Eatsie Boys Evolution – Food Truck to Restaurant

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I have been following the Eatsie Boys since early 2011. Known for their pork snuggies, this one time food truck has made the transition to Full-blown restaurant. Opening the brick and mortar restaurant just last Monday, after a soft open in December. The Eatsie Boys have done what so many food trucks dream of when starting out.

New Sign, So New it Still Has Tape on it

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I love the location in the Montrose area, here in Houston. Located down the street from the University of Saint Thomas and the museum district. I can see a lot of students making their way over after classes. They serve breakfast too, which should also be a great attraction to students. I stopped by after a visit to the children’s museum, just a few miles away.

The interior is very inviting, bright and modern. The kitchen, which is visible from the dining area almost looks like the interior of a food truck. For only being open less than a week the place was packed on Saturday for lunch. At one point there was a line out the door. It shows that the Eatsie Boys have established a name for themselves in the area. While busy, our order was taken promptly and our food delivered quickly to our table. The kitchen seemed experienced, efficiently calling out, cooking and serving orders.

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Kate (My wife) ordered Frank-the-Pretzel, chicken poblano sausage, sautéed onions, mustard, on a pretzel bun…. Interesting, right? The mustard had whole mustard seeds in it giving the dish a great texture. The bun made in the sandwich. Crusty and chewy on the outside, just like a pretzel and soft on the inside like a traditional hotdog bun. Frank’s my new friend, our favorite of the bunch… Lunch.

Frank-the-Pretzel

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I ordered the Maestro sandwich and pork snuggies, I had to try them since hearing so much about them. (Back in 2011 at the food truck festival they were unavailable due to the Eatsieboys generator not working).

When it comes to bread, I am very picky. Growing up in the Boston area I always had access to great bread. The opposite is true here in the south, it’s hard to find good bread. It’s always dry, tasteless and has no chewiness. Bread is the foundation of any good sandwich, so it has to be great. The bread used for both Frank the pretzel and the Maestro were delicious. Definitely some of the best bread I’ve had a sandwich on in all my years in Houston. Good job Eatsie Boys for choosing a premier bakery to provide such an essential ingredient.

The Maestro was made with perfectly cooked roast beef, that was just a little bit rare and very tender. Sitting on a slice of cheddar cheese and topped with horseradish aioli and caramelized onions. The horseradish aoli was nice and spicy. The sandwich was accompanied by a side salad, some mixed greens and a little dressing. The salad was nothing spectacular. Seemed more like an afterthought. The sandwich was very tasty, but I thought it was a little overpriced at $12.

Maestro

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The pork snuggies were good and creative. Pork belly, topped with a cucumber (they call it a quick pickle), green onions, hoisin sauce on a steamed bao bun (typicaly found in Chinese cuisine). I would have liked the pork to be a little more crispy and less chewy, but good overall. A salty snack with the cucumber and green onion adding freshness.

Pork Snuggies

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Eatsie boys Cafe is a nice spot to grab a bite to eat for lunch. The food is fun, creative and very fresh. Way better than what you would expect to find at a chain restaurant. It’s exciting to see a group of young guys start a food truck locally here in Houston and turn it into a brick-and-mortar restaurant. I wish these guys the best of luck and look forward to returning to Eatsie Boys to try their breakfast. In case you are wondering, the food truck still lives on. So if food trucks are more your thing, you can take your pick.

Eatsieboys.com

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Now that’s a “Good Dog!” Food Truck

What do you get when you combine a Dachshund, a trained chef, a 1991 diesel bus and boyfriend that grew up in the restaurant industry? You get a food truck cranking out gourmet hot dogs that will make your taste buds dance. Good Dog Food Truck established in early 2011 has all of the ingredients to grow a following of fans and keep them coming back for more.

Molly and Danny owners of Good Dog have been in the food industry for several years and have a passion for serving great quality food. Molly, a trained chef has worked in upscale restaurants here in Houston for the last five years. Restaurants including Reef, you might remember seeing the Executive Chef Bryan, Caswell on the Next Iron Chef.

The concept for the food truck was born out of the idea of making all of their condiments from scratch, including homemade ketchup’s, relish and mustard. Molly jokes that the only thing that they don’t make from scratch is the cheese, which they just might make in the future. The hot dogs and buns are sourced locally here in Texas. To find the perfect hot dog Molly and Danny traveled the state of Texas trying many different dogs. The dog that they chose is quite a “Good Dog!” You can see spices in the hot dog and the taste is much better than a hot dog purchased from your local grocery store. Combine those great hot dogs with condiments made from scratch and fresh combinations like homemade dill pickles, cream cheese and pickled onions… Great taste and a party in your mouth.

They are really going all out to produce great gourmet food served from their truck. Instead of using Phase (artificial butter) to grill their hot dog buns they are using real butter and taking the time to clarify the butter (so that it doesn’t burn on the hot grill). In my experience its the simple basics that if are done right, takes food from good to great. What I saw behind the scenes, was that Good Dog is doing the little things right that make a big difference in terms of taste.

You can find Good Dog Food Truck by following them on Facebook or Twitter, they post a weekly schedule and update their locations daily. You can also visit their website at Gooddogfoodtruck.com ~ Make sure to watch the behind the scenes video above.


Bobby’s Burger Palace

On a food adventure of the past I was having a difficult time finding two specific chili powders for a Bobby Flay recipe I was making. desperate times called for desperate measures. I was able to find the dried chili’s and picked up a $10 coffee grinder. A little grinding action and we were in business, we had chili de a’rbol powder and pasilla chili powder. Note to self! Don’t blow in the coffee grinder to clean the excess chili powder out! Lets just say chili powder in your eyes, burns like nothing you have felt before.

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.


Famous 4th Street Delicatessen {Video}

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.


A Philly Cheesesteak Fight! {Video}

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!


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