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 shilshuldiaries@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

KENNY AND ZIGGY DELI










FROM DINER'S, DRIVE-IN'S, AND DIVES


2327 Post Oak Blvd, Houston, TX 77056

http://www.kennyandziggys.com/

This is a carbon copy of the large scale diner style Jewish deli.  GIANT menu, giant drinks, pickles on the table, broadway posters. Carnegie in NYC or Factors in LA. and it is exactly what it's suppose to be. Big portions fresh made everything. Houston is lucky to have this joint. This is the place to go for real deal deli and try something different. You will love this place. Mazel tov!!! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pequod's






From Best Pizza in America and Pizza Paradise

8520 Fernald Ave, Morton Grove, IL 60053

http://pequodspizza.com/mortongrove/

What they say: ""Deep Dish" (5-pound pizza with caramelized crust in a "seasoned" deep-dish pan, layered with mozzarella cheese slices, tomato sauce, giardiniera, pepperoni, mushrooms, green & red peppers and sausage, sprinkled with romano cheese and oregano); "Thin Crust" (dough topped with house-made tomato sauce, red & green bell peppers, black olives, then topped with slices of mozzarella, pepperoni, and chopped white onions)"

Chicago pizza is a unique artform.  It is also a polarizing gastrointestinal experience.  Either you love it or you hate it, there is no "It was fine" or "I don't care what we have for dinner…deep dish pizza. Sure" purgatory kind of response.  And like most heated food feuds and duels and wars, locals stake their claim to their favorite, all doing it the same, but a little different.  The cheese, the sauce (sauce or stewed tomatoes), the crust (corn or butter or none).  Each characteristic lends itself to the great debate of which is the best deep dish in Chicago.  The tourists take Uno, Gino, and Giordanno.  The family says Lou's.  However there is one pizza in Chicago that brings up memories of hanging out with friends before, during, or after a school event. Pequod's.  My father-in-law grew up down the block from Pequod's and one night, I asked him if we could go to Pequod's.  He smiled and said "Pequod's.  I havent been there in YEARS! Now you are talking!" Ranked with Lou's as the best deep dish in Chicago, Pequod's is a urban myth, legend, and rite of passage.  Two locations.  That's it.  A dive bar feel. Dingy, dark, plastic table cloths.  Drinks in large plastic cups.  It's your ideal pizza shop.  But the pizza…my god the pizza.   They do something no other place in Chicago does.  They dont fit the crust and dough to the pan, they leave about an inch of space…..to allow for a cheesy overflow.  When the pizza is perfectly cooked, the cheese overflows down this tiny crevasse and overtakes the back of the many times naked crust, and it gets burned and crunchy and delicious.  Every bite has a cheesy, crunchy, bite. It is a wonderfully amazing deep dish pizza. 

Want to be scoffed at by locals and called a tourist..go to Uno's, Gino's, or Girodanno's

Want to be beloved by locals…go to Lou's

Want to be respected by locals…go to Pequod's

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tony's Pizza Napoletana









From Pizza Paradise and Best Pizza in America


1570 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133


http://tonyspizzanapoletana.com/

"Pizza Margherita" – (San Marzano tomato sauce with sea salt, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella fior de latte topped with extra virgin olive oil baked in a wood-burning brick oven) "White Pie" (pizza with clams and garlic), "The California" (pizza with mozzarella, a combo of Calabrese and Sorano peppers, caramelized deep-fried onions, hand-sliced Piave cheese and North Beach honey)"


Remember the origin of the list. The inspiration.  The muse.  My cousins Danny and Sarah?  Well, we met for pizza at this Pizza Paradise in the Golden Gate city! This place boasts 11 time world championship winning Margherita pizza.   This place is a pizza palace and paradise.  They have every regional speciality pizza from around the world.  Magheritta from San Marzano (which is easily the most outstanding pizza I have ever had).  Sicilian from Sicily.  White Pie from the northeast.  All with a NoCal spin.  This place is phenomenal and worth the very long wait.  99.9% of the time when you go for pizza, you are locked into the style that the emporium makes, yet at Tony's, the wide variety allow you to pick your favorite style of pizza and indulge on your favorite style of pizza made in world class form with world class quality ingredients and craft.  


*Go with a big group and get 3-4 different varieties because they are all so different and unique.

Pizano's






From Pizza Paradise


864 N State St, Chicago, IL 60610

"Chicago-style deep dish pizza – "Rudy Special" (2-inch thick crust, handmade dough, fresh whole-milk mozzarella cheese slices, specially-made sausage and mushrooms baked in aged cast iron pans), Chicago thin-crust pizza"

For a city that prides itself on its signature deep dish, Chicago has no shortage of thin crust too!  However, unlike its adversary in New York, which prefers a normal crust, when Chicago says thin crust..they mean THIN crust.  Cracker thin! Crispy!  With the perfect amount of sauce and cheese.  Chicago does pizza to both extremes….extremely thick or extremely thin! 

And when it comes to the extreme of thin crust, Pizano's is the best! Perfect crisp, perfect sauce, perfect cheese, well done and done well.

Oh, apparantaly they have deep dish too…but for that stick to Lou's

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Burger UP




From America's Best Burger

2901 12th Ave S, Nashville, TN 37204

http://www.burger-up.com/menu

"What you're getting: "The Woodstock"  If you don't like their local beef topped with Benton's bacon, white cheddar, and Jack Daniel's ketchup, it would make me very sad. And angry. But mostly sad."

The Nashville I know is kind, gentle, calm, caring with a Southern twang, drawl, and spice.  I had grown used to the slower pace of life, the warm summers and mild winters, and the satisfaction that the best burger in town came from a dive or a walk-up stand where you get everything in a paper bag that becomes translucent within five minutes of recieving your order from the grease of the fries packed inside.....

That's the Nashville I knew...

And then the "Nashville is the hottest city in America" came out, and my beloved little country town became a hub and mecca of popularity, parties, and Southern draw.  The moment I had realized that Nashville was going through a major change in its personality was when Burger Up opened.  A once run down network, 12th avenue was once run down, grafiti filled, and ridden with poverty, but now, with Burger Up as its anchor, this place is the most popular neighborhood in town.  Burger Up was Nashville's first gourmet burger.  Farm to table.  Organic. Grass fed.  Made from scratch.  Craft beer.  Handcut fries.  Frankly, delicious.  Sometimes change is tough to except, but if change brings a place like Burger Up, I am all for it!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Dagwood's







From America's Best Sandwich Shops

116 S Indiana Ave, Bloomington, IN 47408

http://dagwoodsandwiches.com/menu.html

"You gotta get: The Dagwood. To share a name with famous glutton Dagwood Bumstead, a sandwich joint’s gotta have some serious chutzpah, and that’s just the case with this Indiana University fixture. The composition mayo-based “special sauce” is a source of constant debate, but every patron agrees that the stuff is “like crack” when added to their fresh-baked sandwiches, whose standard size is so behemoth that a classic BLT piled high with slabs of bacon is considered a snack. Also, it’s on campus. Wow."

All the great college towns must have a great local bar scene, great pizza, great burgers, and great sandwiches, and for my alma mater IU, Dagwood's fills the requirements for the great sandwiches.  In a town that can feel overrun by JJ and Subway, Dagwood's stands alone of Btown's premier local sandwich haven and heaven.  It is right on campus!  The bread is great, meat is piled sky high, and the options or toppings and sauces are endless.  A truly wonderful institution of gluttonous and gastrointestinal wonder among a truly wonderful institution of higher learning and socializing!

Rotiers




From America's Best Burgers

2413 Elliston Pl, Nashville, TN 37203

"What you're getting: Bacon cheeseburger on French bread
I once asked my Dad, a Vandy grad, if he remembered what I ordered the first time he took me to Rotier's in high school; the way he told me that I better have gotten the bacon cheeseburger implied I’d soon be disowned if that wasn't the case. The spot is famous for its meat-and-three, but the signature burger is still the main draw. It comes on fresh-baked, crusty French bread thats soft, chewy inside soaks up the gooey cheese and juices of the burger in a way that’ll make you'll start questioning why you always grab buns at the store instead. And while my dad's dating ritual of a burger, bottled Stroh's, and fries with my mom may be from the '70s, the meal is timeless."


I grew up in Nashville.  Born and raised there with a eight year layover in Louisville (also an incredible city).  I have, do, and will always love Nashville.  I loved Nashville when people would say "You're from Nashville.  I see you wear shoes and know how to use indoor plumbing" as opposed to the "OMFG I LOVE NASHVILLE I HAD MY BACHELOR/BACHELORETTE PARTY THERE! I WANNA MOVE THERE" craze of the last five years.

Nashville has its BBQ, soul food, and hot chicken.  Nashville has its institutions of each from Peg Leg Porker, Monells, Loveless, and Princes. But there is one restaurant that defines Nashville at its core, at its heart, at its soul. Rotiers.  A dark, dingy, dive pub that serves the most phenomenal cheese burgers.  When I met with my college counselor for the first time in high school, he asked me if I was to take someone from out of town to a restaurant in Nashville to define the city, what would it be.  I said "Rotiers" without hesitation.  Everyone has a Rotiers story.  Everyone has a Rotiers memory.  Everyone has a Rotiers moment.  Rotiers is perfect Nashville. Quiet, comfortable, loving, caring, Southern drawl and charm, with a lot of grease, a glass bottle coke, and a side of fries.

PS-I have been told that if you dare to wander away from the burger, the soul food is some of the best in the city.

The White Spot





From America's Best Burgers


1407 University Ave, Charlottesville, VA 22903

"What to Get: The Gus.  A cheeseburger with a fried egg on top is a simple thing, and in this glorious 2014 burger landscape, it barely constitutes a specialty. But White Spot, a greasy spoon tucked away beneath the train trestle on the lowest point of The Corner, has been serving that very combo to hungry Wahoos for over half a century. Here, it's called the Gus Burger, and it's required eating for fresh-faced first-years and washed-up alums who want to feel like first-years alike."

They say you always remember your first time.  Your first glass bottle Coca-Cola.  Your first McDonalds french fry.  Your first Frosty.  Your first Waffle House experience.  Your first Chik-Fil-A sandwich.  Your first spicy chicken.  Your first Chicago hot dog, deep dish pizza, Italian beef.  What first did you think I was talking about.

I will always remember my first burger with a fried egg on top, and it was at the White Spot on a school arranged college tour to the University of Virginia.  The Gus. It's everything I had both dreams and nightmares about...and it was nothing short of a dream!  This is the perfect greasy spoon diner where one erases a nights hangover or a days hunger with the perfect combination of breakfast (fried egg) and lunch/dinner (cheeseburger)

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Stinking Rose








From Garlic Paradise


55 N La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211

http://thestinkingrose.com/index.html


What they say: ""A Garlic Restaurant": World-Famous "40 Clove Garlic Chicken" (half-cut chicken marinated in chopped garlic, rosemary, olive oil in a sauce made with red wine, shallots, garlic, rosemary, thyme and butter served with caramelized garlic cloves and garlic mashed potatoes); Bagna Calda (Northern Italian-style garlic bread – toasted focaccia topped with oven-roasted garlic cloves, butter anchovies and olive oil mixture)"

This was the first restaurant that I "had to go to" in LA.  Greg Zaganoev, a LA native, told me this was the one spot I had to try.  "It's all garlic".  That's all I needed to hear, and he was right.  everything in this place has garlic in it.  It's a garlic restaurant to the extreme.  Their signature dish is a chicken made with 40 cloves of garlic and garlic flavored ice cream.  The food was delicious and wonderful, and the use of garlic was masterful and perfect.  Nothing pungent, just perfect.

UNTIL THE NEXT MORNING

The sickest I have ever been in my life was when I had swine flu.  I lost 23 pounds and I had a 104 temperature and developed pneumonia.  The next sickest was the day after Stinking Rose.  I didn't eat that day.  I smelled of garlic….like stunk of garlic…and I felt disgusting all day.  Too much oil.

BE WARNED…IT'S GOOD…BUT THE AFTERMATH IS CATASTROPHIC..Bob Sagat said the only time he would go back to Stinking Rose is when the vampires attack because the "garlic fire diarrhea that results from eating at this restaurant would make vampires extinct"

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED

Rubin's Kosher Deli







FROM DELI PARADISE


500 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

"Hot Beef Brisket Sandwich (baked and special seasoned and sauced kosher beef brisket sliced and served on a bun or rye bread), meat knishes, chicken matzo ball soup"

JUST A GOOD OLD FASHIONED, COMFORT INDUCING, JEWISH DELI WITH ALL THE CORNERSTONES OF A DELI PARADISE (big sandwiches, soups, pickles, kugel)….PLUS IT WAS OWNED AND FOUNDED BY THE FAMILY MEMBER OF ONE OF THE CO-FOUNDERS OF THIS BLOG AND ONE OF MY MOST BELOVED FRIENDS, HANNAH RUBIN-SCHLANSKY, SO IT HOLDS A TRUE PLACE IN MY HEART!

Nate and Al's












From Deli Paradise


414 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

http://www.natenal.com/

""Matzah Brei" (fried matzah with scrambled eggs fried in drawn butter), eggs and smoked fish, toasted bagel cream cheese and lox (smoked salmon)"

The location of the founding of this blog.  The idea of this blog was established in a booth in this Beverly Hills institution over brunch.  I had a pastrami eggs benedict.  This is just classic deli in the heart of Beverly Hills.  Amazing food, amazing service, a sense of home.  Just like the matzah balls ooup and hot corned beef on toasted rye bread with steak fries with yellow mustard, this place warms my heart, my soul, and fills my belly!

Canter's







FROM DELI PARADISE

419 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

http://www.cantersdeli.com/home


"Fairfax Sandwich" (1/2 pastrami 1/2 corned beef on rye bread served with cole slaw and a pickle and a side of signature deep-fried potato pancakes)"

This place is as classic as a giant deli comes.  Giant booths, giant menus, buckets of pickles, giant drinks, giant sandwiches and portions.  This place is classic and great.  It is open 24 hours, so the type of patrons vary based on the hour of day, from the elderly in the late morning for brunch to the drunks in the early morning for the drunk food.

This place is classic, legendary (featured on a Guns N Roses album cover), and worth the hype! A true deli and LA landmark!



WURSTKUCHE









FROM SAUSAGE PARADISE


625 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

http://www.wurstkuche.com/index.html

"Exotic sausages: Char-grilled rattlesnake sausage, buffalo sausage, crocodile & pork Andouille sausage and duck & bacon sausage"

This place is outstanding.  This place is incredible.  This place is a giant, flawless diamond in the rough.  This is one of the coolest restaurants I have been to.  You enter what looks like a butcher and walk to the counter.  You pick your sausage of choice with amazing toppings, a side of the belgian fries which have been ranked some of the best in the country….not the city…not the state…the country, and an ice cold craft beer, grab a number, and walk through the giant curtain to reveal the dining room which is a huge long hall of long lunchroom tables with great music.  You make yourselves friendly with the stranger next to you and check out the amazing dipping sauces they have.

The sausage is incredible. The fries are amazing and exceed the hype of being the best in the country.  The beer is great.  The atmosphere and experience are fantastic.  This place is a cannot miss, home run, guarantee. 

THE MEATLOAF BAKERY




FROM MEATLOAF PARADISE


2464 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

http://www.themeatloafbakery.com/everyday-favorites/

"Meatloaf cupcakes – "The Mother Loaf" (ground beef, pork & veal mixed with onions, celery & red pepper, ketchup, mustard, eggs, Worchestershire sauce and a blend of crackers & oatmeal baked into cupcake molds topped with mashed Yukon Gold potatoes as icing served with a side of demi-glace), "Herby Turkey" (Ground turkey meat loaf cupcake topped with stuffing and a side of cranberry sauce)"

This place is plain, simple,  and great.  Meatloaf.  One bites, "cupcakes", sandwiches, 1/2 bites, full loafs, and the varieties are endless.  This place is perfect for a snack or a meal.

SUPERDAWG







FROM HOT DOG PARADISE



6363 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60646

""Superdawgs" voted best Chicago hot dogs – (smokey & garlicy)"

Chicago is a culinary mecca that is only gaining noterity and acclaim.  Every year a new fantastic gastrointestinal kingdom opens.  However, Chicago is a city that takes pride in its history and traditions and this cannot be more true than it is for its food.  Chicago pizza, italian beef, and hot dogs are staples and landmarks of this Midwestern empire.  

Chicago style hot dogs are unique, distinct, and cannot be altered or substituted….and for gods sake…NO KETCHUP! A Chicago style hot dog is defined  on Wikipedia as "is an all-beef frankfurter on a poppy seedbun, originating from the city of Chicago, Illinois. The hot dog is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, bright green sweet pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices or wedges, pickled sport peppers and a dash of celery salt. The complete assembly of a Chicago hot dog is said to be "dragged through the garden" due to the many toppings. The method for cooking the hot dog itself varies depending on the vendor's preference. Most often they are steamed, water-simmered, or grilled over charcoal (in which case they are referred to as "char-dogs"). The canonical recipe  does not include ketchup, and there is a widely shared, strong opinion among many Chicagoans and aficionados that ketchup is unacceptable.[ A number of Chicago hot dog vendors do not offer ketchup as a condiment.

A Chicago style hot dog is incredible and unique, and once you have had one, it's hard to go back to normal hot dogs as the tastes and smells that come from a Chicago hot dog.  It is addictive and initiates cravings no matter what time of day. and Superdawg makes them the best.


THere is not a hot dog restaurant in Chicago, rather a restaurant in Chicago more beloved than Superdawg.  The hot dogs are perfect, the fries are well done, and the experience is outstanding. Your meal comes in a box with a hot dog, well done fries, a giant pickle spear, and pickled tomatoes….an adult sized happy meal!! This place is a landmark in Chicago where you see many different generation sitting together having a delicious meal while retelling the story of their first Superdawg experience. People bringing their kids and grandkids saying "your father/grandfather/mother/grandmother brought me here".


Superdawg is a Chicago and American culinary institution that cannot and should not be missed.  It is one of those places that everyone should it eat at once in their lives!