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Roadfood of the Day: Betty's Pies - Two Harbors, MN
Posted on Saturday, May 30, 2015

Coconut Custard

Coconut custard pie reminded us of the thick, rich tortes one gets in Wisconsin cafes to the south of here.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, May 29, 2015 7:56 AM

You don’t have to be a Green Bay Packers supporter to enjoy Kroll’s, but it helps. When the home team plays at Lambeau Field across the way, Kroll’s West's beer garden is open from early in the morning for game-prep and celebrating. Any other day of the year, Kroll’s is a premier source of Wisconsin’s butter burger.

There are many other items on the menu, from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to broasted chicken and battered perch; but it is Kroll’s way with hamburgers (or cheeseburgers, or Big K half-pound burgers) that puts this rollicking sports bar on the Roadfood map. Lunch-counter rounds of beef are cooked through and juicy enough; the magic is mostly in the way they are dressed. As is Wisconsin custom, each hot burger is topped with a pat of butter that melts into the meat, making the beef absolutely delectable. In addition to butter, a Kroll’s burger ordered with everything includes ketchup, onions, and pickles; it is sandwiched in a crisp-crusted roll and presented wrapped in wax paper. Bacon, lettuce, and tomato are available at extra cost; and it is possible to ask the kitchen to substitute margarine for butter (but that is nearly a mortal sin here in the Dairy State).

Burgers rule, but don't diss Kroll's prime rib sandwich. Similarly configured, it is a pile of shaved prime rib that is like the most tender sliced roast beef you ever had, but even more tender. Inside a toasted-crisp bun, the meat's juice combines with plentiful melting butter in a slurry of luxe. Add au jus either by pouring it on or dipping the sandwich as you eat and get a side order of cheese curds. Here you face a feast of irresistible edible profligacy!
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Posted on Friday, May 29, 2015

Root Beer

Their root beer is made fresh every single day, in the original machine.
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Posted on Thursday, May 28, 2015

Big Beef

Slyman's menu has a long list of lingo for ordering your corned beef sandwich. This one is 'natural,' meaning plain. Other options are 'mummy' (mayonnaise and mustard), 'smurf' (Swiss cheese and mustard), 'wack' (on whole wheat instead of rye), and 'grill brick' (griddle-sizzled bread only, hold the corned beef).
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Roadfood of the Day: Pasty Shack - Sacramento, CA
Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Chicken Pasty Open

Here is a cross-section of the chicken pasty, which reveals the delicious meat, vegetables, and sauce. Note the visible seasoning, and the generous size of the vegetable bits.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Tuesday, May 26, 2015 5:05 AM

Pile Up

I recently was asked for dining suggestions around Atlanta by a guy who likes to eat Roadfood, but doesn't like that he likes it. By which I mean, he is a fashion-conscious kind of guy who wants to know only those restaurants anointed by recognized authorities. That sometimes does happen to a Roadfood eatery, as when Calvin Trillin praised Arthur Bryant's barbecue in the 1970s. Our Roadfood column in Gourmet magazine gave culturally insecure eaters permission to enjoy places they probably wouldn't otherwise have let themselves enjoy (because said places were dowdy, culinarily unhip, nutritionally incorrect), the logic being that if a review appeared in the esteemed Gourmet, it must be OK to like the restaurant!

I did not advise this person going to Atlanta to eat at Matthews Cafeteria; and frankly, I suspect that if we had suggested writing a review of Matthews for Gourmet, even the editors there might have nixed the idea. You see, to understand this place requires a hard core appreciation of such Roadfood cues as ancient walls painted institutional beige, a raucous cafeteria line where food is heaped upon the steam table with little regard for beauty, vegetables that are purposely overcooked, creamed corn that is crazy-creamy to the point that the kernels are a minor element, mac and cheese with macaroni so soft that it is inseparable from the cheese, and strawberry shortcake sweeter than a Twinkie. Yes, I actually like all these things ... and I love the fried chicken, for which no excuses need be made. It bears a fine, fragile crust, just salty enough to enhance the meat, which ranges from dripping moist to chewy bark infused with flavor.

Mostly, it is the experience of dining at Matthews Cafeteria that will win a Roadfooder's heart, even more than the unrepentant food. There certainly are better vegetables around Atlanta, and there's some superior fried chicken, but I doubt if there is any place that can compare to Matthews Cafeteria. The feel is mid-20th century Dixie (but integrated) -- a friendly, folksy Main Street eatery that exudes hospitality, from the Shriner greeter at the door wearing a fez and taking donations for the children's hospital to the red-checked tablecloths where townsfolk chat and easily make friends with a picture-taking stranger like myself. I hesitate even to call it charming, because most markers for charm are lacking, but if you love Roadfood, do check it out. You will see what I mean.
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Posted on Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Marc Anthony's Cheese

16" large cheese pizza at Marc Anthony's; $11.50.
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Roadfood of the Day: Lupie's - Charlotte, NC
Posted on Monday, May 25, 2015

Whatever else you eat at Lupie's, mac 'n' cheese is a must. It is some of the best anywhere: really cheesy and rich with a few chewy shreds among the creamy parts.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Sunday, May 24, 2015 4:59 AM

Chili Dog

At the counter of Texas Chili in Port Chester, New York, a customer declared, "The only difference between this place and Hubba is that this place is cleaner." Maybe so. It is newer, that's for sure, having been opened only a few years back by a couple of former employees of Hubba (aka Pat's Hubba Hubba) just a block up Main Street. The menu is virtually identical, although here it is printed in color on shiny paper whereas at Hubba it is written in permanent marker on paper plates pinned to the wall, and the specialty of the house – a chili dog – looks the same.

I hesitate to evaluate the differences based on a visit to each in a single day. Who knows how much the toasted bun varies from day to day or if the chili changes from hour to hour as it cooks? I will say that the day I visited around lunch time, the ground-beef, no-bean chili that blanketed my split-and-grilled weenie (the traditional configuration, with chopped onions on top) was significantly hotter than that we had just sampled at Hubba. It was three-alarm, at least, but with a sneaky heat profile that builds slowly, so that by the time your face is turning red and beads of sweat are breaking out on your brow, you are practically done with your first dog. But unless you are allergic to hot food, you will eat another. It's not painful-hot, just exuberant; and its vivid pepper taste sings beautiful harmony with the crusty, porky little frank it covers. As for the onions on top, my dining partner Katherine Curry exclaimed, "You know the chili is hot when the onions are a sweet relief." That they are: a crisp, cool counterbalance for the chili dog, doing what onions so seldom do: upholding the salubrious banner of an actual vegetable. It is traditional for hot dogs in this area to be served in little, no-account white-bread buns; and on that account, Texas chili actually ups the ante by not just toasting it, but grilling it in butter (or maybe buttery-flavored grease), adding a note of unctuous luxe to a package that is unctuous in so many other ways.

When we started gesturing mutely in hopes the waitress would bring us water to salve our combusting tongues, the commentator at the counter suggested we have Texas water instead. "It's like the Hubba water over there," he said, pointing a thumb back to the other chili dog joint, then directing our attention to two side-by-side fountain coolers, one of which contained a liquid that was pale pink – water splashed with a barely perceptible dash of Hawaiian punch.

Hamburgers, sandwiches and even breakfast also are served … all are available with chili.
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Posted on Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hot Links

Full of smoky, beefy flavor, this cross section puts the meaty spiciness of the links on display.
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