Sometimes you just need to get in the car and go. Sometimes you just need a hang with the boys. Sometimes you just need a heaping dose of comfort Food and Beer. Sometimes you just need an excuse to get the heck out of town and have a good time. Then there’s those other times when you need it all at once and that is why I created …
THE BROHD TRIP
Take the eateries from the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives,” add in a group of friends like on HBO’s “Entourage” and sparkle it with a dose of Roadside America and you have THE BROHD TRIP. It’s an excuse for a couple of bro’s to get out of town and have some fun driving around this great country of ours eating food, drinking beer and seeing some randomly random stuff.
The first Brohd Trip took place in August of 2011 after 8 months of planning. On that trip we had 3 Burgers & visited 3 Breweries in 5 States. I’m proud to say that in less than half the time, only 4 months, we were able to put the Brohd Trip back on the road. My bud Leo, the ultimate road trip junkie, hit me up and asked if I wanted to hop in the car with our friend Mike P and drive to Raleigh to visit his friend David. Moments later, I was doing research where to eat, what to drink and what to see North Carolina.
THE BROHD TRIP – RALEIGH – DAY 1
Friday, January 13, 2012
It starts at a Dunkin Donuts on 10th Ave. We grab some coffee and once again, we load up into Leo’s BROHD-MOBILE and took headed southbound on I-95.
231 N Philadelphia Blvd
Aberdeen, MD 21001
Anyone that has ever driven through Pennsylvania or most parts of it’s adjoining states knows about the glory of Wawa. Any East Coast foodie knows that convenience store / deli / sometimes gas station chain WAWA is the bomb!! With their Ready-to-Go Snacks, tasty side dishes, refreshing Iced Teas, Fresh Brewed Coffee, delicious Sizzli breakfast sandwiches and of course, the best thing about Wawa, Built-to-Order Hoagies and Sandwiches!!! Just walk up to the computer screen and start mashing those hungry little fingers on the touch screen.
With a no caution for healthy eating, I ripped right into a Philly Cheesesteak Breakfast Ciabatta with Provolone Cheese, Pepperoni & Hot Sauce with a Hash Brown on the sides. The hot delicious awesomeness was washed down, as always with a Wawa Lemonade Iced Tea, this time diet. Cut where you can.
11052 W Broad St. (at Old Sadler Rd.)
Richmond, VA 23225
What can I tell you? The Brohd Trip to Hell is paved with Good Wawa’s. You know the drinks are tasty, the bathroom’s are clean, often time’s there’s gas, the staff is friendly and oh yeah, Wawa Hoagie’s RULE! One of the most revered Wawa Hoagie’s is the famous Gobbler. This bundle of fame essentially give you Thanksgiving in an not so easy to eat but conveniently packaged Sandwich. They filled a Hoagie roll, in this case a Shorti, with Turkey, Hot Gravy, Stuffing & Cranberry Sauce. It’s a finger-smacking, lip-licking, gut bomb that is one of the best on-the-go Sammies on the planet. It’s even better with a side of (2) Meatballs and (another) Wawa Iced Tea.
L&L Food Store
1001 E Washington St
Nashville, NC 27856
Leo missed our turn off from I-95 onto I-64 which after we found out, we decided to try to take side roads to re-route. That’s when we came across the site of a gas station with a lawn full of large, fake animals. “OF COURSE I WANT A PICTURE WITH A GIANT CHICKEN,” I screamed from the back seat!! Leo, after what may have been a small heart-attack, pulled over the BROHD-MOBILE into the parking lot of an L&L Food Store. We posed for a few snap shots and I asked the question, “What the hell is Peter Griffin so angry?” When know when got the reference, we headed in for drinks and a potty stop. That’s when I found the server yourself pot of Boiled Peanuts. JACKPOT!!
After we arrived into town we dropped out stuff at Dave’s house and talked for a bit. Then Dave took us in to see Downtown Raleigh. We passed Occupy Raleigh. I shot this picture from our inside the car. That’s it, that’s ALL of it.
Flying Saucer Draught Emporium
328 W Morgan St (at S Harrington St)
Raleigh, NC 27601
If you love your craft suds, The Flying Saucer Draft Emporium is for you. It’s a small chain located in the South, with most of them located in Texas. They offer a menu of bar grub like Apps, Sandwiches, Nachos, Pretzels, Wings, Pizzas, Paired Meats and Cheeses and Bratwurst. The food however, is not the reason most people are familiar with The Saucer. The Flying Saucer Draft Emporium is a Beer collectors haven. Join their U.F.O. club and keep a running log of all the Beers you drink on your various visits. You’ll get a t-shirt and a magnetic card for joining and as you swing back tasty brews you earn various treats like free Beers, swag and the big prize, getting your name on a Ring Of Honor that will be hung up in the restaurant once you’ve sampled more than 200 Beers.
We by no means were headed in the direction of 200 Beers but we definitely enjoyed a selection of Sandwiches & Suds while visiting. I had the Wings, which were not so good but I did rock at Brat with Spicy Mustard and Swiss Cheese. It was pretty good, especially the fresh, nicely toasted Roll that held it all together. Dave nailed it with an appetizer of Rocket-Tots; “Bite-sized Cheese & Pepper Potato Tots with Habanero Sour Cream Dip.” Just like the menu says, they’re “REALLY GOOD!” I washed it down with an awesome 1554 from New Belgium and a Bell’s Brewery Hop Slam.
213 Fayetteville St (at E Hargett St)
Raleigh, NC 27601
North Carolina for some reason requires patrons who want to imbibe in a little adult Beverage consumption to be a member of the establishment. This creates a private social club scenario with some places and they do require you to join to be able to enjoy their offerings. Why? I have no idea and unfortunately after about 10 minutes of Googling, I came up with nothing so, let’s just move on.
By law, Foundation is a private social club in Raleigh, NC. The basement bar has seating for a couple dozen people in its’ dimly lit space with red brick walls. They have quite the impressive list of brown spirits, especially Bourbon, Whiskey and Scotch. If that’s your thing, you’ll want to sign up for membership on their website before heading down to try some out. There’s a good chance you’ll find something that you’ve never had before. For me, it was Wassmund’s Single Malt Whiskey, a very distinct, sweet Whiskey with a little bit of smoky wood flavor to it.
We tried to buy a bottle of it before leaving Raleigh but couldn’t find any. Feel free to send me a bottle if you can get it.
THE BROHD TRIP – RALEIGH – DAY 2
Saturday, January 14, 2012
2426 Wake Forest Rd (at Hodges St.)
Raleigh, NC 27608
“Fresh, Southern, Homemade Biscuits.” Those four words are all one needs say or hear about Biscuitville. It’s a small fast-food chain located only in Virginia and North Carolina that serves primarily, you guessed it, Biscuits. Former Flour Broker Maurice Jenkins started a Pizza-To-Go baking business in 1972 called Pizzaville. Being ever the entrepreneur, Maurice started using his Pizza ovens to bake Biscuits in the morning hours, when Pizza wasn’t on people’s palettes. Long story short, the Biscuits started selling more than the Pizzas and in 1975, Mr. Jenkins opened the very first Biscuitville in Danville, VA. Soon all the Pizzaville’s were converted and as of 2012, there are now 50 Biscuitville locations throughout the 2 states.
The business is still run today on the 3 principals it was founded upon, fresh, friendly & fast. The Biscuits are made fresh EVERY 20 minutes and they’ve expanded beyond just offering them with Jelly. Ham, Cheese, Eggs, Bologna, Chicken, Bacon, Butter, Liver Mush, Pork Chops, Sausage, Steak and of course, the Oh-So-Amazing Biscuitville homemade GRAVY are all available as Biscuit pairings. Order it up with an OJ or hot cup of Joe and you’ve got yourself a fresh, fast & affordable part of many a North Carolinian’s morning.
It’s my favorite fast-food Breakfast of all times and as I told my fellow Brohd Trippers, a MANDATORY part of my trip to Raleigh. Considering I haven’t been to a Biscuitville in more than a decade, ordering was easy, and you should follow this as a rule:
- Gravy Biscuit
- Fried Chicken Biscuit (I go spicy Chicken)
- Hash Browns
It was as good, if not better, than I remember! Looking at the pictures and writing these words is making be unbelievably hungry and sadly, only Biscuits from Biscuitville can tame my cravings!
World’s Largest Acorn
200 S Blount St
Raleigh’s official nickname is “The City of Oaks,” for it’s many, many oak trees. As a tribute to it’s nickname, the city built a giant Acorn that sits daily downtown in Moore Square. Every year, during their “First Night Raleigh” New Year’s Eve party, the acorn is dropped from the top of the Raleigh Civic Center, as we do the “the ball” here in New York City’s Times Square. The “World’s Largest Acorn” is ten feet tall and weights 1,250 pounds, as compared to the Times Square ball which in it’s current configuration is 12 feet and a whopping 11,875 pounds. It’s also a great historical piece of Roadside America, which I love.
237 S Wilmington St. (at Martin St)
Raleigh, NC 27601
The alluring sign in front of Chuck’s reads “Half-Pound House Ground Flat Top Seared 100% Chuck.” What it doesn’t say is that it’s owned by popular Raleigh Chef and former Top Chef contestant Ashley Christensen. The local restaurateur owns several dining establishments in the area, all somewhat based on comfort type food dining. Chuck’s in particular only offers one thing, Hamburgers. Check out the menu, where every item, even the Belgian Fries are made with the most mouth watering combination of toppings and ingredients. There’s not much to the place, exposed brick, large windows in the front, a number of tables and chairs and other than large fake cow’s heads you won’t find much else to distract you away from Burgers like the “Spirit Animal” with Cream Cheese, Roasted Poblano Chilis, Grilled Tomatoes and Tortilla Dust. Try to walk by and not stop in to get one of these Burgers.
On our walk back across town from Moore Square en route to get lunch, that’s exactly what happened to us. The sign in front of Chuck’s may as well just read “REV EAT HERE.” 8 ounce, Ground fresh Burgers cooked on a flat top griddle!?!??! OH HELL YEAH WE STOPPED…i’ll say it again, on our way to get lunch.
I convinced the crew that we should split just one Burger because I had to had to had to try this. A quick look of the menu and a snap decision was made. It was going to be the appropriately named “Dirty South Carolina.” This monster fresh Ground Patty, came with Smoked Pork Shoulder, Anson Mills Sea Island Red Pea “Chili,” Crispy Tobacco Onions, Ashe Co. Mountain Cheddar and Yellow Mustard. I barely had enough time to get half way through my Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale before the Burger, served on a Potato Roll was on our table.
Let’s start with the negatives; The Patty, which no doubt was made with high quality and freshly ground Beef, was a little too tightly packed. Handled too much, a patty gets a thicker, chewier bite. The perfect Burger is barely pressed together which helps to give it that melt in your mouth feeling. This is merely a texture based attribute that has little to no affect on the flavor. Secondly, the Yellow Mustard, not needed. I get it. Chili has the flavor profile that you would add something to that’s vinegar-esque or based, especially in the South. I would agree, a Chili Dog definitely tastes great with Yellow Mustard on it. However, in this case, it just wasn’t needed.
Now onto the positives, everything else, and I mean EVERYTHING else about this Burger was awesome. The Dirty South Carolina Burger at Chuck’s is juicy, fresh, delicious and packed with a cornucopia of unique and intense flavor. It’s truly an artisan creation. My only regret was that I only got to eat 2 ounces of it!!
The Pit Authentic Barbecue
328 West Davie St
Raleigh, NC 27601
As most enthusiasts know, the word Barbecue or “BBQ” can mean something entirely different depending on your particular geographic location at the time. Memphis, Texas, Kansas City and Carolina make up the 4 major styles. Carolina in particular is almost always centered around Pork with a Vinegar based Sauce. But even inside the state of North Carolina, there are 2 distinct styles, East & West AKA Lexington. In the West it’s primarily about the Dark Meat from the Pork Shoulder. in the East, as it is at The Pit in Raleigh, it’s about the whole damn Hog, pulled, shredded & chopped with just the right amount of smoky flavors.
The Empire Eats Restaurants company, the folks behind The Pit, built the place with the idea to keep the traditional style in mind. The Pit sources only from local farms and as for the Pigs, they must be raised in a free-range environments. You know what they say, a happy Pig is a tasty Pig! They also serve other types and styles of Barbecue, all of which is purposefully paired with hand picked Beer, Wine & Spirits, in particular, Whiskey’s & Bourbons. They’ve been featured on many a TV show and without a doubt a stop on our Brohd Trip to Raleigh!
After several eye-spinning moments looking over the lunch menu, from which I could’ve just said “one of everything,” I ordered the Chopped Barbecue – Eastern NC style with a BBQ Baked Beans and Mac N Cheese. When in Rome… It was juicy, succulent, smoky, awesome and even more amazing once I gave it a couple squirts of the Vinegar with Jalapenos sitting in it. OH YEAH. It all slid back courtesy of a Krampus by Southern Tier.
408 Ashe Ave
Raleigh, NC 27606
Pullen Park’s history dates back to the 22nd or March, 1887 when Richard Stanhope Pullen donated the land to the city of Raleigh. It became the very first public park in all of North Carolina. Located inside the park you’ll find a Cafe, Community Center, Aquatic Center and amusements like it’s Carousel, Train, Kiddie Boats and more which make it the fifth oldest operating amusement park in the world.
You’ll also find amongst the other interests in Pullen Park, a statue tribute to Andy Griffith & Opie from the Andy Griffith Show. While the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina is based on Mount Airy, NC, the original bronze statue is located in Raleigh. A duplicate was also made and it actually does reside in Mount Airy. Word is that the local folk from Mount Airy complained when the original statue was created for Pullen Park.
Snoopy’s Hot Dogs
2431 Spring Forest Rd. (Atlantic Ave.)
Raleigh, NC 27616
While it’s open during the day too, Snoopy’s Hot Dogs is known for being a great location for late night eats. It started in 1978 when Steve Webb converted an old gas station into a quick serve restaurant. There are now 5 Snoopy’s Hot Dog locations serving folks craving Dogs, Burgs & Fries in the Raleigh area. Snoopy’s was one of the first restaurants in the area to stay open late (3am Thu-Sat) establishing themselves as the go to place for night time eats.
There’s no need to beat around the bush, we all know who is late night eating and after bar hopping around town, we were prime examples. Dave insisted we stop by for a Chili Dog on the way to our next location (see below.) As a native Detroiter, I grew up on Chili Dogs and was in NO condition (or desire) to argue. We walked up, order Chili Dogs and ate em right there in the parking lot. Make sure you know before you order, ALL Dogs & Burgers come topped with Yellow Mustard, Chili & Onions so a Snoopy’s Famous is just that. The fresh white Bread Bun had enough strength to allow of eating by hand, rather than fork. The star of this show, make no mistake, is definitely the Chili.
618 Hillsborough St (at Glenwood Ave)
Raleigh, NC 27603
There’s lots of ways to cook up a Burger, griddled, steamed, fried, etc but at North Carolina’s Char-Grill there is only one way and it’s all in the name. In 1959 Bruce Garner decides there is only one way and opens a take-out service only Hamburger Steak stand where orders are taken via paper ticket and Burgers are made in view of the customer. All Burgers are charcoal grilled on an open flame to give them that smoky, outdoor grill flavor that our fathers taught us to love. In 1975, Mahlon Aycock and Ryon Wilder re-open the Char-Grill, keeping in tact all of it’s original attributes. A 2nd Char-Grill opens in 1986 and eventually is followed by 7 more. Nearly every Burger Journo out there has had some shining accolade to say about the place and if you’re in town, there’s no reason you too wouldn’t want to stop by for a charcoal grilled Hamburger Steak Sandwich.
That’s exactly what we were going to do, when we side lined at Snoopy’s for a Chili Dog. You know how you know we love Food? For the 2nd time in the same day that we ate on the way to get something to eat. Also, Char-Grill is on the same block as Snoopy’s, so it was kind of hard to deny the idea. I was a little on the tipsy side from a full days worth of Craft Beer “sampling” so I didn’t know what to order, especially when I saw so many different Burgers on the menu. My eyes bested my stomach so I ordered French Fries, a 1/4 LB Hamburger Steak with Cheese and Lettuce, a Char-Burger plain and a Chili Dog.
Man, I was so so so so excited to eat at Char-Grill, especially after being ramped up by the review in George Motz’s Burger Bible, “Hamburger America.” Much like Biscuitville, this was on my MUST DO list for the Brohd Trip. I figured a few “adult pops” as my Dad used to call ’em would set the tone for Burger awesomeness. Unfortunately, I’m sad to say, it was not. Both of my Burgers were dry, over-cooked and tasted only of Charcoal Grilling. I couldn’t really get a sense of the quality or flavor of Beef used in the Patty, only the method of preparation. It was a total let down. I sent a a photo to George via text message of my Hamburger Steak. His return comment; “looked over cooked big time.” That aside, the Chili Dog was DAMN good and in fact, I would say better than Snoopy’s. I’d also throw an alley oop for the French Fries which were crispy, hot, golden and delicious.
THE BROHD TRIP – RALEIGH – DAY 3
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Jim’s Famous BBQ
115 S Elliott Rd
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
When doing my research for our Brohd Trip to North Carolina, I happened upon a lot of glowing reviews for Allen & Son Bar-B-Q of Chapel Hill. While doing said research, I failed to notice that they’re closed on Sunday’s. You can probably imagine the level of disappointment happening in the BROHD-MOBILE when we pulled up in front of a closed Allen & Son after driving all the way there. A quick tapping search of “best BBQ Chapel Hill” set us off in another direction as we were not about to be denied tasty ‘Q.
Jim’s Famous BBQ, located in the parking lot of the Whole Foods near the East Gate Shopping Center. Jim’s offers many BBQ types including East North Carolina, Memphis, Delta and more. Check the menu and you’ll a pretty wide array of smoked, grilled & pit cooked vittles. Grab a seat in the bar or be shown to a table and be sure to take notice of the decor. The place is covered in very cool Rhythm & Blues and Rock & Roll paraphernalia including a sweet Stevie Ray Vaughn poster and Robert Crumb’s “Heroes of the Blues” trading cards.
Between the three of this we ordered Smoked Sausage Links, Brisket, St. Louis Ribs, Chopped Pork, BBQ Beans, Coleslaw, Macaroni & Hush Puppies. Like I said, we were not going to be denied our BBQ! When the meal was done, there wasn’t a single bite of Meat left on anyone’s plates. We were damn hungry and nicely satisfied.
460 W. Franklin St
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
No Brohd Trip is complete without a trip to some kind of craft brewery and this trip was to be no exception. Nate, a good buddy of mine in the beer biz back in NYC used to live in Chapel Hill and speaks in volumes of his former place of employment, the Carolina Brewery. This instantly put it on my list of things to do in NC.
If you’re a proud Carolina and specifically an UNC Grad, the Carolina Brewery is for you. It’s an award winning Craft Brewery located in Chapel Hill that’s locally owned by UNC Alumni and Director of Brewing Operations, Jon Connolly. But that’s not the only reason to go there. They’re also known for their award winning Beers and the American Fare served in their brewpub. If you’re a fan of the beers, be sure to join their “Brew Crew” and eventually work your way up onto the Carolina Brewery’s “Wall of Foam.”
GENUINE OATMEAL PORTER
- 5.4% ABV
- Chapel Hill, NC
THEY SAY: This hearty dark ale with pleasing hints of molasses and chocolate is robust and full bodied. Fresh rolled oats compliment the brew by creating a nice silky texture and a creamy, rocky head. This style originally was a blend of three different beers that was called “Entire Butt” – we’re not kidding! Porter became a style of its own during the early 1700’s when it was the favorite drink of the porters in the produce markets of London, England.
REV SAYS: If bittersweet German chocolate could be a Beer, this would be it.
COPPER LINE AMBER ALE
- Amber Ale
- 3.9% ABV
- Chapel Hill, NC
THEY SAY: This brilliant red ale, brewed with caramel and pale malts is a best seller at the Carolina Brewery. Using traditional brewing methods, the ale yeast provides a touch of fruit and works in tandem with the malt to make for a very drinkable ale. Kent Golding hops lend just enough bitterness and aroma to round out the flavor.
REV SAYS: This Beer is light, sweet and incredibly drinkable due to a very well balanced brewing process.
DOWNTOWN TROLLEY BROWN
- English Brown Ale
- 5.2% ABV
- Chapel Hill, NC
THEY SAY: Chosen by our guests as one of their favorite specialty beers, this brown ale is freshly brewed in the distinctive American style with a deep garnet hue and more hops and malt than its English counterparts. The use of roasted barley imparts a nut-like flavor. These special ingredients make for a deep, mellow ale that goes great with any meal.
REV SAYS: This a great smelling Beer that’s a smooth, easy drinker with a smooth finish. It’s like a quick, easy flight with comfortable seating no turbulence.
Tasty Beverage Co
327 West Davie Street #106
Raleigh, NC 27601
With only hours to go on our trip, it was missing that one thing, that special moment, that one more last item that put the entire trip over the top. Our plan was to sit home at Dave’s house, order in, chill, watch TV and drink some Beers. My sense of adventure had yet to turn off and another lighting fast, on the go search leads us to what we were missing.
1100 packaged Beers in one store.
Honestly, does anything more need be said about the Tasty Beverage Co. of Raleigh, NC. While they do have a selection of Wines, High Quality Sodas, Meats, Cheese and an in-store Tasting Bar, those are only the icing on the cake, 1100 “cakes” that is. You’ll find the store in The Raleigh Depot located in the Warehouse District. Be sure to start your Craft Beer shopping spree at the back of the store at the tasting bar so you can shop while sipping on craft Suds. Even with a vast knowledge of Beer, there’s a good chance you’ll be overwhelmed by the selection available. No worries, just ask someone in the store for some help in choosing six packs, cans, single bottles, large formats, local Brews, foreign Beer, Ciders, room temperature or already chilled Beers. If owner Sean Pratt is in the house, you’re in for a special treat. This man knows their inventory and what’s in each bottle as if he was keeping count of family members. Can’t find what you’re looking for, he’ll know if they have it, if they can get it, why they can’t get it or the next best thing.
We spent nearly an hour, 30 minutes past closing circling and circling around the stores on what turned out to be a $150 craft Beer shopping spree. Leo and Mike got themselves well under control before I did and yet we still walked out with 3 boxes of Beers. There’s no way we could’ve brought home this much tasty Beer if we had flown but thankfully, the BROHD-MOBILE was ready to transport our brew booty.
Thanks to Dave for offering up the crash pad, pooch entertainment, beers, local guiding, laughs and WiFi. Hope the drums sound as sick as they look.
See you on the slip & slide.
Until the next BROHD TRIP!!
THE BURGER COUNTQUEST