Stage Coach- Grease, Grits, and Cultural Exchange


Sometimes brunch won’t do. Some mornings, the thought of mimosas and purse dogs and hungover waiters sours the stomach more than last night’s libations. Some mornings, breakfast is the only solution for what ails you. And a very specific breakfast at that, one with potatoes, biscuits, eggs, and all the other fixin’s. But, every now and then, you need to go farther. You need a gut bomb that feels like it was especially prepared by Paula Deen’s grandma, you know the one that thought the rotund racist was “too skinny” and kept inducing her to eat sticks of butter like they were popsicles. On those mornings, you go to the Stage Coach.

 Unprepossessing with its A-frame roof and 50-year old sign, the Stage Coach Restaurant offers the homiest of down-home cooking, the most comfortable of comfort food, the bombest of gut bombs. And, with its Florin Road location it also offer an intriguing intersection of white, black, Hispanic, and Asian customers who tend to mingle together in a common cause in a way usually reserved for houses of worship.

Continue reading “Stage Coach- Grease, Grits, and Cultural Exchange”

Sorry Folks, Bandera is Still the Best Burger in Town

I know it’s a chain. I know the drinks are too expensive. I know you can’t go there without getting hit on by some geriatric divorcee or Persian car dealer. I know. I know all of these things. It doesn’t make the burger taste any worse. It is a perfect burger.

Poppyseed bun. House ground, highest quality meat. Cooked to order on the doneness scale. More importantly, cooked correctly, to order, on the doneness scale. Topped with good cheddar, mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion. Served with a side of slaw. It’s everything you want in a burger and nothing you don’t.

Sure, it costs $16 and doesn’t even come with full release, but it’s worth it. This is not an everyday, got nothing in the fridge to cook, can’t decide on pizza or chinese, kind of burger. It’s a special occasion burger. It’s a birthday burger. It’s a breakup burger. It’s a promotion burger. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not better than Bandera’s $20 french dip, but that’s another story.

It is, however,  better than, in no particular order, Nationwide, Scott’s, Dime, Formoli, Squeeze, Jerry’s, Smashburger, Five Guys, and any other place you could name. It’s just that good. It’s definitely better than Nationwide. I don’t know what’s wrong with you people that keep telling me that place is the tits. It’s not. It’s just sad and weird and overpriced for what you get, and unexceptional. It’s like the Zelda’s of burgers. Oooooooooooooooooooooo, yeah I said it.

Bandera- 2232 Fair Oaks Blvd (at Howe), 922.3524,

Tank House-Dumb Name, Rad Grub

TankHouse_TexturedRVIt may come as a surprise to you, but the small restaurant footprint on J at 20th has gone through three iterations in the last few years. I know, you didn’t even notice. You were totally unaware that a place named “Had’s” strolled in there in 2011 and was gone by Inauguration Day. And honestly, we saw it coming even if you didn’t. Had’s? Really? What kind of a name was that? And the cursive script it was written in made us ask ourselves “Is the place called Shad’s? or Had’s? Of Ffad’s?…Fuck it, we’re not eating there.”

Before that, it was a sushi place so memorable that no one can remember its name. Sushi Place? Sushi Joint? Sushi Sushi? It was something awesomely memorable like that. They apparently served the best edamame you can get on that block of J Street.

Well, some new intrepid restaurateurs have rebranded the place and gone for broke with the surefire restaurant formula of the decade, artisinal/basic/comfort/hipster/fattening. It’s working for LowBrau, it’s working for grilled cheese trucks, it’s working everywhere. Perhaps it’ll work for the new occupiers of 1925 J Street, Tank House. Continue reading “Tank House-Dumb Name, Rad Grub”

Burger Battle, Coming Soon, Already Here

From Scott's Burger Shack Facebook page
From Scott’s Burger Shack Facebook page

The date’s been announced for this year’s 2nd annual Burger Battle at Raley Field. Last year’s event was pretty beefy, and this year’s will probably be even more so. My favorite burger last year was a tie between Kupro’s and Flaming Grill, the former going for a luscious meat blend on a squaw roll and the latter going for lamb with more fixings than the law allows, but I felt neither got the recognition it deserved, mostly because Kupro’s has a crap reputation amongst many and Flaming Grill is amazing, but still mostly a parking lot across from former Catholic girls school.

Should you want to start your own burger battle a little early, I draw your attention to an old favorite of many, but a new find for me, Scott’s Burger Shack.

Scott’s Burger Shack on Franklin Boulevard serves a burger called the “Fat Boy,” a hefty ½ pound patty topped with bacon, two kinds of cheese and all the fixin’s. It’s a juicy, rich, gut-busting good time. For my friends in nearby Land Park, Curtis Park, and Hollywood Park, it’s a neighborhood treat not to be missed. Be warned, however. To say that conditions at Scott’s are Spartan would be like saying the Bates Motel has a strict checkout policy. The order window is the size of a wet-nap, the three tables outside have the rich patina of 25 years of spilled ketchup, and the surrounding exhaust-flavored parking lot is less than savory. Totally worth it.

Scott’s Burger Shack– 4127 Franklin Blvd. 451-4415.

Food ****1/2 Service ** Atmosphere- none

Turkish Delight, or Trio: Third Time’s the Harm

imagesDish 1: It looked like a pile of burnt, crumbled hamburger meat over a base of somewhat loose, nearly separated risotto. Dish 2: It tasted like a chicken breast stuffed with a banana cream pie. Dish 3: Had the vegetable lasagna not been cold, it may have been satisfactory. Dish 4: For a slightly tough lamb shank, it was tasty if a bit cool.

These are not the entrees you should be serving. These are especially not the entrees you should be serving when the Eats clan has invited the Crushers to come along and evaluate a new eatery. If you don’t remember the Crushers, they’re great friends who do not hold back when served a shitty meal. And rarely stay quiet when they’re served a somewhat ok meal. They expect no errors at a $20 a dish joint, and just short-of-perfection at a $5 hash house.

This is also not the food you should be dishing out when you’re on the radar. How should you know you’re on the radar? Well, first comes the attention from Bee critic BAR, then an increase in Yelp reviews, then you wind up having two reviewers (Garrett McCord from SNR and Vanilla Garlic was at the table next to us) in on the same night. We’re talking NSA level-Zero Dark Thirty radar going on. Continue reading “Turkish Delight, or Trio: Third Time’s the Harm”

Dine Downtown Or Else Downtown Will Move to Seattle

With the Kings debacle fresh in our collective consciousness, let’s focus on something this town does well, food. We’re the fark to form capital of the world, and no one’s going to take that from us. Tonight marks the start of the annual Dine Downtown Week (Jan 9-18) which is so big that it can’t be contained by a mere 7-day week but must expand over to a metric 10-day week. Each restaurant puts together a 3-course/$30 meal and waits for the throngs to come pouring in.

If you, in fact, dine Downtown all ten nights, I admire your eating enthusiasm. But, if you, like me, are holding yourself to a few nights only, these are the spots I wouldn’t miss:

Biba- sure, it feels like you’re eating in 1989 in there, but who cares? The cooking is always expert and the flavors rarely miss. You’ll get salad, pasta, and entrée for $30, way below the usual Biba mark-up.

The Porch– Try the soft shell crab & waffle. Why? Because when else are you gonna try it. Continue reading “Dine Downtown Or Else Downtown Will Move to Seattle”

Best Thing I Put in My Mouth This Week: Pumpkin Pie Edition

One of the reasons I like Thanksgiving so much — other than it’s the best family-gathering, food-binging, drink-sopping, politics-arguing, non-religious party you can have — is the focus on pies. Many holidays have their particularly associated desserts, but none is more aligned with the pie than Thanksgiving. My favorite is the pumpkin. For me, nothing captures the flavors of fall better than a pumpkin pie, and in the week following t-day, the best example I’ve been able to find is at Green Boheme on Del Paso Blvd.

Here’s the weird part, Green Boheme is a raw, vegan restaurant. Yeah. I know. Yet, their refrigerated pumpkin pie is so incredibly rich and spicy and caramelly and nutty and irresistable that I found myself pulling a When Harry Met Sally Meg Ryan routine while I greedily spooned the ridiculously dense goodness into my mouth. I didn’t care that it was raw; I didn’t care that it was vegan. Hell, I wouldn’t have cared if it had been made by a team Islamo/facist kiddie ticklers. The pie was extraordinary.

Also, if you haven’t dropped by Green Boheme for their regular meals, do it. Their food is always spot on and creative. I always expect to make compromises for flavor or texture or some such thing due to the limited range available in raw cooking, yet each time I find myself loving every bite without reservation. Take the time to check it out, it’s a winner.

P.S. For those that remember, last year I was accused of being an animal slaughtering carne asadist for calling Sugar Plum Cafe out on being awful . Not knowing the politics/border wars between vegans and raw dawgs (isn’t that what you call them), I’m sure this won’t assuage any tempers but just open old wounds, but hey, I tried.

Lad & Hooker, err Hook & Ladder

I’d like to get all snark-tastic with the new bar and eatery, Hook & Ladder, but the truth is, it’s pretty good. The beer selection is good, the wine list is good, service = good, food mostly good, interor quirky but good. I’m not roasting the place. It doesn’t deserve that, but it deserves a quick spell on defrost.

First, huzzah to the H&L crew for stocking Rainier beer. It’s a rare treat and worth the price of admission right there. Also, a pat on the back for hiring that Zooey Deschanel doppleganger bartender. I’m sure she’ll keep the age-inappropriate men and suburban hipsters coming through the doors for uncomfortable flirting sessions. Additionally, the wine on tap is a great choice — economical, ecological, ergonomic — and I heartily applaud it.

My problem is with the little stuff. I know this is a professional hazard of the food writing biz, the looking at everything a little too critically, from the napkin rings to the toothpicks (c’mon, who even uses napkin rings anymore?), but something should be said in this case.

Take, for example, the decor. It’s a strange mashup of dilapidated Coney Island chic and brothel moderne. If you don’t look at it too closely, it feels cool, it feels hip, it feels current. Start pulling away the edges and none of it makes sense. Like, why are the cocktail tables made from retro board games? In what possible design asthetic does that fit? How does that blend with the industrial theme? Why are the beer taps installed upsideown causing them to drip constantly? Why is the place called Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Company?  Are they stamping out aluminum frames in the kitchen? Is the name of the place a tribute to firemen or the people that make fireman ladders? Or are they being cute for the sake of being cute? Continue reading “Lad & Hooker, err Hook & Ladder”