T: Start slamming White Russians at 5:01pm at home, alone, in your underwear.

DO: Prepare a sensible meal of teriyaki grilled salmon, white rice, and steamed broccoli.
DON'T: Stumble down the street to the dirty Chinese place and order a bowl of hot & sour soup, crab rangoons, and a large portion of General Tso's chicken.

DO: Store your leftovers and eat them for lunch the next day.
DON'T: Ignore the fact that you're breathing heavily while you shove the last crab rangoon into your mouth.

DO: Make plans with friends to watch a baseball game, take in a movie, or play cards.
DON'T: Rent the first season of Lost to watch alone on your couch and struggle to follow the plot while you're nodding out.

DO: Make up for your behavioral excess by working out, eating healthy foods, and giving your liver a break from alcohol.
DON'T: "Irish up" your coffee first thing in the morning and drunk-text your girlfriend while she's away all weekend.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

guacamole, variations on

It's thick, green, and creamy and chances are if you've ever had Mexican food, you've partaken of this versatile side. It's a garnish, a dip, a topping, a filler, and as easy to make as it is delicious. Of course I'm talking about guacamole.

MSN ran an article today offering up variations on this classic. And, as it's a perfect summer accompaniment, I thought I share the link.

Happy dipping!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

XXX-tream foods

I'm fascinated by the extream lengths to which people take their food combinations (see previous posts about deep-fried pizza, gaint burgers, and huge hot dogs to ketchup [ha!])

One of my favorites is the Luther Vandross. Images of this have been floating around the Internet for a little while now after Paula Deen threw one together a while back, but this artery wrecker has been kicking around for years.

But Jon, what is this monstrous munchable? Why it's nothing more than a hamburger. Well, cheeseburger. A bacon cheeseburger to be precise. OK, it's a bacon cheeseburger sandwiched between two glazed donuts. No big deal.

Some variations use halved donuts, add a fried egg, or swap out the glazed donut for a maple frosted. But at the end of the day, it still looks pretty tasty.

Looking to try one but don't want to make it yourself? Stop by the home of the Gateway Grizzlies in Sauget, Illinois, where the Luther is a welcome addition to independent baseball.

Ms. Jones Gets Inspired by a Friend's Twitter Update About French Toast

Memories from childhood remembered Schwebels on the griddle on Sunday mornings, drenched with syrup...then no syrup at all as I got older. Sadly, when @BillReiniger's tweet about FT came through my phone, I couldn't even remember the last time I'd had it. Probably when we were running the 'Schnite' special at A Voce for one of the prix fixe regional lunch menus. House made brioche with an egg batter, winter fruit compote, and lemon gelato (i think...or fior di latte...) Since I've had it Italian style and the most recognizable 'French' style, I scoured my fridge and pantry for a toasting medium. Cinnamon-Raisin bread? Boring. 9-grain wheat? Mundane. Rice Cakes...impossible. Mini-pitas? Cute, but too thin. Then the culinary gods shined a latin light on the left side of my refrigerator. AREPAS! I had to try it.

Arepas originated in the Andes and is extremely prevalent in Columbian and Venezuelan kitchens. Its basically a cornmeal bread patty (think pancake thickness) that can stand alone, or be stuffed or topped. I've seen them in stores in white or yellow corn and filled with things like cheese, coconut, chicken or beef, etc. My personal preference is unfilled, yellow corn. But that particular day I was in the C-C-C-Town, they only had unfilled white.


Batter was simple. 1 egg, 1 yolk, a splash of unsweetened soy milk, a pinch of cinnamon, 2 tsp of sugar and about 1/8 tsp of vanilla. The key I've learned to great french toast, is soaking time. With the brioche I was doing a few months ago, I had it soaking for at least 10 minutes so it could absorb all the way to the center of the slice. With arepas, they are kind of dense....not very porous. They may have soaked better of they were spilt in half, like an english muffin...however, that move would have taken away from their perfect thickness...So i soaked each for about 5-10 minutes just to coat them thoroughly.


Into the hot skillet went the first one....sooo then I walked away and got distracted by my iPod and over cooked half of one side. Down, but not out. In my defense, said burned side needed more batter. The next side was a moderate improvement. Frying time = @5min.


For the second arepa, I poured a small amount of batter in the pan before putting the arepa in. Then, I poured a small pool of it over the arepa, too. First flip...GORGEOUS! (minus a piece that fell off, haha). Second flip - Not as nice, BUT still looked like legitimate french toast! The taste was great, too. The addition of cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar made a world of difference. I would have liked the crust to be a bit more crunchy. however, having toasted plain arepas in skillets before in more savory eggs, avocado, peppers, and onions...even when the outer skin snaps, its still a little chewy in the middle. The center of the patty never really heats as much as you'd like them to. I think dredging them before battering might make a huge difference next time?

Final conclusion. Arepas for savory vehicles, awesome. Arepas for sweet vehicles, good with great potential.

Next for Ms Jones...more her forte...Malt blondies and Gluten Free Brownies.....

Old Timey Sexism, In Cookbook Form!

Honey, your camp style macaroni and deviled chicken is almost ready! Just let me whip up a whimsical leafy salad with some dainty soup for myself. Whew, cooking all the man food is tough! I can barely lift this chicken leg! Thanks to Worcestershire Sauce for showing me how!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Easy Peasy Applesauce Pancakes

I won a bet this weekend, and it was that vegan applesauce pancakes are not only easy to make, but also damn delicious. Someone (of the boyfriend variety) tut tutted me when I wanted pancakes, "No eggs! No pancakes!" he cried. "Ah, but you're wrong," I said, slyly bringing the cinnamon applesauce out of the fridge. He turned up his nose in disbelief and 30 minutes later he was gobbling up mouthwatering, dairy free pancakes like they were going out of style. No fear of that though, like a strand of pearls, this breakfast is a classy staple that will always be in fashion.

Before you get out that sweet sweet maple syrup, make sure you have these few necessities:

  • whole wheat pastry flour
  • baking powder (aluminum-free recommended)
  • salt
  • soy, rice, or almond milk (I think soy tastes the best, esp. if you're going with flavored applesauce)
  • applesauce (I highly endorse using a cinnamon applesauce for the most unique and distinct flavor)
  • real maple sryup
  • hand or stand alone mixer + large bowl
  • cast iron pan (the best option, but a regular pan would work also)
  • ladle
  • spatula
  • dry and liquid measuring cups

Dry Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup of the dairy free milk of your choosing
1/4 cup cinnamon applesauce

Combine the dry ingredients in the large mixin' bowl and in the liquid measuring cup combine the applesauce and dairy free milk. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and use your mixer to combine the ingredients into a thick paste consistency.

Once your batter is ready it's time to oil and heat up your pan and start makin' the pancakes! This next part can be done in the way you prefer, as different cooks have different styles. I am still working on my pancake making technique, but what worked well for me this time was using a ladle to scoop up the batter and pour it into a perfect pancake circle on the pan. This takes some practice for sure, as you wanna make sure they are not too thick, and doughy in the center. Sometimes using a spatula to help spread the batter out in the pan helps. If you have any other suggestions for this part, feel free to leave them in the comments! Also, you have to have patience for pancakes, don't try to be a hero and cook more than one in the pan, it never works out well for anybody. One at a time, and have a plate handy to stack the done ones on. You can always heat the oven up just a smidge and put the plate in there to keep your flapjacks firey warm. Make as many as the batter will allow (I made 6 with this recipe, well, technically 7, but one was too burnt for mouths and got tossed), and then top them off with some Earth Balance Vegetable Oil Butter (also dairy free), and real maple sryrup.

This is a great recipe to show off to your anti-vegan friends who think any food made w/o eggs and cow milk will taste like shit.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Vegan Lime Poppy Seed Birthday Cake

Northern Spy celebrated a birthday this week: Bethani is finally 21! In addition to the traditional birthday festivities—drinking—I thought I’d be a nice guy and whipped up a birthday cake for the little lady. However, as I was pressed for time for a variety of reasons, most of them personal and banal, I opted for a quick, but totez delish, recipe I’ve used before, with a few slight changes.

I present to you now Bethani’s Vegan Lime Poppy Seed Birthday Cake:


  • ¾ cup poppy seeds
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • grated peels of 3 lemons
  • ¾ cup apple juice
  • ¾ cup (canola) oil
  • ¾ cup (pure) maple syrup
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I'm sure white flour is fine)
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp sea salt (or regular salt)

  • Mix dry ingredients.
  • Mix wet ingredients.
  • Fold gently together, adding wet to dry.
  • Pour into greased and floured 13 x 9 x 2 inch pan.
  • Bake in preheated 350° F oven for 1/2 hour or until toothpick comes clean

Notes and Adjustments:

  • ¾ of a cup of poppy seeds is a lot, I mean a lot, of poppy seeds. To make this I cut it down to half a cup, but you could probably get away with 1/3 if you wanted to.
  • To make this a lime cake instead of lemon I used the peel of four limes, and it took about 2 of them to get enough juice.
  • If you use maple syrup for this recipe get the lightest you can find, otherwise your cake will taste like pancakes (not necessarily bad, but the maple can be overpowering). For this and most other vegan baking applications I prefer to use honey! It’s a cleaner, more neutral taste, it’s attracts water so your baked goods will stay moister longer, and it’s a natural preservative so your food will keep longer!
  • You could use an equal amount of Kosher salt in lieu of the sea salt if you don’t have it, or a ½ tsp of regular salt.
  • I also added a ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract since I think most baked goods benefit from this.
  • I used pastry flour for this and the cake was very light and tasty, the first time I made it all we had was all purpose and the cake was still excellent, just more dense. It’s up to you and your cake preferences, but if you choose a.p. flour mix this sparingly or enjoy your gluten block!
  • I baked this in a loaf pan which took about 45 minutes, checking every five or so after the first thirty. This would also be great in a Bundt pan and would probably cook in 25-30.
  • While this cake is perfectly delicious on its own I chose to top it with a glaze made from confectioner’s sugar, lemonade, and a bit of vanilla extract.

Baking playlist courtesy of my totez rad post-hardcore on-the-go iPod playlist:

  1. The Means – Heart
  2. The Future of the Left – The Lord Hates a Coward
  3. McLusky – 1956 and All That
  4. Refused – New Noise
  5. McLusky – Whiteliberalonwhiteliberalaction
  6. The Means – (t.p.) Massacre
  7. The Future of the Left – Wrigley Scott
  8. The Birthday Party – The Friend Catcher
  9. The Future of the Left – Real Men Hunt In Packs
  10. The Bronx – Strobe Life
  11. Gallows – In the Belly of a Shark
  12. Shellac – Dog and Pony Show
  13. Hot Snakes – Rock’n’Roll Will Never Die
  14. The Means – R. Loxley
  15. McLusky – You are my Sun
  16. The Means – Rob Wheeler
  17. Gallows – Six Years
  18. Detachment Kit – Hurricane Designed for People
  19. Shellac – Il Porno Star
  20. Refused – Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull
  21. The Bronx – False Alarm
  22. Harvey Milk – Maelstrom of Bad Decisions
  23. The Birthday Party – Hamlet (Pow, Pow, Pow)

Friday, July 3, 2009

How Much Could You Burgle With This Hamburger?

I've always been a fan of fake meats, but this little hambag takes the cake. This holiday weekend you can boast the most roast at your BBQ with either a hamburger, hotdog or chicken leg bag from designer Hannah Havana. Check out her entire line here.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dinner and a Movie II

This past Sunday I found myself with a few hours on my hands in between work and a concert I was attending at the Grog Shop. I was trying to decide if I should make the trip home, relax, and then drive back or find some way to entertain myself in the Cleveland Heights area until show time. What I came up with is this, my second entry in my “Dinner and a Movie” series.

So, my dilemma was what to do for five hours or so in between leaving work at 5 and the Jay Reatard show at ten. Despite my best efforts to rally the troops for an early evening outing I found my self alone again, naturally. As I was sure drinking would ensue at the show I knew a pre-game meal was in order. And while there are a number of fine eateries in the area none are open terribly late on Sundays and eating was only going to take an hour or so. I had also wanted to see Sam Mendes’ Away We Go so I decided on doing not one, but two things I hate: eating alone in public and going to movies by myself. Nevertheless I bucked up and hit the road.
My first stop was a Cleveland Heights staple: Tommy’s. Easily one of the best restaurants in the Cleveland area, if not Ohio, Tommy’s does it so simply it’s almost elegant. At its heart Tommy’s is a diner with a hippy twist. While they happily offer a delicious burger, fries, and milkshake the real magic at Tommy’s is in the veggie dishes that dominate the menu. Page one of the menu is a laundry list of salads topped and concocted in almost every conceivable way, this is followed by numerous, delicious falafel sandwiches, spinach pies, grilled cheeses, and one of the best vegetarian chili’s I’ve ever had.

Dining at Tommy’s pretty regularly I’ve culled a pretty respectable stable of go-to dishes, the D.C.; the C.B.; and their amazing homemade veggie burger to name a few. I opted this time for the M.R. 3. The M.R. 3 is a cheese and spinach pie filled with falafel, baba ganoush, sesame sauce, mushrooms, and garnished with curry powder. A little salt and pepper help round things out and I like a few dashes of hot sauce to play along with the spice of the curry powder and the smokiness of the baba. The nuttiness of the tahini blends excellently with the meatiness of the mushrooms and the creamy melted cheese, while the falafel and spinach add earthiness and body. All this is stacked between two pieces of hearty pita and washed down with some fresh brewed iced tea. (My ongoing Tommy’s dilemma: the food is outrageously good but completely satisfying so I never have room for their amazing milkshakes. Delicious while dining but fun to get to go since they shrink wrap them for you.)

Hunger satiated I left for the Cedar Lee and the 7:15 showing of Away We Go starring John Krasinksi (Burt) and Maya Rudolph (Verona) as a young couple expecting their first child and trying to find their place and path in life. Brilliantly written by memoirist and editor Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, Away is a beautiful balance between subtly hilarious and beautifully touching. Burt and Verona’s report is quick witted and funny without seeming gimmicky or overwrought, it is movie dialogue but it’s not ham-fisted or absurd, recalling some of the best moments of Seinfeld in its ability to capture realistic conversation on film. And the humor is real, too, the film is devoid of over the top jokes and slapstick in favor of silly inside jokes the audience has been cued into and the daily absurdities at which we all must laugh.

The dramatic elements of this film ring honest and true as well, centering on post collegial angst, future dread, familial issues, and the pitfalls of relationships. One of the most moving scenes of the film comes when Burt and Verona are visiting friends in Montreal and their college friend Tom (Chris Messina) reveals a sad, but very real secret to Burt at a night club.

But perhaps the film is best summed up early on when Burt and Verona are discussing where their lives may or may not have gotten off track. “Are we fuck-ups?” Verona asks, huddled under a blanket. “No, we’re not fuck-ups” Burt reassures her. “But” she retorts “we have a cardboard window.”

I really can’t recommend Tommy’s or Away We Go nearly enough.

And Jay Reatard? Simple. Stupid. Brilliant. One of the best shows I’ve seen this year and a reminder of why I loved punk, and still do.

Dirty Frank's Hits a Hot Dog Homer

Elizabeth Lessner owns some of Columbus's best-themed restaurants, like the Ohio-proud Tip-Top Kitchen and the estro-centric Surly Girl Saloon. So when Lessner announced last summer that she was going to open a hot dog restaurant in Columbus, it drew a lot of attention from the indie and foodie crowds.

The hot dog is not just for little kids and backyard cookouts anymore. The once humble tube steak has been given a makeover by restaurateurs worldwide and made into a sort of working man's haute cuisine. One of the most outspoken champions of the hot dog renaissance is Doug Sohn, owner of Hot Doug's in Chicago. Sohn's gourmet turn on hot dogs and sausages (today's most enticing special: Red Bell Pepper Wild Boar Sausage with Sun-Dried Tomato Mustard and Pistachio Pecorino for only $8) has grown to be so popular that customers can expect a 45-60 minute wait in line (around the corner and down the street, even in winter) .

Knowing Lessner's reputation, I expected great things from a hot dog restaurant with her spin. Of course, that was a year ago, before the problems began. The book on the opening of Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace, for most restauratuers, could be titled "How to Fail in the Food Business Before Serving Your First Plate." Code problems, city inspections, licenses, theft, you name it: Lessner had to deal with it. So many problems, in fact, that it took over a year for Dirty Frank's to finally open its doors.

But thanks to a devoted following, the anticipation for Dirty Frank's debut never waned, and on July 1st, 2009, Lessner threw open the doors to an appreciative (and hungry) throng of frankfurter fans. My lady and I stopped in on opening night to see if Dirty Frank's would live up to expectations. The first sign that things were going to work out? No open tables at 10pm...

First thing's first: I love the decor in here. It's almost as if it was designed to appeal to me, Justin R.L. Hemminger. The wall art consists almost entirely of crude paintings of obscure Reds and Indians baseball players (Chris Sabo & Julio Franco, for example) and '70's & '80's heavy rock bands (Thin Lizzy, G'n'R, Motley Crue, etc.). There's even a hand-painted version of Michael Jackson's Thriller album cover hanging over the bar (a late addition, I'd guess). The place just screams "hot dog stand" in the most personal, kitschy kind of way. All that said, the table setting is a great amalgam of hot dog stand and Lessner-class:

To our dismay, they were all sold out of draught beer by the time we sat down at our table, but we were able to catch one of Dirty Frank's specialties: boozy slushes. We both got the "Chris Sabo": cherry slush with orange vodka. Delish...

But we didn't come here to get drunk (we showed up drunk!); show us to the hot dogs please! Erin got a Dog From Hell (spicy giardiniera pepper mix & cream cheese) and a Chicago dog (fresh tomatoes, diced onions, sport peppers, pickle relish, dill pickle, yellow mustard, & a dash of celery salt - just like they do it in Chi-town). They use real Vienna Beef hot dogs here - no cheaping out:

As much as I love a Vienna Beef dog, I wanted to be a little more adventurous with my encased meat choices. I opted for the Ohioana jumbo beef dog (sweet corn, pickle and jalapeno relish with a dash of celery salt) and a Zippity Zam bratwurst (spicy sriracha cream cheese and roasted red peppers):

We also got an order of fresh cut fries (covered in cheese and bacon) and a side of mac 'n' cheese topped with three whole sport peppers. The fries were about as good as you'd expect, long and stringy, covered with ample cheddar and bacon bits. The mac by itself was creamy and perfect (Lessner has nailed this at her other restaurants) but the addition of the spicy sport peppers really added a depth that mac 'n' cheese often lacks.


Dirty Frank's really delivers. The Dog From Hell's pickled vegetables and cream cheese played off each other so well that it almost made you forget there was a delicious hot dog under there. A bite of all three at once was heaven in a poppy-seed bun.

I've eaten Chicago-style hot dogs from several of the Windy City's best regarded establishments (the aforementioned Hot Doug's, Portillo's, Superdawg, etc.) and the Dirty Frank's Chicago dog is every bit as good as any of them. They use all the right ingredients, including the neon green relish and sport peppers you can only get from Vienna. A Chicago dog is not for everyone (salad on a bun?), but if you're a fan, this will not disappoint.

I think I may have made a tactical error with my Zippity Zam: I replaced the regular hot dog with a beef brat, and I think that sausage's strong flavor overwhelmed the mild complexities of the roasted red pepper. Red peppers go great with almost anything, but their subtle decadence was muscled out by the brute force of the brat. I'll give it another shot with the regular hot dog next time.

The real highlight here was the Ohioana. Dirty Frank's corn relish is such a wonderful compliment to a great all-beef hot dog. It's sweet (corn), tart (pickle) and spicy (jalapeno) all at once and just perfectly accentuates the flavor of the hot dog beneath.

Not only did all of these dogs surpass all expectations, but the price is perfect: every hot dog on the menu is only $3, with the option to upgrade to a polish sausage, brat, jumbo dog, or even a veggie dog for a small additional charge. Some of these dogs are worth twice the price, but in this economy, who wants a high-falutin' fancy frank that'll dent your wallet?

Dirty Frank's got everything right, down to the last bite. Well, WELL worth the wait.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

life's not fair foods

this one's for you, luce':

With warm weather here it's time for outdoor adventures. This usually means carnivals, fairs, festivals, and amusement parks. And spending time at these attractions builds an appetite. Luckily for you fairs and parks are rarely without a midway cram-jammed with questionable carts hocking iffy eats, but hey that's half the fun right? Mounds of greasy food washed down with hose-water lemonade? Tastes like summer, no?

But have you ever stopped to wonder what your jamming in your face hole while getting ogled by carnies? If not it's probably for the best, but for you curious and stout hearted readers follow this link to a recent MSN article about the nutrition--or lack thereof--of midway munchies:

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