Friday, August 5, 2022

The National (Athens, GA)

232 W Hancock, Athens, GA 30601

 


In many ways, The National is the antithesis of a pig out spot. It is one of the few fancier restaurants in the Southern college town of Athens, which is known and loved for its high-quality food. But it recently put some pig out foods on its lunch menu, including a burger and falafel, so I checked it out.

 


I get the Smash Burger ($15), which are two smashed patties (prepared on the griddle) with bacon jam, dill pickles, red onion, lettuce, and tomato on a soft bun (I eat it without cheddar cheese). The burger is juicy and has good flavor, but is a bit sweeter than I prefer – I am more a spicy than sweet kind of guy. The “home fries” are thick cubes of fried potato, which they also use for their delicious Patatas Bravas (dinner menu), which are perfectly prepared, although the potato is a bit light. My wife and I also get two scoops of the homemade Gelato ($4 a scoop). This week’s flavors include Peach, which is ok, and Chocolate-Hazelnut, which is creamy and tasty and covered with crushed hazelnuts (scrumptious).

 


VERDICT: 88/100

From a pig out spot point of view, this is a very nice, if somewhat gourmet, smash burger and fries.

Black Market & Grill (Birmingham, AL)

1035 20th Street S, Birmingham, AL

 


Black Market & Grill is a kind of mix between a metal/biker bar and a sports bar, which has two locations in Birmingham. The one I visit, in the popular Five Points district, attracts an alternative but fairly mixed crowd on a Wednesday night. The bar serves burgers and other types of bar food. It has a very cool vibe.

 


I get the Hulk Burger ($12.99), which comes with avocado, bacon, and Chipotle sauce. The patty is thick and juicy and has an excellent taste. The bacon and avocado are good and the Chipotle sauce gives the burger a great kick. The fries are thick, a bit soft, but very tasty.

 


VERDICT: 98/100

This was an excellent burger, one of the better ones I ever had, and the setting is great too. What an awesome place. Go there!

Greek Street (Birmingham, AL)

5291 Valleydale Rd #141, Birmingham, AL

 


Greek Street is a small and pretty cute gyros place in a newer strip mall on the outskirts of Birmingham, which serves pita gyros, lamb burgers, souvlaki, but also bowls and salads. Remarkably, it has a drive thru and you can order on an app.

 


I get a Pita Gyros ($8.14), Greek style, which means a mix of beef and lamb meat. The meat is not freshly cut/shaved from a skewer, but rather several thick pieces of ground meat that have been cut off earlier and is then reheated on the griddle, which makes it a bit crusty. The pita is thick and soft but there are too few vegetables and sauce on it, which makes the pita mostly taste like salty meat.

 


VERDICT: 82/100

While it is a decent salty meat sandwich, it doesn’t come close to an authentic pita gyros.

Buc-ee's (Leeds, AL)

Off the I-20, Leeds, AL

 


Buc-ee’s is a chain of insanely big gas stations annex all-American food and crap stores that originated in Texas and now has more than 40 locations in the South, primarily in Texas though. It seems to cater primarily to the Average Joe, but of all racial backgrounds.

 


I get a Pulled Pork sandwich ($7.48), which is a fairly large soft bun filled with extremely tender and juicy pulled pork doused in a sweet sauce and with caramelized onions. It is very tasty but could have had more meat (particularly for that price).

 


VERDICT: 87/100

Tasty pulled pork sandwich in a carnivalesque setting.

Lee's Bakery (Atlanta, GA)

4005 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta

 


Lee’s Bakery is situated in a run-down strip mall with mostly Asian and Hispanic restaurants. It is remarkably big and combines a Vietnamese restaurant, with the usual staples. The bakery seems to mainly consist of the small baguettes they use for the Bahn Mi sandwiches. It comes very highly recommended.

 


I get Vegetarian Eggs Rolls ($4.50) and a Bahn Mi Grilled Pork ($5.95). The egg rolls are remarkably big but also refried at too low heat, making them a big saggy and very fatty. The Bahn Mi is tasty but mainly because of the freshness of the vegetables — the bbq pork is tasty but not remarkable.

 


VERDICT: 88/100

Good Bahn Mi but not remarkable.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Slutty Vegan (Athens, GA)

700 Baxter Street, Suite 800, Athens, GA

 


Slutty Vegan is a new chain out of Atlanta that serves vegan burgers and sandwiches (fried chicken, hot dogs) and fries as well as some desserts. It is Black-owned and the story of founder and CEO Pinky Cole is inspirational! Slutty Vegan currently has five locations in and around Atlanta, with Athens being the furthest, but is opening new locations outside of Georgia soon. Inside, the music is extremely loud — to the extent that you can’t understand the people behind the register, and they can’t understand each other — and the personnel (has to) do an annoying loud routine when you come in and leave. All burgers have sex-themed names, are made with Beyond Meat, and come only in (pricey) combos. Weirdly, you cannot eat inside or outside, while there is no drive-thru.

 


I get the Sloppy Toppy ($15), which comes with lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, fresh jalapeños, and “slut sauce” on a vegan Hawaiian bun. It looks messy and tastes mostly like a whopper, but one with a good kick because of the jalapeños and sauce. The fries are thick wrinkle-cut, but they lack a bit of flavor, despite the light seasoning.

 


VERDICT: 80/100

While I love everything about the story of Slutty Vegan, it is not for me. Then again, I am not the target audience. To be honest, there is no reason to go here if you are not vegan. It is crazy loud, you cannot eat inside or outside, and the food is expensive and not remarkable. However, if you are vegan, this place comes as close to the “real” experience as anything I have ever seen.

Slapfish (Hilton Head Island, SC)

 1024 William Hilton Pkwy, Hilton Head Island, SC

 


Slapfish is a national chain of upscale fast food fish restaurants with currently some 20 locations across the US. It has an eclectic menu, which reflects more a fish restaurant than a fast food chain, including Chowder Fries, Lobster Roll, Fish & Chips, and various salads.

 


I get the Fish & Chips, choosing two pieces rather than one ($14), which comes with home-made Tartar sauce. The two pieces of fish are lightly breaded and well fried: very good! The fries are thick and crispy, with light seasoning. The Tartar sauce is yellowish and has a bit of a citrusy taste.

 


VERDICT: 90/100

Very good fish & chips and the other, healthier options, were good too (although the salad had a lot of fries in them).