Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gene and Jude’s (River Grove, IL)

2720 River Road, River Grove, IL 60171, T: 708-452-7634

Gene and Jude’s Red Hot Stand is a grease spot in a suburb of Chicago, housed in an old run-down shack at a parking lot. Allegedly, it sells more Vienna dogs than any other place in the country. Then again, it sells only hot dogs, fries, and… tamales (don’t ask).

I had a double dog with fries for the 1950s price of $2.55. The hot dog comes with two sausages, onions, mustard and small spicy peppers, while the fries are heaped onto the dog. The hot dog tastes great, the sausages are very snappy, while the fries are almost of Belgian quality! Hmmm, if only they had the mayonnaise.

VERDICT: 97/100
In terms of hot dogs and fries, you can hardly get better than this. Although it is out of the way, do stop by whenever you are in the Chicago area!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Harvey's (Windsor, Canada)

3095 Dougall Ave, Windsor, ON N9E 1S3, T: 519-972-4862

Harvey's is the prime Canadian-owned burger chain with 286 locations in Canada (which makes it only the fourth biggest burger chain in Canada). I had actually had my first Harvey's experience in Prague, Czech Republic, somewhere in the mid-1990s (they closed it not much later). Harvey's is known for its fresh-grilled burgers and for the fact that it let's you choose which condiments you want on them.

I went for the Double Original Hamburger (added bacon), "frings" (a combo of fries and onion rings), and a soda for a toal of $ 8.78 (Canadian). The burger was thick and juicy, but missed that extra taste. The fries and onion rings were ok, nothing more, nothing less.

VERDICT: 77/100
Harvey's is a very decent burger chain, somewhere in between the cheap (McDonalds and Burger King) and the expensive ones (Carl Jr.). Definitely worth a try when you are up in Canada.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

POP Burger (New York, NY)

14 58th St, New York, NY, T: 212-991-6644
(60 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011-4901, T: 212-414-8686)

POP Burger is probably the trendiest burger place you'll ever find. In 2005 I stumbled upon the original POP Burger by accident. It is in the Meatpacking District, close to the West Village, but I was never able to find it again (I also forgot the name). Recently, I found the second location, equally trendy, though in upper Manhattan.

The famous POP Burgers come by the two for $6.75: they are small and simple, but also thick and juicy. We also ordered the Invisible Burger ($8.75), a huge vegetarian burger made of perfectly seasoned and fried portobella mushrooms. M. still raves about it! In addition, we had a side of french fries, which were also battered and crunchy (bit like the BK fries). I am not a big fan of battered fries, but M really liked them.

VERDICT: 93/100
POP Burger is a must visit in New York. Open till late, it provides fantastic little burgers and other snacks. And if you are a vegetarian, you won't easily find a better veggie burger then here. In fact, M. gave them a 99, near perfect!

Food Cart (Toronto, Canada)

Front St W, Toronto, Canada (in front of the Convention Centre)

Unfortunately, I have forgotten the name of this food cart, which is right next to the Dog 'n Roll. In fact, it is also owned by Hungarians, and carries the same menu and deals: burgers, sausages, and hot dogs, separate or as combos.

I (again) went for a burger combo at 5 bucks Canadian. Compared to the Dog 'n Roll, the fries were less tasty, but the burger was better. The condiments were roughly the same, though this cart had mayo.

VERDICT: 84/100
Another good foo cart, but without any truly amazing item. The fries were tasty, but not as tasty as Dog 'n Roll, whereas the burger was better, but not great.

Alexandros (Toronto, Canada)

5 Queens Quay West, Toronto, ON M5J 2H1, Canada‎, T: 416-367-0633
(there are 3 other location in downtown Toronto)

Getting back to my hotel around 1.30 AM, Alexandros was one of the places still open. It lis a small gyros joint that looks like a bunker.

I went for a pita gyros, which costs $6 (Canadian), not particularly cheap. The pita was nice and thick, covered with thick pieces of spiced meat, tomato, and tzatziki sauce. Although the meat was tasty, it was too dry and of inferior quality. Still, at least it was not the usual greasy tasteless gyros you get in most places in the US.

VERDICT: 68/100
Alexandros is a good place to get a heavy dose of grease when you are on a bender. If you are just after a tasty gyros, I would probably look further.

Dog 'n Roll (Toronto, Canada)

Front St W, Toronto, Canada (in front of the Convention Centre)

Fast foodies will love Toronto, as the city center is full of food carts that offer food greasy food for a good price. On Front Street, the carts seem to be owned by Hungarians. Most carts offer fairly similar food: burgers, sausages, hot dogs, fries.

I had a burger combo, i.e. a burger, fries and a can of soda for 5 bucks Canadian. The burger was made of pretty inferior meat, but I liked the choice of condiments, particularly the very spicy peppers. However, the big surprise were the fries: they were awesome! Thick cut fresh potatos, crisply fried... if only they had Belgian mayonnaise.

VERDICT: 87/100
Dog 'n Roll is a food cart as I like them... greasy and tasty! Next time I would probably go for the sausage, but the one thing I won't change are the fries. Yum!

Big Boy (Davison, MI)

9497 Lapeer Rd, Davison, MI 48423-1754, T: 810-653-3359

Big Boy is a chain of roughly 455 old-school diners in the US and Canada. It does breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is pretty standard, if a bit more elaborate than most diners, including a salad bar.

I went for the Super Bad Boy combination, i.e. with fries and slaw. The fries are crunchy, while the slaw is fresh but tasteless. The burger is juicy, but the meat is chewy. Also, it comes with only lettuce and some kind of 1000 island sauce on it.

VERDICT: 76/100
The Big Boy chain is quintessentially American, but as such decent but unremarkable.