Bar-B-Q King – Charlotte

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Bar-B-Q King - Charlotte

First stop on my NFL Draft Journey was to Bar-B-Q King (my first ever drive-in!) It was incredible. Real Carolina vinegar based BBQ sauce. The flavors were incredible. Sweet, acidic, and tangy marinated pull pork, slaw, fries, hush puppies and a sweet iced tea! What an experience. LuncHaim gettin’ schooled in the deep south!

Courier Coffee – Downtown Portland

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The Jarbraltar: Courier Coffee Roasters‘ wide mouth Mason jar take on the Gibraltar Cortado. This was my third trip through Portland and sadly my first time walking through CCR’s doors. I’ve gone twice a day to Stumptown, sipped some of the best espresso roasters in the US featured at Barista, and crossed the river to Ristretto. They are all great, but Courier stands out above them all. Maybe it’s my affinity for Mason jars? It can’t be. Courier is just that good. Look at that creamy glass of goodness!

Courier Coffee Roasters
923 SW Oak
Portland Oregon

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Pok Pok Noi – Southeast Portland

ImageI’m going to say it very bluntly. Pok Pok is the best restaurant food in the country. Cuisine is like language and in each countries cuisine there are different dialects. The type of Thai cuisine dialect Pok Pok speaks may be one none too unfamiliar in Thailand.Image But in America, I haven’t seen a place that serves Thai quite like this.  Street style drinking food. [ I know what you’re thinking: every time I post, I say something is the best.] Pok Pok is my favorite culinary excursion because it takes you somewhere far off. I feel like I should be bringing my passport to the damn place! Just click on this menu above. If you’re not Thai, I’m willing to wager you’ve never seen or heard of a single item listed, like Muu Paa Kham Waan (pictured above): boar collar meat rubbed with garlic, coriander root and black pepper glazed with soy and sugar, grilled over charcoal, served with chilled mustard greens and a spicy chili/lime/garlic sauce!

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I’m not going to sit here and review how the pad thai stacks up, because they don’t serve it!Image Pok Pok’s signature noodle dish instead is Khao Soi: Northern Thai mild curry noodle soup made with secret curry paste recipe, natural chicken on the bone and house-pressed fresh coconut milk. Served with pickled mustard greens, shallots, cilantro, crispy yellow noodles and roasted chili paste.

Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings: fresh natural chicken wings marinatedImage in fish sauce and palm sugar, deep fried, tossed in caramelized Phu Quoo fish sauce and garlic, served with Vietnamese table salad. If you’re more than three to a party, get two orders. ImageThey flew so fast off the table I couldn’t take a good picture. The mixture of flavors and textures encrusted on the wing are numerous. The meat within is still juicy making the seemingly coarse outter crust fall off the bone.    [ Cue salivation! ]

Image If you don’t live in Portland, I’d suggest taking a trip out to visit. PDX has an incredible culinary scene with tons of local restaurants in all four quadrants of the city.Image Pok Pok has two locations, one on the southeast end and the newest location, Pok Pok Noi, with a smaller (but still incredible) menu and more of a bar type scene in the northeast (there are also two locations in NYC…menu differs slightly at each location.)  If you can’t afford a trip to Thailand, I’d highly consider saving big and flying to Portland to get your culinary passport stamped at Pok Pok!

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Blue Plate – Downtown Portland

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The daily deliciousness being whipped up at Blue Plate in downtown Portland, Oregon is a quaint flash to the past without any overbearing gimmicks. Just old-timey 1920’s goodness delivered in the form of lunch counter comfort food and savory soda fountain sweets, helping PDX’ers cope with their notoriously relentless stormy weather. (check out their Twitter feed!). A true glimpse back into American culture through delicious food!

The menu features a small but versatile selection of lunch staples cooked on a small grill and sandwiched with thick slices of crisp Texas toast (and sliders). The grilled cheese with bacon and sliced tomato served with tomato soup was the best rendition of the comfort combo I have ever tried.Image The presentation alone brings you to a smile. I am a dunker at heart and could not wait to get those thick slices of toast smothered with their homemade tomato soup served in a coffee mug.

I did my Lunchaimer’s a disservice by visiting Blue Plate on a Monday. They have a special item devoted to each day of the work week starting on Tuesday’s that I hear are all must haves.Image With only limited time in Rip City I called upon my sister (who has certainly been a strong contributor to my current lunch credentials) to chow down on the “American in Paris” sandwich: thick slices of roasted chicken, savory thick cut bacon, Swiss cheese, honey mustard book-ended with slabs of charred Texas toast and a side of plain but delicious mashed potatoes with skins. From a food perspective, Blue Plate wants you to feel like you’re right as rain under the grey Portland sky.

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As for the soda fountain and Blue Plate’s dessert menu…I don’t know where to begin. Their creations are exponential in comparison to how direct their lunch menu is structured. Of all the different homemade sodas, shakes, malts and sweets, I had to go with my favorite dessert beverage of all time. The egg cream: milk, chocolate syrup and seltzer water. ImageWhat a spectacular treat. I am smiling right now as I type. It was so rich and delicious that I got all chocked up and nearly started raining tears of joy down my cheeks. The soda fountain menu is very long. If you’re an out-of-towner, choose wisely and choose from ingredients that you wouldn’t be able to find in your everyday dessert spot. When was the last time you went to a lunch counter and found star anise (pictured above) as an ingredient to construct your own handcrafted soda?

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Blue Plate’s lunch counter and soda fountain are a homage to a time when life was simpler. But don’t think for a minute that choosing what to lunch on will be simple at all. Life is always filled with tough decisions! If you’re feeling blue, hungry, happy, or any other emotion for that matter, Blue Plate is here to help you deal with whatever life is serving you up today.

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Berlin Currywurst – Silver Lake

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 American’s always associate fries with the French. After my trek to Europe, I quickly found out that it’s the Dutch and Belgians who reign supreme in the pomme frites category. Back home the fry torch is being taken by a strong wave of German sausage kitchens popping up in LA, cutting their fries with incredible girth, crisp and flavor. Berlin Currywurst in SilverLake gets LuncHaim’s blue ribbon for best homemade fry in Los Angeles, be them freedom fries and on down the line. Screen Shot 2013-04-06 at 9.09.54 PMBC’s fritten are cut thick out of organic potatoes, resembling long Tetris blocks and fried well done with charred imperfections. There’s only one way to order them, in my opinion: topped with grilled onions and jambalaya (lemon herb seasoning…its incredible). Step 2, their house mayo and ketchup. Served with a bunch of napkins to get messy. Like Vincent Vega says, “…drown’em in that shit!”

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My problems with being a creature of loyalty remains true to form at Berlin Currywurst. I’ve visited at least 20 times over the last two years and only ordered currywurst once. The staff thinks I’m nuts. I don’t care. Its the best fry in LA and I want to leave room to enjoy it as a main dish! They’re that good. But don’t be a nut like me. Order a currywurst. Served Berlin street style, cut up into nice bites with sauces/flavors of choice and fresh slices of artisan bread. And they now serve draught and bottled beer! Prost!Image

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Berlin Currywurst – 3827 W Sunset Blvd.

New location with Beer Garden located at:

1620 N. Cahuenga Blvd. LA, CA 90028

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Ricky’s Fish Tacos – Silver Lake

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What’s better than eating at a food truck? How about eating in a driveway! Ricky’s Fish Tacos is frying up fish and shrimp Ensenada style with a house batter made to Imageorder. Tacos can be dressed with fresh cabbage, pico and a trio of sauces to choose from. It is quite a treat to enjoy such amazing food in the middle of what seems like someone’s driveway in Silver Lake. It almost feels illegal or a violation of some kind.

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Just look at those little fried puppies hanging over the edge of that fryolater. Topped with Ricky’s smattering of crunchy, juicy and saucy fresh fixings, each bite is a mouthwatering blend of crisp texture and Mexican flavor.

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You can check out Ricky’s hours on his vibrant Twitter feed where he also posts when the fish runs out or if he’s frying up anything special, like lobster! Wash your tacos down with a cup of home made horchata. There’s something that I love way too much about any restauranteur that focuses on a few small things really well instead of over loadingImage you with a bunch of crap. Ricky’s Fish Tacos is a fun treat to be had on any sunny day in LA. Pull up to Ricky’s on 1400 N. Virgil, Los Angeles, grab a place in line and be prepared to bite into the freshest fried fish taco you’ve ever scarfed down!

Nong Lá – Little Osaka

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Lunchaimer’s,

My apologies for the recent lapse between posts. With all the calorie cramming over the last few months since my first lunch love letter on New Year’s Eve, a gastronomic break was necessary. And as one door closes, another opens when I tried to take it easy during my lunch breaks and found Nong Lá’s Banh Mi Chay: Carrots, daikon, cilantro, house mayo, tofu, marinated oyster mushrooms and choice of fried egg enveloped by one of the freshest toasted baguettes I have ever crunched into. I have a doctorate in banh mi appreciation and I consider Nong Lá’s addition of the fried egg to its Vietnamese submarine as a revolutionary accoutrement …(Some of you might be thinking listen to this fat ass…He thinks going on a diet is scarfing down fried egg sandwiches). And of course the classic grilled pork, lemon grass steak and lemongrass chicken banh mi are available as well

nonglaThe sandwich is at the top of my list and I go out of my way to snack on it. My addiction has gotten so bad that the staff have insisted I either order something new or stop coming for a while so I don’t burn out! People like to call me a gross creature of habit. I call it loyalty.   

                                                                                                                                               Nong Lá’s atmosphere is clean and slick. You can plainly see the kitchen staff in the back frantically whipping up all of their menu items by hand with fresh ingredients. Classics like Bun rice vermicelli bowls, Pho, bountiful rice plates (I promise I am ordering a rice plate next time) and a variety of egg rolls/apps. Its a great spot for lunch and by far the best banh mi you can find without driving 80 miles round trip to Westminster.

nongla-4Don’t leave without trying their Cafe Sua: a Viet-style spice roasted coffee bean slow dripped over condensed milk (hot or over ice). It is a delicious treat that I have yet to figure out how to sip slowly. Check, please!

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