Triple D Visits. Hits and Misses.
So we've started a mini debate on how good or not the places featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives are. I've been to about 10 and while I'd say one was no better than good, none have been terrible. Which has been eluded to off and on in various posts. I would say that most I've been to have been at least 9 out of 10. I'm not that hard to please though. I generally go in thinking I'm gonna enjoy myself and do.
So, with all that said, where have you been and what's it been like??
Here is my list somewhat in order of enjoyment.
Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger ~ Ann Arbor, Mi (One of the best burgers I've ever had. Awesome place)
Chino Bandido ~ Phoenix, Az. (Stupid good and strange fusion of Mexican and Chinese)
Blue Ash Chili ~ Cincinnati, Oh. (Great Cinci chili and other local favourties)
Matt's Big Breakfast ~ Phoenix, Az. (Only ate one breakfast but it was outstanding)
Martin's BBQ ~ Just outside Nashville, Tn. (Great Q but not awesome like the ones above)
Joe's Gizzard City ~ Pottersville, Mi. (Some great food here. A few misses and lots of grease. Loved it though)
Lake Effect Diner ~ Buffalo, NY. (Good, solid to exceptional diner fare. Great people too)
Wallace Station ~ Midway, Ky. (Really good but my burger rated top 5 by Guy was not in my top 10)
Rick's White Light Diner ~ Frankfort, Ky. (Good but not better. Well worth a visit. If just for Rick himself)
So let's hear it. Where have you been and what was it like??
This has been the case with a number of the San Diego places featured on food shows, not just DDD. The other issue is that once the shows hit the airwaves, it becomes almost impossible for locals that used to frequent the place to get in again.
And then there are the reruns...just when things begin to return to normal, a rerun hits and - bam - the lines and hassle are back making a routine visit all the more difficult.
As I said, the Bayway Diner is for the truck drivers and is across the street from an oil refinery.
Also, the DDD segment clearly illustrates that it is very tiny and only has 9 seats.
So given those to qualifications, I love this comment posted recently.
"Guy, I've always trusted you, but your review on the Bayway Diner shook me to the core. We went, we drove the 1/2 hour just because of your review. When we arrived on a Saturday at 1pm the place was so dirty we could not stay. Not to mention it only sits 8 people at a counter and you have to go outside to change your mind. Bad Bad Call Guy"
I was to Melt because of a recommendation on Chowhound prior to DD&D and I went to Geraci's on a date once. I went to Lucky's because of DD&D and it was very good but not amazing. I don't know how Sterle's made it on DD&D because it isn't very good IMO. DerBraumeister on w120th and Lorain is better German food.
I went to Nadine's and Big Jims in Pittsburgh since DD&D as well as Blimpy Burger in AA and there were all very good recommendations.
We were at Nadine's earlier this month solely because of seeing it on 3D. Mrs. Sippi saw the roast beef sandwich and was drooling.
Anyway, the place is quite the experience. Tucked away in a narrow street and rather inconspicuous it really is a dive.
That said, 3 for 3 in the sandwich department. Very good meatball sub. Outstanding fried baloney. Crazy good roast beef.
The Bayway Diner near the refinery in the arm pit of New Jersey, is a real dive. Seats 9 and closes at 4pm. http://www.youtube.com/v/QSaIU1f5TNw
The story goes something like this. This diner serves very large portions to its truck driver customers and gained a positive reputation. Then DDD arrived. Then the owner took the opportunity to cash in. Then the new owners closed for expansion. So the customers stopped coming. Something like that. Thus the "DDD effect".
I LOVE The Red Iguana in SLC. I went there long before it was on DDD and it blew my mind - it really stands out as one of my favorite places in the US. When I found out the DDD put it on the show, it gave it a boost of credibility for me.
Oohhs and Aahhs Soul Food - very good. I've recommended this place many times.
Tune Inn - a true dive bar. I've only been for beer, have never eaten there.
Tortilla Cafe - have only been once. Good pupusas, not great.
Comet Ping Pong - I like their pizza very much, and the atmosphere is fun.
Hodad’s in Ocean Beach (San Diego), I don’t remember if it was before or after DDD, there wasn’t a line which can be a problem, but it was a weekday lunch. I think the place is just fine for burgers and shakes. They love their bacon! Fun place and people I suppose and a half block from the ocean. I know SD Hounders hate, HATE!, this place with a passion. I think there was some love at one time… It’s a hit for me.
Studio Diner in San Diego. It’s a diner. Been a couple of times, mostly before DDD. Never an absolute hit but not terrible.
Brewburgers in Omaha, NE. Found it after staying across the street at a hotel on a cross-country drive. Real tasty menu and at that time a big mix of martinis for not much $. It’s right off I-80. We just happened on it probably using a “what is nearby” smart phone map app a few years ago. There was a sign on the door that Guy and DDD would be there the next week to film. So that definitely was a BEFORE DDD. Hit. But then what’s terrible when you’ve been driving all day?
Texas Pride BBQ outside of San Antonio, TX. We searched this one out. Seems like they are doing the right thing and the place is appropriately Texas BBQ-y. We had BBQ a few times on that trip, I think here the meat was better than the BBQ sauce. Still a hit with me.
I don’t remember any others. I do like the show a lot – especially when featuring solid from scratch cooking and Mom/Pop shops doing the right thing and making interesting food.
I took a big road trip earlier this year and I planned visits to Triple D and Best Thing I Ever Ate Locations all along the route. It was mostly good, but I will really pay attention to Guy's reaction and what he says because I think it can be telling.
Here is my list:
Capone's - Coeur D'Alene Idaho - I had been here before I saw it on DDD and I would consider it good. It has good food for a pub in Couer D'Alene.
Pizzalchik - Garden City Idaho - I had pizza with chicken so that I could try both. This is the place where I made a note of a comment Guy had made. He commented that the barbeque sauce on the pizza was sweet. Well it was, kind of gross sweet.
Over Easy - Phoenix Arizona - This lived up to my expectations. The breakfasts were good and creative.
Salsa Brava - Flagstaff Arizona - This was okay. I got the stuffed sopapilla which was featured on the show and I was not really impressed. It was fairly standard and did not stand out in my opinion. But perhaps it stands out in Flagstaff.
Standard Diner - Albuquerque New Mexico - I think this was featured on DDD and Best Thing I ever Ate so it had more than one recommendation. This was good and exceeded my expectations.
I've been to several, but it's not like I'm following the guy around or anything.
I agree with JJ McBrewsters in Lexington KY. Bad barbecue. First red flag was "barbecue" served on ciabatta, the second was the ding of the microwave. I don't remember seeing a woodpile anywhere around this place.
I like Wallace Station. Good sandwiches and super nice people
Parkette is a drive in. Good burgers. After watching them make chili, I want no part of that. Cool place though.
Smokey Valley truck stop. I heard about it on here and had no idea Guy had been there. Good food, but I got the feeling they don't like non-regulars. Took 45 minutes to get ham and eggs.
Woodyard is excellent.
RJ's Bob B Q. OK
Grinders, everything I've had has been excellent
Momma's 39th Street. Awesome, love the place and the food.
I'm sure there are more, these are the ones that stand out
Ramona Cafe, Ramona, CA- decent diner food. Kind of a miss.
Pizzeria Luigi, San Diego. Hit
BoBo's Drive in- Topeka, Kansas. I grew up going to this place, good food, hit. Mr. Bobo was also one of my brother's organ/piano teacher.
Salt Lick, Austin TX area. I love the place, hit. My family and I go there the day after Thanksgiving every year. The wait gets longer every year though...too much media attention.
Of the 20 I’ve been to so far:
- Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger, Ann Arbor MI – Agree with OP. It’s fantastic. Hilarious staff, great vibe and food.
- Mulberry Restaurant, Buffalo – Perhaps the best meatball I’ve ever had – and I’ve had a lot. Killer vibe too.
- Lake Effect Diner, Buffalo – Insanely great food. My service has not been overly friendly (bored college students) but I’ve had worse.
- Melt Bar & Grilled, Cleveland – Perhaps in my top 3 for DDD. Food? Wow.
- Pizza Junction, Buffalo – Great Buffalo style pizza. Wonderful service.
- Sophia’s, Buffalo – Just an amazing overall place. Prolly in my top 3 for DDD.
- Nadine’s, Pittsburgh – Insanely great food and people. What more can you ask for.
- Fly Trap, Ferndale, Mich. – Crazy tasty salmon burger and gingerbread waffles.
- Rick’s White Light Diner, Frankfort KY – Bourbon pie and shrimp po boy to die for (wasn’t loving oyster po boy).
- Grover’s, Buffalo – HUGE burgers. Their cattleman burger is YUMMY. Crab cake very different and delish. Did not care for onion rings/fries. Other food looked killer.
- Virgil’s, Bellevue KY – GREAT pastrami burger, hush puppies. Nice jambalaya and cheese grits but skimpy on proteins and portion size.
- Geraci’s, Cleveland – Delicious but smallish pizza, very nice meatball.
- Big Jim’s In The Run, Pittsburgh – HEAVENLY veal sammo. Decent meatball hoagie. Disappointing Italian Wedding soup. Joint bar.
- Parkette Drive-in, Lexington KY – What fried chicken should taste like. Decent chili dog, rings.
- Lucky’s Café, Cleveland – Quintessential brunch spot. Amazing garden and patio. Liked the food, but did not love. All scratch-made.
- Dor Stop, Pittsburgh – Another idyllic brekky/brunch spot. Pancakes were not piping hot or fresh and far too sweet. Not my thing. Loved their eggs benny, fried potatoes.
- Crystal’s, Pittsburgh – Worst food for DDD I’ve had. Crystal herself is lovely. Fun vibe though.
- Starlite Lounge, Pittsburgh – What a dump. Perogies huge and delish but drowned in butter and onions had no colour. Disappointingly unfresh fish sandwich. Rude staff.
- Wallace Station, Midway KY – Unlike OP I had a mixed experience. Big Brown burger and pimento cheese sammo were not good but their brownie was top 3 I’ve had in my life. Amazing cookies too. Inedible salty dry cornbread. Space and building are beautiful. Truly in the middle of thoroughbred country. Beautiful surroundings.
- J.J. McBrewster’s, Lexington KY – I really enjoyed my smoked turkey sammo and cornbread muffin. The “smoked” (yeah right) ribs and goat were truly horrible. Pulled Pork so so. No character to the place.
Vacationing in San Diego and bought the Food TV App so we could hit the Triple D joints in the area instead of eating at the usual chains (or taking blind chances). What a great idea that turned out to be! 6 Meals at 6 different places, 5 of them Triple D. All of them worth a visit again. In order of preference:
Hodad's - Burger and shake was really that good. Wow! Still surprised this place surpassed my expectations so thoroughly.
Blue Water Seafood - Fresh and fantastic. Calamari was the best I've had. Lightly seasoned fish let the delicate natural flavors shine.
Pizzeria Luigi - Great thin crust, you just keep eating and eating. Would love to try several other pies, but not gonna happen this trip.
El Indio - Very good but wished I ordered something not deep-fried to enjoy the fresh tortillas more. Generous with the guacamole which is rare these days.
Hob Nob Hill - Least impressive besides the fresh-squoze OJ which was incredible. Ate breakfast there but Dinner was focus of the DDD show. Good food, don't get me wrong. Just less memorable than the other spots. Maybe dinner is a step up?
What to hit tomorrow before flying back home? Decisions, decisions!
El Indio's glory days are long behind it, in spite of DDD. If you have a car and want really good Mexican before you leave town eat at Super Cocina - 37th & University. It's as close to real Mexican home cooking as you can get. The cooks are all home cooks who only prepare their speciality and they do not work every day. DDD has yet (thankfully) to discover it.
You missed Tioli's Crazy Burger on 30th about a block and a half south of El Cajon Blvd. Two guys doing all sorts of burgers with exotic meats (kangaroo, antelope, etc.). It was featured on DDD 2 or 3 years ago.
Mama Testa's in Hillcrest (University & Richmond) was featured on the fish taco Throwdown with Bobby Flay and won. Ironically, his fish taco isn't that good. Best selections at Mama Testa are the Pibil Tacos, hard shell mashed potato tacos (not the carb hit it seems), Asi Yasado (grilled chicken) and the (beef) Tacos Mojado.
Also on TV but not DDD is Lucha Libre Taco, just down the street from El Indio on Washington. I think they were on with Andrew Zimmerman. Food is so-so but the atmosphere is a lot of fun. I think Hash House A Go*Go has also been featured on DDD and one of the other food shows. Ridiculously enormous amounts of so-so food, all sprouting a rosemary bush out of the top of them somewhere. Eat there before your flight and I guarantee you won't want food for 2 days ;-)
The reality is that all these TV food shows doing San Diego food are not really ending up at some of the better locations. Blue Water and Mama Testa are exceptions, but there is just so, so, so much better stuff than some of the others. Hob Nob Hill has been around for ages and is tired and not particularly edible these days. Why in the heck it was *even* on the show has been a major mystery to most of us that live there.
Been to a couple of the places that Guy Fieri has been to in San Diego:
Blue Water Grill - Excellent fish quality, I like their sandwiches although I find them a little underseasoned for my taste. Chippino is good as well. Fish tacos are popular but I didn't care for them too much.
Studio Diner - Word on the street is that the chef that used to run the place when it was featured on DDD is no longer working there. In any case the food was pretty mediocre. Seems to be the typical quantity over quality type of place.
Blue Water - I think their sandwiches are really the way to go, or salads. Since there is a retail fish market in the restaurant, that is where I get all my fresh fish and it's always been superb.
Studio Diner - word on the street is right, the chef that was there when DDD did the show is gone...he's now working for me :-)
We went to Manci's Antique Club in Daphne, AL on our way home from TX last year. It was okay. I had the Spider Sandwich (SS crab). I think DH had the shrimp poboy. It was a little dirty and sketchy. The food was okay, but not memorable. We probably won't go back, because it's a bit of a hike off the highway when we're driving from FL to TX.
I have been to two in the SF Bay Area.
Gorilla BBQ is in my town. They are a takeout only place, well there are some picnic tables outside. Their food is considered to be very good, but unfortunately for me, I am not a big BBQ fan, so my opinion is not that valuable on that count. They are extremely popular however and have been since they opened, even before DDD. I drove by yesterday afternoon and there were at least 20 people in line.
The other place is In SF proper is the Tee Off, which was called "a five star, dive bar" on DDD. I used to go there pretty frequently, because a friend lives nearby. I think I heard about it here on CH first. When I first started going there the DDD episode had been filmed, but it took almost a year before it was aired. The owner bar has a background in fine dining and he handles the kitchen, his wife and co-owner works the bar, they are very nice people. It really is a bar first with a tiny kitchen. I have had some great meals there, the chef likes to work with unusual ingredients. He serves kangaroo and other game meat pretty often. I loved the ostrich burger. When they are having a good night it's great but they are so small they can get swamped quickly and then service is slow and they run out of specials, etc.