11.25.2014

Ill-A-Delph

Ill-A-Delph at Coast 2 Coast Deli
C-
I've been wanting to sample the goods from this Las Vegas food truck for a long time, and when I finally got the chance, I'm sorry to say it was a bit of a disappointment. The menu supposes to specialize in sandwiches from across the country, or at least sandwiches inspired by different cities, and the description of this "Loaded Philly" sounded totally delish: a roll stuffed with shaved NY Strip and ribeye steak, beer-cheese sauce, caramelized onions, crumbled bacon, scallions and a ranch dressing drizzle. The meat was just sad, fatty and gristly stuff that was much closer to cheap ground beef than shaved steak. So it goes with cheesesteak meat; you never know what you're gonna get. The sauce, allegedly made with local brewer Tenaya Creek's Calico Brown Ale, was tangy and smooth and quite tasty, but there simply wasn't enough to go around. The onions were also barely present. The other ingredients were fine, though the roll was a bit dry and crumbly, and toasting it slightly seemed to be an attempt to cover for poor quality. It seemed like a great idea and it sure looks good, but the flavor just didn't follow through. If I find this truck again, I'll give it another chance, but I'll order something as far from a cheesesteak as is available.

Banh Mi Thit Nguoi

Banh Mi Thit Nguoi at Dakao Sandwiches
B-
A return trip to this little spot yields a different sandwich, one with cured pork and pork roll, but similar results. This super salty banh mi is plenty pleasant, chewy slabs of piggy inside a crusty baguette with all the familiar friends. I guess it's just proof that the most basic, cheapest version of this French-Asian sandwich—in this case filled with two different meats that are tough to distinguish from one another—is pretty good. The worst possible scenario is fairly delicious.

11.23.2014

Turkey Chili Cheese Dog

Turkey Chili Cheese Dog
homemade
B
There's no downside to making too much chili. If you're making chili, you should make damn sure that you're making too much. It will give you an excuse to buy some simple hot dogs and buns, grate some cheese, and fashion an entirely different feast. This chili is seriously spicy with loads of roasted Hatch green chilies speckled among tomatoes, onions, ground turkey and a host of spices. (No, not sharing my chili recipe with you.) If your chili is tasty enough, you can get away with buying cheap, totally mediocre franks and buns, like I did, but I don't encourage such behavior. Get the good stuff if you want to create a truly transcendent chili dog.

Boar's Head Italian Sub

Boar's Head Italian Sub at Smith's
C+
It's a sad thing when all you have time for is the tearful grabbing of a pre-made grocery store sandwich, an unfortunate substitute that can never satiate the true craving within. And yet this Boar's Head prepared sub encased in plastic at our local Smith's market was surprisingly solid, a puffy multigrain bun stacked with provolone, salami, pepperoni, ham and lettuce leaves. It was badly in need of some oil and vinegar or maybe even a bit of mustard to moisten things up, but on a pre-made sandwich, there's a huge risk of sog. So dry will do, I suppose. But there was a nice portion of high quality meat stuffed inside, making for a pleasant if unspectacular workday lunch experience.

New Mexico Burger

New Mexico Burger at Bobby's Burger Palace
A
This tangy creation might be our fave burger so far at Bobby's, the celebrity chef burger joint that has yet to disappoint. Its juicy patty is generously topped with a smooth queso sauce, roasted green chilies and pickled red onions, a combination of creamy, fresh, spicy and sharp. It's an ideal flavor mix to match up with the simple, natural richness that exudes from a perfectly cooked burger. There are still other interesting options left to explore at BBP, but it will be hard not to order this again on our next visit.


11.22.2014

Chicken Cheese Steak

Chicken Cheese Steak at Capriotti's
B-
The Philly cheesesteak has been bastardized and has thus become boring. Making a cheesesteak with chicken is almost blasphemous, and yet it's still pretty tasty. Capriotti's version uses grilled chicken and melted provolone, and gives you the option to add peppers, onions and mushrooms. The super-soft sub roll Cap's uses—often a detriment—actually works well for cheesesteak purposes, with pliable chewiness that complements the melty meatfest within. So yeah, it's boring, but it'll do.

11.18.2014

The Fugazi

The Fugazi at Lulu's Bread & Breakfast
A-
Of course it's a delicious sandwich, it's from Lulu's. There's so much flavor on this thing, it doesn't even need that buttery ribbon of prosciutto. It coulda been a veggie sandwich with absolutely no drop off. But that slice of piggy is there, along with thick, juicy slices of ripe red tomatoes, a nice slathering of bright pesto, all topped with fried eggs. It's an exquisite combination, but the real winner is the roll, a soft, puffy brioche-kaiser hybrid decked out with everything bagel spices. Can you even believe that? It's outstanding. You could literally put anything on this roll and it'd be scrumptious. Of course, Lulu's, of course.

11.11.2014

Double Char Dog

Double Char Dog at The Wiener's Circle
A
So Chicago's infamous Wiener's Circle has landed in Las Vegas. There are casino sports book-adjacent locations at both the Red Rock and Santa Fe Station resorts, which makes perfect sense. Of course, you won't be insulted and abused at these eateries the way you could be at the Windy City original, but just because the experience is "watered down" doesn't mean the food isn't delicious. The Char Dog is as good a traditional Chicago-style hot dog as we've tasted in Vegas, with lots of yellow mustard and all those vibrant, colorful veggie toppings you expect. What pushes these wieners over the top is the cooking method; they're split and grilled for caramelized, super-savory satisfaction. When something is this good, why not double up? It's difficult to eat two dogs in one bun, especially with all these deliciously slippery goodies slathered all over, but it's worth the mess.



11.08.2014

Fourteener

Fourteener at Backcountry Delicatessen
B+
Our final Colorado sandwich on this trip comes at a casual, comfortable deli that wasn't around the last time we hungrily swept through Old Town Fort Collins. Backcountry has four locations in Colorado and one in Jackson Hole, and for what appears to be a mini-franchise, this shop has an impressive array of sandwiches on its menu, all utilizing top-notch ingredients. The Fourteener is stacked with deliciously rare, thinly sliced roast beef, powerful blue cheese crumbles, sweet roasted peppers, crunch romaine leaves and a zingy horseradish mayo. The sauce is a little lighter than you would expect, which actually works out perfectly with the strong, creamy cheese, with neither element overpowering the beefiness. The sub roll is spongy and tasty in its own right. Backcountry will definitely be a must-bite on our next Colorado sandwich adventure.

11.04.2014

Thunder Dog


Thunder Dog at Sports Authority Filed at Mile High Stadium
B
That's right: It's a Bronco dog. We were way too busy cheering Denver to a victory over San Diego and taking in the awe of the stadium to find out what kind of frank they use at concessions or even to squirt some yellow mustard on this monster. But here's what we do know: It's delicious. It's a foot-long. It's covered in sweet, smoky roasted peppers. And it's exactly what you want in a stadium hot dog since it avoided the typical concession follies of cold, dry buns and overcooked, over-salty meat tubes. Go Broncos!
 

11.03.2014

Louie's Ride to Leadville

Louie's Ride to Leadville at B&B's Pickle Barrel
B
Fort Collins' Pickle Barrel is simply one of my favorite sandwich shops anywhere. Its super-laidback, college town atmosphere—complete with a sturdy bar—reminds me of my humble sandwich-heavy upbringing in another college town, and any time I'm in Colorado I'm tempted to spend an entire day at the Pickle Barrel munching through the menu and drinking plenty of beer. But on this visit, I contained my consumption to this creatively named Italian sub. It's served sans lid but it's not an openfacer, contrary to what this pic might imply. Decked out with layers of ham, capicola and havarti, plenty of crisp red onion, lettuce and tomato, and sprinkled generously with oregano, oil and vinegar, Louie's Ride is full of familiar flavors and hits the spot. The substitution of creamy, slightly salty havarti cheese (on a sandwich that would almost always be laced with milder provolone) makes a great impression and stands out against these super-savory meats. The only drawback is an extra-fluffy sub roll with a little too much heft. But that's no big deal. The Pickle Barrel never disappoints.


11.02.2014

Buffalo Meatloaf Sandwich

Buffalo Meatloaf Sandwich at Henry's Pub
B
The annual Colorado sandwich trip has arrived! First up is a stop at Henry's Pub in beautiful downtown Loveland, a friendly little joint we always visit. This open-faced beauty drops a slab of surprisingly juicy, super tender and utterly delicious buffalo meatloaf on top of a toasted tile of multigrain bread, then covers the whole thing in a rich, garlicky tomato sauce and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. It's a knife and fork job, sure, but it's mighty tasty, simple and satisfying. And a great way to begin the annual Colorado sandwich trip.

10.22.2014

Pulled Pork Sandwich

Pulled Pork Sandwich at Wendy's
D
No, Wendy's, no. No! Stay away from barbecue, you pigtailed fast food devil! Wendy's has had some sandwich success lately thanks to using these upgraded brioche buns, but this double-edged bread sword comes back around with this disaster, with far too much slightly sweet, pillowy bun and far too little (admittedly) tender, mostly flavorless meat. Pile on some mayo'd, crappy slaw and some "spicy" barbecue sauce, and congratulations, I'm angry.

Jinya Bun

Jinya Bun at Jinya
B-
It's not all sandwiches, you know. We are also pretty obsessed with ramen, mostly because the ramen scene in Las Vegas has exploded in recent years. The latest addition is one of our best, LA's Jinya, but they're serving more than just amazing noodles in rich broth variations. This pork belly steamed bun is solid, a mighty slab of succulent chashu piggy with a little green stuff, some cucumber, hoisin and aioli folded into soft, almost creamy puff-bread. It's tempting to order a couple of these and skip the noodles altogether. 

10.12.2014

Jerk Turkey Burger

Jerk Turkey Burger at Carson Kitchen
A
This is nothing short of the best turkey burger we've ever tasted. Rumor has it the kitchen mixes in a liberal dose of applesauce along with the spicy-sweet jerk seasonings, making for an unbelievably juicy burger patty with flavor for days. It's so good, it's tempting to accuse the kitchen of cheating. Is this really turkey? Somehow Carson Kitchen has made this usually pedestrian bite into something magically delightful. Also stacked on this soft, brioche-style bun is tangy, crispy coleslaw mixed with mango chutney, pushing the Caribbean flavors into overdrive. This is the only turkey burger you should be eating.

10.11.2014

Pan Manchego

Pan Manchego at Julian Serrano
B+
Okay, this traditional tapas dish is barely a sandwich, and a small snack of a sandwich at that. But it's so simple and delicious, it deserves all the love it can get. A sort of mini-baguette is toasted to crisp, savory perfection and filled with a sauce of fresh garlic and tomatoes plus year-old manchego cheese, that Spanish sheep's milk goodness with a nutty, caramelish flavor that blends so nicely with the acidic brightness in that tomato sauce. The simpler dishes at Julian Serrano are so brilliant, and this is one of our favorites. Think of it as a Spanish grilled cheese if you like, but just be sure to eat it.

10.07.2014

Coney Loose Burger

Coney Loose Burger at American Coney Island
D
Yikes. There's a lot of drunkfood in Las Vegas, but this Detroit transplant—perhaps the dim cousin to American Coney's disappointing Coney Island chili dog—takes it to another level, and by that I mean you must be inebriated to even consider consuming this mess. Where's the dog? There isn't one. There is, however, a flavorless mush swipe of gray ground beef under a big ladle full of chili, or the unspicy, not-quite-savory brew that passes for chili at this 24-hour Fremont Street stop. Toss on some onions and a stripe of yellow mustard, and apparently, you've got a Detroit classic. This "burger" is in dire need of some cheese, or anything that could fill in the flavor missing from the disappeared dog. The only explanation is that someone thought this chili was so good, it could hold up a sandwich all by itself. They were wrong.

10.06.2014

Steak Burger

Steak Burger at Dispensary Lounge
A-
There's at least one Las Vegas food writer who believes the half-pound burger (for just $5.95) at the classically weird dive bar Dispensary is one of the best in town, and so we went there with this guy, we marveled at the wall-to-wall carpeting and the water wheel, and we ate this burger. And you know what? He's right. This thing is a masterpiece of simplicity, a thick, juicy patty of fresh beef ground just right and cooked by someone who knows what they're doing. Put whatever cheese you like—we did American—and enjoy the ideal toppings of lettuce, tomato, onion and pickle. Saturate your steak burger in one of the kitchen's house-made sauces or the chef's special spicy mystery mustard. Appreciate the ideal fries that come along with it. All those extras are just icing on the cake, though, as this thing is pure burger success.

10.04.2014

Vampiro

Vampiro at Tacos El Gordo
B-
There are people who try to tell me a burger isn't a sandwich, or a hot dog isn't a sandwich. That's just illogical bullshit. There will be someone telling me a Vampiro isn't a sandwich, either. But look at it. Furthermore, if those crispy corn tortillas were soft, would it be more of a sandwich? What if they weren't tortillas at all, but some other form of the same corn masa, perhaps griddled into a cake and used as bread like a Venezuelan arepa or a Mexican gordita or a Salvadoran pupusa? What then, hater? Would it be sandwich enough for you? That's what I thought. Instead of arguing with me, go to Tacos El Gordo and enjoy this crunchy creation, which I filled with caramelized carne asada to go along with toasted quesadilla cheese, guacamole, salsa, cilantro and onions. It's not as easy to handle as TEG's sublime tacos, but you're probably eating here because you're drunk/hungover, and a Vampiro is just as much fun. Maybe more.

Sloppy Joe

Sloppy Joe at Bunkhouse Saloon
B+
We're not sure if Sloppy Joes are coming into fashion, becoming a trendy menu item a la pork belly or deviled eggs. But if that happens, this is more or less how it's done. No filler on this big beauty—no slaw or lettuce or veggie of any kind. Just finely ground beef seasoned with tomatoes, onions and lots of other stuff, savory and slightly sweet, messy and delicious. The bun is brioche, puffy-soft and sweet on its own but toasted enough to hold up to the massive meat pile for at least your first four bites. After that, you're on your own, and that's how it should be.