This thread is inspired by the long running Grilled Cheese thread.
When I was a kid there were certain foods we just expected to be trashy. We got hamburgers from McDonalds, pizza from Pizza Hut, and Tacos from Taco Bell. Even into my early work career pizza was something we ate either because we were having a poker night, or because the boss wanted us to work late. These foods were fast to order, easy to make, and usually produced by teenagers. Nobody would ever consider them gourmet.
But a few years ago I started noticing a shift in food tastes. I work in Dallas (but live nearby) and noticed that there were a number of gourmet burger places opening up. One of my favorites is a place called Village Burger Bar. Real chefs, fresh ground meat, and unique toppings made for a great burger experience. But that’s nothing compared to a restaurant on Lower Greenville called “The Grape”. They make a customized burger that they only sell on Sundays and Mondays. At one point it was ranked by Texas Monthly as the best burger in Texas. Custom baked buns, homemade sauces, a bacon made only for this burger, and locally grown toppings. I sense a visit is imminent.
Soon after I noticed the gourmet burgers I noticed that there were some new gourmet pizza places opening up. The first one I discovered was one called Fireside Pies. They used exclusively local ingredients and had toppings that were unique without going too far outside of a pizza lovers comfort zone. Last week we had a client in our office from Alabama and he specifically requested that we go to Fireside. He told us that he brags about it every time he goes home and claims that he’s never tasted anything like it. It’s amazing. I know of some other places we’ll take him to next that I’m dying to compare.
A couple of years ago Dallas got its first Torchy’s Tacos. This restaurant started out as a food truck in Austin but has been expanding since then. I’ve never had a bad taco, but the best one is a breakfast taco called “The Dirty Sanchez”. Eggs, fried poblano, escebeche carrots, cheese, and a poblano sauce. Amazing. I hated ordering it the first time because of the name, but now I order it with pride!
What amazes me about each of the places I’ve listed above is how busy they are. They’ve really tapped into something primal in our local tastebuds. That old comfort food, prepared to adult tastes, is such a powerful experience. It’s how these foods were meant to be.
What foods did you enjoy as a kid that has since appealed to your grown up tastes? Have you improved on any of these foods at home that your friends rave about?