Thursday, May 31, 2007

Grass or Grain?

The OC Register has an interesting article on the grass fed / grain fed debate. Link.

National Burger Month Cookin' @ Home - The Bourgeois Burger

Here is a little burger I came up with. It is called the Bourgeois burger because it uses freshly ground USDA prime dry aged rib eye seasoned with Kosher salt, pepper and crushed coriander seeds and served with Bearnaise sauce, Maitre D'Hotel butter and minced shallots. The only common ingredient is the Martin's Potato roll which is slathered in Maitre D'Hotel butter and griddled until golden. The burger is actually slider size because I use Martin's sliced Potato rolls as opposed to the larger sandwich rolls. I do this partially because I love sliders but mostly because I make the burgers in small amounts since I use scraps from the weekly Beef Aficionado rib eye steak night for the burgers. This allows me to make the burgers very fatty and full of that earthy, musky, blue cheese like dry age flavor that we love around here.

I cook them in a cast iron skillet which I heat up for at least 15 minutes on high so that it is ridiculously hot. Sprinkled water should evaporate instantly on the skillet, not sizzle and sputter. I add around a teaspoon of peanut oil to the skillet and then gently the place small 1.5 oz patties, which are brought to room temperature for at least an hour out of the fridge, in the skillet pressing down just enough to provide maximum contact. The idea is to completely sear the outside while allowing the inside to remain rare. Never mash down on a burger unless you want a dry hockey puck . They cook very quickly yet remain plump and bulging with juice and flavor. I cook the buns on a separate non stick griddle using the flavored butter until they are golden and crispy and exude a croissant like texture. The burger must be allowed to sit on plate for 5 or so minutes and is then placed on the warm bun, minced shallots go on the bottom and Bearnaise goes on top. A tasty little snack which will break the bank and give you a heart attack. Sounds good? on the Rising Cost of Beef


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

National Burger Month Day 30 - Stand

Stands inclusion in the NY Post's top burger list in its May 30th edition confounded me, especially because the recommendation came from Mr Hamburger America himself George Motz. I had eaten at Stand about a month before and was not impressed. The beef was definitely good quality and the place had a nice minimalist interior, more akin to a sushi bar or nightclub than a burger shop. But the bun ruined the burger for me. The burger is on the smaller side, maybe 7oz tops but the bun is just enormously tall and difficult to eat. This was made worse by the injudiciousness of the bun cutters blade, Look at this burger:

It looks like it is wearing a Yarmulke. I resorted to a knife and fork to eat it and vowed never to return. But because of George's recommendation I decided to give Stand another shot. I was equally disappointed. The bread, while cut better, is still way too big for the task at hand and is too stiff and uncompliant. It also has an unwelcome sweetness.
Worse, the beef, despite the wooden stake stuck into declaring it "rare" was medium and quite dry. In fact the more that I think about it the burger was actually shockingly bad. overcooked, dry, and over rated. How disappointing.

24 East 12th Street (5th & Univ.)
New York, NY 10003

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

National Burger Month Day 29 - Zip Burger

Yet another "chef driven" burger shop, this time from Les Halles alumnist Ted Pryor, that strives to provide an all natural, healthier approach to fast food. Oh Boy, here we go again. Actually the burger did not seem compromised in any way except execution at Zip.

The patty was very flavorful and juicy, definitely one of the better tasting in this current survey but was cooked beyond the requested rare. which sapped some life from it. The bun however ruined the burger as it was stone cold, as if it had just come from the fridge and asymmetrically cut with a very large head . I am assuming that no chef would design a recipe this way deliberatly so it must have been a case of pilot error. Never the less I would recommend you ask for your bun to be warmed if you go to Zip. And I am not sure I would recommend you do with PJ Clarkes and Goodburger so close by. Beyond the easily correctable problem with the bun the burger at Zip is fine but personally I felt it lacked "soul," there was nothing inherently wrong with it but it just did not grab me.

Zip Burger
300 1/2 E. 52nd St

Monday, May 28, 2007

National Burger Month Day 28 - Wollensky's Grill

I love Smith and Wollensky steakhouse. It is one of my favorite restaurants although I don't eat there as much as I used to, only about once a week these days. I had not eaten a burger at the adjacent Wollensky's Grill in sometime but I remember it as being very good. My recent experiences with steakhouse burgers where not so great, could the Grill come through? Yes and no. It certainly bests the other burgers I tried from Lugers, Keens and the Old Homestead in that it was perfectly cooked, edible with hands, and the bun was perfect for the task. The meat as with all Steakhouse burgers was great, but also oversized which leads it to get a bit sloppy. I have really come to appreciate the elegant daintiness of the slider but really anything up to around 7-8 oz is manageable in my book. Most steakhouses serve up closer to 10oz of beef which makes the burgers hard to eat and messy.

The ingredients here are all fresh, the bun well toasted and the beef served sizzling from the same grill that churns out some of NY's best steaks. And while this is a really good tasting burger I still find the beef too coarsely ground and just too big, the bun/beef ratio is off. So definitely the best of the Steakhouse burgers but at almost $15 it can compete with other steakhouses but not, say PJ Clarkes right up the street or Balthazar downtown. Go to S&W and the Grill for the steaks and chops, leave the burgers to others.

Wollensky's Grill
201 E. 49th St.
(3rd Ave.)
Manhattan, NY

Sunday, May 27, 2007

National Burger Month Day 27 - Burke in the Box

While I was somewhat apprehensive about a another celebrity chef take on the burger I was heartened to discover that David Burke was making sliders at his trendy fast food eatery in Bloomingdale's. It is no secret that some of the best burgers I have had are sliders and I am a definite convert to the church of little burgers. Unfortunately Burkes little grass fed patty's served on English muffin buns stray so far from the classic burger archetype that I find them disconcerting. And too expensive at almost $11 for three.

It is not that I found them distasteful, they are obviously built from the highest quality components it is just that they seem more like dumplings than burger. You can find out how they are made here. While I appreciate the efforts to truly meld the flavors of the sandwich, in a similar way to White Manna, ie the classic slider technique, the whole oven crisping thing makes the burger seems, frankly half baked.

Burke in the Box
150 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
tel 212.705.3800

Saturday, May 26, 2007

National Burger Month Day 26 - Lucky Burger

Six degrees of Luck

In a very round about sort of way Lucky Burger is partially to blame for the creation of this blog. About a year and half ago I happened upon Lucky's Famous on Avenue A in the East Village. The first time I ate the burger there I was intrigued, it tasted more like a hot dog than a burger having a distinct smoky, spiced flavor. There was also a mayonnaise type concoction called "Lucky sauce" that mirrored the meat in having a smoky taste.

An original Lucky Burger from Ave A

In addition to the aforementioned sauce Lucky burger came dressed with ketchup, mustard, chopped onion, tomato, lettuce, pickles and Cheddar on a Martin's potato roll. At its best I thought it was a very good sandwich indeed. I normally don't go for exotically flavored burgers but for some reason Lucky burger had a certain je ne sais quoi. At its best the contrasts of both texture and flavor was wonderful - the spongy compliance of the buttery sweet potato roll countered by tart the crunchiness of the pickle and onions themselves countered by the tender beefy succulent patty produced a unique burger experience. The beef was intensely juicy, much more so than its rather lean looking fine grind would indicate. I felt everything was in perfect proportion. I admit that it was a unique, some might say even an acquired, taste. I think that the first one that I ate was so good that I was always aware of the burgers true potential so I stuck with them despite occasional missteps. I ended up eating at Lucky quite frequently.

During one of these visits I met owner and creator of the burger Noah Max. He claimed that the burger was "cold smoked" and marinated overnight. He would not reveal the type of beef he used but said it was fresh, never frozen and was cooked on a searing griddle. I suspected it was mostly sirloin. Noah said he took two years to develop his recipe and it certainly seemed that the choice of ingredient was deliberate rather than just a case of copying the next guy. Certainly the uniqueness of the sauce indicates this but I must admit that I generally don't like "special" sauces anyway and took to ordering without, the smoke flavor was intrinsic to the beef anyway.

In further conversations with Noah he mentioned a negative review he received in A Hamburger Today, a blog with which I was unfamiliar with but with which I was soon enthralled. Although I liked Lucky's I also empathized with Adam Kubans experience, I order my burgers rare but on the occasions when they came otherwise at Lucky's they were mealy and dry. And quality control was definitely an issue on Ave A, unless Noah was there personally the burgers where not always so great. In any event discovering AHT was great and inspired this blog.

The Lucky of today

Then one day Lucky was gone, at least on Avenue A, but a new one sprang up almost instantly on west 52nd. Sans Monsieur Max and much further from Beef Aficionado headquarters than before. Would the burger remain intriguing enough to keep me going back? Unfortunately not. Despite some decent efforts on a few visits the original recipe has strayed sufficiently from its origins to be a different steer altogether. The Lucky sauce is now even more overpowering than before, perhaps because the beef seems to have completely forgone the "cold smoke" technique. The burger has also changed shape becoming much thinner and more spread out. Rather than the plump juicy crispy patty of yore on my visit today I witnessed the cook pressing down with all his might on my burger. Sure it was rare and the outside charred but it had no juice at all. Too bad because the original was distinct enough for inclusion in my burger diet. On the plus side the newer Lucky's maintains the standard of using fresh ingredients and the restaurant is very clean. I never bought the hype that it was the "best burger on earth" but I thought it a pleasant diversion. The NYC burger landscape has changed so much with a new joint opening almost weekly in the last year that 52nd St is too far to depend on luck alone for a decent burger.

Lucky's Famous
370 W 52nd St
between 8th and 9th Aves

Friday, May 25, 2007

Expect Those Steakhouse Tabs to Get Bigger, Maybe a lot Bigger

The New York Times reports that while the price of beef is rising along with demand availability is dropping precipitously. Expect your favorite Steakhouse to raise prices, if they haven't already. I still have nightmares about the last time this happened back in 2003.


(Thanks to Glenn for the tip)

National Burger Month Day 25 - Sparky's

I am convinced that you can not make a burger "healthy" and tasty at the same time. Sparky's bolstered this argument to a much greater degree than I could imagine The very concept of a hamburger, taking some of the fattiest cuts of beef, cooking it up, often with some cheese and slapping it on a bleached white wheat bun, flies in the face of either health or nutrition. The healthier one makes a burger by cutting fat, and adding whole grains to the bun the further one gets away from what makes a burger so great. A guilty greasy comforting union of bread and beef.

Sparky's, a two store chain located in Soho and Williamsburg Brooklyn, uses only organically grown and responsibility farmed produce. This is fine, I love organic food, I eat it all the time as it generally tastes great. I have had plenty of grass fed beef also. It too tastes great but Hamburgers need fat and when you don't put any in I don't care if you use the finest prime grade Angus steer your burger ain't going to be any good. Sparky's burgers ain't no good. The burger is sort of rubbery with a displeasing texture and has an odd flavor reminiscent of falafel seasoning. Enough said, if you like burger don't eat Sparky's. If you are worried about your health don't eat burgers.


333 Lafayette St
New York, NY

135A N. 5th St.,
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Thursday, May 24, 2007

National Burger Month Day 24 - Burgers & Cupcakes

Talk about a dangerous combination. Burgers and Cupcakes on 23rd Street offers up two of NYC's latest gastronomic fads in one place.

The bun looked a bit small but it did its job well forming around the patty nicely, soaking up the burger juice and bonding to the melted cheese.

The beef while cooked perfectly rare had a nicely charred exterior and decent, but not great flavor. It was very juicy however. On balance a decent burger but at almost $10 before tip a bit on the steep side. Miraculously I escaped the clutch of the cupcakes.

Burgers & Cupcakes
265 West 23rd St

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

National Burger Month Day 23 -Old Homestead

I will admit that I am prejudice against the Old Homestead Steakhouse, I have yet to enjoy a meal there despite numerous attempts. I want to like the place, I really do, especially because it is within walking distance from my house but I just find the beef to lack flavor. However, there has been some buzz as of late about the Homesteads "new" burger cafe that operates outside on 9th Ave. so I thought I would give it a shot.

The menu is quite spartan with different variations of burger all for $15. Sides go for an additional $6 making a burger and fries $21 before tax and tip. For that price the burger better be damn good

It isn't.

I ordered the basic burger, cooked rare, which comes served with lettuce, tomato and onion on a seeded type roll. For $15 you would think they could throw you a slice or two of cheese. The beef is, like all steakhouse burgers, great. Full of flavor, juicy and succulent. Although it was cooked mostly rare, about a quarter of the patty was cooked through. Unfortunately the bread was stale and the onion completely overpowering. To add insult to injury the whole contraption is so tall that it is hard to eat.

Too much money for not enough burger.

Old Homestead Steakhouse
56 Ninth Ave.
(bet. 14th & 15th St.)
Manhattan, NY

Bittman on Burgers

Mark Bittman has a nice article on making burgers in todays New York Times. Link.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

National Burger Month Day 22 - ALL AMERICAN HAMBURGER

If you ever wondered what a burger at the original MacDonald's in San Bernadino, California tasted like in 1948 you will not find the answer under golden arches, not these days. But at a timeless little drive in located in Massapequa, NY that has been cranking out burgers for over 40 years you just might find a taste of yesterday.

Order an All American cheeseburger and you get a sandwich that will look familiar to anyone who has had the McDonald's cheeseburger - diced onion, pickles, ketchup, cheese, a small patty on a simple white bun. The difference is that at All American the food tastes fresh, unlike the frozen plastic that the chains sell. The beef, despite the small patty has a robust and hearty flavor. The cheese covers the burger meat and adheres it to to the bun, lovingly snuggling the tart pickles and sweet onions. The bun itself is light and spongy with a golden hue. Biting in to one of these burgers evokes feelings of a different age, of drive ins and convertibles, before the mass marketing of food, before frozen burgers. These burgers are American classics. They rank in my top five favorite burgers.

Love at first bite.

Despite the mass of people the line moves at a rapid rate, this is fast food that is made with care and it shows.

A Double Double. Two patties with cheese, pickles, onion, ketchup.

All American Hamburger Drive In
4286 Merrick Road
Massapequa, NY 11758

Great Moments in Australian Cinema - Mad Max Beyond Thunderdom Cattle Car

I just watched Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and took a snap of what has to be the coolest vehicle in post apocalyptic survival actions films - the cattle car. Paradoxically, for a film about the future, the final installment of the Mad Max trilogy seems the most dated of the three films. It seems so rooted in the 1980's, perhaps because of the soundtrack and the ridiculous hair styles. Love that car though.

Monday, May 21, 2007

National Burger Month Day 21 - PJ Clarkes

PJ Clarkes is as storied an institution as you will find in New York. It often makes those ubiquitous Top Burger lists and deservedly so. It is a fantastic sandwich, perfectly designed and expertly constructed. Big enough too satisfy but small enough to handle easily. The fresh ground beef has a hearty flavor, it is juicy and succulent, the simple bun is light and airy yet perfectly soaks up the torrent of juice that gushes from the patty. The cheese is tangy and contrasts nicely with the sweet onion. The place gets busy, flush with suits but the service is zippy. This is one of my favorite burgers of all time.

915 3rd Ave
New York, NY

Sunday, May 20, 2007

National Burger Month Day 20 - Schnack

From what I had read about Schnack I really expected a modern polished Formica clad homage too fast food. Instead I walked into a decidedly bohemian restaurant that serves some very tasty little burgers and other comfort foods.

Schnack have dubbed their little sliders "Schnakies," they consist of a 1.5oz fresh beef patty on a tasty little oval shaped bun and comes with cheese and dressed with Schnack sauce, a spicy 1000 Island variant. I did not care for the latter condiment but the burgers are very good otherwise. The beef tasted fresh, the cheese was nicely melted and the bun is spongy and full of life, although the shape is a bit perturbing. All in all Schnack is a fun little place with some tasty food.

122 Union St
Brooklyn NY
718 855 2879

Big Apple BBQ Block Party - Bubba Fast Pass Available

I mentioned the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party last week but neglected to mention that you are strongly advised to get your self a Bubba Fast Pass unless you want to spend an awful lot of time in line. The card allows you to cut the long lines, it costs $100 and is good for two people and a whole lot of 'Cue. Available only through 25th May, you can order the pass here.

National Burger Month - Pickles

Although technically the coverage of pickles might be a bit outside of the bounds of this blog but because it is National Burger Month, and because I love pickles on my burgers, I thought I would let you know that the 7th Annual NYC International Pickle Day is set for 16th September, 2007. Full details here.

Happy 20th Anniversary San Loco!

Just a quick reminder that today is San Loco's 20th anniversary, you can head down to any of their 4 NYC locations for 20 Cent tacos.

San Loco

Saturday, May 19, 2007

National Burger Month Day 19 - Jimbo's Hamburger Place

This literal hole in the wall has been open for sixty years. They claim to use "the best chopped meat money can buy" which is probably not true in this age of Kobe and other boutique steer but to be fair the beef is of good quality. Griddled and served rare as ordered the patty was juicy but lacked seasoning, this was somewhat remedied by a sprinkle of salt but it is better to season during cooking. In any event the bun was nicely toasted, the cheese thoroughly melted a the burgers exterior well browned but not really charred.

A decent, perfectly servicable hamburger but probably not worth traveling too far for since there are so many other notable burgers in the area such as Goodburger and PJ Clarkes. Still, if you live on the block and want a quick bite this place is perfect.

Jimbo's Hamburger Place
991 1st Ave, New York
NY - 10022
Tel: (212) 355 6120

Friday, May 18, 2007

National Burger Month Day 18 - White Manna

I will have a lot more to say about these burgers in a later post, but for now, suffice it to say that White Manna is as close to the Holy Grail of burgerdom as one can get, enjoy the video.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

National Burger Month Day 17 - Sassy's Sliders

I ate Sassy's Sliders quite a few times back in the 1990's when they occupied a storefront on East 9th or 10th street street in the East Village. At their best I recall the little burgers were really very good, offering an edible version of the White Castle burger replete with a very authentic tasting bun. Unfortunately as time went on the standards went south rapidly and I stopped going altogether. I assumed, unsurprised, that they had become defunct when I happened past one day and saw the space empty. It turns out they actually packed up and moved to the Upper East Side. Could the move north reverse Sassy's southward slide?

Unfortunately not completely. The restaurant itself looks far more appealing being relatively clean, brightly lit although less spacious than their old digs. The menu has not changed much but the quality of the ingredients are better than I remember them, the small beef patty tasted fresh, the pickle was nice and crunchy and the bun was wonderful. But the whole thing was slapped together with no care, the cheese was completely cold and did not even cover the meat, instead just hanging off the side. Sliders at their best positively ooze with molten cheese, it seems an afterthought here.

It is too bad because these could be really good if they would only take a little time to cook everything properly and a little effort into assembly. I would still recommend checking them out if you are on the UES, I may have just been there on an off night. The burgers definitely have potential.

Sassy's Sliders

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

National Burger Month Day 16 - White Castle

I must admit, that because I grew up in England and was never exposed to them as a child that I have never "gotten" White Castle Hamburgers. Frankly I find them repulsive, mealy, soggy. sour tasting little sponges. But I imagine that most Americans would find food that I grew up eating, like fried bread and steak and kidney pudding equally unappealing.During the course of the last year I have eaten a lot of burgers and some of my favorites have been sliders. So I decided to venture in to a White Castle again and try to approach it with an open mind.

There is only one White Castle left in Manhattan. This is not surprising. Even by the woefully low standards of fast food restaurants in the Big Apple White Castle manages to lower the bar. The food is so poor that it is not really worth taking about. I am sure that the White Castle of yore, during the golden age of the slider,before everything became prepackaged frozen rubbish was incredibly scrumptious. Sadly the current incarnation has been reduced to the lowest common denominator.

If one wants to really experience what White Castle once must have tasted like one needs to seek out White Diamond, White, Manna or White Mana in New Jersey. I will cover all three in a future post but unless you go there for nostalgic purposes I really don't recommend the Castle.

White Castle

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

San Loco Celebrates 20 Year anniversary with 20 cent Tacos!

For those of us who came of age in the late 1980's, and remember the East Village when it was still called the Lower East Side, you will either be heartened or utterly depressed by the fact that San Loco is about to celebrate its 20th anniversary. I remember staggering over to the original San Loco location at 192 Second Ave after many a CBGB's hardcore matinée or a late night of bar hopping for their cheap but flavorful offerings. San Loco definitely filled a void, until then the only decent taco around was at Festival down on Rivington Street. Over the years San Loco has grown to four NYC stores and one in Miami Beach and they still provide decent cheap flavorful food. So to celebrate San Loco is offering 20 cent Tacos on May 20th. Here is the fine print:

"Offer valid at all four NY Area San Loco locations on May 20th, 2007. Limit five (5) per customer. Hard Shell beef tacos and bean/rice tacos only. Not valid for delivery service. Tax is not included. Offer valid on may 20th, starting at 11a.m., while supplies last. (No funny business)"

San Loco locations

National Burger Month Day 15 - Goodburger

Everything that I reported about the Burger Joint @ The Parker Meridian a few days back holds true for Goodburger, the rapidly expanding NY mini chain. It is a virtually identical product. Five and a half ounces of flame grilled beef topped with yellow and white cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion pickles, ketchup, mayo and Dijon mustard. It is a fantastic sandwich .

Multiple locations

Jersey Dogs! Clifton NJ - Hot Dog Mecca

New York has some great Hot Dogs but New Yorkers are fickle. We give up eating comfort food for decades at a time in favor of alfalfa sprouts or sushi or wheat grass juice or whatever the latest culinary/health food fad is. Thus the Hot Dog fell out of favor for many years here in the Big Apple. Sure, you could find the dirty water dog on many street corners but those are not really worth discussing. And of course there are some hold outs like Gray's Papaya and Katz's Deli on Houston Street, but that was about it unless you wanted to trek out to Coney Island and visit the original Nathan's. The low carb fad of the past several years has definitely lessened peoples qualms about eating fatty foods. Soon people that had adhered to strict low fat regimes were suddenly wolfing down bun-less burgers and dogs at alarming rates. Many, once reacquainted with such comfort foods, reincorporated them back into their diet when they started eating carbs again, simply adding the buns. This, at least partially, explains the resurgence of both the Hamburger and to a somewhat lesser degree the Hot Dog on the NYC culinary scene.

New Jersey tends to not get caught up in fads in quite the same way as New York, thus the Hot Dog has remained a staple of the comfort food diet there. New Yorkers may boast what is arguably the most diverse culinary landscape in the world, some of the top restaurants anywhere and the best pizza this side of the Atlantic but when it comes to Hot Dogs New Jersey has the Big Apple beat hands down. The town of Clifton alone boasts some of the finest Dogs I have ever eaten.

The most renowned Dog in Clifton is found at Rutt's Hut. Dating back to 1928 this ramshackle structure located on River Road serves up fried Hot Dogs that are utterly superb. The Dog itself is expertly constructed by Thumann's and contains a delectable mix that is 60 percent beef, 35 percent pork and 5 percent cereal filling. It is then deep fried in scalding oil. As with many similar establishments a specific vernacular has evolved for ordering at Rutt's. Most people order a"Ripper" which is a Dog the has been fried long enough for the skin to split or rip open. A "weller" is a well done ripper and a "cremator" is totally burned. You can also order medium or "in and out" which is rare.

The Ripper

"in and out"

Served on perfect white buns that soak up the grease from the deep fat fryer, the only condiment that will not immediately brand you as an outsider to regulars is the delicious home made mustard relish. A tangy, sweet crunchy concoction with a kick, it perfectly compliments the crackling flesh of the dog.

A ripper with mustard relish

Biting into a ripper for the first time is a wondrous experience. The soft bun gently nestles the sausage in a pillowy embrace, the grease from the rippers flesh adhering to the bread, softening it slightly and providing varying degrees of texture and compliance. The ripper literally bursts with flavor when bitten in to, the rip in its flesh causes the casing to become taught and crunchy. The character of this Dog, despite its incredibly violent method of preparation, is actually more subtle than a NY style Kosher Frank since the latter is obviously made from 100 percent beef. The pork in the Rutt's Dog adds sweetness and smooths out the palate. The garlic and heavy seasoning of a beef dog is lessoned here as it would most assuredly over power the delicate balance of flavor.

Rutt's ranks at the very top of my list of great Hot Dogs along with Walter's in Mamaronck, Westchester County, NY. It really is a timeless classic, well worth a visit.

Rutt's Hut
417 River Road, Clifton
(973) 779-8615

Also in Clifton, although ironically, not as famous as Rutt's Hut, is the Famous Midtown Grill, once known as simply the Midtown Grill and the home of what was once a tremendous "Texas Weiner" but now, sadly it is a shadow of it's former self. Located on Main Ave in the middle of town the appropriately named Midtown Grill was a classic lunch counter but has now become a fairly generic diner type restaurant selling everything from gyro's and salads to eggs to burgers. They still sell "Texas Weiners" a method of Hot Dog preparation popular in Jersey that features chili, onions and mustard slathered over a Dog. The Texas Weiner is actually not from Texas at all but originates from neighboring Paterson NJ. There is an excellent history of the Texas Weiner here. Unfortunately the Texas Weiner at the Famous Midtown Grill are totally lackluster these days and are done with far more passion elsewhere.

A sad Texas Weiner

Famous Midtown Grill
1218 Main Ave
Clifton, NJ 07011
(973) 546-0121

Fortunately Clifton is also the home to the Hot Grill, purveyors of irresistibly scrumptious Texas Weiners. They have been making them since 1961 and the taste is pure classic. Spicy mustard coats the crispy fried pup, pungent diced onions and a dark complex chili, with strong hints of cinnamon, cascades over the weiner and bun. The Texas Weiner is an admittedly sloppy sandwich to eat but somehow the bun just barely holds everything together and becomes wonderfully soggy from the flavorful chili. There are very few authentic Texas Weiners left in the world but they are well worth seeking out.

669 Lexington Ave
Clifton, NJ 07011-1234