Atlanta BBQ Battle: Heirloom Market vs Fox Bros…

Although a familiar refrain this season, only moments after touching down in Hartsfield Atlanta Airport, I am gleefully awaiting my order at one of the finer barbecue establishments in the city.  In what has become a thriving barbecue scene in Atlanta, Heirloom Market BBQ – with their unique brand of American and Korean BBQ fusion – has quickly asserted itself as one of the best in the city.  Tucked off the side of Interstate 285, I pull into the parking lot of a shady convenience store, the kind of place with bars on the windows and a rainbow assortment of bum wines.  A red vinyl banner hanging over a corner of the building announces Heirloom Market, the tiny joint tucked inside a small side building.

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My friend Katy greets me there, her tailored blue dress and matching pumps elegantly out of place among the usual rabble.  Although a staunch vegetarian, she graciously agreed to meet me here and give an appropriate evaluation of the rotating menu of crafted side dishes at Heirloom.  An avid chef and purveyor of Squash Blossom Kitchens, a local boutique catering company, Katy has a developed palette despite those dubious dietary restrictions. Squash Blossom Kitchens Website

I order up the “Texas Trinity” an appropriate name for my usual order of brisket, pork ribs and sausage, and an acknowledgment of the joints Texas roots.  We round out the order with some spicy mac & cheese, kimchi cole slaw and a cucumber radish salad.  Once our number is called, we retreat to one of the few, standing only, outdoor tables under the shade of a pop up tent.  Standing next to a few of their custom built, Southern Pride smokers, it’s an easy glimpse into the workhorses behind their reputed fare.

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True to its reputation, the barbecue here is excellent all the way around.  The brisket was heavily smoked with a pronounced smoke ring and well developed bark.  The only fault with the brisket is that it had dried out a bit, and some fresher slices probably would have been better.  The sausage was fair, while it’s house made (a move that I typically applaud), it had an overpowering sweetness that just didn’t agree with my palette.  Ribs, however, were expertly cooked with a deep pink color inside and pulled from the bone with a slight tug.  They had a delicately sweet profile with a touch of Korean influence, but the flavors worked perfectly.  These are first class ribs all the way around.  Even the hand crafted sides here have a nice attention to detail, the spicy mac and cheese in particular was completely ravaged.

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My appetite satiated, but not dead, I decided to squeeze in an epic BBQ doubleheader before the Georgia Tech game.  Fox Brothers BBQ with their Texas roots and one of the most decorated joints in Atlanta would be the perfect head to head comparison with the fare at Heirloom.  After a quick jaunt down the highway, I pull into the gravel parking lot and take a seat, jostling to make room for my second meal only 30 minutes later.

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Here, I order my typical brisket and pork rib combo, but after hearing legends about their wings, I toss an order in for some poultry to complete the trifecta.  Rounding out the order is a side of mac & cheese, as well as Brunswick Stew – an elusive southern bbq staple.  A few minutes later, the waitress sets the heaping platter in front of me, and I’m elbow deep in another couple pounds of meat.

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The brisket here is well cooked, and delightfully, they provide slices from the fattier point end of the brisket – always the more flavorful side of the cut.  While the protein is cooked appropriately with well rendered fat, the meat isn’t as smoky as I would have hoped for and could have benefited from a few more logs on the fire.  Baby Back ribs are cooked well, but a bit on the dry side, although the savory rub really accentuates the sweet flavor of the pork.  The wings, true to reputation, were sublime.  Perfectly crispy on the outside, and delectably smoky and pull apart tender on the inside, they really are about as good as chicken wings get.  Brunswick stew was hearty and delicious, and reminded me of a summer in North Carolina where I routinely ate it with a pile of ribs.  It’s a side dish I wish a few more Texas places would readily adopt.

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In the end, the Atlanta BBQ scene certainly impressed, their pork is expectedly top notch and they and had some of the better briskets I’ve found outside of the state of Texas.  Oddly enough, since both of these joints have Texas roots (both founders have ties to Texas) it’s no accident that they have risen to the top of the Atlanta BBQ heap.  If you forced me to choose one, I’d probably have to give the nod to Heirloom Market – their brisket has a better smoke profile, and the ribs are absolutely perfect.  But on a day when you get to eat BBQ twice in the span of an hour, everybody is a winner in my book….

Special thanks to my friend Katy for accompanying me on the BBQ trip, and a broader culinary tour of the thriving Atlanta food scene!

Full clickable gallery below:

 

Eckerlin Meats: Gotta get Goetta…

During my brief stint in the Queen City, I wanted to sample one of those signature regional dishes exclusively found in the city of Cincinnati: Goetta.  Goetta, for those of you as unacquainted as I was, is a breakfast patty style sausage of German American origin believed to have been developed by working class German immigrants in the mid 19th century.  Composed of ground pork, beef, onions spices and steel cut oats, the dish is a holdover from times when meat budgets had to be stretched out over several meals.  Today it stands as a cultural nuance unique to Cincinnati, and worthy of a sample.

Shortly after the Bearcats game, I made a bee line towards the historic Findlay Market in search of a place called Eckerlin Meats, rumored to have the best Goetta in town.  In continuous operation since 1852, Eckerlin has been a family butcher shop for over 160 years, likely the oldest establishment I have visited on my travels.  As I press into the tiny storefront, I’m greeted by Christa and her husband Bob, the 5th generation owners of the cozy butcher shop.  With an enticing array of house cured meats tucked behind glass cases, I motion towards the Goetta, shelved in a long, pressed loaf.

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After sharing my story with them, they generously offer to fire up the cooktop (already shut down for the day), and crisp up a few slices for me.  Bob tells me that they go through about 500lbs of the stuff here a week at Eckerlin’s, and the city of Cincinnati consumes some 2 million lbs of the dish annually.

Already pre cooked the Goetta crisps up quickly. Christa presents me with a golden browned slice of the meat, along with a Goetta and egg breakfast sandwich.  Crispy on the outside, the interior is chewy and filling, with notes of onion and mild spicing.  After sampling both offerings, the dish most closely resembles scrapple or haggis.  But the savory profile of pork and beef pairs perfectly with a few eggs, and this makes for one fantastic breakfast accompaniment.

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Before I leave, I have Bob vacuum seal a few pounds of the stuff for me to take back to St. Louis.   After a long night out on the town, Goetta deserves a shot in the vaunted hangover breakfast rotation and I’ll have a few chunks in the freezer ready to go…

Eckerlin Meats Website:

Peg Leg Porker – Getting a leg up on the Nashville BBQ scene…

In the pantheon of Tennessee barbecue the city of Nashville is far out shadowed by its more reputable brother Memphis.  Memphis lays claim to the most famous BBQ joints in the state (arguably the country), and even it’s own regional style of BBQ aka “Memphis Style” which espouses a dry rub finish on ribs.  Nashville, despite being an emerging food city, hasn’t garnered the same acclaim in the BBQ arena.  During my brief time in the Music City, I endeavored to find to find the real deal.

Peg Leg Porker, my friend Merritt assured me, was the best that she had tasted during her three years in Nashville.  Having provided a few top notch recommendations before, her cue’ credentials were bonified.  Founded by accomplished BBQ competition pitmaster Cary Bringle, the sit down restaurant has only been open since May of this year, but has already garnered high praise for BBQ in the Nashville area.  Cheekily dubbed “Peg Leg Porker”, the name is a reference to the prosthetic leg that Bringle totes around on behind the counter of the restaurant.  His leg lost to cancer at age 17, the prosthetic replacement actually sports a hog butchering diagram.  Even the t-shirts here sport the slogan “limpin’ ain’t easy”.  Between that sense of humor and well over 20 years on the competition circuit, Peg Leg Porker held high hopes.

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Sauntering in on Friday afternoon, and arriving just before the lunch rush, I promptly order up a full rack of their baby back ribs (dry), pulled pork plate, and a couple of sides.  After a few minute wait, our name is called and we collect the hefty trays at the counter and retreat to an open wood table.  Merritt eyes me nervously as I survey our formidable tray.  She is well aware of my BBQ snobbiness, and bears the heavy responsibility of having personally endorsed the swine at Peg Leg Porker.  Her reputation is on the line here…

Any fears there may have been, however, were quickly erased with the first bite of succulent pork that I tugged gently away from the ribs.  Expertly cooked, the ribs pulled cleanly from the bone with only a slight tug.  The dry rub had and ever slight kick that complemented the sweet pork perfectly.  I picked up notes of rosemary, cumin and paprika – and I’m sure a host of other spices which Bringle would be unlikely to reveal.  The pulled pork was pleasantly tender and moist with a nice pink smoke ring.  If I found any fault with the pulled pork, it’s that I would have liked a bit more crust or “outside brown” mixed in with it.  But I also understand that isn’t necessarily the regional style.  Even the sides here have an appropriate attention to detail, especially the smoky, sweet baked beans.

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Having sampled a few other Nashville BBQ joints, I can say with confidence that Peg Leg Porker is the clear winner in Nashville.  Though it may still be early, based on the meal I had here, I’d say it could stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the titans of the Memphis BBQ scene as well.  More importantly, Merritt can breathe a contented sigh of relief knowing her endorsement record now stands at an unblemished 3-0.

Peg Leg Porker Website:

Philly Cheesesteak Showdown…

It’s the iconic sandwich the City of Brotherly Love is known for, and although glaringly cliché’ I wanted to eat a handful of these delightfully greasy gut bombs during my weekend in town.  While most visitors are immediately drawn to the vaporous neon glow of Geno’s and Pat’s, I wanted to find something beyond the usual tourist traps.  I’d been to of those places before, and while it may be blasphemous to any native Philadelphian, I found them completely underwhelming and substandard.  I’d love to hear a counter argument in favor of any dining establishment that espouses the use of “cheese wiz” on anything they serve.  So during my quick weekend in Philadelphia, I endeavored to find the real deal.

Three places emerged to the top of my research: Dalessandro’s, Jim’s and Tony Lukes. While each of these may be well known to Philly natives, they are not as familiar to outsiders.  In order to give an accurate comparison to the three contenders, I ordered the same sandwich at each – a simple cheesesteak sandwich with American cheese and grilled onions.  Why that combo?  Because I like it, that’s why.  And, it’s simple, and these are simple, working class sandwiches after all.

Tony Lukes – My first stop on Saturday morning. Hustling through the industrial wasteland part of town, I skirted past the beckoning entrance of Ricks Cabaret & Lounge – an adult entertainment club touting “divorce parties” and pulled into the red and white checkered confines of Tony Lukes.  A few yellow lights and some flashes of stainless steel trim round out the décor of the simple sandwich stand.

Tony Lukes2Whatever anticipation I held for the sandwich to come, however, was quickly extinguished by the gruff counterman who could barely be bothered to take my simple order.  Conveniently, Tony Lukes also refuses to provide water for customers, so I had to order an overpriced soda.  As if the dirtbag service and water miserliness wasn’t enough, Tony Lukes doesn’t have any heating in the dining area (in December) or provide public restroom facilities of any kind.  What a complete dump.

Fear not, however, because the sandwiches at Tony Lukes are thoroughly craptastic as well!  The french roll is chewy, and instead of being mixed into the steak, the meager cheese allotment is tossed uncaringly onto the top cold.  Even the steak itself is lazily sliced (not finely chopped) into lifeless, grey, gristly slabs of rubber that left my jaw feeling like I just went a few rounds with Rocky.  I made sure to take a good look around before leaving Tony Lukes, because I’ll never see this place again.

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 Jim’s – I visited Jim’s late on Saturday night after spending the entire day fighting off the blustering cold mist in Lincoln Financial Field during the Army Navy game.  Chilled to the bone, and thoroughly exhausted, I probably could have eaten the ass end of flattened roadkill – an option that still sounded better than a second sandwich from Tony Lukes.

Jims 2Fortunately, Jims fared much better.  Here, you watch the cook through a glass window, deftly whacking away at a pile of steak on the steaming cook top.  He chops the steak up finely, lays a few slices of American cheese into the bun, and tops the sandwich with a few caramelized onions.  Though I would have liked to see the cheese mixed into and melted across the steak, overall this was a solid sandwich.

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If I can think of one drawback to Jim’s, it’s the agonizing lines and wait time for a sandwich.  Located in center city Philadelphia, a bustling part of town on a Saturday night, throngs of hungry revelers lined up around the block for upwards of a 30 minute wait for a sandwich.  I don’t know if the wait times are always that bad, but it’s something to consider.

Jims Website:

Dalessandro’s – My final cheesesteak trial, I optioned for a breakfast at Dalessandro’s on Sunday morning before catching my flight out of Philly.  Making the fifteen minute drive to Northwest Philadelphia, the tiny corner shop is located a few miles outside the downtown Philadelphia area.  I line up promptly at 11AM, sliding into one of their counter stools soon after they opened the doors for business.  Not long after arriving, the place is jammed with takeout orders, clearly a popular neighborhood spot.

Dalessandros2Of the three, Dalessandro’s was finest offering of the classic Philly Cheesesteak.  The steak was finely chopped and browned, with the cheese completely folded in and melted across the steak.  A handful of onions garnished across the top, and the roll had a nice crunch on the outside but chewy inside.  It was well executed simplicity.  The perfect start to Sunday morning.  

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Dalessandro’s Website:

In the end, Dalessandro’s was a clear cut winner based on my criteria. Jim’s, however, would be a perfectly serviceable option if I found myself in the downtown area with a hankering.  But in case you missed it, I’d sooner eat three year old sofa pizza before returning to Tony Lukes again…

Pecan Lodge – Finding Real BBQ in Dallas…

Staying in Fort Worth for the epic Notre Dame vs Oklahoma tilt, I needed my routine fix of proper Texas barbecue.  Traditionally this entailed an exhausting three hour (one way) jaunt down to Austin, such are the levels of my depravity.  Since bursting onto the Dallas BBQ scene three years ago, however, Pecan Lodge has been dishing out epic smoked meats that rival anything Central Texas has to offer.  Initially bestowed with an elusive 5 star rating on Full Custom Gospel BBQ, the frenzy around the tiny storefront in the Dallas Farmers Market exploded following a visit from Guy Fieri on the Food Network hit Diners Drive-Ins and Dives. Waiting times for a few morsels of their BBQ have swelled proportionally. Stretching up to 2 hours during peak times, my father, friend Bryce and I brave the lines for a Friday afternoon lunch with eager appetites.

After exchanging a few tweets, the man himself, the BBQ Snob of Full Custom Gospel BBQ fame, agrees to join us for lunch, greeting our crew at one of the rickety metal tables.  I had lured him from his brisket fortress of solitude with the promise of a massive Pecan Lodge beef rib, and irresistible offering for anyone, much less a BBQ fanatic.  The ruse works, he surveys our formidable tray discerningly, an epic offering of brisket, pork ribs, sausage, and beef ribs.  An eyebrow noticeably rises above his rimless glasses, a most subtle gesture of praise.  He approves of the hefty meat pile, and settles into a chair.

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Though he refers to himself as the BBQ “Snob”, in person Daniel is anything but.  The conversation is amicable, and despite the notoriety that he has garnered over the past couple of years while personally surveying over 500 different BBQ joints, he remains notably humble and approachable. From even a few minutes of conversation, it’s clear he is far more than a critic.  BBQ is his passion.  He lives it.  To boot, his knowledge on the subject matter is remarkable.  Beyond chatting about a few of our favorite joints, he drops terms like “phenols” and “nitrogen dioxide”, expounding on the science of great barbecue down to the molecular level.  He even offers a few tips for the group, as we discuss the particulars of our amateur BBQ attempts on Big Green Egg smokers.    I learn more about barbecue in fifteen minutes with Daniel, than most people would in a year.  It even turns out he’ll be attending the same Oklahoma vs Notre Dame fiasco tomorrow too, though the table collectively grumbles when it’s revealed he’ll be garbed in crimson and cream.

As his belt busting tales of Texas BBQ road trips can attest, the man can eat.  Like an epic clash of titans we exchange blows, each of us grabbing fistfuls of smoked goodness, waiting for the other to show even the slightest flinch of appetite.  Neither does.  After fifteen minutes our pristine tray of red ribboned beef is ransacked. Picked over like a pack of wild hyenas, the flimsy plastic tray itself is lucky to survive unscathed, and sits disheveled, heaped with stacks of bones and greasy butcher paper. It’s complete carnage.

If you’re wondering, the food at Pecan Lodge is, quite simply, remarkable.

I’ll spare the hyperbole.  This is best BBQ in Dallas.  Period.  And second place isn’t even close.  It rivals anything to be found in Central Texas.

The brisket is silky, pull apart tender, enveloped in a jet black bark and laced with robust notes of mesquite smoke.

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*Smoking over mesquite is one area Pecan Lodge differentiates itself, as most traditional Texas BBQ joints espouse post oak

**On even more elusive days, Pecan Lodge features smoked Waygu (American Kobe) beef brisket, which, although expensive at $25lb, might be the single greatest thing you could ever put in your mouth.

Beef ribs are massive, quivering mountains of velvet beef.  Perfectly broken down until tender, a thick red smoke ring belies their time and attention in the smoker.  While these aren’t an everyday item from what I understand, if they have them – buy them.

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A bright red sausage features a coarse grind with a good snap and peppery building heat.  Perfectly smoked to juicy perfection, it’s also house made, a refreshing departure from the Sysco crap that pervades so many menus.

The pork ribs, well smoked and lightly sauce glazed, are probably the fourth best thing on the menu.  Which is saying something, because they would be the best thing on the menu anywhere else in the DFW Metroplex.

Even the sides here are good, not that anyone should care.  But still, the attention to detail is nice.

If you find yourself in the DFW Metroplex in the near future, your lunch time decision just became an easy one: Pecan Lodge.  The food is second to none, and you might just get to break brisket with a BBQ legend…or snob….

www.pecanlodge.com

Podnahs Pit BBQ – Finding a real pit in the Pacific Northwest…

As this season has taken me to new corners of the country, and largely out of the great barbecue geographies, it’s been a challenge to keep up my recommended daily allowance of ribs, brisket and sausage.  Trips to Florida and the west coast reveal great vacuums of proper BBQ on the coasts, and I endeavored to find something truly worthy of my discerning palette.  Surely the city of Portland with its vibrant food scene and counter culture motif would be able to deliver the goods, right?

Enter Podnahs Pit BBQ  Founded by transplanted Texan Rodney Muirhead in 2006, Podnahs appears to be the only authentic Texas BBQ joint in the Portland area.  Confirmed by Daniel over at Full Custom Gospel BBQ, it quickly became the only logical BBQ stop during my Oregon State Beavers football weekend.   They claim to smoke exclusively over oak, using the same painstakingly slow and low methods common to greats of Central Texas.  There are even pictures of Smitty’s Market, the Lockhart, Texas BBQ legend, tacked up on the walls of the restrooms.  With eager appetites, my cohort Colin and I sauntered in for Sunday lunch before my departing flight out of PDX Airport.

An amply pierced waitress shows us to our seats, her shaved scalp embossed with colorful tattoos of flowers and stars.  In Portland, you don’t even look twice at this kind of person.  Placing the menus in front of us, she fetches my Hub Brewing Company Survival 7 Grain Stout, a porridge thick obsidian microbrew from one of the scores of breweries in town.  I love great beer towns, and Portland is among the best.  An obligatory glance at the menu and my decision quickly settles on the “Pitboss Platter”, a hearty sampling of sausage, ribs, pulled pork and brisket.

My food arrives quickly, a quivering mountain of aromatic meat, enticingly smoky and all of it delightfully void of sauce.  The sausage has good snap to it, but a powerful breakfast-ey taste that doesn’t quite work for me.  Pulled pork is a solid offering, drizzled in a light vinegar sauce to give it a Carolina feel to it, helping to cut some of the dryness that often plagues pulled pork.  Brisket is well cared for here, with an enticing black crust and deep smoke flavor it clearly has the right foundations of a first class brisket.  But the fat was still a bit chewy and unrendered, so the beef would certainly benefit from a few more hours in the smoker.  Pork ribs were the best offering in my opinion, large spare cuts featuring a deep red smoke ring, pulling from the bone with only a slight tug.

While the Pacific Northwest isn’t the first place that comes to mind for BBQ sampling, if you find yourself in the Portland area with a hankering for some decent cue’, Podnahs is a place certainly doing it right.

 

Smoque BBQ – Where there’s smoque, there’s good cue’…

On Smoque BBQ, Daniel Vaughn writes “This is the closest thing to true Texas Style BBQ that I’ve found outside of Texas.”  With time for only one lunch in Chicago, my barbecue destination was quickly settled on his words alone.

Vaughn is a man that knows barbecue. As the proprietor of Full Custom Gospel BBQ, he’s catalogued a compendium of over 500 in person reviews of joints throughout the state of Texas and beyond.  And while I’ve been following his smoky footsteps for quite a few years now, his recent list of accolades, including an appearance on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”, has elevated him to a national authority on the subject.   While he doesn’t travel outside of Texas often (and frankly, I don’t know why any true BBQ fan would) when he does, you better pay attention.  I’ve counted on Daniel’s recommendations for a number of years now, and with this upcoming trip to Chicago in my sights, his website was the first place I checked for some proper cue’.  Once again, Daniels expertise did not disappoint.

Walking into to Smoque, the aroma of a proper BBQ joint tingles the nose.  Smoke wafts through the air, permeating clothes and pores alike, and the sweet smell of pork stirs my appetite.  Taking only an obligatory glance at the chalk menu board, I place my order for the “holy trinity” of traditional Texas barbecue: sausage, pork ribs and brisket.  Through years of experience, these are the three best barometers for evaluating the mettle of a proper pitmaster.  After watching a few plates prepared with sauce, I recoil in my customary fashion, instructing the counter girl not to sauce my order.  Given Smoque’s anti sauce manifesto (read here) I’m surprised this step is required.  Handing me my ticket number, I remind her one more time not to sauce me, just to be safe.

I watch the cook staff while I wait, delicately slicing orders in the open kitchen, Smoque clearly takes pride in their work.  A moment later my order arrives, the three meats arranged neatly on a wax paper lined aluminum tray.  An individual serving of house made mac & cheese and baked beans round out the feast, even the sides are given proper attention here.  As I dig in, the sausage has a familiar flavor profile to it. Imported from Rudy Mikeska’s in Taylor, Texas it has the spice and snap of true Texas sausage.  Sweet smoky ribs pulled from the bone with only the slightest of tugs, the St. Louis cut yielding gobs of porky goodness.  The brisket, however, I hoarded.  Like a child setting dessert aside greedily for the end of the meal, I rationed bites of brisket, savoring each morsel. Without a trip to Texas scheduled this season, it might be my only chance for some proper brisket. Tender fatty cuts from the point end had a crisp jet black bark, giving way to luxurious smoked beefy velvet.

This is, quite simply, the best brisket I have ever had outside of Texas.

There are precious few places anywhere in the country that show mastery over several kinds of protein.  There are even fewer still that exist outside of Texas.  Having visited, I can now add Smoque to that elite, short list of places.  If you’re ever in Chicago craving BBQ, your only question should be where to eat third?  Because the first two places better be Smoque.

Click here for Full Custom Gospel BBQ

Click here for Smoque BBQ

Full clickable gallery of Smoque pictures below.

The Little Zagreb – That’s a spicy meat-a-ball!

“Order the garlic rolls, the spicy meatballs and the petite filet.Don’t get the full size filet, it’s just not as good.Use a full pad of butter for each of the garlic rolls, and get sour cream with the spicy meatballs, you’ll need it.I know it sounds weird, but trust me.”

My recommendation to the Little Zagreb came with those precise directions courtesy of my friend, and loyal Hoosier alum, Gordon.While many folks might bristle at blindly following such a directive, I tend to be grateful for informed recommendations.When those recommendations include house made meatballs and tender slabs of beef, little additional persuasion is needed.I repeated Gordon’s words verbatim to Katie, the cheerful waitress, before she even got a chance to hand me the menu.She ratified my decisive selections and tottered into the kitchen, menu in hand.

Glancing around the interior, the Little Zagreb is simple and unadorned.Pine paneled walls display a handful of bright crimson Indiana banners, a few IU basketball team pictures and red and white checkered tablecloths tie the rest of the unpretentious décor together.My order arrived a few minutes later, full family sized portions plunked imposingly on the table.Katie snickered at all the food in front of me, sarcastically plopping a “to go” box on the table before I even started.She would later return that same box to waitress station, empty and defeated.Learning the hard way that my appetite is nothing to be trifled with…

The garlic rolls were bursting with salty garlic, and, in a subtle act of brilliance, had been toasted on the grill before serving, picking up a hint of charcoal flavor.The spicy meatballs lived up to their fiery reputation.A healthy dose of cayenne pepper was the only secret Katie was willing to reveal, but the heat kept me dunking them in sour cream and reaching for the water glass regularly.Finally the filet arrived, perfectly medium rare, tender, and gently seasoned to perfection.The steaks here are imparted with a robust charcoal flavor from the open flame grill, a technique that forms the elusive and prized crust on a properly charred steak.

It’s not a cheap meal, to be sure, and expect to pay full steak dinner prices.But Janko’s Little Zagreb is a place not to be missed in Bloomington, and if you find yourself there now, you won’t even need a menu…

Special thanks to Ken and Gordon for the insider tip on the Little Zagreb, in addition to a handful of other recommendations in Bloomington that I hope to visit next time around…