Bobby Flay, the King of the chili is a culinary genius. Known for his Southwestern style of cooking and upscale restaurants in New York City (Mesa Grill & Bar American) has “opened Bobby’s Burger Palace to fulfill a longtime dream.” For years Bobby Flay has been putting together unbelievable flavor combinations in his upscale restaurants, and now brings his talent and his innovative flavor combinations to a burger chain with five locations in the Northeast.
While in Philadelphia, PA I was really excited to be able to dine at Bobby’s Burger Palace. When it comes to burgers, I’m pretty picky. So many restaurants serve lousy burgers. That wasn’t the case at Bobby’s Burger Palace. I started out with a Pimento cheese burger, topped with pimento cheese, Cheyenne pepper and bacon. I also ordered a side order of fries which was served with a signature sauce… Classic Bobby Flay. The burger itself was the star as it should be, even with all of the other toppings. The meat was so juicy, perfectly cooked. I enjoyed my first burger so much that I decided to go with only a half of a milk shake for desert and split a second burger with a friend. The first burger was so good, that it just had to be 1 ½ burger kind of night! (The Second Burger was the Santa Fe Burger – topped with jalapenos, crunchy corn chips and queso).
The look and feel of Bobby’s Burger Palace was very comfortable and unique. I was surprised by the age range of the people sitting around me enjoying burgers. There were teenagers, adults with their young kids and even grandparents. The service as expected was top notch, fast and friendly. You order at a register as you enter the restaurant and are given a number to place at your table. Your meal is brought to you at your table and when you are done any plates are taken away promptly. If you are a fan of Bobby Flay and his food you won’t be disappointed in a trip to one of his Burger Palaces.
If you don’t live in the Northeast and just wish you could try his burgers, there is good news for you. Most of the burgers & shakes at Bobby’s Burger Palace are available in his cookbook, Bobby Flay’s Burgers Fries & Shakes. Stay tuned I’m making a few burgers from the cookbook tomorrow and will have a post up with recipes and details soon.
I first heard of the Famous 4th street delicatessen on the Food Network several months ago. Alton Brown hosted a mini series on some of Americas best food. The 4th street delicatessen was awarded the honor for their Famous Chicken Soup.
When I first walked in, I was instantly transported back to the 1920′s… Minus the TV in the corner. The look and feel of the 4th street Deli was almost breathtaking. It was probably the closest I will get to riding in a time machine. Then I looked at the prices, they were certainly 2011 prices. The prices are a little high, but the portions are insanely large, so by sharing a meal the prices come back into a normal range.
Of course I had to order the Famous Chicken Soup! A delicious chicken soup served with a large matzo ball in the middle. This one bowl of soup will feed a small army, it’s giant. It’s more like a bathtub of soup than a bowl. It will feed at least 4 or 5 people. Don’t think that you could order this soup and finish it yourself (even if it is so good that it would make your Grandmother proud). You will need to bring a few friends along to share. (You might just want to bring your Grandmother too).
I also ordered a Ruben made with corn beef. The sandwich was also huge! I’m not kidding, it was about the size of my head. I was lucky to get half down after eating a few bowls of soup. The Ruben was the best I have ever eaten. The corn beef melted in my mouth, the rye bread was tasty and perfectly crispy.
The giant soup was incredible. The matzo ball was so flavorful and while the soup felt as if it was homemade by my Grandmother, the matzo ball kicked it up to the next level. I have certainly never had chicken soup this good out at a restaurant. My wife’s mother makes a mean chicken noodle soup from scratch, but the delicious matzo ball really made it different.
I was way too full for dessert, but the cases were stocked full of pastries and beautiful cakes that I would have loved to try, but just couldn’t. Even I have a limit to how much I can eat in one sitting. There is always next time.
Famous 4th Street deli – Another top spot in the great food town of Philly. This is one of those places that you need to add to your must visit list.
Note – 4th Street Delicatessen now has two locations. See their website for details.
Gourmet food trucks are becoming all the rage. Food trucks are popping up (driving up) all across the country. Los Angeles, CA and Austin, TX are already known for their food trucks. Food trucks are on the rise in Houston, TX. Facebook and twitter have revolutionized the food truck industry, allowing food trucks to advertise their locations at a moments notice to thousands of people… for free. With new technology like Square, food truck vendors can except credit cards easily and at a low cost. With twenty of the Houston area food trucks getting together for a food truck festival, Kate and I just had to check it out. We were able to interview a number of the food truck teams to ask them questions about their food and signature dishes, as well as the food truck business.
Houston Area Food Trucks -
For a full list of the participating food trucks click here.
I think we can all agree that the best cheesesteaks are found in the city of Brotherly Love – Philadelphia, PA… Better knowns as Philly. The sandwich itself even has Philly in the name! The big names that everyone has heard of is Pat’s, Geno’s and Jim’s. I set out to evaluate the competition, to see if anyone of these Philly icons makes a better cheesesteak than the others. The cheesesteak fight was on. I visited Geno’s, Pat’s and Jim’s. I also took a poll of just about everyone that would speak to me on the streets of Philly to get local feedback.
I started out asking, “who’s better, Pat’s or Geno’s?” Some liked Pat’s others liked Geno’s. The rivalry between the two is fun and the locals really get into it and take it pretty seriously. Pat’s and Geno’s sit across the street from one another making the rivalry more intense. I started asking the who’s better question and while people love Pat’s and Geno’s they are not the only game in town. A lot of people told me other lesser known sandwich shops, likes Jim’s and Campo’s.
Only spending a week in Philly, I didn’t have time to try them all, but I was able to hit up the big three – Pat’s, Geno’s and Jim’s.
Here’s the break down in the order that I visited them -
Geno’s – Cheesesteak with Onions & Wiz
Geno’s, offers the most flash and pop from a visual perspective of the building. Bright colors and neon signs. I ordered a cheesesteak with onions and wiz. From the time I ordered the sandwich to when I received it, it was lightning fast. The second I had finished paying for the sandwich it was done and in my hand ready to eat. Geno’s steak was the most different from the three locations. They sliced the meat and cooked the whole slices without chopping the steak. Wiz and onions were added to the cheesesteak, it was wrapped in flashy paper and handed to me. The flavor of the steak was great and the bread was perfectly chewy and fresh. It was by far the best looking bread of the group. The average cheesesteak at Gino’s is $9.00
Pat’s - Cheesesteak with Onions & American Cheese
Pat’s is located directly across from Geno’s. Pat’s building looks a little old compared to Gino’s. The building has been in operation since 1930, many years before Geno’s got into the business. At Pat’s, I ordered steak with American cheese and onions. (I should have gone with the wiz!). The bread was very different at Pat’s. It was softer and less dense. The cheesesteak was good, but I found the steak to be a little dry. (maybe if I added wiz that would not have been the case). The speed of service was equal to Geno’s. The pricing was the same.
Jim’s Cheesesteak with Onions & Wiz
Jim’s Steaks is located in a different area, away from Pat’s and Geno’s. Jim’s is located on South street. South street is a very lively area, great for people watching. I was told that the lines at Jim’s can extend out the door and around the corner. This could be an issue if you are in a rush. The service here was the slowest out of the three, but not unreasonable. What I enjoyed about Jim’s is that you order your sandwich downstairs and then there is a seating area upstairs that overlooks South street. The steak was chopped very fine. More fine than even Pat’s, but the meat was incredibly moist! The bread was similar to Pat’s, but less dry. I got my cheesesteak with onions and wiz, it was delicious. The cost of a cheesesteak at Jim’s is about $8.00, a little less than the other guys.
Are you anxiously awaiting for me to declare a winner of this cheesesteak fight? First let me say, if you are in Philly, it’s hard to find a bad cheesesteak. The same isn’t true in most other parts of the country. For example, cheesesteak’s in Houston are pretty terrible, because the bread is just not that good.
The break down -
Geno’s was pretty good, they had the best meat and their bread was very good. They come in at number 2. Pat’s was my least favorite. I found the meat and bread to be a little dry. I found the best overall combination at Jim’s, my favorite of the three. The meat was chopped fine, but very moist. The bread was perfectly soft and chewy.
The bottom line, Philly is a great food town with lots of great cheesesteaks to choose from, I think you’re going to have to come to Philly and find your favorite. The good news is, I have laid the ground work for your mission. Go forth and report back on your findings.
Note – I think it’s pretty clear how I like my cheesesteak, wiz and onions. There are lots of other combinations to choose from. You could try Provolone cheese or add marinara sauce to make a pizza steak. You could even add mushrooms. Yum!
Something to keep in mind – none of these places accept credit cards. Cash only!
I’m often reminded by my parents of a tantrum I threw as a child (I’m sure it was the only tantrum I threw as a young boy…right Mom?) I was overtired and didn’t want to go to bed one evening (That never happens with your kids, right?). The only excuse I could come up with for not going to bed, was that I must eat a coffee cake. I screamed and yelled lying in my bed, tears running down my cheeks and my voice shaking “I want a coffee cake!” Then I fell asleep. It was one of those events that I remember and my parents like to joke about today when I’m tired or in a bad mood. “Do you need a coffee cake Erik?”
Speaking of coffee cake – I received an email a few weeks ago from My Grandma’s of New England, a bakery in the New England area specializing in… you guessed it, coffee cake. They sent me a complimentary Original, cinnamon walnut Coffee Cake and an assortment of mini coffee cakes. After their arrival, my wife and I brewed some fresh coffee and dug in, a perfect Saturday morning. The first thing that we both noticed was how moist the coffee cake was. It was pretty shocking, considering it was a coffee cake that had been shipped to us from over a thousand miles away. There was a great amount of cinnamon and sugar covering the cake and lots of nuts. I brought a slice to work to let a coworker give it a try. Her response “delicious and moist”.
My Grandma’s of New England bakes each coffee cake to order, which I’m sure helps with the freshness of the cake. The large coffee cake will feed a big group. The cost of the large coffee cakes are about $30 plus shipping… which I thought was a little expensive. The smaller coffee cakes are less, and if you live near a reseller you don’t have to pay for shipping. The mini versions were also very good and didn’t seem to lose anything compared to the larger coffee cake. Sometimes it’s hard to keep the proportions right when you shrink baked goods.
My thought is that if you are looking for something different to send as a gift, a coffee cake from Grandma’s of New England would be perfect. If you live in the New England area, there are several places you can pick up a coffee cake and not have it shipped. Check Grandma’s website for details.
By clicking here – and ordering through this link you will receive $4 off of your order (which is pretty good value). For you social media addicts, you can follow Grandma’s on twitter or Facebook. Let me know if you have tried any coffee cakes from Grandma’s before? If you do go ahead and order one, I would love to hear your feedback.
I write all of this aboard a flight to Philly at 33k feet, so don’t be surprised if my next post has to do something with a cheesesteak. Pat’s or Geno’s?
While Grandma’s of New England provided me with a complimentary coffee cake. No monetary reward was given to me for writing this review.