Monday, April 25, 2011

Burger Island (Carrollton, TX)

1208 East Belt Line Road # 108, Carrollton, TX 75006, T: 972-245-4621

When I was at the Burger Island, I thought it was an example of local Mexicans starting a burger joint without much money. I have seldom seen such a dump, in terms of interior. You could imagine that I was more than a little surprised when I found out online that Burger Island is actually a chain with 8 locations in the larger Dallas area.

Burger Island has burgers, sandwiches, and salads. All burgers are made from half a pound of 100% Angus beef. Although it is home to the Jungle Burger, I went for the Big Island Burger at $5.50. It is a huge burger that comes with sauteed onion, mushrooms, jalapenos, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles (I declined the American and Provolone cheeses). The end result was a huge, very tasteful burger, which didn't taste anything like a basic burger.

VERDICT: 91/100
Burger Island might look like a Hawaiian restaurant turned Mexican-burger joint (at least the one in Carrollton), it serves big, tasty burgers! Next time around, I will also sample the seasoned fries.

El Taco Veloz (Indianapolis, IN)

2475 W Washington St, Indianapolis, IN 46222, T: 317-555-1212

Ever since we moved to Plainfield, Indiana, we have been passing the little food cart of El Taco Veloz on our way into the city. Each time my wife would say to me: "we should really eat there, before they close." But, whether storms of snow, tormenting rain, or scourging heat, the little cart is open and, often, at least one customer is there (most often eating inside their car).

El Taco Veloz offer, well, tacos. They only speak a couple of words English, so we didn't get the whole range of options. We had a couple of pork tacos and some beef tacos. (in total 5 tacos for under $10). In all cases the meat came on little round fresh corn tortillas with salsa, cilantro, and lettuce, while you could add a spicy pico de gallo (with fresh jalapenos). The end result, particularly with the beef tacos, was a light but extremely tasty snack; almost unrelated to the tacos you are used to at the usual tex mex restaurant.

VERDICT: 92/100
If you like tacos, and would like to experience the real Mexican experience, please do stop at this little food cart on a parking lot off the I-40 on the outskirts of Indy.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Golden Fleece (Detroit, MI)

525 Monroe Street, Detroit, MI 48226-2932, T: 313-962-7093

Who knew that Detroit has a sort of Greek town (well, Street); and that people actually go out there in the evening. I didn't either, but I found it by accident, being hungry and in downtown Detroit. While none looked very tasty, I chose The Golden Fleece in the hope to find an (almost) authentic pita gyros. What I found was a HUGE pita, filled with inferior grounded meat, watery tzatziki, and lukewarm fries.

VERDICT: 63/100
If you prefer quantity over quality, and want a lot for a little, The Golden Fleece is for you. If you like Greek-style gyros, it is not.

Dangerous Dan's Diner (Toronto, ON, Canada)

714 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON M4M 1H2, Canada, T: +1 416-463-7310

Dangerous Dan's Diner is a pig out institution in Toronto, Ontario. It is one of the weirdest and dirtiest places I ever ate. It's motto is: "The burgers are bigger at the Double D", and they truly are. As it was early in the afternoon, and I had a late breakfast, I ordered just the "Plain Burger", which I had with lettuce, tomato, onions, hot peppers, ketchup and mayo ($5.40 Canadian). The patty was thick and well grilled, tasty, while the bun was a bit too thick and tasteless (very English). The whole tasted good though and the peppers gave it a nice kick.

VERDICT: 87/100
Dangerous Dan's is the type of pig out spot where you won't get your girlfriend into. Dirty, messy, with big, greasy, tasty burgers.

Cuisine Express (London, ON)

Cuisine Express, corner of Exeter Rd & Meg Dr, London, Ontario, Canada

On my way to Toronto I got off the highway in London, Ontario, to have a snack, saw this cart from the road and simply had to stop. It is the closest thing to a Belgian frituur I ever saw in North America. It is run by a nice guy in his (late) 50s, I think originally from Eastern European. Although it is freezing, I am not the only person today. Both before and after me someone stops by. Seems like the Cuisine Express is a local staple.

I order a Hamburger Combo for $9 Canadian (roughly $9 American). It comes with a soda and a huge portion of really crispy fries with some special herbs and his special sauce (part mayo, part bbq), in a paper box. The burger is a thick and well grilled patty of meat (not 100% beef, I think), which comes with lettuce, a (freshly cut) slice of tomato, and special sauce on an odd, thin multigrain bun. It tastes good; in fact, when I add some more special sauce, it tastes very good.

VERDICT: 87/100
Cuisine Express is a Belgian-style snack cart, run by a nice guy, who offers great snacks at acceptable prices. Do try the special sauce!

Fritland (Brussels, Belgium)

49 Rue Henri Maus, 1000 Brussels, Belgium (Metro: Beurs/Bourse)

Fritland is one of the most famous friteries/frituurs (snack bars) in Brussels. It is located at Bourse/Beurs, a landmark in the city center. While it may look like a tourist trap, and is indeed much frequented by tourists, it is actually a very good place to sample Belgium's finest finger foods.

I ordered a Frites with mayonnaise and a Hamburger with Samourai sauce (at €6.20, quite pricey). The fries are made from real, chunky potatoes, but this time they were undercooked, if still crunchy from the outside. In fact, last time I was there, they were perfectly fried and very tasty. The hamburger was cut in two and spread over a baguette with fried onions. Overall, the burger had little taste, as it is not made with 100% beef.

VERDICT: 87/100
On a good day, Fritland provides some of the best fries in Belgium (and, hence, the world). On a regular day, they serve good fries at relatively high prices.

Ray's Donuts (St. Louis, Missouri)

2524 S Brentwood Blvd, St Louis, MO 63144, T: 314-962-6210

Tucked away in a strip mall in the Richmond Heights is Ray's Donuts; seemingly a successor to a different donut shop at the same location. We found it by accident, while chasing a different place on an outdated GPS. They actually have a second location in Brentwood, MO.

We got three donuts: one glazed, one maple, and one chocolate-coconut. All had a good solid texture and tasted good; soft, not too sweet. It's been a while, so I forgot how much they were, but I do remember they were affordable.

VERDICT: 86/100
Ray's Donuts is a good donut shop in the St. Louis area, serving thick, tasty donuts several levels above the Dunkin' Donuts variety.