Tip me so I can feed my children.

Tio Wally Eats America: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Richland, Washington.

Tio%20Wally%20Eats%20America%20truck2 Tio Wally Eats America: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

Greetings from Richland, Washington
GPS 46.258787, -119.310578 Elev. 518 feet

A recent YouGov survey found Burger King and Five Guys Burgers and Fries tied for “Best Burger.” Am I missing something? Methinks the BK crowd has never been to a Five Guys.

My daughter once described Five Guys as “The Subway of … wait, that’s a bad comparison. They’re the Quiznos … no, wait. You get to choose whatever you want on your burger. So they’re kind of like Chipotle but it’s burgers instead of burritos. They’re my favorite.”

With that in mind I went and met Five Guys and their burgers. And they are awesome. A little pricey but awesome. I loved it so much I had to go back again — I was actually jonesin’ for a FGs burger and I’m not a burger guy — with the kids (daughter, son-in-law and grandson) in tow for another fix.

05 Five Guys fixins Tio Wally Eats America: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

She nailed the quintessence of the place with the selection aspect. There are 15 different options to put on your burger. It could conceivably take you some time to decide exactly what you want. That may be why FGs provides free salted in-the-shell peanuts to fiddle with while you figure it out. I thought that was a great touch because, well, I really like places classy enough to have peanut shells on the floor.

Once you opt your options your burger is made to order. When your burger is finished they put it on a square piece of aluminum foil (a wee bit of aluminium wrap if you’re from the Commonwealth), fold it diagonally corner-to-corner, then corner-to-corner again, give it a spin and, voilà, your burger is encased in what now roughly resembles a metal cylinder worthy of the prop shop for Plan 9 From Outer Space.

13 Five Guys burger Tio Wally Eats America: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

I ordered a regular Cheeseburger ($6.49), with mustard, ketchup, mayo, tomato, onion and grilled mushrooms. The older kids ordered Little Bacon Cheeseburgers ($5.79) with various fixins, and regular drinks ($2.19) they got from a high-tech sugar-water dispenser. We also got a regular order of fries ($3.49).

When ordering at Five Guys one needs to know basic things. For example, a regular burger is a double burger; the “little” is a single patty. And a regular size fry will feed three adults.

08 Five Guys potaoo sack Tio Wally Eats America: Five Guys Burgers and Fries

The fries are great. Skin-on, fried in peanut oil. That they’re served in a paper bag is a nice touch as it soaks up any excess oil. Five Guys may take great pride in their fries. They are great! They even have a sign on the wall informing you where that day’s spuds came from. (The aforementioned survey had McDouches, er, McDonalds fries at number one. Baffling.) And the kids did something I’d never seen before. They added malt vinegar to the little cup of ketchup to cut the sweetness. Brilliant, I thought. And incredibly tasty! Ah, the wonders of ketchup.

The burgers are, I think, nonpareil. All the toppings are free, the burgers are cooked to perfection, the veggies are fresh, ripe, and they have grilled mushrooms — Grilled Mushrooms! It’s impossible to go wrong. But I did, of course. I forgot to ask them to grill the bun. I suspect they would do that for me. Next time.

My son-in-law eats FGs burgers with a knife and fork. He says they’re messy. There could be a reason he thinks this but I dunno. My Punkin’ on the other hand holds her burger with two hands, just like dear old dad. Of course, to be fair, her beard is removable.

I’ve had many burgers in my life, including Back Yard Burgers, which are very similar to Five Guys’, and In•N•Out Burgers. I like FGs burgers better; I’d like them more if they were about a dollar cheaper. I’m still baffled that Five Guys tied with Burger King in the survey; third place for burgers, after Wendy’s(?), was In•N•Out Burgers).

While I may think Five Guys has a better burger than Burger King, the thick, creamy, malty goodness of an In•N•Out milkshake (not rated) was noticeably missing. Oh well.

And so we roll.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries, 2671 Queensgate, Richland, Washington
and 1,000+ locations throughout the United States and Commonwealth member states, like Canada, eh, and the United Kingdom.


Montana’s Trail House

I just moved to Bushwick, Brooklyn. It’s one of Vogue Magazine’s top 15 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World. And yeah, it is cool. I live off the Jefferson stop. They call it Jefftown. And I feel like all the girls here are like Uma Thurman.

Anyway, I live pretty close to Montana’s Trail House. I’ve had a couple of beers there before, while waiting for my appointments at Nooklyn realty next door. Seems like a cool place.

This time I had dinner. Ordered the Root Beer Braised Brisket ($22) with Anson Mills Rice Grits, Mustard Greens, Horseradish. Super tender meat. Tasted almost Oriental for some reason. Like some super tender meat I grew up with. Really good.

Also tried their Switchels, which is homemade fermented apple cider, formerly used medicinally. It’s really good sipping alongside a shot of whiskey.

Montana’s Trail House – 445 Troutman St (@ Saint Nicholas Ave) Brooklyn, NY 11237

White Castle in Williamsburg Brooklyn closed

It’s an end of an era. The White Castle in Williamsburg, Brooklyn closed. I remember taking my old girlfriend there for their candle-lit table service Valentine’s Day –waiting twenty minutes for our table, while watching the crackheads walking straight up to the counter to order their food. I remember when I first moved to NYC twelve years ago, they had bullet proof glass at the ordering counter. Then at some point, when the area was becoming more gentrified, they took down the bullet proof glass and renovated the restaurant. Then soon after, they apparently got held up and then you couldn’t order inside after midnight. I remember my friends and I hailing a taxi to go through the drive-thru for us. Then at some point the neighborhood got even more gentrified and then it was back to 24-hour service inside. White Castle is one of those places you can depend on getting something to eat when you’re really drunk super late at night, but then you’d regret it when you find the slider boxes in your bedroom in the morning.

An end of an era.

White Castle Closed White Castle in Williamsburg Brooklyn closed

Tio Wally Eats America: Rolling Hills Casino

I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Corning, California.

Tio%20Wally%20Eats%20America%20truck2 Tio Wally Eats America: Rolling Hills Casino

Greetings from Corning, California
N 39° 52.4549’ W 122° 12.1464’ Elev. 289 feet

If you’ve ever been to a crappy Indian Casino you quickly discovered that, for the most part, the staff couldn’t possibly care less whether you were there or not. Indeed, you got the feeling that in a perfect world you would just phone in your money.

That said, Rolling Hills Casino is an unusual place. It’s owned by the Paskenta Band of the Nomiaki Indians. Ever heard of ‘em? Me neither. There are 102 recognized tribes in California so your ignorance is excused.

What makes Rolling Hills unusual is that it’s incredibly friendly: you actually feel welcomed! It ain’t a bit like certain all-the-better-unnamed Native American-owned entities I’ve visited (Sky City in Acoma, New Mexico) where they are hell-bent on making your experience as miserable as Europeans have made theirs. Past genocides aside, the vibe at Rolling Hills is warm and inviting. And the food is great.

I’ve eaten at the buffet here a number of times. Heck, until I looked at their website I didn’t know that they had another restaurant. I guess that ‘splains why I’ve always eaten at the buffet. And while the food is somewhat predictable (not a bad thing), it’s always great and the service is nothing short of impeccable.

I stopped in on a Sunday for lunch ($11.95 minus $1 for being over 50). On Tuesdays and Thursdays the over 50 set get 50% off, and they serve great prime rib every night! ($16.95 … minus 50% … I’ll get back to you). Why can’t I get here on a Tuesday or Thursday? Karma, I suspect.

04 RH roast beef Tio Wally Eats America: Rolling Hills Casino

They had roast beef and baked turkey carving stations for lunch, along with the mostly usual fare. I tended to focus on just a few things because, let’s face it, I’m old and I can’t eat that much. But I’m alway game for the “day’s surprise.”

The unexpected thing they offered was baked Ruby Red Trout. It was quite good, especially considering I’m not a freshwater fish fan. Admittedly, I screwed up with it. I should’ve put a couple of good squeezes of fresh lemon on it. While I’m not sure it would’ve taken the “fishy” away — freshwater fish always tastes fishy to me — I suspect it would’ve enhanced it many-fold.

The roast beef was incredible. The first piece I had was thin-sliced, a little pink, and perfect. Dipped in au jus it was pretty damn close to prime rib. Next time I’ll get some horseradish and really do it up right.

Other interesting, far-above-par things they offered were an awesome broccoli salad, amazing little potato thangies, and the best cornbread this side of … you tell me.

The broccoli salad had a somewhat sweet dressing. Along with the obligatory broccoli, the salad contained the wonderful additions of ripe, sweet red grapes, golden raisins and many, many pieces of quality just-like-I-like-it wilty bacon. This stuff warranted seconds and thirds.

The potato thangies were really interesting. I first thought they were the largest, most misshapen fried okras I’d ever seen. (I wasn’t wearing my glasses. The world is a much different and, often, a much more interesting place when I can’t really see.) I eventually discovered the smushed Tater-Tots’ unique properties. The mini-hockey pucks o’ spuds had jalapeño in them! I suspect that had I been wearing my glasses I could’ve read the little sign — they’ve got them above every dish — and known what the hell I was eating. Alas, no. Then again “The world is a much different and, often, a much more interesting place when I can’t really see.”

And the cornbread? Ah, the cornbread. I am a cornbread aficionado, a cornbread freak. And this cornbread was heavenly. I grabbed corner slices, with the crusty edges. I sliced it in half, added butter, closed it, and waited for the butter to start melting. Then I spread that supernal salted butterfat, took a bite, and swooned. I really did. Really. Really!

They offer a complete line of beverages. They even have chocolate milk! I also grabbed a can of tomato juice leftover from the breakfast buffet just because. Mmm, chocolate milk and tomato juice.

25 RH dessert2 Tio Wally Eats America: Rolling Hills Casino

Without a doubt the Rolling Hills Casino Buffet offers more desserts than Carter’s has pills. They’ve got cream pies, pie pies, cakes, cobblers, those weird little puff pastries that always look good until you eat them and quickly discover they suck. That they really, really suck. Unforgivably, they also did not have pumpkin pie replete with gobs of whipped cream. They had soft-serve ice cream but it’s not the same without pumpkin pie.

I don’t know if this means anything but … most of the people working there are palefaces. Could it be that the Tribe let its members eat at the buffet for free and they are all now obese, diabetic, missing feet and, perhaps, reduced to surveying their ancestral homeland from a Hoveround®?

With that in mind, I had a single piece of cheesecake for dessert. It was very, very good.

And so we roll.

Rolling Hills Casino, 2655 Everett Freeman Way, Corning, California

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.

Tio Wally Eats America: Ramblin Jack’s Ribeye

I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Napavine, Washington.

Tio%20Wally%20Eats%20America%20truck2 Tio Wally Eats America: Ramblin Jack’s Ribeye

Greetings from Napavine, Washington
N 46° 36.418’ W 122° 54.302’ Elev. 206 feet

I used to stop here at the Ribeye regularly way back when, usually ordering soup and salad. They had really great homemade soups and a decent salad bar. But the big attraction was that they had either prune or date bread — I can’t remember which — on the salad bar. It was unusual to find and unusually good.

03 ribeye outside Tio Wally Eats America: Ramblin Jack’s Ribeye

Sadly, the owner retired and sold it to some muff-it(s) who promptly ran the place into the ground. It was amazing how a heretofore thriving restaurant could be turned it into a ghost town so quickly. It was shuttered toot sweet and remained that way for a few years.

The restaurant has been reopened by another outfit for four years or so. (The same company has three other restaurants.) But the salad bar is gone, along with the prune or date bread. Did I mention the bread was incredibly good? I still miss it.

The new incarnation of the Ribeye offers some interesting appetizers, like Deep Fried Dill Pickles, Deep Fried Green Beans and House-smoked & Fried Jack Cheese ($7.99 ea.). I didn’t try any of them because, well, I can’t eat that much.

They also offer daily specials. My waitress, Hannah, told me about the Monday Night Special: Country Fried Pork Chops. She said the chops — two 6 oz. pork chops soaked overnight in a brown sugar, maple brine — were breaded and fried and smothered in country gravy. If the way she all-but drooled as she described them is any indication, they are very good. Hell, I thought they sounded great and I hate maple-flavored crap.

As per my usual habit, I ordered the day’s special: Spaghetti and Meatballs with soup or salad ($10.99). I ordered it for a couple of reasons: I wanted pasta and one of the other restaurants under the company’s umbrella is a pizza joint. I hoped that might be a good omen sauce-wise. It turned out to be a good call.

22 riibeye plate Tio Wally Eats America: Ramblin Jack’s Ribeye

I started with Cheesy Cream of Asparagus w/Ham soup. Asparagus is the King of Vegetables In my book. I’m of the mind that when Marie Antoinette said “Let them eat brioche” (that’s what she actually said; no mention of cake.) she could’ve been truly pitiless and suggested the starving peasants eat asparagus, so noble and delicious are those heavenly shoots.

I prefer my spears steamed, almost wilted, with butter and salt. Although I’ll eat asparagus whenever it’s offered, the cheese in the soup kind of threw me. Why would anyone do that to asparagus? It’s not like it’s a semi-industrial vegetable like broccoli, for chris’sake. Nevertheless, I asked to sample it and … great googly-moogly, it was awesome.

The delicate flavor of the asparagus wasn’t over-powered by the cheddar cheese and the soup had a nice thick and creamy texture. There were plenty of 3/4” pieces of asparagus. It was very filling. I never detected any ham, however. I think it may’ve been minced and then minced again before it found its way into the pot; I saw some unidentifiable red flakes.

The spaghetti was perfect, al dente and still a little wet. The marinara tasted both incredibly fresh and delightfully refreshing. It wasn’t highly seasoned and let the tomato stand on its own merit. Delicious. The (beef and pork?) meatballs were likewise superb. The reasonably hefty orbs were moist, with an almost creamy texture inside. Good gawd, y’all. And the Ribeye served reall Parmesan cheese, too! While the toast was marginal — I want my garlic toast garlicky, damn it! —the meal was quite satisfying overall.

I stopped back again about a week later and ordered Meatloaf ($14.55 w/tax) to go. I really wanted to try the pork chops but, being afraid they might taste of maple and being a bit under the weather, I passed. I figure I’ll try them when I dine in and I can send them back if need be.

The meatloaf was sort of meh. The baked potato was served with a butter mixture that contained both chives and sour cream. It was also served with a roll and a vegetable medley of broccoli, cauliflower and those so-called baby carrots. The veggies were perfectly cooked and delicious.

What was really incredible, however, was one of the soups they had that day: Turkey Curry Rice. This stuff was incredible, with nice little chunks of home-baked turkey in a mild creamy curry base. In retrospect, I should’ve just gotten a bowl of that and called it good. Although I quickly ate all the veggies, I barely touched the rest of the meal. Being sick sucks.

In addition to the disappearance of the prune (or was it date?) bread was the absence of a truly wonderful photo. Way back when there was a giant color photo hung just inside the foyer. It was an extraordinarily spectacular photo of the Ribeye sign with Mount St. Helens erupting in the background. I always liked the photo because it took me back.

Photo%252520Aug%25252028%25252C%2525202012%2525204%25253A18%252520AM Tio Wally Eats America: Ramblin Jack’s Ribeye

I was one of the lucky schmucks with the dubious distinction of experiencing the mountain’s largesse firsthand. I lived in the “footprint” of the ash fall from the initial blast. Three days of pea-soup fog the consistency of talcum powder. Magnified it revealed its true architecture: shards of glass. You quickly discovered that you can’t seal your house. It’s impossible. So the ash came in, uninvited.

A helpful Science professor on TV, a volcanologist, noted that ash clouds travel much like nuclear radiation. Thanks for sharing, Doc. Did you know that when Chernobyl blew the highest radiation levels recorded in the US were in Spokane, Washington? It had circled the globe before it came to rest in there.

While I don’t miss the Mount St. Helens Experience too much, I do miss the photo. Almost as much as the bread.

And so we roll.

Ramblin Jack’s Ribeye, 1336 Rush Rd., I-5 Exit 72, Napavine, Washington

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.

Hi Noodle

Now that I just moved from the Graham stop in East Williamsburg, I can tell you my little lunch secret. Go to Hi Noodle and sit at the window. It’s the best view in the area to people watch. And on a nice day, they have the windows open.

01 Hi Noodle Restaurant Hi Noodle

What I like to do when I’m sitting with a friend is to put the timer for two minutes and we each have to pick one person walking by that we want to have sex with. If you don’t pick a person within that time limit, you have to have sex with the next person that walks by …which has led to some hilarious outcomes.

It’s a hard game because you don’t want to waste your pick on a doable person, when you never know who’s right around the corner. But then you don’t want to not have a pick at all, because you might have to do a crackhead that walks by.

The game rules are always evolving. Like a newer rule would be if you see Carmine’s pizza delivery van pass, you get a bonus pick. Or if your pick (outside of the last fifteen seconds) never leaves the view, then your pick is void.

I always get the same thing. The Green Curry Noodle Big Bowl lunch special ($8) with chicken, the salad appetizer and a Singha beer ($3). The first time I got this when they first changed restaurant names from Pagoda Thai late last year, this dish was horrible. The noodle was wrong (I think it was spaghetti) and the eggplant wasn’t cooked enough and hard. But now the Green Curry Noodle Big Bowl is really good. The coconut curry broth is tasty. The noodle is the right type of noodle for this type of food. The vegetables are cooked correctly. And the view is awesome.

Alright Hi Noodle. Bye Noodle.
Time to check out the restaurants in my new hood –Jefftown.

Hi Noodle – 333 Graham Ave (b/t Devoe St & Metropolitan Ave) New York, NY 11211

J. Gumbo’s

I love Cajun food! And I feel like I should have been more excited when J. Gumbo’s opened up right downstairs from my office. It took over the Rickshaw Dumplings space. I feel like no one has really gotten excited either. Doesn’t get a whole lot of business. I feel like it’s the way it looks. Something about it doesn’t look right or cool or Cajun-y. I tried it anyway.

It was set up as counter service. The staff was really nice. They have free samples. I tried several of the dishes. They were all decent. I picked the Voodoo Chicken because it was the most flavorful. $8.95 for a good size bowl over rice. The corn bread is good!

Well, free samples, quick and friendly service. Now how does this place get more business? I don’t know. Looks like they have several locations across the country.

J. Gumbo’s – 61 W 23rd St (b/t 6th and 5th Ave) New York, NY 10010

Tio Wally Eats America: Of Flotation and Fruit

I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Alamo, Nevada.

Tio%20Wally%20Eats%20America%20truck2 Tio Wally Eats America: Of Flotation and Fruit

Greetings from Alamo, Nevada
N 37° 21.854’ W 115° 9.6315’ Elev. 3,464 feet

Sailing the asphalt seas can be very sad sometimes. I’ve had one of those sad days. I feel like the lone schmo in Alamo. And the Sinclair is closed.

It all started when I “encouraged” a short bus off the road, over an embankment, and overturn into a river. I pride myself on my erratic lane changes. I even have a giant sticker on the back of the trailer that reads CAUTION: THIS VEHICLE MAKES WEIRD TURNS. I feel it’s not only my duty as a professional land yachter but a divine directive to make traveling as exciting as possible for any motorists with the good fortune to find themselves in my immediate proximity.

According to various first responders the short bus was crewed by a couple of nuns shepherding a group of pre-schoolers on an outing to a children’s museum. I’ve been to a children’s museum before and, in my humble opinion, surviving an escape from a capsized bus in eight feet of ice-cold water followed by the terror of a panicked clamber out of a river makes for a much more memorable experience. It also made for a “teachable moment” for me: I learned that nun’s habits make excellent flotation devices. Who knew?

But here’s the sad part: I failed to plan this trip adequately and am now stuck in Alamo at three o’clock in the morning eating whatever food I have on hand. As a result I’ll be having JIF Peanut Butter and Smucker’s Blackberry Jam on Franz Big Horn Valley Natural 100% Whole Wheat Bread sandwiches for dinner. To balance the meal, I’ll also be having some crappy Walmart-issue Macaroni Salad. I’ll wash it all down with a delicious Kern’s Banana-Pineapple Nectar. To make the meal both more palatable and exotic I’m going to call the nectar Platano Pina. What the hell. It is Hecho en Mexico and I imported it personally … from Barstow, California.

I must say I’ve had better meals recently; Feesh and More Feesh come to mind.

Which reminds me … I was negligent in focusing on the feeshes in the aforementioned posts. I left out an important, breathtakingly exquisite thing about California’s Central Coast, something that can’t be properly appreciated until it’s in your mouth: Fresh, ripe produce.

My friends and I motored around San Luis Obispo a bit one day, taking Prefumo Canyon Road over the hill from San Luis Obispo to See Canyon. It’s a wonderful drive, with spectacular views from the summit all the way to the coast some 10-12 miles away. Yet another of the many hidden wonders that is California.

07 Alamo gopher glen sign Tio Wally Eats America: Of Flotation and Fruit

In See Canyon, we first stopped at Gopher Glen Apple Farm, a hidden little gem located in the heart of this little apple-growing valley. This place is so cool. It’s a very small, family run farm outlet that grows and sells its own fruits. And the pickin’s and squeezin’s are incredible.

08 Alamo gopher inside Tio Wally Eats America: Of Flotation and Fruit

They do a very cool thing here. They display apples on a grid with their corresponding names so you can sample them and evaluate each varieties’ merits. Of the eight tree-ripened apples they offered that day, I thought the Hawaii was the best. I’d never heard of it. So sweet and … apple-y. It’s amazing how far superior the taste of a fresh, tree-ripened apple is, as opposed to a store-bought apple that was picked pre-peak, and then artificially ripened after spending a year in cold storage.

It’s sad that we forget things like the vibrant that’s-what-it’s-supposed-to-taste-like flavors of fresh, ripe fruit. We also had some fresh-squeezed cider that was likewise scrumptious.

I bought four different kinds of their homegrown plums. Sadly, I only ate two. But the two I ate were unbelievable. They tasted just like … plums! And they had distinctly different flavors. When was the last time you bought a plum in a grocery store that had flavor?

Forgive me while I take a moment to wax nostalgic and salivate anew.

Next we visited Avila Valley Barn. Years ago AVB was a Ma-and-Pa produce stand. It’s now become a bona fide tourist trap. They do some cool things, like roasted on-the-ear corn. And their produce is great and mostly locally sourced, albeit a little overpriced.

I spotted some wicked good Globe artichokes at Avila Valley Barn, imports, no doubt, from the Artichoke Capital of the World: Castroville, California. (The choke on a Globe is round; i.e. not pointy. Its petals/leaves are meaty, tender and flavorful. Those pointy artichokes are good only for the hearts, if you ask me.) Though I thought they were a bit pricey ($2/ea.) by local standards, they looked so good that I had to buy some. Unfortunately, when they were cooked I wasn’t feeling too hot and missed out. I heard they were great. Oh well.

If you are ever so blessed to visit California get in touch with a local so you can do it right. I’ll help. Jason has my number. Call him and he’ll call me and I’ll call meu amigo brasileiro in Rotterdam who will call you and give you my number. We’ll get you organized, for sure.

And so we roll.

Alamo Sinclair, 51 Broadway St., Alamo, Nevada
Gopher Glen Apple Farm, 2899 See Canyon Rd., San Luis Obispo, California
Avila Valley Barn, 560 Avila Beach Dr., San Luis Obispo, California

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.