The Shil-Shul Diaries
The story begins in a cramped booth at the "faux" New York deli 'Noshville' in Nashville TN on a blustry day after thanksgiving November Friday day in 2008. In between my wife, Rachel, and my brother, Michael, I sat across from my "cooler than me" cousins Mark and Sarah, and Sarah's just as cool husband, Danny. Mark, who lives the awesome life being a lawyer living in San Francisco working for Facebook, with his only downfall being his SEVERE lactardation..which has never been medically or scientifically proven to exist in Mark.. Sarah and Danny are foodies from NYC who have tried every dive "chicken finger" hut and "curry on a stick" in the big city. Danny and Sarah had discussed that they were trying to go to as many places from Bobby Flay's 'Throwdown' show as they could, and that there was one in Nashville we had to try.....a place that I had never heard of in my 13 years of living there..I will get to that adventure later.
I got an idea from my cool cousins idea. An idea became a hobby. And the hobby became an obsession. And thus produced the list.....a world-famous spreadsheet...of every restaurant that has ever been featured on Food Network and Travel Channel....every restaurant from the famous shows like "Throwdown", "Man V. Food", "Man v. Food Nation", "Food Feuds", "Food Wars", "Best Thing I Ever Ate", and "Diners Drive-Ins and Dives" to the obscure "Best Food Ever", "Meat and Potatoes", and "101 Best Places to Chowdown", plus my additions of the restaurants of famous chefs and local places of legend. Names, cities, food they are famous for, and addresses. It was and still is an obsession. As of 9:24am on January 7th, 2015, THE LIST HAS 3,116 RESTAURANTS ON IT...WITH A FEW OVERLAPS HERE AND THERE. And then over Pastrami Eggs Benedict at Nate N' Al's Deli in Beverly Hills, Hannah and Andrew, our good friends, gave me the idea of the blog. Document every place I went. And thus, "The Shil-Shul Diaries" was born. I will log the places, the shows they are from, and what I had. So far, every place I have been has been amazing, except two, one being mediocre, and another being down right awful.
If there is a city you have been to, or are going to, or are from and want to know what from my list is in the city, send me a email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, May 29, 2014
#98 in 101 More Places to Chowdown
1820 Peachtree Rd NW, Atlanta, GA 30309
A upscale, southern soul food restaurant in the heart of Atlanta owned and named for the primary owners, the Indigo Girls. This place is great…not amazing, but great. The catfish is great, the sides are wonderful, and the coca-cola cake is outstanding! A little pricey, but a wonderful spin on one of my favorite food groups, southern soul!
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
61 North Avenue NW, Atlanta, GA 30308
#39 on 101 MORE PLACES TO CHOWDOWN and HOT DOG PARADISE
"World's biggest hot dog stand and drive-in, water-boiled hot dogs (chili dogs, chili slaw dog), onion rings,"
WHAT'LL YA HAVE! WHAT'LL YA HAVE!
MANY REGIONS OF THE COUNTRY LAY CLAIM TO A SPECIFIC TYPE OF FAST FOOD BURGER! WEST COAST HAS IN-N-OUT! SOUTHWEST HAS WHATABURGER! NORTHEAST HAS WHITE CASTLE! SOUTHEAST HAS KRYSTAL AND WAFFLE HOUSE!
HOWEVER, ONE CITY HAS IT'S OWN CLAIM TO FAME WHEN IT COMES TO FAST FOOD BURGERS! ATLANTA'S VARSITY IS NOT ONLY THE WORLD'S LARGEST SINGLE FAST FOOD RESTAURANT, BUT IT WAS ALSO THE FIRST DRIVE-THRU IN AMERICA! THIS PLACE IS ALWAYS PACKED, FOR A REASON, LOCALS, TOURISTS, COLLEGE KIDS, THEY ALL MEET UP FOR VARSITY! BURGERS, HOT DOGS, PULLED PORK, CHILLI FRIES, AND ONION RINGS! IT'S ALL GREASY AND IT'S ALL GOOD! DON'T LET THE CROWDS AND LINES DETER YOU! THEY ARE ALWAYS THERE AND THAT MEANS ITS GOOD! AND ITS AN EXPERIENCE WITH THE WAIT STAFF YELLING "WHAT'LL YA HAVE"! THIS IS A MUST STOP IN ATLANTA! A INSTITUTION OF FAST FOOD WITH SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY AND CHARM!
#8 ON 101 MORE PLACES TO CHOWDOWN AND DELI PARADISE
Thursday, May 15, 2014
9200 Sunset Blvd #650, West Hollywood, CA 90069
I didn't give this place one thought. I didn't give this place a fighting chance I had seen it every night on TMZ. I assumed it was a GREATLY overpriced, GREATLY overrarted steakhouse where it was better to be seen than to actually enjoy…like Maestros. My wonderful sister, Mollie, came to town and we went on the TMZ Hollywood tour, and the guide declared "if you want to see a celebrity and wanna overpay for everything, this is the place to do it". When she heard celebrity, she was on the phone getting a reservation…..
And it was the most incredible steakhouse experience of my life. From the baklava appetizer, to oysters and shrimp cocktail, to the most amazing filet with a horseradish and BBQ dipping sauce, to the amazing sides and outstanding desserts. The incredible cocktails to the immaculate service. The perfect definition of what a steakhouse should be. Perfection from start to finish!
*Also Usher, Tracy Morgan, and Marcellus Wiley were there. When Mollie asked our server, Gio, what celebrities he had waited on, he sat down and politely said "why don't you ask me and I will tell you yes".
1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130
There is no greater culinary experience in the world than dining at Sunday brunch at Commander''s Palace. Nothing comes close. It is the most incredible dining experience I have ever had. Coat and tie for the men, dresses for the ladies. You arrive to a welcoming line of men and women in tuxedos, welcoming you by name. You are escorted to one of many perfectly decorated rooms in an exquisite southern mansion. We dined in the garden room, an all glass room overlooking their garden. A small jazz trio went table to table taking requests. Each dish of the twelve course meal was served to each person simultaneously. The cocktails are perfectly made. The dishes are outstanding, inventive, and a taste of culinary heaven. Blue crab eggs benedict. Fried green tomatoes. Bourbon French toast. Bread pudding soufflé. The experience is one that every person who loves food should be able to enjoy. Commanders Palace is a true culinary landmark of New Orleans and of America.
From Diner's, Drive-Ins, and Dives
|2005 Colorado Blvd, Eagle Rock, CA 90041|
Just a delicious, fun BBQ/Burger place that has a little of a gourmet spin, nothing too harmful to its casual, greasy roots! Good food and good drinks! Short and sweet and to the point!
From Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives
10227 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Los Angeles has an incredible mixing pot of different ethnicities and cultures, and it shows in the culinary expanse of the LA food palate.
In LA, you have American Mexican food (fajitas) and you have authentic Mexican food, where the grandmother makes the tortillas every morning at sun up, by hand. When it comes to authentic Mexican food, this place is best! A hole in the wall between a tire shop and a cell phone shop, it can easily be missed, but if you miss it, you have missed out! The food is hearty and outstanding! This place is as delicious and as authentic as it gets! Truly a gem and a diamond in the rough!
3377 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109
From Best Thing I Ever Ate for the Chilean Sea Bass Satay
Easily one of the coolest restaurants I have ever been to! The atmosphere is incredible! The food is outstanding and the drinks are phenomenal. We went for my 30th birthday and were able to share the majority of the food items. This place is a fusion of everything that is great about Asian food! We got outstanding sushi, incredible eggrolls, delicious duck fried rice, fabulous duck lo mein, fabulous crusted filet, mouth watering seabass, and the giant fortune cookie for dessert which was one of the most unique and creative and delicious desserts I have ever had.
Some say this place is past its prime when it was the hottest nightclub and restaurant in Vegas and NYC in 2009, but I didn't get to go in 2009, so for 2014 I would say its still pretty incredible!
From Diner's, Drive-In's, and Dives
4618 Eastern Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45226
Easily the most unique burger experience I have ever had in my life. This place is outrageous and outstanding! The place itself is full of so much fun and neon, that you could see something new every time you go. The burgers are made to order, and can be topped with the most eclectic and random mix of possible toppings from various cheeses to sauces to veggies! This is a fun and unique dining experience that should not be missed if you are in the Cincinnati area!
TOP BBQ IN AMERICA
From Throwdown with Bobby Flay
Caesars Palace Dr, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Old School Italian Restaurant! Mafia-style, drink a lot, eat a lot, sing and dance a lot with family and friends kind of place! Great over the top, portions that would feed small countries, red sauce and oil on everything, gluttony to the highest degree kind of Italian! The best kind of Italian! Plain and simple, this place is great, nothing worth travelling across the world for, but truly great!
There is a location in NYC, as mentioned in the Wolf of Wall Street, but you can't get in to that one, not because there is a line or reservations, but because its impossible. There are 12 tables, each one owned, YES OWNED, by a family and passed down by generations. Unless you have a family member with you to dine, you are not getting in. What kind of families you ake? This is an italian restaurant where the meatballs are made by grandma and as they say in Goodfellas "(They) used a razor and he used to slice it so thin that it would liquefy in the pan with just a little oil. It was a very good system." I think you get the hint!
4700 U.S. 80, Savannah, GA 31410
BEST BBQ I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE! HANDS DOWN, NO QUESTIONS ASKED, #1, NOT EVEN CLOSE BY A MILE.
THE MEAT IS PERFECTION, THE SAUCE IS PERFECTION, THE SIDES ARE PERFECTION, THE DESSERTS ARE PERFECTION….GET THE SAMPLER PLATTER SO YOU CAN UNDERSTAND THIS PLACE'S MAGNITUDE OF BBQ AWESOMENESS! THIS PLACE IS #1 POWER RANKINGS…AND THERE IS NO OTHER EVEN IN THE SAME ATMOSPHERE, HEMISPHERE, STRATOSPHERE, OR UNIVERSE WHEN IT COMES TO BBQ GREATNESS!
444 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
From Diner's, Drive-In's, and Dives
I have spoken about my rankings of BBQ…life changing, incredible, amazing, great, and good…this place is good by national standards…great by LA standards. The farther you get from Memphis, the harder you have to try to be Memphis, and the harder it is to replicate Memphis, and Baby Blues is a perfect example of this. Trying to transplant a national treasure and delicacy 2000 miles just doesn't work to the best and fullest success that one is looking for. You have the time and money and want the real and true experience, fly to Memphis or KC for the real thing. You have a lunch break or want a messy dinner and you are in LA, Baby Blues is great. The meat and sauce are nothing to cheer about. But the sides are OUT OF THIS WORLD! The mac and cheese! THE OKRA!! This place tries really hard to be something it's not, but they should be commended. While they are not a BBQ institution, they do hit the nail on the head when it comes to some aspects, in some cases doing their thing better than some of the legendary BBQ joints who are dynasties in the pantheon of BBQ immortality.
From Diner's, Drive-Ins, and Dives
3800 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60641
"What you're getting: Brisket & St. Louis Spare Ribs Like many joints North of the BBQ belt, Smoque draws various elements from all of the great regional 'que traditions, but it also nails them to a degree rarely seen in said parts. Any doubts about their attention to detail will be put to rest in their epic BBQ Manifesto, and by a peppery, tender bite of brisket followed up with a meaty pork spare rib."
INCREDIBLE, AMAZING, FANTASTIC BBQ…in Chicago!?! Listen, Chicago loves it's food and love's it meaty, hearty, and delicious! This place is the brain child of a Texas transplant, and this is far and away, hands down, no questions asked the best BBQ in a "non-traditional" BBQ place I have ever been! Best BBQ north of the Mason-Dixon line. Top 5 BBQ of my life! The meat is outstanding! The sauce is incredible! The sides are out of this world! Do not let the line discourage you. A line means something great is worth the wait!