Posts tagged #food

BEST IN WEST: KOLACHE (and KLOBASNEK) SHOWDOWN

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If you've ever made the trek from anywhere North to anywhere South in Texas you've probably passed through West, Texas. If you have, there's a pretty good chance you've pulled off the highway and grabbed a hot kolache or klobasnek. It's basically a road trip tradition. Depending on the direction you were heading, Czech Stop or Slovacek's may have managed to slow you down, but did you know there were other options no more than a stone's throw from the highway to help you get your kolache fix?

Let us take you on a kolache and klobasnek tour of West, Texas.

*It must be noted that while each of these establishments offers multiple varieties of each item we opted to test the classics.*

THE BASIC SAUSAGE ROLL

Before we begin, let's take a look at what some might confuse with a kolache. This sausage roll is technically a klobasnek, but we'll forgive you. (We just learned this today). You can find these at any donut shop down the street. They're not bad, but they also aren't the best. We're looking for something more. 

Before we begin, let's take a look at what some might confuse with a kolache. This sausage roll is technically a klobasnek, but we'll forgive you. (We just learned this today). You can find these at any donut shop down the street. They're not bad, but they also aren't the best. We're looking for something more. 

This good-sized klobasnek was stuffed full of ground sausage. It was wonderfully seasoned and the roll had a nice yeasty sweetness to it. I also picked up two jalapeno sausage rolls for the road and they were  delicious ! 

This good-sized klobasnek was stuffed full of ground sausage. It was wonderfully seasoned and the roll had a nice yeasty sweetness to it. I also picked up two jalapeno sausage rolls for the road and they were delicious

We were in for a real treat with Village Bakery's kolache. The cream cheese is the hero in this confection. It was unlike any other in our taste test. Angel kisses must be on the list of ingredients. The pastry had the same sweetness as the sausage roll and that's a good thing. 

We were in for a real treat with Village Bakery's kolache. The cream cheese is the hero in this confection. It was unlike any other in our taste test. Angel kisses must be on the list of ingredients. The pastry had the same sweetness as the sausage roll and that's a good thing. 

King-Sized portions seems to be the name of the game at Gerik's. This massive klobasnek was filled with perfectly spiced ground sausage and cheese. The only thing that could make this roll better is more meat! It's that good!

King-Sized portions seems to be the name of the game at Gerik's. This massive klobasnek was filled with perfectly spiced ground sausage and cheese. The only thing that could make this roll better is more meat! It's that good!

Another HUGE pastry. A little more bread than cream cheese, but that's ok. We found this bread to be even better than Village Bakery's, but that comes at the cost of slightly inferior cream cheese. You can't beat angel kisses.  If you're into gargantuan baked goods (and who isn't) be sure to check out Gerik's cinnamon rolls. They've got wedding cake and PB&J versions if you're looking to get crazy and they all look to weigh about 3 pounds.

Another HUGE pastry. A little more bread than cream cheese, but that's ok. We found this bread to be even better than Village Bakery's, but that comes at the cost of slightly inferior cream cheese. You can't beat angel kisses.

If you're into gargantuan baked goods (and who isn't) be sure to check out Gerik's cinnamon rolls. They've got wedding cake and PB&J versions if you're looking to get crazy and they all look to weigh about 3 pounds.

Ah, Czech Stop, my old road trip workhorse. I can't count how many or your kolaches and klobasneks I've devoured over the years.   The sausage link is terrific. There's that little  snap  as you bite into it followed by a little heat from the pepper. The roll is definitely smaller than our previous contestants, but that just means you can eat more. The bread is great on this almost bite-sized roll. 

Ah, Czech Stop, my old road trip workhorse. I can't count how many or your kolaches and klobasneks I've devoured over the years. 

The sausage link is terrific. There's that little snap as you bite into it followed by a little heat from the pepper. The roll is definitely smaller than our previous contestants, but that just means you can eat more. The bread is great on this almost bite-sized roll. 

Czech Stop packs a punch with its cream cheese. It's sweet and tangy and there's a ton of it. There's a reason why so many pledge allegiance to this little bakery.   Be prepared to wait if you swing by Czech Stop. It's a popular place, but totally worth a little line time. Czech Stop also has a large variety of other assorted baked goods. Their breakfast sausage rolls are incredible!

Czech Stop packs a punch with its cream cheese. It's sweet and tangy and there's a ton of it. There's a reason why so many pledge allegiance to this little bakery. 

Be prepared to wait if you swing by Czech Stop. It's a popular place, but totally worth a little line time. Czech Stop also has a large variety of other assorted baked goods. Their breakfast sausage rolls are incredible!

Slovacek's sausage roll was nicely proportioned, although the smallest of the four we tasted, and the sausage link had a nice heat to it, but the bread itself was underwhelming. Maybe we were just spoiled by our previous contestants.

Slovacek's sausage roll was nicely proportioned, although the smallest of the four we tasted, and the sausage link had a nice heat to it, but the bread itself was underwhelming. Maybe we were just spoiled by our previous contestants.

Again, we were left wanting a little more from the bread. It was like a little tasteless raft carrying cream cheese to our mouths. Speaking of cream cheese, it was good, but not life-changing.   Much like Czech Stop, Slovacek's offers a lot more than just kolaches. Think of it like a miniature Buccee's. 

Again, we were left wanting a little more from the bread. It was like a little tasteless raft carrying cream cheese to our mouths. Speaking of cream cheese, it was good, but not life-changing. 

Much like Czech Stop, Slovacek's offers a lot more than just kolaches. Think of it like a miniature Buccee's. 

 

We headed out to West with every intention of crowning a Kolache King, but we see now that it's impossible. There are so many great options in West that you'd be doing yourself a disservice by only trying one. So, start with Slovacek's and work your way a little deeper into West. It only gets better from there. 

 

Taste Tested by Andy, Doug, and Chris. All photographs by Chris.

Posted on August 29, 2018 .

I ate the Munchie Mashups at Jack In The Box

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To the delight of the late night, stoner food culture, Jack In The Box added some new players to the line up. Introducing the $3 Munchie Mashups. We have the Jack'd Jalapeno Hash, Wakey Bakey Hash and H'angry Chicken Hash. For better or worse, I decided to try all three. Why not...

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First up is the Jack'd Jalapeno Hash. They take 2 crispy Hash Brown patties and smother it in melted white cheese, jalapenos, bacon and pepper jack cheese. 

Its pretty much a mess of cheese, jalapenos and bacon on some smooshed hash browns. For 3 bucks, its not much of a value. I can see the appeal. They should sell a few the their target audience.

 

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Next, we have the Wakey Bakey Hash. For this bad boy, they cover the hash browns and white cheese sauce with bacon, pepper jack and a fried egg.

Don't let the looks fool you, this one was pretty tasty. I imagine this was the impetus for the trilogy of mashups. It makes the most sense. Its also a pretty good deal for the money. It has all the best parts of an unhealthy breakfast!

 

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To complete the trio, we have the H'angry Buffalo Hash. We start with the aforementioned hash browns and white cheese sauce and cover them with chicken nuggets, Franks RedHot and ranch.

This one surprised me. I think I enjoyed it the best and it is by far the best value. The melted cheese work perfect with the chicken and Franks with the crispy hash browns being a perfect complement to the textures.

The verdict. Are they good? Sure. Will I get them again? Probably not. In no way is that a reflection of the final product, im just not the target audience.

 

 

Posted on August 10, 2018 and filed under Fast Foodnatic.

I ate that new KFC Pickle Chicken

Recently, I saw an add for a new offering at KFC, Pickle Chicken! As an avid pickle lover, I had to check it out.

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What it is, is a limited run flavor option that debuted on June 25th and will be on sale until they run out. It is available in 3 varieties, as a sandwich, tenders or extra crispy chicken.

I opted for the tender basket which is 3 tenders a side and a biscuit for $4.99.

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Lets just say, I was underwhelmed. The tenders themselves were a little small compared to what you get at other establishments. The pickle flavoring come by way of a pickle "sauce". I don't know what this stuff is. It seems to be vinegar and pickle flavoring solids suspended in a cheap carrier oil. Does it taste like pickles? Well, yes. But it also has a weirdly chemical/artificial taste. A better option would have been to just drizzle a good quality pickle juice and call it a day. I can see what they were going for, but they are way off the mark. I love pickles, I wanted to love this. I did not.

Value:        4/5

Taste:        2/5

Texture:     2/5

Posted on July 6, 2018 and filed under Fast Foodnatic.

Lihoudies Cafe - Melissa, Texas

I’ve lived in McKinney for going on seven years and I’m just now making a bucket list of local food joints to try out. Some have been around for decades and are institutions, some are nationally-ranked, and some are housed in buildings I’ve noticed out of the corner of my eye while driving by. Lihoudies is one of those drive-bys.

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Technically located in Melissa, Texas, I saw a large, block-lettered BAKERY sign on the side of an old house along Highway 5 as I was driving to a work meeting a few weeks ago. I slowed down long enough to read ‘Greek Deli & Desserts,’ as well as a sign on the side of the road declaring “Homemade Gyros!” and that was enough for me to want to skip my meeting and stuff my face with olives at eight in the morning.

I was responsible, though, and dutifully headed to my meeting, but I slowed down again on the way back for one last look for the name of this Greek bakery: Lihoudies. I did a bit of research when I got home and found that Lihoudies uses authentic Greek recipes that have been handed down for generations from Grandma Fotini.

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While they specialize in baked goods, jams & preserves, and traditional Greek desserts, they also do a fair lunch trade on the deli side. They sell gyro (how do you pronounce it?) made on the premises, dolmas, hummus, chicken & tuna salad, spanakopita, and other Greek staples that all sounded delictible. But when you go to a Greek place advertising homemade gyro, you get the homemade gyro, right?

On a random weekday off this past week, I made my way back to Lihoudies (it’s been only 3.5 miles from my house all these years!) and I ordered a small Greek salad with added gyro. As it was mid-afternoon, I was the only customer in the house/bakery and the lady who took my order got to work preparing my salad from scratch in a converted room of some sort (a bedroom?). Then I watched as she pulled a freshly made pita round and seasoned it with dark spices and sent it through the toaster.

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Though I’m not a big sweets or dessert person, I asked the lady which was the best dessert in the bakery. She thought for a moment before replying with a Greek accent, “You can’t go wrong with baklava. I like the traditional.” And then she winked. Well, obviously I had to forego the coconut and chocolate varieties for the traditional.

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Lihoudies isn’t a sit-down dining establishment, but there is a nice backyard area with picnic tables and misters to eat if you’d like to eat there. I planned on taking my food home, but wanted to take a peek.

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The small Greek salad was anything but, especially with the addition of gyro. And speaking of gyro… dang. I’ve never tasted a more tender variation of the Greek meat. It was perfectly spiced - not bland, nor overpowering. Mixing everything together with the dill-infused tzatziki and herbed olive oil, it was a very filling lunch. Wondering why there’s not pita bread in the picture? Because I intended to take a picture of it when I got home, but I ate it all in the car on the short drive. It was warm and aromatic with toasted edges and a soft center. Next time I go, I want to ask about the flavor profile they use - I could detect paprika, but also perhaps turmeric? Cumin? Tell me, Grandma Fotini!

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I’ve had baklava before plenty of times, but it has always felt too cloyingly sweet, honey oozing out and making a mush of the delicate, flaky layers. This baklava was perfection, though: Not too sweet and I could easily peel apart each of paper-thin phyllo dough layers before they practically melted in my mouth. I can imagine it being made daily in the converted kitchen in the middle of the house. I’m going to have to go back for the coconut and chocolate varieties.

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If you’re in or near McKinney, Lihoudies is a definite recommendation. Pull off the side of the highway, relax, and enjoy a fresh Mediterranean meal in this dumb Texas heat. As a plus, there’s also a shaved ice stand and a produce mart in the same small lot. And if you’re lucky, the goat and pig will be around to talk to among the produce.

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HAVE A NICE DAY!

 

 
Posted on June 24, 2018 and filed under Good Eatin!.

Jacks Chicken Shack-The Italian Beef

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Driving to the office the other day, i saw a new place called Jack's Chicken Shack. With a name like that, you know what to expect. So, today at lunch, Ii figured I’d give it a shot. True to its name, they serve wings and tenders. They both looked great and are massive portions. But, i saw something hiding on the corner of the menu. They do an Italian Beef Sandwich. If there is one thing I have learned, its when a restaurant does one dish that's completely different than the rest of the menu, it's bound to be good. Guess i'll have to come back to try that chicken.

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The store itself is a nice little take out establishment. No dine in tables so it's carry out only. While that may turn off a few, it's the perfect set up for the location. During the day, it caters to the downtown businesses and the University. In the evening, there are numerous bars within walking distance that allow outside food.

One thing i noticed is how clean the place way. Nothing was out of place and not a speck of dirt anywhere. That is always a good sign. You know the guy has some tie to Chicago since the walls are adorned with Blackhawk and Cubs memorabilia. I did see a Cowboys plaque on the wall so this guys is alright in my book. If you are a transplant looking for a little chi-town flavor, check this spot out.

 

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Ok, let's get to this beautiful sandwich. It's a big sandwich. It's a messy sandwich. Grab a stack of napkins and enjoy the ride!

To be fair, my only experience with an Italian Beef is watching the travel channel. I always thought they looked great, but the closest I can usually find is a French Dip. A fine sandwich in its own rite, nut a completely different animal. For those unfamiliar, an Italian Beef is a roast beef sandwich, sometime with cheese, topped by giardiniera, which is a spicy relish of pickled veggies.

Any good sandwich needs a solid foundation. The rolls used for this are perfect. The crust just firm enough to hold it all together, yet gives effortlessly when you bite into it. The inside is just the right density to soak up all the good meat juices and flavorful oil from the giardineria.

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The roast beef is just right. Sliced nice and thin and full of flavor. I don't know if its made in house, but i suspect it is. It has plenty of beefy flavor you come to expect from a good roast beef.

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The giardineria steals the show. It has just the right amount of heat to tingle the lips and the acidity cuts the richness of the beef and oil perfectly. The crunch of the pickled veggies is perfect contrast to the bread and the beef. It also has some melted cheese hiding in there and is a nice addition.

For $9.99, you get the massive Italian Beef and a side of fries and baked beans. The fries were good, not great. But hey, it's not called Jacks Fry Shack. They stayed crispy on the drive back to the office and were well seasoned. I have to confess, i doused them in a liberal helping af wing sauce so they didn't stay crispy for long. Truth be told, I set the baked beans aside and forgot about them. Didn't matter I was stuffed. Its 10 PM and im still not hungry.

I highly suggest you give this place a shot. It's a well run, local business with excellent service and a great product. This is a perfect recipe for success. I can't wait to try that chicken.

 

Posted on June 22, 2018 and filed under Fast Foodnatic.

Space Oddities - May: Thai Culture & Food Festival 2018

I decided that once a month in 2018, I’m going to take a quick trip to explore/see/do/hear something weird and unusual in the space around me. I’m calling these Space Oddities and this is May…

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For this month’s cultural adventure, I really stuck the cultural aspect. For the second time, I attended the Thai Culture & Food Festival, which was held at the Buddhist Center of Dallas. This free festival, going on its third year, is put on by the Thai Community Center of North Texas, a non-profit established in 1998 whose mission is to preserve Thai culture, religion, and tradition.

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In line with the organizer’s mission, the festival offers temple tours, a marketplace of Thai goods, cultural exhibitions, and, most importantly in my opinion, food. So much food. 

My friends and I arrived in the sweltering heat of a late May afternoon and ducked inside the temple to cool down. We got to observe a traditional Buddhist ceremony in the beautiful, gold-gilded temple. It was amazing to see such a culturally diverse group of people gathered in silent observation. 

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After the service, we walked around the festival grounds and caught a few exhibitions of traditional Thai culture, including dancing, sword handling, and Muay Thai demonstrations. 

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The marketplace was filled with clothing, packaged foods, toys & games, and jewelry. I got my fortune (cookie) told - at $20 per session, I’m too cheap (and a little scared?) for the real thing. That, and I wanted to spend my money on...

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But really, let’s talk about the food. I love Thai food and was not disappointed. The festival featured foods from all four Thai regions, from teas & coffee (Thai coffee drool…) and fresh coconuts to chicken satay and papaya salads. And also fried bananas and mango sticky rice and bean paste buns. And Pad Thai and noodle soups and several types of Thai pancakes (the lady above is preparing one of the most insanely delicious things I tried at the fest: Sweet egg yolk pancakes… what? A sweet pancake batter cooked and folded like a taco shell with a coconut cream filling and shredded egg yolk. I was dubious, but man. So dang good).

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Needless to say, I didn’t eat dinner that night. If you feel like you missed out on the food, the Buddhist Center of Dallas has mini food fests every Sunday from about 10am - 2pm. Authentic Thai street food is sold from permanent food stalls behind the temple and proceeds benefit the Buddhist Center. Check it out! 

Posted on June 3, 2018 and filed under Space Oddities.

Mixed Up Burgers: Review

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If a burger is a blank canvas, the guys at Mixed Up Burgers sure do paint a pretty picture.

Located in an unassuming strip mall behind a Circle K is far west Grand Prairie is a gem of a burger establishment. Mixed Up Burgers twist on the classic is they mix in the topping into the patty. They have all manner of mix-ins and topping to choose from so let your heart be your guide and build the burger of your dreams.

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Including a vast selection of pre designed burgers, they feature a Burger Of The Month. This months BOM is the Chorizo Burger. It’s 10 oz of Chorizo & Fresh Ground Beef with pepper jack cheese mixed in cooked to perfection on a flat-top grill. It is served on a well toasted telera bun with avocado mash, pico, lettuce and cotilla cheese.

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Once I saw that on the menu, I knew I had to have it. I paired it with a side of well-done, natural cut fries.

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I have had Chorizo burgers in the past, and while good, they are often a greasy mess. I don’t know what the ratio of chorizo to beef they used, but it was perfect. All the chorizo flavor stayed in the burger and not running down your arm. Truth be told, I’m not much of an avocado/guac person, but it was a welcome addition to this beauty. It added just the right amount of creaminess without muting everything out. The veggies and the pico were fresh and had a nice crunch. All in all, a very well put together burger.

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The fries were also a welcome treat. I always order freshly cut fries well done since it’s hard to get them nice and crispy. Im talking to you In-N-Out Burger. They did these fries right! Perfectly crispy and well seasoned, just as a fry should be.

If you are looking for a good burger and a local business to support, give Mixed Up Burgers a visit. You won’t be disappointed.

Mixed Up Burgers

510 E. Ave K

Grand Prairie, TX
Tel: 972.606.6700

Posted on May 4, 2018 and filed under Life On A Bun.

Collins Burger Mart: A Review

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I learned a long time ago not to judge a book by its cover. The "book" I want to talk about today is Collins Burger Mart. It is an unassuming little place that shares the space with a Conoco that is easy to miss. Its small, with only 3 tables and very dated, but clean. By the constant phone orders being taken while I was there, its obvious they cater to the take out crowd.

Lets dig in and see what we find.

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I ordered the #1 combo which is a cheeseburger, fries and a can of your drink of choice. I opted to add bacon because, well, bacon. All total, it set me back $8 and change. The box is full with fries and a nicely wrapped burger. Things are looking good so far!

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In my excitement, I neglected to take a pic with the top bun on.

The burger has nice color and caramelization from the well seasoned flat-top grill, 3 strips of bacon, good old American cheese and mustard. There is a standard compliment of lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion hiding under the massive patty. They don't specify the weight, but my guess its a 1/3 pound, bun sized patty. As any good burger should be, no bite will be meat free. 

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Oh my! Guys, this is a great burger! It not fancy or pretentious and doesn't claim to be anything its not. Its just a damn good cheese burger! Perfectly cooked patty that's juicy, but wont drip down your arm and cause a soggy bun. The veggies are nice and fresh and give plenty of good crunch. Honestly, the bacon leave something to be desired. I kinda forgot it was there, but it wasn't bad. Truth be told, and purists, please forgive me, but it tastes like Whataburger! For those living outside the south, that's about the highest complement a burger can get.

If somehow, burgers aren't your thing, they do have plenty of other offerings on the menu. I would like to try more, but that burger... its just so good!

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I had heard whispers of good things about this place, but in all honesty, I didn't expect much. I was just plain wrong, and I glad I was. If you know of a little dive or hole-in-the-wall with food to write home about, please let us know in the comments. We are always looking for that diamond in the rough.

Posted on April 13, 2018 and filed under Life On A Bun.

We Ate Some Of Those Taco Shell Shaped Egg Tacos At Taco Bell.

This morning Brimhall and Samuel ventured out to Taco Bell and grabbed a couple of Taco Bell's new Naked Egg Tacos. Here's how it went...

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Samuel Martinez
At $2 each the Taco Bell Naked Egg Taco is something you have to eat to believe. It piqued my interest when it was initially announced. Going in I had no expectations. I was pleasantly surprised buy the initial flavor and presentation one of the rare occasions that it looked like the picture on the menu. The egg left something to be desired it was discolored and over cooked. If I could have it over easy it would have been a tasty mess and would have left me wanting  more. The potato,shredded cheese, nacho cheese, egg, bacon/sausage combo was a good combo and truth be told, felt almost like a meal. I've never been a fan of nacho cheese but this is one of the rare occasions that it worked. It brought warmth and "freshness" to the taco. It was the glue needed to bind it all. Over all I'd give it a 6.5 out of 10.

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Joshua Brimhall
My first impression? Ehhhhhhhhhhh... It wasn't fantastic, yet it wasn't bad. After trying the sausage one first I made my way to the bacon one. I do have to say this one was more enjoyable for me. It was something about the bacon mixed with the potato seasoning and nacho cheese that made me favor this one over the sausage one. Just the right about of white trash to hit my taste buds right in the crap factory. I give the sausage one a 5 out of 10 but the bacon one I'd give a 7 out of 10. Would eat again.

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Posted on March 10, 2018 and filed under Fast Foodnatic.

We Ate Seven of Those Fish Sandwiches.

It's that time of year again. When Mardi Gras is over, Ash Wednesday has come, people give up arbitrary things for Lent and Catholics can't eat meat on Fridays until Easter. Coincidentally, fast food joints bust out their fish sandwiches and have them available for a limited time. Because of that we decided to take a fast food dining tour and we called it the FillDAY O' Fish!
Seven sandwiches. Four hours. Two upset stomachs.  
To keep you from making the same mistake we made, we graded each serving on how they compare in apperance to the official photos and how they taste. You're welcome.

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The fish is not a fillet as much as it is a thick fish stick. A flavorless, mushy, oily fish stick at that. There was tarter sauce and a ripe tomato with no lettuce unlike the official pic which was the complete opposite. Do yourself a favor and just eat a fart instead. 


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At first sight it looked good but that's where it ended. The fillet was thick with little to no flavor that was so greasy it left the bun soggy. As with all other the tarter sauce was good but the lettuce was stale and cut from the butt of the head... Butthead...


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This selection was the one we were least excited about and maybe that's how it ended up surpassing our low expectations. Don't let that fool you. It was a greasy mess on a thin greasy bun. The highlight was the pickle. You can get pickles anywhere.


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Pretty close repersentation of the official pic with a good taste on fish and veggies. Unfortunatley the fish was really dry and despite the tarter sauce and lettuce it remained dry. Had it not been so dry it would've won the day. Damn shame.


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Again, this bad boy rated a lot higher than expected. The epitome of fast food fish fillet, McDonald's knows what they're doing. The fillet was flaky and soft full of flavor and though it was the seventh, we both agreed we'd be okay making it the eighth, too.


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A great flaky full flavored fillet that is not greasy or overcooked. The toasted bun was a nice departure from the rest with sesames on top. Tarter sauce, of course but not enough lettuce and a pickle would've been nice. This was not a disappointment at all.


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The first of the day and we could've quit there. It's the best fast food fish fillet sandwich you can get. The fish was full of taste with a nice crispy breading on the flaky fish. The bun was toasted but soft and had just enough tarter sauce. Go get one NOW!


So there you have it. Sure, we might have missed a couple but had we been required to eat any more we surely would've died. Half way though the FillDAY o' Fish we both became dizzy and had upset stomachs. Afterward Andy took a nap and Doug spaced out... At their own houses. We aren't that weird. Also Doug said no to a man nap. 
We hope this list helped you make your food choices for the next few Fridays and we wish you all a happy 40 days of fish on Fridays!

 

Posted on March 7, 2018 and filed under Fast Foodnatic.