Saturday, November 10, 2007

Soy Salsa

Tonight we picked up some food at Panda Express in Pleasant Grove. I've noticed that most of the people behind the counter at this and other Chinese restaurants in the area are hispanic. I heard the nice young man who helped us ask one party if they wanted "soy salsa."

This reminded me of the comic strip Baldo. Baldo says, "I like this Chinese restaurant because it is very authentic." The next panel shows that they probably serve soy salsa. Baldo says, "Authentic . . . with a Latin flavor."

Monday, October 15, 2007

California Pizza Kitchen

As I've gotten older, my favorite kind of pizza is cheese pizza. And increasingly I like vanilla ice cream--especially if it's premium vanilla. I'm not sure what this says about me. But I'm warming up to the idea of exotic toppings on pizza. When you're talking exotic toppings, you're talking California-style pizza.

For a long time here in Utah the only pizza you could get that was really "California style" was Canadian bacon (or usually regular old ham) with pineapple. (Some people call this "Hawaiian pizza," but it doesn't come from Hawaii. (Some claim that Britain's Pizza Express invented Hawaiian pizza, but this seems unlikely.) The Brick Oven serves my favorite version of this this sliced almonds. Now you can get the real taste of California pizza at California Pizza Kitchen at the University Mall. There are also stores at the Gateway and SLC Airport. (The Brick Oven obviously shows the influence of CA pizza.)

You should know that "California" pizza is an oxymoron to pizza lovers in Chicago and New York (who believe that they have the only true pizza). But it has a legitimate pizza heritage. Like NY pizza, CA style is a thin crust pizza, so it traces its heritage back to Naples. Also, like NY pizza, CA pizza is a soft, tender crust (unlike true Neapolitan pizza, which is crisp like a cracker. You can get Neapolitan style at CPK.) Unlike NY pizza, CA pizza isn't floppy, and at least the usual CPK pizza doesn't look authentically hand tossed, but these gourmet pizzas are usually pretty small. They look rolled to me.

Pretty much all California-style cuisine traces its genealogy to Alice Waters and her legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA. Waters was a fan of Tommaso's Italian restaurant in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. She combined Tommasos ideas with her own ideas gathered from Italy and her own vision of California cuisine to create a unique style of pizza. (Imagine pizza with local organic goat cheese, fresh, handmade duck sausage, and local, organic arugula.)

At the same time Ed LaDou ("the Prince of Pizza") was experimenting with exotic pizza recipes at Prego Restaurante, also in San Francisco (Cow Hollow neighborhood). This Bay Area contribution to pizza went Hollywood when Wolfgang Puck, inspired by Alice Waters, opened Spago, a trendy Beverly Hills restaurant that provided pizza for the stars and turned Puck into one of the first celebrity chefs. Puck brought LaDou into his pizza kitchen, and between the two of them, they turned out over 250 varieties of pizza. LaDou later helped develop pizza menus for CPK, Sammy's Woodfired Pizza (currently only in CA and NV), and Hard Rock Cafe (you'll find one at Trolley Square).

Sure CPK is a chain, but it has a Bacon number of two connecting it to legendary North Beach pizza and Alice Waters. Consider it a "poor person's" trip to Spago (relatively "poor" that is, CPK pizza is about $12 for an 11" pizza).

Most of my experience with CPK has been while I'm traveling. I've had the Thai Chicken pizza at both LAX and Reagan National (and probably a couple of other places I forget). That's become my favorite. Just Saturday night I tried a new variety: mango with curry sauce.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Nina's Original NY Pizzeria & Juice Bar

New York pizza is a variety of Neapolitan pizza (thin, crisp crust, cheese/tomato sauce/herbs, cooked in a wood-fired oven). This pizza followed Italian immigrant to New York in the early 20th century. Unlike it's Italian cousin, New York pizza uses mozzarella made from cow's milk (rather than water buffalo) and originally began with coal-fired ovens rather than wood. (The coal gives a wetter heat which gives NY pizza its famous droop. This is why you can fold it in half and eat it as you walk down the street--"Hey, I'm walkin' here!") New Yorkers also claim that their famous water gives the pizza a distinctive taste.

You can get some pizza at New York's original pizzeria, Lombardi's, or any of it's famous descendants: Patsy's, John's, Grimaldi's, Di Fara, Nick's, and Totonno's. Now Provo has Nina's Original.

I won't say that Nina's is in the same universe as these New York legends (you really have to go to New York), but I will say it is authentic New York pizza and as good as I've had at merely good places such as Ray's or Famiglia. Tourists dig these places, but it's not where the New Yorkers eat.

How can you tell Nina's is authentic? It's thin crust, but with that NY droop. You can only buy cheese pizza by the slice. Everything else, you have to buy a complete pie. (Some NY places only sell pizza by the pie.) They put it in the oven to warm it up after you order it. They serve it to you on a thin piece of foil. On a counter against the wall you can find chili flakes and onion powder to shake on your pizza (Did someone steal the shaker of Italian herbs?) The slices are huge, but you can fold them in half and make your own pizza sandwich (as you walk back to class. "Hey!") It's hand tossed. (You can tell because the crust is thinner at the middle and gets thicker toward the edges.) And it's got a certain smokiness that's hard to describe but is distinctly New York.

If you can't get to New York, jaywalk down to Nina's. They also offer a variety of juices, pastas, and desserts. But it's about the pizza.

Looking for the authentic Neapolitan kind? Only Settebello in Salt Lake City receives the approval of the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association. (Save this for your Homecoming date.)

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Poutine, and Other Things Canadian

This last weekend, Cougar Eats hit the road (or the "air" actually) on a business trips to Calgary, Canada. I only had about 36 hours, so I wanted to make sure I had some authentic Canadian food.

My plane got in about 12:30. To start off my Canadian food quest the right way, I grabbed a maple doughnut at the airport Tim Horton's, the Canadian version of Dunkin Donuts. This wasn't much different from what you would get here, but it was Canadian, and it was maple.

I picked up my rental car and started hunting out lunch. After passing McDonald's (several), Wendy's, Arby's, and other American joints, I started to wonder if Canadian cuisine had been completely overrun by its cousin to the south. I finally got hungry enough that I decided to stop at a Wendy's near the University of Calgary. (Wendy's offers better choices than most fast food places.)

As I pulled into the shopping center, I spied the Billingsgate Seafood Market (named after the famous London market). I also say the sign "fish and chips." Although Canadian provinces tend to mirror the culture of whatever states lie to the south, they also reflect the cultural influence of Britain and the Commonwealth. This means good Indian food, good Chinese, and good chip shops--although I was surprised to find a chips shop in Calgary. I decided to skip Wendy's for whatever adventure this shop would hold.

One side of the shop is the market and another is a British style chips shop. And this is the real deal. It's been in business (although not at its current location) for an amazing 100 years. The shop began in 1907, when a British emigrant settled on the plains of Canada and brought his love of fish and chips with him. I've had fish and chips at several shops in England, and Billingsgate is honestly as good as any I've had. The batter was light and not greasy at all, and the fish was fresh and flavorful. (I splurged for the halibut instead of the pollock, which is what usually passes for halibut here in the States.) They have their own special batter, which you can buy in the market. I also picked up some inexpensive imported Spanish saffron ($4.50 can.).

My hotel was next to Calgary's Chinatown (who knew?), and I apparently missed an opportunity to get some great Chinese food. Some friends ate at the Golden Inn, which is apparently a Calgary institution.

My true Canadian experience came at Harvey's, sort of a Canadian A&W (minus the root beer). Here I discovered poutine, which is french fries with white cheese curds and brown gravy. This is a traditional French Canadian dish and may possibly be the most unhealthy dish ever invented. Apparently, in Montreal and Quebec City, you can get an upscale version of this dish, but the Harvey's version was just a little much. One source told me that the best poutine is actually at KFC, but I have my doubts. But it's Canadian comfort food, and lots of Canadian stranded in Provo yearn for it. (Maybe the next time I go to KFC, I'll bring some cheese curds along and ask them to put gravy on my fries.)

Granny's vs. The Dairy Keen

Returning to Provo from the Uintas through Heber presents you with two possibilities: Granny's and Dairy Keen. Both are famous for hamburger and super thick shakes.

Granny's occupies an old house on main street and 500 South. During the summer months, particularly on weekends, the line goes out the door. It's pretty cramped inside, but there is limited seating outside. Granny's "over the top" shakes and malts are so thick that you're practically eating ice cream. They have good hamburgers, fries, battered fish, onion rings, fry sauce, the usual.

The Dairy Keen offers a similar menu, but with a wider selection. Dairy Keen began life as a Dairy Queen, but when it was sold, the new owners, who were short on money, just changed the "Qu" to a "K." It became so popular that in 1998, the owners built a new building. Like Granny's, DK is also ridiculously crowed, especially on summer weekends. DK also has the added attraction of a model train that drives throughout the restaurant on a track up by the ceiling. (DK is officially the "Home of the Train.") When I visited in late August, I had a fresh peach and raspberry shake. It was thick and over the top. My friend Dale had a chocolate shake, which he didn't care for (and didn't eat--I'm still trying to figure this out. I think he's choosier about his calories.)

Both offer excellent shakes, burgers, and fries, and both have a devoted following. Some make claims for each having the best burgers and shakes in the state, but having tried both, I give the slight edge to DK. But Heber City is obviously blessed with an abundance of burger riches. (Why would anyone stop at McDonalds in Heber? Oh yeah, the shorter lines.)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

Substantial Grub in Cedar City

This last week, I went with my oldest son to the Shakespeare festival in Cedar City, an annual tradition (since this is our second year--if we do it twice, it's a tradition). Traveling with a 17-year-old means you need to find some substantial grub, and this means meat.

Last year, we hit a restaurent close to the hotel, the Cedar Creek Restaurant. Nothing too fancy here: it is as promised "homestyle comfort food." They offer a nice selection of hamburgers, sandwiches, grilled chicken, steaks, soups, salads, and desserts. The grilled items are the speciality, but they also offer some interesting pasta dishes. As I recall, they had pretty good homemade rolls, too.

Then we went up the canyon to Rusty's Ranch House. It's dinner only at Rusty's, and they're closed on Sunday (that's the Mormon influence). They offer substantial portions of steaks, chicken, and ribs with salad, rolls, and sweet potatoes on the side. They offer a pretty good cobbler among the desserts. We went there as a family several years ago when we were staying in a cabin at Duck Creek Village with AnneMarie's family. Her dad's nickname is "Rusty," so we had to stop there. This was the summer before AnneMarie's mother died, and the last time (really) that her entire family was all together before her mother's death. So it has some particular memories as well as good substantial food.

This year, we stopped off at the Branding Iron Texas Bar-B-Que. It's excellent stuff at good prices. Since this is Texas style, the emphasis is on the beef. They offer brisket, tri-tip, and beef ribs, but they also have pretty good sausage, chicken, and pork. We had a really good peach cobbler for dessert. I really liked the spicy beans on the side--and they were spicy. This is just off the freeway (Exit #59) on the south end of town at the Providence Crossing Center (just look for the lighthouse). Some of the best barbecue I've had in Utah.

We had intended to try an interesting place called the Market Grill. This establishment is on highway 56 out by the airport (and the dump). The Market Grill is attached to the Cedar Livestock Market (where you can watch live auctions every Thursday). Originally, it was intended to feed the ranchers who came in for the auctions. Now it is a favorite among locals. And talk about getting food close to the source.

But there was a change of plans. We met up, by chance, with my brother and his family, and ended up at Sizzler, which is a much better place for kids because they have a salad/dessert bar. I usually find Sizzler disappointing. The food seems not as good as it should be for what you pay. So I just got the salad bar. My son ordered a ribeye steak, which is usually a good choice--one of my favorites. This was an OK steak (cooked medium rare), but it could only loosely be called a ribeye. It probably came from the same neighborhood on the cow, but it wasn't the real deal. This makes mean sound like a food snob, but I'm just pointing out how when at Sizzler, you usually have to lower your expectations.

Next year, Market Grill and Milt's Stage Stop.

Ella Good Shave Ice

I finally made it over to Ella Good Shave Ice on 700 East in Provo, just south of campus (down the street from J-Dawgs). This is the real deal. They even mention Matsumoto Shave Ice on their menu.

It wasn't a very busy day over at Ella's and I had to tap on the glass to get some service. But it was nice to sit by the little shack under the misters.

I ordered a medium melona flavored shave ice "Hawaiian style." This begins with a spoonful of sweet azuki beans in the bottom of the cup, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and the "light as a cloud" shaved ice. I was suprised to find between the shaved ice and the ice cream a little gummi bear. Nice attention to detail.

There are cheaper shave ice stands around where the shaved ice itself is just as good, but nothing around here approaches Ella Good for authentic Hawaiian style. I could imagine that I was a few thousand miles away.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Exotic Candy Bars

When I'm on the road, I like to pick up (i.e. purchase and eat) candy bars that aren't normally in the stores in this area. Usually, these are exotic East coast candy bars like Mallo Cups, Charleston Chews (which you actually can get around here), SkyBars, Zagnuts, or Five Star bars. But today it's exotic candy bars from Idaho.

On the way to Cedar City, I stopped off at the Chevron just off the first Fillmore exit (Exit 167)going South. In addition to their "world famous chicken," I picked up an Owyhee Idaho Spud, "the candy bar that makes Idaho famous" and a Farr's Cherry Cordial. The Idaho Spud is a product of the Idaho Candy Co. (The word "Owyhee" describes a river, mountain range, and county in Idaho. It comes from three native Hawaiians--Owyhee is an older spelling of Hawaii--who were part of the Hudson Bay Co. of explorers.) The ICC makes several products, including the Old Faithful Bar and the Cherry Cocktail bar, but they are most famous for the Idaho Spud, which is a cocoa flavored marshmellow center covered in dark chocolate and coconut, and formed into the shape (roughly) of a potato. The Spud is so popular that it has its own fan club with several recipes for cooking with the Idaho Spud, including Idaho Spud fondue.

Farr's Cherry Cordial is less famous and comes from the Farr Candy Co. of Idaho Falls (since 1911). The Cherry Cordial is hand dipped chocolote with a whole cherry in a fondant center, rolled in roasted peanuts. To me, it tasted a little like a "no bake" cookie with a cherry inside. Farr's also makes the Mallo-Nut, Peanut Cluster, and Black Walnut.

Next time you're in Idaho (or parts of rural Utah), support your independent candy makers. (For an interesting history of independent candy makers, read Steve Almond's CandyFreak (2005).

Sandwiches: Shirley's Homemades vs. Kneaders

I've written before about the excellent sweet rolls available from Shirley's Homemades, but I though I would stop by the other day and try out the sandwiches. They are made to order with fresh ingredients (they even cut up a jalepeno to put on my egg salad sandwich). But although the bread was really tasty, I found it a little flimsy to hold all the toppings. I guess one solution would be to have less in the way of toppings, but who wants that?

Kneaders' bread ("It's all about the bread") is a little heavier and stands up better to toppings, but I would still recommend Shirley's.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Smokehouse Pizza and Barbecue

Here's the dilemma you face at Smokehouse Pizza & BBQ, do you order a pizza or get BBQ? I typically get the barbecue, which includes brisket, chicken, pulled pork, ribs, and sausage. I would generally describe the place as a combination of Texas style and Southern style. They offer three sauces: sweet BBQ, hot BBQ, and sweet mustard. But the BBQ itself comes "naked," which means that you add the sauce yourself. The meat comes from right here in Utah, and they smoke it on site. (I wouldn't describe this as a great BBQ place, particulary because BBQ is such a regional dish, but it is certainly good Q, and among the best Utah has to offer.) They offer some typical sides. (beans, corn, cole slaw, homemade chips), and some unique choices, like garlic knots (little knots of bread dough with olive oil and garlic).

But the pizza is good too. It's New York style crust (they know their NY pizza history) with some California style toppings. They call it "Neo-Neopolitan Old School." I can go with that. So you can get a classic Pizza Margharita or Pizza Bianca, but also a trendy Sweet & Spicy Thai or Buffalo Chicken.

They have also added salads to the menu, but you might want to start with a half salad because they are huge. They also have some great desserts: cobbler, peanut butter pie, carrot cake.

You really can't go wrong here because most dishes are in the $5-7 range. It's a pretty busy place around lunch time, but the service is pretty fast. You can also get take out and catering.

Smokehouse offers two locations. The original Orem location, which is in what I call "Mormon corner" just off University Parkway. This is where you find the Distribution Center, Missionary Mall, Emergency Essentials, Kneeshorts, and Deseret Book. There is also a Provo location on University near Center street (where the Underground used to be).

Monday, July 23, 2007


I like a place that has a sense of its own identity.

I finally made it over to J-dawgs, the hotdog shack just south of campus on 7th east. The nice young man at the counter said, "What, you've been here before? You're kidding. Today's a day for a journal entry." Or a blog entry. There's a first for everything.

J-dawgs is literally a shack. It's about 10 x 10 with a corrugated tin roof. The do a pretty brisk business at lunch time. To save time, realize that there are two windows. You order at the first and then move down to the second to pick up your order ("like Seinfeld," explained one student, referring I think to the "Soup Nazi" episode.)

I got the beef hotdog with their special sauce, onions, and pickle spears. The special sauce is a sticky sweet (in a good way) Southern barbecue sauce. The hotdogs are good, and the soft over-sized buns are baked fresh at a local bakery every day. And the buns are big enough to hold everything (unlike most hotdog buns). Great food at a great price. Next time the Polish.

Costco Ice Cream Bars

Costco food court has three frozen things that are worth mentioning: the berry smoothie, the berry sundae, and the dipped chocolate ice cream bar. The ice cream bar is pretty big, so you probably need two people. It's vanilla ice cream on a stick dipped in chocolate coating and nuts. Sometimes, they can be a little melty and messy, so grab a fistful of napkins.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mimi's Cafe

Normally, Mimi's Cafe is a lunch spot for me, but a couple of days ago we took my mom there for Mother's Day (a couple of months late, obviously). I like the bread basket there, particularly the carrot raisin bread. I've found the french onion soup to be reliably good, and my favorite is the pot roast sandwich. This time I tried the split pea soup, which was OK, but not great. AnneMarie had the meatloaf sandwich, which was huge. Pretty good, but I would stick with the pot roast (which is a chuck roast).

Mimi's has kind of a New Orleans theme, but it's really broadly American with some European influence.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Chevron Bakery in Kamas

A Chevron station may be an odd place to find a bakery, but the Chevron in Kamas, UT (at the intersection of Center and Main) is famous for excellent doughnuts, particularly the apple fritters, which are about the size of a catcher's mitt (no exaggeration--really).

We picked up a fritter on the way to Scout camp last week, and it served several people. Next time you're on you're way to the Mirror Lake Highway, gas up in Kamas and load up on doughnuts.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Shave Ice vs. Shaved Ice

Nothing cools you off in 100 degree weather quite like a shaved ice, or is it a "shave" ice? If you want the real deal, drop the "d." It may not be good grammar, but it's good eats.

The authentic shave ice comes from Hawaii. Perhaps the most famous stand is Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa on Oahu's north shore. This is a classic surfer town, but also famous for Matsumoto and for one of my favorite pizza places, Pizza Bob's (but more on that later). You can also find good shave ice in Honolulu. I particularly liked Waiola Shave Ice and Bakery. (We went to the store on Kapahulu.) It may sound a little odd, but along with all the rich tropical flavors, you can add sweetened azuki beans, a favorite in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cooking.

So we do you find shave ice here in Provo. I'm eager to try out Ella Good Shave Ice, on the corner of 700 East and 820 North. You can tell it's authentic because they drop the "d" and serve up the azuki. Also, look for Hawaiian Style Shave ice with locations in Lehi, Lindon, North Orem, and Spanish Fork. As I recall, there is also a shack called Aloha Shave Ice in Lindon right across from the Pizza Factory. As far as I know, these are Utah originals, but with a strong island influence.

Now, I suppose you can still do all right with a "shaved ice" at your local Snowie or Sno Shack. But if you want the real taste of the islands, drop the "d," brah.

Snow cones have their own appeal, but should not be confused with a shave ice.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Scandinavian Eats at IKEA

AnneMarie and I finally made it up to the IKEA in Draper. AnneMarie was interested in furniture, lighting, window treatments--that sort of thing. I mainly wanted to check out the food. Having served as a missionary in Denmark, I have an abiding interesting in things Scandinavian. Because AM was with me, I decided to skip the gravad lax and the herbed salmon (AnneMarie can't stand fish) and settled on the meatballs. These weren't great, but they were OK. I liked the creamy brown gravy and the red potatoes. (These are very Skandinavisk.) The ligonberry jam is good, but I wouldn't have thought of just serving it along with the meatballs. The Swedish food market is the real place to go for Scandinavian eats. You can get herring in various marinades (but watch out for the herring in aquavit!), Marabou chocolates, flatbread, gummy candies, "saft" (fruit juice), cookies, and of course the meatballs, gravy, and ligonberry jam. Too bad that they don't serve real Scandinavian hotdogs. They're just the regular old cheap hotdogs, but at least they're only 50 cents. The lingonberry soda was interesting. AM said she thought it tasted like cranberry.

Two days after checking out IKEA, I read a review of their restaturant in the Deseret News.

Chadder's Can Stay Open--For Now

The judge finally ruled in the Chadder's/In-N-Out civil case. Chadder's can stay open, but it can't use any of the trademarked menu names, such as "Animal Style," "Protein Style," "3x3 Burger," "4x4 Burger," or "Double Double." (Chadder's doesn't actually *use* these names, but if customer's used these names, Chadder's would at least in some cases provide them with an item similar to the In-N-Out item.) In response to the lawsuit, Chadder's has also changed the colors of the uniforms and the trim on the building and menu. They have also added additional items to the menu that were formerly part of a "hidden" menu. But Chadder's may not be off the hook yet, because In-N-Out is still pressing the litigation. David v. Goliath. Chadder's still remains pretty busy.

I hope now we can move on to other food topics . . . .

Read the complete article from the Daily Herald.

Monday, June 25, 2007

At Least One Utahn Asks, "What the Heck?"

Alison Moore Smith, on the blog "Mormon Momma" asks, "What the heck?" in relation to Chadder's. She writes, "Overall, Chadder’s provides a decent meal, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what all the fuss is about. I’ve heard the draw is that it reminds some of In-n-Out Burger. There’s just no accounting for what Californian’s will go for." Ooooo, a little CA bashing. But obviously it's the similarities with In-N-Out that are drawing the crowds. BTW, JCW's has better hamburgers and is closer to the temple.

Chadder's in Court Today

Watch KSL news for updates. Chadder's finds itself in court today (June 25, 2007).

Chadder's Gets Sued By In-N-Out

I guess it was only a matter of time, but Chadder's is currently the target of a lawsuit by In-N-Out. Here's the story from KSL TV. The Daily Herald offers an even more detailed account, including comparisons between the two restaurants.

Blogger Tim Schreiber gives the best coverage of this issue, and he has obtained copies of the actual legal documents (the restraining order). Thanks Tim for the nice work.

Blogger Mike Stratford finds Chadder "all too familiar." And this is someone who has ate at In-N-Out over 100 times while serving a mission in CA.

Get down to Chadder's while you still can.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Stevenett's Malt Shoppe

It's currently just called "The Malt Shoppe" and I'm pretty sure there is a different set of owners (although The Malt Shoppe refers to itself as an "icon for ages"). But back when I was a student it was just Stevenett's (1984-1992?). (Did it become something else after that? Before it became The Malt Shoppe?) I don't ever remember eating any of the food there, although we must have had a burger or fries or something. But I do remember the shakes and the root beer floats. This is one of the first places I remember having thick shakes with mix-ins (which you can now find everywhere). Big thick Oreo shakes, or Butterfinger shakes. And on Monday nights, they would have root beer floats or 99 cents. When we were first married, AnneMarie and I would save up our spare change, and when we had enough, we would head for Stevenett's for a root beer float. I'm sure the people at the counter hated getting all the loose change, but it's what we had (and it's still acceptable as money, right?).

The Malt Shoppe offers half off shakes on Wed nights for BYU/UVSC students. I wonder if it's the same.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Tommy's Burger--Famous by noon tomorrow

Before all you Californians get too excited, you need to know (as many of you do already) that this is not the "Original Tommy's," which is a California chain with the original Tommy's "shack" in Santa Monica.

Tommy's Burger in Provo does a brisk business, and obviously models itself after the California original.

Smart Cookie--It takes one to know one

Smart Cookie is the ultimate snack shop just south of BYU campus--certainly a favorite during Education Week and Women's Conference. These are big cookies baked from scratch and made with care. They offer over 20 varieties, so you could have one every two weeks and not repeat a cookie for almost a year: Milk Chocolate, Semi Chocolate, Milk Chocolate Toffee, Semi Chocolate Toffee, Triple Chocolate, White Chocolate Macadamia, White Chocolate Coconut, Milk Chocolate Walnut, Semi Chocolate Walnut, Double Chocolate Fudge, Mint Chocolate Fudge, White Chocolate Fudge, Snickerdoodle, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Chocolate, Oatmeal Raisin, Oatmeal Chocolate Coconut, Oatmeal White Chocolate Cranberry, Ginger Snap (seasonal), Pumpkin Chocolate (seasonal), & more. In the mood for a cookie? And at 50 cents each, these are cheaper than a doughnut or a muffin.

And here's the good news for us in the north valley: there's a Smart Cookie opening soon in American Fork (between Pier 49 and Ottavio's, over by the movie theater).

Friday, June 1, 2007

Kneader's--All You Can Eat French Toast

If you're a student at BYU and you're not eating breakfast at Kneader's at least a couple times a month, then you're missing out.

Kneader's is a great place to buy some European style bread and also has good soup and sandwiches. But my wife and I keep coming back for the all-you-can-eat Chunky Cinnamon French Toast. (They also have all-you-can-eat pancakes, but these aren't all that special.)

The french toast is thick-cut cinnamon bread with whipped cream, strawberries, and caramel syrup on the side ($3.99). There are locations in Provo (just west of BYU campus on 1230 North) and north Orem (1990 North State Street--near the Lindon border).

Chadders Back in Business

After the long Memorial Day weekend, it looks like Chadder's is open again. And the lines are just as long. I drove by yesterday during the lunch rush and it looked like there were 30 cars in line with about a dozen people standing outside the door waiting to get in.

Having to wait too long to get your food: that's part of the In-N-Out experience, too.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Chadder's Closes for Memorial Day Weekend

It was strange to drive by Chadder's on a Friday afternoon and see absolutely no one in the drive up line. Usually the line is several cars long. Curious, we drove by to see what the paper on the door said. (I wondered if a law suit from In-N-Out had finally caught up with them.) Put the paper said that due to overwhelming demand over the past week or so, they had to close for the weekend to make new arrangements with their suppliers. In other words, they ran out of food. Remarkable.

Another rumor. My daughter tells me that a friend at school told her that Chadder's is actually owned by In-N-Out. Perhaps so. But it's strange that they have no web presence or new coverage. But lots of "word of mouth."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Pizza Factory

Lunch today at the Pizza Factory. I usually get the half pasta with half Caesar salad, but today I went for the calzone. This place makes their own breadstick twists. They have pretty good salads and a good mix of pizza, calzones, and sandwichs. It's a good family place. Unfortunately, the took caffeine-free diet Coke off the menu. You would think in Utah value, you could still get caffeine free, but it's all or nothing. (By the way, look at the label. Diet Coke actually has more caffeine than regular.)

I particularly like the Pizza Factory in Lindon because it's in a remodeled older home with beautiful original glass (some of it stained glass). Check it out. 291 W 400 N Lindon, just off State Street across from Los Hermanos (which is also in a beautfully restored older home). There are other locations in Salt Lake City, Provo, Spanish Fork, Cedar City, St. George, .

The Pizza Factory is a Utah original, not to be confused with The Pizza Factory restaurant in Beaver, Utah, which is part of a chain based in California.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Hooray for Pizza Day

I love this song by the Aquabats:

Pizza Day

Well I remember my first day of public school
I was very scared of getting pummeled
And sure enough I did at first recess
I got pegged in the head by a big red ball
And stumbled, my head hung
Back to class with a bloody nose and soon it was lunch time
Mom said I should ask about how poor kids there get fed
So I got a book of tickets and a scedule and it read

Momday: hotdogs
Tuesday: Tacos
Wednesday: hamburgers and chocolate milk
Thursday: sloppy joes and burritos in a bag
Friday was pizza day, the best day of the week
All the kids would line up super early just to eat
Momday: hotdogs
Tuesday: Tacos
Wednesday: hamburgers and chocolate milk
Thursday: sloppy joes and burritos in a bag
Friday was pizza day, the best day of the week
It always came with salad and a side of pork and beans
Hooray for pizza day
Hooray for pizza day
I miss pizza day
The best day of the week

Well i remember my first day of Jr. High
I had hairspray in my hair and my pants were way too tight
And all the breakers and new-wavers and the rockers and the preps
Would all be in their places on the front lawn or the steps
I hung out with some punker kids who used to make me laugh
Got thrown in the dumpster by some rich kids near the caff
As time went on we figured out it was totally uncool
To eat the welfare lunch
Provided by the school
So in poser punker fashion we just mooched off all the kids
And lived off eating candy bars and bags of nacho chips


Well now I'm out of school and i don't have a job (you're a slob)
I just sit around all sweaty and lethargic
And I'm just thinkin' 'bout where it all went wrong
Why I can't concentrate on anything but reruns
I wish i had some more stability and
I wish I had somebody makin' lunch for me
I guess I miss the simple things in life
The thought of pizza day
I thought it stupid then but I wish I had it now
I just want


Hooray for pizza day
Hooray for pizza day
I miss pizza day...

More on Chadder's

There are two theories about Chadder's. One story is that it was started by Californians who missed the In-N-Out experience and wanted to recreate it here in Utah. The second theory is that is was started by people at the highest level of In-N-Out who were forced out but allowed to start a second chain through a legal settlement. (In-N-Out is a private held company that does not franchise.) There is apparently some precedent for this. The Apollo Burger/Burgers Supreme split here in Utah as well as the Kneader's/Picasso's split (are there any Picasso's still open?). The second theory about the origins of Chadder's is supported by the Wikipedia article about In-N-Out. It doesn't mention a second chain, but it does mention some "legal turbulence" in the company in 2006.

The food is good, and they appear to also have the In-N-Out secret menu.

However, KSL news reports in an interview with the owners that there is no connection to In-N-Out burger. But does that mean no "official" connection? So why is it so similar? The mystery continues.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Pizza Night, the Best Night of the Week

King Of Queens - Pizza Night - Watch more amazing videos here

Del Taco

I don't speak Spanish, but I think that "Del Taco" means "of the taco." Kind of a strange name for a restaurant, but no more so than "Der Wienersnitzel," which should be "Das Windersnitzel" and actually has nothing at all to do with hotdogs (I guess the "wiener" part sounds like it should).

Del Taco has a few things going for it. First of all there is the "Del Scorcho" sauce, which is hot, but flavorful. Better than the sauces at Taco Bell. Also, there is "half price Taco Tuesday," a Del Taco tradition for over 40 years. That's why Tuesday is taco night. Locations in American Fork, Orem, Provo, Springville.)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Jerry's Hamburgers--Gone but Not Forgotten

A couple of years ago, we stopped by Jerry's Hamburgers (1151 N. Canyon Road) because we had a little time before a BYU ward activity (where I was in the bishopric). Then we found that it was closed for good. My kids were pretty upset. My little daughter cried. We had some great times and great food at Jerry's. My wife liked the chili burger, and my sons and I went for the Jerry's Burger--cheeseburger with bacon and a fried egg on top. That's packing a lot of protein. I guess the egg made it unique. (We still call hamburgers with a fried egg on top a Jerry's Burger.)

Jerry's also had great fries, fry sauce (a Utah original), mix-your-own flavored sodas, and small bags of doughnuts with a "surfer" diner atmosphere. I guess they just didn't get enough business (not for a lack of effort on our part). Now it's a Leatherby's ice cream parlor.


My oldest son had to work tonight (at Wendy's) so we took the younger two to Wingers. The kids like it because they get free popcorn, and they have pretty good meals for kids. But I always find myself a little disappointed. AnneMarie and I split a mango chicken salad with a poppyseed dressing. It sounds like a good recipe, but the mangos were still a little cold.

You're probably safe if you stick with their wings and ribs. I like their Amazing Sauce, but AnneMarie finds it too sweet. As I recall, they used to have a sweet sauce (the Winger's sauce), and a spicer BBQ sauce, but they've gone to a new menu, so some things have changed (such as no celery with the wings. How can they be Buffalo wings without celery?)

But spending just more than $20 we got free dessert, so that worked out all right. Wingers isn't unique to Utah, but it started here, and most of the restaurants are here too. There are Wingers in Orem, Provo, American Fork, Lehi, and several other places in Utah. They are also found in WA, OR, ID, WY, NV (but not California). There are also restaurants in Germany on the military bases. What's the story there?

Shirley's Homemades Bakery

This morning for a meeting we ordered the cinnamon rolls and raspberry rolls from Shirley's Homemades in Provo (684 North Freedom Blvd). These may be the best breakfast rolls I've ever had. I like the flavor of the cinnamon better at Cinnabon's, but these are better rolls. Oddly enough, I've never actually been to the bakery, but BYU orders through them all the time. In fact, I've heard that a lot of the baking that used to be done at BYU is now ordered through Shirley's (including, I think, BYU's great Parkerhouse rolls, now Shirley's--$3.39 a dozen through BYU).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Jason's Deli

When Jason's Deli first opened in Orem (771 University Pkwy), I didn't realize it was a chain. But these are all over the country. (My assistant at work is from the mid West and is a big fan.) The two in Utah are in Murray and Orem. Jason's has ridiculously huge sandwiches (as you would find in a NY style deli). In New York, you find different kinds of delis (Jewish, Italian, German). Jason's combines some of each. I'm a big fan of their Muffaleta (a creole sandwich with ham and olive spread) with the spicy shrimp gumbo as an accompaniment (it's actually pretty spicy). I also liked the NY Yankee, which has both pastrami and corned beef. These meats aren't up to NY standards, but still better than what you get from the supermarket. Jason's also has a pretty good salad bar, free muffins, and free soft serve ice cream. Come hungry.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Where I Come From . . .

At BYU, you often here folks complaining that the food here just isn't as good as "where I come from," whether it's the pizza, the hotdogs, the ice cream, the doughnuts, or whatever. I don't want to enter into these debates. I'm happy to admit that barbecue tastes better in Kansas City or Memphis or wherever. But sometimes you can find places here that are pretty close.

So I'm looking for places outside of Utah that just can't be found anywhere else as well as places here that might just tide you over until you can get back home.


OK, it's not In-N-Out Burger, but it's reeeally close. In fact, I wonder how long before In-N-Out decides to sue. They serve fresh burgers wrapped in paper with fresh cut fries and shakes. Even the inside layout looks the same. Nothing approaches the hipness of In-N-Out (with their logo, Chadder's won't be selling a lot of t-shirts), and Californians will surely argue that it isn't the same at all. Still, it's a long drive to California (or even Las Vegas).

Chadder's is located in American Fork at State Road and Pacific, just by Smith's and across from Appleby's. It's easy in and out. Can I get an amen?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Brick Oven

If you're in a college town, then that means pizza. The place just south of campus is The Brick Oven, formally known as "Heaps" or "Heaps of Pizza" (ask your parents--or grandparents). The Brick Oven features a thick crust pizza. My personal favorite is the ham and pineapple, primarily because it is topped with slivered almonds.

Even the folks in Salt Lake like the Brick Oven. Read a review by Ted Scheffler at Salt Lake City Weekly.