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Van’s Pig Stand

September 15, 2010

For some reason, when I talk about BBQ, my redneck side starts to come out, so excuse any hick-talk in the following review…

If you live in Oklahoma, there’s a decent chance you’ve heard of Van’s Pig Stand. It’s been around FOREVER! Van himself opened the first one in Wewoka in 1928! He added a second in 1929 and a third in 1930. Apparently delicious smoked meat laughs in the face of the Great Depression.

The sun wasn't on my side...

Today, there are four Van’s Pig Stands – One in Norman, one in Moore, and two in Shawnee. I have frequented the one in Norman for quite a while, and I went a few nights ago, so I figured I would tell y’all about it.

At any BBQ joint I visit, I have a tough time not getting a chopped brisket sandwich, it’s just always been my favorite. Although I do love me some ribs…or some pulled pork…or hot links. Yikes, sorry I started to have a little moment there…

Anyway – Van’s has a pretty solid chopped brisket sandwich, but it’s not really for the faint-hearted. It’s not the leanest meat you’ll find, but that’s okay by me. If it’s got a little fat in there, you know it’s gonna have some pretty good flavor too!

Chopped Brisket Sandwich and Fries @ Van's

In my opinion, the sauce is a really important aspect of BBQ. It’s like the icing on a donut. It’s still good without it…but mine better the heck have some on there! I like Van’s sauce a lot, but I wouldn’t say that it blows me away. There is a regular, hot, and extra hot. They are all tasty, but I couldn’t tell much difference, especially between the hot and the extra hot. It’s like if I told you it was 90 degrees outside or that it was 91 degrees. They are both hot…but I’m not going to notice until it’s about 110. If you live here, you know what I mean!

As far as sides go, I’ve only ever gotten one thing, mostly because they are incredible! The FRIES! It’s like one giant string ball of fried potato dipped in a huge bucket of grease.

I also like the place itself. It has a very “Okla-homestyle” Route 66 feel. You just order at the counter – there aren’t waiters, although there is one lady who runs around and cleans up and will refill your drink if you need it.

Van's interior

Wood booths, cement floors and paper towel rolls on the tables make it a very laid back atmosphere. It’s the kind of place where you dig into your BBQ and don’t really care if you have sauce all over your face and grease all over your hands.

Check out their web site HERE and their menu HERE

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Atoka, Oklahoma: Bledsoe’s Diner – A Quick Review

September 13, 2010

This last weekend, the FoodMongers went to Beaver’s Bend, Oklahoma for a little R&R.  It was incredible down there and we had a great time, but that’s not what you gluttons are here to listen to….

On the way back, we stopped in Atoka to find some grub.  Unfortunately my compadre Hunter was in a different car and missed out on what we discovered.  It was by luck that we stumbled upon what we found, as we tried a Mexican place that was closed, and almost had to choke down Mazzios until we saw they had no buffet on Sunday.  Whew, close one.

We drove to the north end of town to see if there were any more choices available, when we saw Bledsoe’s Diner.  It looked like the kind of hole in the wall/greasy spoon that one can sometimes find meals of greatness.  So we walk in and see the Sunday lunch buffet:  it looked like nursing home food.  The place was semi-dirty, and the clientele was mostly 60+ years old.  Our table of 5 sat down and discussed leaving.  We decided to stay and all looked at the menus unenthusiastically. 

The waitress that came to take our order was very friendly, took our drink orders, and informed us that the onion rings and french fries are all hand made.  Awesome, this place is starting to sound like it may be decent.  My buddy orders a double meat bacon cheese burger and onion rings, and not to be outdone I ordered the same thing. 

What came out from the kitchen was the most large and in charge burger I have ordered to date.  And yes, I’ve had the 1lb Meers Seismic Burger.  This burger I would say with all the trimmings weighed 1.5lbs.  It probably had 1/4lb of bacon on it!  The onion rings looked and tasted like they were battered with chicken fried steak batter.

Was it tasty?  Yes.  Was it greasy?  Yes.  Was it humongus?? YES.  The flavor was really good, the onion rings were fresh and crisp, and the batter was excellent.  This was one solid meal.  The burger and onion rings was $9.75 and it was a bargain for the amount of food you got.  The cook came out of the kitchen to see how we liked it, and you could tell how proud he was of his creation.  The wait staff was all amazed that me and my friend both finished the entire burgers.  I thought I was a big eater, and I was about to explode once I finished.  My buddy, Matt, finished his off, all his onion rings, and was asking what was for dessert!  Now that’s a true glutton.

If you are traveling southeast, are going near Atoka, and want a massive bacon cheeseburger, I highly recommend stopping at Bledsoe’s Diner, and don’t be turned away by your first impression.  The burgers that they’re flipping will not disappoint.

-Adam

You knew it had to be coming…… BIG TRUCK TACOS

September 8, 2010

The first time I heard about Big Truck Tacos, I had no idea there was actually a truck that served tacos and I thought, “man, that’s a pretty dumb name.”  When I went to eat there shortly after, and saw the BIG TRUCK that served TACOS, I realized I was the dummy, not the people who named the place.

BTT is located on NW 23rd just east of Classen, and is in what appears to be a former drive-in, Sonic-type restaurant.  You will know you’re at the right place because you will see that the parking lot is completely packed and there are usually a ton of people eating outside on the picnic tables (bonus points for outside seating in most seasons).  Overall from the outside, it doesn’t look like anything fancy, which is exactly the kind of place I want to eat at.

I will give a disclaimer, my phone died immediately after I took the first picture when we got there, so some of these photos are borrowed.  (Don’t worry, we eat here all the time, I’ll have more soon)

When you first get into the building, you will notice there is limited seating, and I mean limited, like, 10 tables or so, and being a really busy place, it’s usually hopping in there.  I have eaten inside once when it was cold outside, I prefer to eat out front and watch the traffic go by (which is always entertaining on N23rd).

When you come in, you order at the counter, and the seating is first come first serve, although even at busy times, I have never had to wait for a table.  There is always a wide variety of clientele here from college students, to hippies, to 23rd street locals, to yuppies, to dorky foodie gluttons like me.  You give a name when you order, so a clever made up name is always entertaining.  I have whitnessed a table full of high school kids that all had Star Wars names for their orders.  We heard:  Steve…..  Karen….  Darth Vader…..  John….  Luke Skywalker….   Don’t forget to grab a Mexican Jarritos soda from the fridge before your order is complete.

On to the menu.  At first glance you think, “oh this just looks like all the other Mexican joints in town,” with tacos, burritos, etc.  But once you start reading the wide variety of tacos to choose from you realize what you’ve stumbled upon – jackpot.  The tacos range from the usual, to the not so usual (for Oklahoma at least).  On this particular meal, I ordered 3 tacos.  1 Okie Baha, which is fish, with a cabbage mix on it and some type of creamy sauce, on a corn tortilla, 1 Borracho Chicken, which is beer can roasted chicken, shredded, with green onions and I believe cilantro on top, on a corn tortilla, and finally I got 1 Flaming Lips, which is beef tongue (YEP beef tongue), pico de gallo, avocado, and goat or fetta cheese (they look the same), anyway, it is heaven.  Easily my favorite taco there.  The cow tongue, once you get over the weirdness, is a tender meat that has a heavy, BBQ smoked flavor.  It really is very similar to brisket but I would say more tender and definately leaner.  All three of my choices were solid – fish tacos are a favorite of mine at most places, and it’s no exception here, the fish has great flavor, and the toppings go very well with it.  The Borracho chicken is overlooked for the more exotic tacos a lot of the time, but it is a good solid go-to for me.  I can’t get enough of the flavor of the chicken, it has a red color to it and is heavily seasoned to awesomeness.

Don’t forget to try all of the 37 flavors of salsa they have either.  I’m not sure if the number is exactly 37, but it’s in the ballpark, haha.  They range from the typical mild salsa, to fruity variations, to the hottest, which is called OMFG.  My calloused mouth and throat doesn’t think it’s THAT hot, but it’s got some heat and tastes incredible, and is my sauce of choice to put a pound of on every taco.

We got queso and quacamole for appetizers and they are both solid.  On a side note, the word quacamole is best said in the irish accent of Fat Ba@#%$!& from the Austin Powers movies.  The one appetizer that has been tempting me is the queso that has all the ingredients including chorizooooooooooooo! (In the voice of the GOOOOAL  guy from latin soccer)  The only problem is I haven’t made the tightwad portion of my brain fork over the nine bucks to get it yet.  Oh I will soon.

All in all, Big Truck Tacos is a favorite of mine, and obviously a favorite of a good portion of Oklahoma City since they are doing a TON of business.  The flavors are incredible, the ingredients are fresh, the salsa selection is huge, and the atmosphere is very cool.  The price is very reasonable (other than the loaded queso),  usually around the low $20s for a couple, not including any alcohol.  The poor college student on a budget can slam down a couple of tacos and water for about seven bucks though.  If you haven’t been there, it’s definately worth trying.  If you haven’t heard of it, where the heck have you been?  Living under a rock?  If you have been there, you know what awesomeness I speak of, and you also know you are craving it after reading this and are probably going to head that way in a few minutes.  It truly is a top Oklahoma City restaurant choice of the FoodMongers.

There will be more reviews of BTT to come because WE LOVE IT.

Check out their Wimgo page HERE & follow them on Twitter @BigTruckTacos

AND Help BTT win $10,000 from Food Network in the Great Food Truck Race! Click HERE to Vote! And hurry, contest ends Fri. 9-10-10!

Jana’s Thai and Italian Food: West Norman Secret

September 2, 2010

First off, I have been sick and out of the food game for a week or so now, and had no idea that my partner in crime had reviewed a Thai restaurant just a few days ago.  Guess what, now it’s my turn to review MY favorite Thai joint in town.

Jana’s is a hole in the wall in West Norman, in Robinson Crossing shopping center (by the Dollar Movie).  You’ve probably driven by it and never known that you were within a few feet of incredible Thai food.  Jana’s is not as well known as the other Thai places that are closer to campus.  Jana’s is frequented by a smaller population of loyal customers.  Most frequenters of this place don’t even have to order, as the waitress already knows what you want.  It is the one place in town that I have a “usual,”  which is chicken pad thai, extra chicken, with heat level 10 out of 10…. Yeah I like hot food.

It is hit or miss whether or not the place will be packed.  Today we went at noon and there was only one other table seated when we walked in.  It’s got a really cool low key, under the radar feel inside.  It’s definately not fancy or upscale, and only has about 10 tables inside.

If you are a new customer and DO need to look at a menu, there is a wide range of choices – as the sign says they have both Italian and Thai food.  There is a picture of the menu and the interior of the restaurant on the photos page, so check that out after you finish reading.  I honestly have never tried the Italian food, but have heard good things, and will do a review of it shortly.  The thai food is incredible.  Everything on the Thai menu is much lighter and fresher than anything else in town I’ve tried.  At most places when you clean a plate of Pad Thai, you want to go home and slip into a food coma, but the sauce and ingredients in the Pad Thai at Jana’s will leave you feeling like you’re ready to step into the cage with Randy Couture… Well maybe it doesn’t make you feel like you want to get punched in the face, but you don’t feel as bloated as other places.

The chicken Pad Thai consists of:  Rice noodles, choice of meat, tofu, bean sprouts, green onions, crushed peanuts, egg, peppers – depending on the level of spiciness that you order, and the pad thai sauce, which is a sweet and sour type sauce (mostly sweet).  This combination is an incredible blend of sweet, spicy, sour, oniony, meaty, crunchy, peanutty, greatness.  I prefer my meal with a couple of spoonfulls of Sriracha (or however you spell it) sauce on top to take it from a level 10 to about a 15 to 17 on the heat scale – like I said, I like HOT food!   It really can’t be put into words, you just need to get down there and try it for yourself.

I will give a warning with this review though, once you drag yourself into Jana’s and have some of the Pad Thai, you will become addicted, and you will probably go into the restaurant several times a week.  I have been known to have 4 or 5 meals per week with Jana in the past.  For Real.

I suggest to all the readers that you drive over to Robinson Crossing, at I35 and West Robinson in Norman and give Jana’s a shot.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  The prices are average for a sit-down establishment.  Most meals are in the low to mid $20 range for a couple.

Go check it out soon!  And tell Jana the foodmongers sent you.

-Adam

Sweet Basil

August 28, 2010

I’ll be honest, I don’t have a lot of experience with Thai food. I’ve only tried a handful of Thai restaurants, but I can say that Sweet Basil (211 W. Main in Norman, OK) is the best I’ve had yet.

First of all, keep your peepers peeled when you are looking for this place.

Lap a lip over some tempura shrimp!

I’ve been here a few times and I still drive right by it for some reason. The restaurant has a quiet, dim, private atmosphere with tall booths that make you feel as if you are the only people there. I actually really like it, but it’s possible that you might find it a bit too dark. Seriously, you almost need night-vision goggles!

The menu has more than enough choices, though I didn’t know what a lot of it was. The servers are very helpful, and will answer any questions you have.

I started off with the Tempura Battered Shrimp. The menu reads, “Six large shrimp coated in a tempura batter, with Japanese style bread crumbs, fried and served on a bed of fried crispy egg noodles with sweet Thai chili sauce.” As today’s youngsters would say, they were OFF THE CHAIN! Fine, no one says that. Okay, I say that. Point is, they were great, and the sweet chili sauce makes for perfect spicy, sweet dunkage.

The chicken Pad Thai does not disappoint!

For my entree, I got the chicken Pad Thai with egg noodles and of course, an egg on top. WE’VE GOT A WINNER! The flavor in this dish is perfect. They give you a choice of spice level, from one to five. I went with a three, which was just right for me. It didn’t overwhelm the other flavors, but gave it a nice kick.

I’m not sure if I liked the shrimp or the noodles more…I think it was a Thai. Sorry, had to say it.

The prices here are a little steep for me, but it is a nice place, not a hole-in-the-wall grub spot. The tempura battered shrimp were $10.95 and the chicken Pad Thai w/egg was (I believe) $12.95. Add a $2.50 sodie pop and a tip, and if you’re like me, you’re thinking, “Man this was good, but where’d my 30-something bucks go?!”

I will definitely be going back for some more Pad Thai, but I think I might go pawn something first. I mean, I guess they have to pay for that sweet fish tank somehow, right? (See pictures page)

Check out their Wimgo page HERE

S & B’s Burger Joint

August 27, 2010

First of all, why is it called a HAMburger? There’s no ham! Well, let me hit you with some knowledge. It’s because it originated in Hamburg, Germany. Or at least that’s what I came up with when I Googled it. I mean…it’s on the Internet, so obviously it’s true.

Make a trip to S & B's Burger Joint!

Anyway, forget Hamburg. The boys at S & B’s slang a mean beef patty! Located at 5929 N. May, in suite 106, S & B’s will surprise you as soon as you walk in. It’s hard to explain, but it has a classic/80’s-ish neo-retro (I know that makes no sense) vibe going on that I dug bigtime.You just have to go see it for yourself.

Honestly, there were about 15 things on the menu that I really wanted to try, but I ended up settling on the special of the day: The pepper jack bacon cheeseburger, fries & drink for $8.50. It was awesome. It’s basically the exact burger I would cook for myself, except WAY better than if I cooked it. I need to brush up on my grill skills…

If you aren’t as much of a beefmonger as I am, fear not! You can substitute chicken breast or ground turkey for any burger, and they have other stuff with pork, ham, etc. Or, you can be a total wet blanket and get a salad…(Why are you here?)

Tell me there's not 50 things on here you want, and I'll tell you to shut your dirty lying mouth!

They have awesome sweet potato fries, classic fries and some crazy “smothered” fries that I HAVE to go back and try (including the PB & Fry, which consists of 3 amazing things…sweet potato fries, peanut butter, and honey peppercorn bacon) Check out the menu pic and see the other wild combinations.

I think it’s also important to mention that you can get any of the burgers in a slider version, which is still good-sized.

Check out the pictures page to see my burger and fries. They bring it to you in a little paper boat thing, which I didn’t notice until after I was finished, if that tells you anything.

I will most definitely be going back to see how much more of this menu I can knock out. I think my next burger will be “The Fire.”

They’re open late – 2 a.m., except on Mondays, when they close at 6 p.m. They are open Sunday 5-10 p.m.

Overall, S & B’s is probably an 8 out of 10 on ye ole Monger Meter.

Check out their Facebook page HERE and their Wimgo page HERE

Tarahumara’s (MUY Beuno!)

August 22, 2010

It’s 2:15 on a Saturday afternoon. I slept in a little, and skipped my usual donut run. Needless to say, I’M STARVING! What sounds good? “Mexican food” is always a correct answer to that question, so I truck it over to Tarahumara’s in Norman (702 N. Porter) with a buddy of mine. P.S. if you don’t say Tarahumara with an awesome Spanish accent I’ll punch you in the back of the head.

The van ruined my shot. But you get the point.

I’ve been here quite a few times and it has been excellent without exception. This trip was no different! I knew it was buenisimo, but I was a little surprised to see the parking lot PACKED and people lined up all the way outside. I mean c’mon, it’s 2:20?! Glad I wasn’t there at 12:30…

I picked up a menu and decided what to inhale. Everything looked so good, I just couldn’t decide. I seriously felt like Brett Favre or something. Finally, I settled on the chicken enchiladas and requested the green sauce on them instead of sour cream or queso or anything else because, let’s face it…the green sauce DOMINATES!

Being a scrawny twerp, I usually can’t put down an entire plate of anything, anywhere, but I was in serious scarf-mode. These enchis didn’t stand a chance. I didn’t get my donuts this morning and I’m not happy about it. The enchiladas felt my donut-deprivation-fueled wrath, and it wasn’t pretty.

The only thing that kept me from licking my plate was the fact that I knew I had a fresh sopapilla in my immediate future. Sure enough here it came, and I proceeded to tear into it.

This plate of food never stood a chance!

Here’s a quick breakdown of why I give this place top ratings on the Monger Meter:

  • Great service (fast!)
  • It’s a little more authentic Mexican than Tex-Mex
  • Free set up before your entree (chips, salsa, tortillas, queso, etc.)
  • Everything I’ve tried here has been delicious
  • Free sopapilla to polish off your meal
  • Price is not outrageous
  • Good portion size
  • LCD TV’s so I can watch sports while I get fat
  • Sweet Mexican decor!
  • Me gusta a hablar espanol con los meseros!

Head to the pictures page for a shot of the sopapilla and mi amigo’s meal.

Check out their Wimgo restaurant page HERE!

-Hunter