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Entries in Fast Food (9)


Jimmy John's, Clovis

It’s a good sandwich, packed with meat and really spongy bread. I’d call it an “Advanced Subway”, with better potato chips.

This isn’t mind-blowing sandwich creationism, this is plain and simple execution.

Sort of like a logical syllogism, if the premises (ingredients) are true, than the conclusion (sandwich) must be true. Very rarely is this the case in cooking, but with sandwiches, the elements are all brought in fully prepared so it becomes an act of assembly rather than cooking.

I don't remember which sandwich this was. It had cold meat, ham and turkey. Lettuce and tomato. Cheddar cheese. Standard bread. Filled stomach for lunch and no food sickness after. Successful take-out.

Jimmy John's on Urbanspoon


Guilty Pleasure, Sweet Maui Onion Potato Chips

Cheetos, Fritos, Lay’s Sour Cream and Onion, and Sweet Maui Onion Potato Chips have to be my favorite potato chips. I don’t eat them often anymore. But when I was growing up, potato chips were always available.

Fritos were Dad’s favorite with tuna sandwiches. Sour cream and onion always seemed to make their way into the mix as well. A bag of Cheetos would probably last two days in the house.

I don’t remember when the Sweet Maui Onion chips made it into the rotation, but when they did, they were usually gone in the first sitting. No joke, my brother and I could power down a whole bag of these chips in one sitting. I think one bag has 8 servings and I’m guessing each serving is 150-180 calories. Do the math.

Thank god for our high school athlete metabolisms, otherwise we’d be 250lbs today. Man, I love these chips.


H & W Drive In, Merced

Not far off Highway 99 in Merced; an honest to goodness drive in exists and it’s not a franchise chain. I can park my car in a stall and order right from the driver’s seat. I know Sonic does it, but it’s part of their franchise schtick. I can’t recall the last time I was in a town that had a genuine local drive-in. Nostalgia aside, I didn’t feel like eating in my car, so I ordered at the walk-up window.

Basic cheeseburger, fries and a root beer for $4.95. Yep; for just under $5 I’m going to have a full belly. I was instructed to find a seat and my order would be brought out to me. In about 5 minutes, here comes the order. The burger is wrapped up in white paper, like any classic drive-in. The fries are ridge-cut and seasoned with a seasoning salt. The root-beer, a super- medium size, stands boldly over my meal in white Styrofoam.

No, my burger is not cooked medium rare and it doesn’t come from grass-fed cows. No, my fries are not hand-cut that morning. I doubt my root-beer is artisanally crafted.  But who cares. It’s a drive in classic that cost less than $5. This isn’t serious food, it’s nostalgia, it’s cheap, it’s fast food that isn’t McDonald's. It’s what McDonald's crafted into a global franchise. It’s food industrialization at its finest, wrapped up into a local business that manages its costs and volume efficiently enough to stay in business. And it seems to be one of the more popular places to eat in Merced.

So next time you’re traveling Highway 99 and you find yourself in Merced and you want a nostalgic burger and fries that isn’t McDonald's, go to the H&W Drive-In.

H & W Drive-In on Urbanspoon


Guilty Pleasure, Chili Dogs

Not just any chili dog, but a Der Wienerschnitzel chili dog has been a long-time guilty pleasure of mine. This chili dog was devoured in my car after I cleared the drive-up window. I skipped dinner because I was speaking at a wine event that night, then went for beers after the event and was f'ing hungry.

I recall eating four chili dogs and two bags of fries once a week back in high school. I used to cut out coupons for the two chili dogs and a bag of fries deal for $1.99. There's something about a creamy, fatty chili that I like; similar to my strange desire for Dennison's Chili.

After slamming this dog down my pie hole and having it absorbed as pure fat into my system, I raced home and fell asleep. The next morning as I was cleaning my car, I could still smell the evidence of my late night feeding and luckily, I didn't drip any of the chili on my seats.



Choco's Tacos and BBQ, Bakersfield

Merle Haggard Drive and 7th Standard Road in Bakersfield, California. Probably not the first place on your mind when it comes to good food. But wait...I see smoke coming out of a BBQ painted to resemble a cow.

I’m a fan of roadside stands, especially taco shops. But a taco shop that also happens to serve BBQ? Say it isn't so. I also subscribe to being as random as possible when I pick shacks like this.

(Gratuitous "before" shot of breakfast burrito)

"Look at the size of that thing...Cut the chatter Red 2"

Breakfast burrito with carne asada, just after my first bite.

I’m not normally a burrito eater, probably because I don’t like flour tortillas as much as I like corn tortillas. Secondly, I generally find carne asada dry when compared to al pastor or carnitas. So I don’t know what I was thinking when I ordered a breakfast of items I don’t normally like. 

Well, I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Obviously a well balanced burrito and an expert roller to keep everything together until the last bite. The salsa was spicy, the meat was moist, and the beans and rice inside didn't take away from the flavor of the meat. But the best part? Not a single drop of grease or liquid came out of the back of my burrito. Really, how rare is that!?

So then next time you think of Merle Haggard (he had 38 Number 1 Hits), Bakersfield and what to do about breakfast if you're passing through on Highway 99, stop by Choco's for a breakfast burrito, you won't be disappointed.

Choco's Tacos and BBQ on Urbanspoon