[In “The Count” voice] Seventeen! Seventeen MAN V. FOOD locations! AH! AH! AH! AH!
- Philippe the Original in Los Angeles, California
- Orochon Ramen in Los Angeles, California
- Bub’s Burgers & Ice Cream in Indianapolis, Indiana
- Al’s #1 Italian Beef in Chicago, Illinois
- Edward’s Drive-In in Indianapolis, Indiana
- Big Pie in the Sky Pizzeria in Kennesaw, Georgia
- La Moon in Miami, Florida
- Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami, Florida
- The Old Salty Dog in Sarasota, Florida
- Hot N Juicy Crawfish in Las Vegas, Nevada
- The NASCAR Cafe in Las Vegas, Nevada
- Shula’s Steak House in Miami, Florida
- Gladys Knight And Ron Winans’ Chicken And Waffles in Atlanta, Georgia
- The Jack-N-Grill in Denver, Colorado
- The Buckhorn Exhange in Denver, Colorado
- The Vortex in Atlanta, Georgia
Yes, the show is off the air. Yes, Adam Richman has moved on to other projects. Yes, I am still tracking down locations.
AND YES, THEY CONTINUE TO BE AWESOME.
When I landed in Los Angeles for my trip in early March, I immediately went from LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) to the pick up my rental car. This time, though, I tried a different company: Hertz.
(Trust me, this is important to the whole Man v. Food thing. Stay with me.)
Before flying out, I signed up for their rewards program and rented the same thing I always rent: economy class something or other with all the insurance on it because (duh) it’s California and their traffic sucks. The guy at the counter was really nice when I picked up my car and noticed I was a new Hertz reward program member. He asked if I was the only driver and I answered yes and explained I was in town for the weekend on business. They guy grinned and said that he would like to give me a free upgrade. Who was I to say no? Here’s what he gave me:
That’s right – a brand new red convertible Mustang. That thing didn’t even have 300 miles on it when I started the engine.
Now, getting this car significantly reduced my stress regarding driving in California – not just because it is an AWESOME set of wheels, but because I own a similar car back home. Thus I was VERY familiar with operating the vehicle and felt much better navigating the local highways without trying to remember where the A/C controls are.
Back to my story about food: the last day in town, Marc from the SPJA asked if I would mind driving down to San Diego for the evening to meet his wife and have dinner. I said that would be fine, but I had one request: we visit a Man v. Food location. Marc explained that he already had a place picked out that was legendary in San Diego… some BBQ place. Willing to compromise, though, he looked up the Man v. Food website to see what locations were listed for San Diego.
No compromise was needed. His “legendary BBQ place” was none other than Phil’s BBQ – a featured location from MvF fame.
After the afternoon meeting/open house was complete, we hit the road. This is that part where the car comes in – part of enjoying a meal is enjoying the time spent having the meal. Something as simple as the drive to and from a restaurant can sometimes make all the difference in the world.
In this case, the drive was legen…
wait for it…
I put the top down on the Mustang since it was a clear night. The weather was cool and I drove down the Pacific Coast Highway from Anaheim to San Diego. Along the way I watched mountains to my left and the ocean to my right as I cruised along the asphalt. As a “road trip” kind of guy I was in absolute heaven. It was breathtaking.
We made it to Phil’s BBQ and there was a line out the door that extended around the building. Seriously. People were waiting in line to get into this place because the food was allegedly THAT GOOD. I was stunned. I remember waiting in lines to check these places out before (like the line at Philippe’s) but this was just insane.
Right about now you are probably asking, “Tom, you’re such a camera junkie with your cell phone, why isn’t there a photo of this supposed line for your readers to see?”
You ever see the movie Goodfellas? (If not, you fail at life. Go see it right now.) In the movie, there is a famous scene where Henry is taking his future wife out to dinner to a really popular restaurant. Because of who he is, though, he doesn’t wait in line. Instead, he takes her around back and they walk into the kitchen and he says hi to everyone as they walk by. By the time they get into the restaurant, someone has set up a table for them. This footage is one of the most famous steady cam shots in film history. You can see it here: http://youtu.be/3Sr-vxVaY_M
Well, it turns out that Marc has known the staff and Phil for years. We walked around the side of the building and entered through one of the exits. Just like Henry Hill, Marc said hello to each server and hostess and referred to them by name. He was the Goodfella of BBQ. I was simultaneously amazed and impressed.
THUS – no photo of the line. There wasn’t time.
Suddenly we were inside and seated. Marc went to order (you do so at the counter) and asked what I wanted. I deferred to his taste and told him to get me something the place was known for. He did and after a short time, this arrived in front of me:
The first thing to remember about BBQ is that you can have the best meat in the world, but the taste and experience can be destroyed in an instant if you don’t have good sauce. Phil’s has OMGAMAZINGMYMOUTHISEXPLODINGINECSTASY SAUCE. I’m not exaggerating, folks. I bought some of it and flew it home to Florida where is sitting in my refrigerator and taken out on “special occasions.” (Kind of like the nice bottle of wine you keep for holidays and guests.)
The sauce was tangy, spicy (but not too spicy,) and smokey all at the same time. Added to the fact that the chicken on the plate was some of the best, juiciest, most brilliantly prepared chicken I had ever had made sure that Phil’s lived up to the expectation set by seeing that line out the door.
Phil’s BBQ has extraordinary food that is matched by its service. All the staff were nice, personable, and eager to make sure our drinks were filled and our meals were great. The next time I find myself in San Diego I plan on going back.