In these installments, I'll be schlepping you through a myriad of places to hit up (or avoid like the plague), on the road, in and around the country. Yeah, we're like Guy Fieri but we wear our glasses on the correct side of our head! Shit, I even need to wear my glasses correctly so I don't fall into a cartoonish looking open-man hole, or crash the car!
Anyway, after touring for the past couple years, and just "grabbin' a bite" to eat after shows, our range of food binging has been wide-spread and varied, and it's time to share some of the insight amassed at some of these eateries. I've compiled a some chicken-scratch in notebooks over our tours, and will be sharing them on the brick mower blog.
AND PLEASE... feel free to disagree. One man's soggy cornbread chicken dip is another man's burnt pizza covered ice-cream ball. Right? Okay, whatever.
*most of the images used are from google searches in the food blogs. Also, if we include your name in the food blogs and you want it off let us know and we will do just that. (and this one has 8 entries, but the rest will have around 5).
CHAPTER 1: Some Places That We Ate- In No Particular Order
Asheville, NC- Twisted Crepe- 62 Haywood St.
Okay, are Crepes your thing? What, are you too punk rock to eat some fancy fuckin' food wrapped in a thin pancake? Well, yeah you should be, cause this world is crazy. Eatin' food wrapped in pancakes? HA. I shall say though, my mother makes a mean Austrian style crepe (is that a thing?).
We came to Twisted Crepe on our tour in December 2011. We stumbled in with the old "Ehhh, how 'bout here?" attitude.
Price wise, it's not terrible, but not the best bang for the traveling buck. I believe each Crepe runs in the 8 to 9 dollar range. Again, a little stressful on the roamin' man's budget. BUT, the food is fantastic. The crepe's were nice and light, just sweet enough. The first time through, KG got a veggie friendly wrap that was out of this world. I had a turkey crepe the first day that wasn't the best but noteworthy, and Steve got the buffalo crepe that was awesome! The food was so good, we went back the next morning to get more, which really fucked our budget up, but I was testifier to the buffalo chicken crepe with jalapenos, and mozzarella that Steve got the day before. AMAZING! Decor is pretty general and safe. Family friendly, Starbucks feel with some generic, Target purchased art up on the wall. But there's a slight hippie, collegiate twist for the Asheville locals. Whatever. Hit this spot up! 9/10
Columbus, OH- Hang Over Easy- 1646 Neil Ave.
Hang Over Easy prides itself in hitting the general public in the ribs with the old "Hey, we know you're all alcoholics Especially you college kids." Well, let's face it. College kids are fucking alcoholic jerks! No wait. Just alcoholics. Hence, the general decor and theme of this place consists of 3 things. 1) Breakfast all day 2) Big portions 3) Make sure you read all of our college-poster-sale posters on the walls! Yes, that is a Pulp Fiction poster you're sitting under, my friend.
We ended up stumbling in here with Black Wine on our summer tour in 2011. We were all hungry, sleepy, and on the final day of our tour. Anyway, the food here was pretty awesome. I got a meal called "Frog's Eyes" under their "house specials" section. It was two HUGE biscuits smothered in white gravy. It was seven bucks but filled me up for the entire day, and was beyond rich and delicious. So right there, IMPORTANT FOR TRAVELING. If you're looking for a giant omelet, a kitschy "southern" section of the menu full of shrimp and grits, or a hefty burger with an egg on it, and don't mind sitting next to a bro covered in Axe body spray with pull-away nylon pants, head over here. Not too shabby. 7/10
New Egypt, NJ- Scott's Country Market- 19 Main St.
Okay, so this isn't a place we went on tour, but first went to when recording the Under the Sink album at The Hunt Studio in New Egypt, NJ. Now, New Egypt is off the beaten path. Probably no reason to come through here, unless you've been lost for ten minutes leaving Six Flags: Great Adventure, OR if you're recording at The Hunt Studio with Eric Bennett (recommended).
But, I couldn't help but put this place on the map a little more, even if it's our own damn map. OKAY, so Scott's Country Market is a convenience store with a serious deli counter, and local, small town charm. They pride themselves in their hoagies (it's south jersey, so the term "subs" does NOT apply), and their homemade roast-beef and turkey. I've had many a hoagie, and homemade platter from Scott's while frequenting The Hunt Studio. Their ever present special of hot roast beef, provolone and horseradish is insanely delicious. I've also gotten a straight-up veggie sub from this place and thought it was well packed, fresh, and filling (but I'm a mayo guy, so opinions can be fucked with there). They also have incredible homemade dishes that they change up daily basis, turning the local mailman on his head, and making the dude down the street scratch his back while going "uhhh... I'll have the... .uhhh... pork rolls, provolone mac, and ribs? And yes, he might ACTUALLY SAY THAT!"). Awesome local communal feel in the store too, which can be hard to come by in NJ. Small seating sections inside, around the side of the parking lot. As far as deli counter service, and friendliness is concerned 10/10
Somerville, MA- Kelly's Diner- 674 Broadway
We dropped in Kelly's Diner, again on a whim, driving around in the morning after playing a show at Starlab in the Boston area with The Young Leaves and my other band, Real Good in April 2011.
Kelly's Diner, as it turns out, WAS featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives as the multiple signs in the tiny diner immediately make it known. The classic looking, shiny, boxcar diner was packed on a Sunday morning but we found 3 stools at the end of the counter top and had a nice old-fashioned diner breakfast/lunch. Beware: the window claims the diner has been open since 1953 which is your classic True but False but True situation (don't ya just hate those). The Diner was actually located in New Castle, DE until the mid-90's when the structure was up and moved to Massachusetts. If location is everything then I guess location is everywhere?
The best thing we had here was the fish chowder! If seafood is your thing, the chunks of fish in it were sizeable, and the soup creamy and full of flavor. I ended up getting a cheeseburger, inspired by the classic diner feel of the place, and was none too impressed with it after, but it was good enough. Maybe the fish chowder swayed me into greater expectations? KG got a vegetarian friendly sandwich that she gave the thumbs up too. So there's is a vegetarian option, but I believe that might be few and far between. As far as money is concerned, we payed fairly standard diner prices. The soup and burger with fries ran about 10 bucks. Service was excellent too. The lady behind the counter was all about the chit-chat and super friendly. Hit it up in your spare time. 7/10
Cleveland, TN- New China Buffet and Grill- 2332 Treasury Dr SE
(It's that underground, man. Nahhh, but the internet hates logging pictures of it, apparently.)
So here's how it all plays out. We were on tour in October 2012 in Chattanooga, TN, and were staying with our friends Chad and Kayla in Cleveland, 30 minutes north of Chattanooga. Before going to their house we were all talking food, having eaten chips and canned stuff the past four days. After talking, we all mentioned none of us had been to a Chinese food buffet in years and that we would go more often if they weren't so expensive. SO an average of 13 bucks a meal might not mean much to you but it injures OUR POCKETS. Suddenly, on the passenger side of the car, appeared a no-frills, rectangular, boxed shaped eatery with some arrangement of misspellings along their signs. Yes, NEW CHINA BUFFET AND GRILL. And the main sign read.... LUNCH $5...
The next day, we asked Chad Stafford if he'd be down to grab lunch with us, possibly at New China Buffet and Grill. He informed us that the "NEW" in the name was about 5 or 6 years old. So use it loosely. We were sure it wouldn't be $5 for an all-you-can-eat buffet. I mean we're on tour. It's a joke. A cruel joke for travelers looking for steam coming off their food. Sure enough, while waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under us, we got there and it was a $5 lunch buffet. Was this Vegas? AND, the food... was pretty damn delicious. General Chinese buffet style food that was comparable to stuff I remember as a fat kid in NJ (but I've also had several terrible Chinese buffets along the way). The food was fressh, the sauces,and noodles weren't cong,ealed, as I had expected. They even had a sushi bar. The Philadelphia rolls were not very good (fresh, but poorly packed), however the shashimi was actually pretty top notch. Crappy pizza for the kids, and us to-go in the front pocket. Tons of food, that tasted pretty damn fresh. Left here feeling like a glutton on a food grabbing spree, and despite the myth, did not eat five minutes later, or the rest of the day. Stop in at New China Buffet to fill up the touring musician in you. Food: 6/10 Bargain: 10/10
Chicago, IL- Kitsch'n- 2005 W. Roscoe St
We ended up going to Kitsch'n with our friend Kevin in Granny Frost/Deep Wizard our second time through Chicago in November 2010 on tour (don't worry I'll talk Chicago pizza later, but I digress). So, we went out for some classic brunch at Kitsch'n, described as "slightly hipster" if I recall Kevin saying correctly. Hence the "Kitsch".
The place itself is pretty small and we ended up eating outback on the outside patio. Kitsch'n is quite retro and actually is quite kitschy, looking like a B-52's video shoot, complete with vintage PBR and Old Style cans stacked up into pyramids next to old appliances and baby-boomer era Borax boxes.
I ended up going with the breakfast burrito which was pretty large, but not large or gripping enough to earn its $10 price tag. It was tasty for sure, but spent most of the time stubbing my shoe on the ground thinking shit, this cost me 10 buck on tour. But, for better or worse Kitsch'n is a prime spot where people like to go and think there pretty fucking funny or cool for being there, and some of those people were pretty fucking cool at that place. Overly nice service and decent food, but didn't staple itself to the brain, heart, or stomach. 6/10
Lakewood, OH-MELT Bar and Grilled- 14718 Detroit Ave
Excellent bar selection of micro-brews and regional favorites. Hefty portions. Prices are in 9 to 11+ range for sandwiches, so prepare wisely if traveling with chump change. Cool, punk, hipster decor inside while still remaining regular bar friendly, and totally clean. This ain't no hole in the wall. As our bud Ken Dix at Soggy Dog House said, and I paraphrase, "Man that place was great when they opened up. Those guys were stoked on the business. But now it's so busy I think they wanna slit their wrists." Worth the wait in takeout. Try to sit down and enjoy the experience. The food and concept is exceptional and they've now expanded into 4 different locations. Make it happen. Get the TAT. MELT!
Philadelphia, PA- Pat's King of Steaks- 1237 E. Passyunk Ave
Okay, so right away you know this shit is not vegetarian friendly. And right away, you should know that this is TOURIST central. And right away, any punk related person reading this, or Philly native is probably rolling their fucking eyes. Vegetarian or not, I know one person will probably yell at the screen to eat at 20 better Philadelphia cheesesteak joints... uhhhh, I mean jawns. BUT, here's the goods and the stank.
So first off, as the lore goes, you have to know the ordering system or you're heckled and berated and ignored. So if you don't go in it with confidence, it's bullshit, and I pretty much despise places like this. Places that perpetuate the "I ain't got time for you cause I work here" system equal a roll of the eyes from this guy. Pat's is one of the oldest cheesesteak places in Philadelphia, even featured in the first Rocky. We went here after playing a house show in late 2010, and I had wanted to try one of the 2 famed places in the immediate area.
The other place, Geno's, is directly across the street and looks like a Vegas orgy palace with flashing signs. Also, Geno's, is slightly famed for having the "speak English or get out of line" sign in his window, in some wording or other. So right there, fuck that place. Pat's is far more subdued with just plain old outdoor counter service and painted signs with no outward mentioning of hating foreign language. After all, the Philadelphia accent is pretty terrible. Am I right, or am I right?
Anyway, Pat's guidelines must be followed; order by saying "wit" or "wit out" for cheeze-wiz on your sub or not and other dumb traditional bullshit for getting your onions, or lack thereof. In the end, it's traditional shenanigans that's really not that much fun to be a part of, but won't kill you. At 1 in the morning, the lines are long. A woman behind you will take more than three pictures of the signs and giggle. And a local will probably offer you items from his pockets that he can't pronounce correctly, and you'll just shake your head that you're not interested. The steaks were tough, and chewy, but not inedible. I LOVE the cheese-wiz on the cheesesteaks, which is all Philadelphia. Other people say they hate it, but I suspect most haven't tried it. It was fairly filing for the night, but pricey for the quality. I've had way better cheesesteaks that come close to following the Philly guideline in central and southern NJ, and also in the Lehigh Valley area of PA. Pat's wasn't terrible. Come for the minor chaos. Leave with the fact that you said you did. 4/10
TUNE IN NEXT TIME FOR MORE BAND UPDATES AND OTHER BULLSHIT PLACES WE HAVE DINED!