Warehouse Cafe – Port Costa California

Bikers, Pirates, Gypsies & Artists, oh my. Have you ever been to Port Costa? It’s a tiny town nestled in low rolling hills on the Carquinez Strait between Crockett and Martinez in West Contra Costa County. The only way in or out is 1 little two lane road that winds its way in and around.  It’s absolutely stunning and considering it’s been there since 1879, the architecture is absolutely badass.

Other than people, homes and character, there isn’t much going on in Port Costa. And it’s clear the populace likes it that way.  Don’t count on any cell connection either, ain’t gonna happen. Unless you’re at the bar, they have wireless action for everyone. Bikers & Gypsies need wi-fi too, eh.

Down at the end of the main street, nestled at the waterfront, is a dirt parking lot that’s usually populated by Harleys, 30+ year old American cars & trucks and whatever else the locals have drug in.  Park here.  Head back up and make a left turn in to the bar or restaurant, don’t matter which door you use, it’s all connected.

The Warehouse Cafe and biker bar has been around for years  and the decor is heavily eclectic to say the least.   On Friday and Saturday evenings their kitchen opens up and as my sister says, “They serve Steak & Meat”. And brother, or sister, that’s exactly what they do!  New York Steak, 1 pound. Prime Rib, 1 pound. Lobster?  I forget, but I’m sure it’s huge. Along with the meat, taters and delectable simmered mushrooms you get a happy salad bar option, home simmered pot o’ chili and clam chowder. Need to wash it down with something cool and refreshing? They tout 400 varieties of beer, that’s a lot just so you know. They don’t deny the chillin’s a menu either, it goes like this: New York Steak, 1/2 pound. Prime Rib Dinner, 1/2 pound. Lobster …, well you get the idea.

The chile was pretty darned good! Solid chile pepper flavors, hunks of well simmered tasty beefs, beans had good tooth action. I’d offer up a shot of the salad, but who cares?  I don’t. You’re lucky you get this funky shot of the chili.

And now?  The piece of resistance!

Yup, you guessed it, I ordered the Prime Rib dinner served medium rare. It was perfect in every way.  The bark had caramelly rosemary additions, fatty goodness throughout and bloody red from edge to edge. If I remember semi-well, each dinner was about $25 bux and worth every fricken penny.

Everyone at the table thoroughly enjoyed the surroundings, the food and the waitstaff couldn’t have been more attentive and hooohot. I was able to get a few bites of my neighbor’s new york 1 pounder and next time I come for dinner, this is what I will be ordering.  While the prime rib was awesome, as with the standing rib beef roasts, they’re on the mild side. Their new york cut was grilled well and had a mouthful of beef flavor explosions that blew the mild yet tasty rib roast out of the water.  Pow, just like that.  See?  Boom!  Beef flavor explosions!  MmmMMm, steak and meat.

xo, Biggles

Warehouse Cafe

5 Canyon Lake Dr
Port Costa, CA 94569

(510) 787-1827

Jones’ BBQ – El Sobrante California

Yeah, yeah, I’ve reviewed Jones’ BBQ before, quite some time ago actually.  And, if my swiss related memory served me correctly it came to 3 different times spanning from 2004 ending in November of 2005. Never was able to get anything worth finishing, toss. No smoky goodness, sauce that over powered by the 3rd bite and lackluster sides.  Oh the horrors!

Wait a minute, wait just a goldarned minute.  Uh, if we use math, that’d be over 5 years ago.  Really?  Honestly, it only seems like a few years ago. I just went back and checked, yup. It was nearly 6 years ago I last stopped by.  Seems only fair I give them another shot, eh? Besides, I was pale & shaking from lack of food and this hillbilly was hungry!

As you can see, this here is California BBQ. It comes slathered in sauce. Sure, I could have asked for it on the side and they would have gladly obliged me, not a problem. But wanted to see how it came without my direction, next time it’s sauce on the side. And, was a little disappointed to see hunks of chicken breast instead of chicken parts. The way I figure it, they were probably out of parts and made do with what they had on hand, totally acceptable.

The sauce has changed greatly over the last 5+ years, far thinner with some sweet action followed by a nice bite of vinegar.  It was good, not over powering. And you know what?  Each and every bite had smoky flavors! That’s right folks, smoky love was present this time. Each and every bite of chicken and ribs were tender and smoky. The rib meat came from the bone with a tug, chicken had good texture. I ordered a side of tater salad and beans, they were fine.  Nothing to write home about and could have used 3 packets of hot sauce on top. But brother, or sister, I wasn’t there for the sides. It’s all about the meat!

To sum it all up, this 2 way combo of chicken & ribs totally didn’t suck. A bit pricey at 22 bux, but I suppose that’s pretty much standard for the San Francisco Bay Area. If you’re local and haven’t been or haven’t been in a while, stick your neck in the door and have a try. I’ll be back and will see how their fried chicken is doing.  I enjoyed it the last time, I remember Chilebrown wasn’t impressed though.  MMmMm, fried chicken.

Jones’ BBQ
3550 San Pablo Dam Road #B3
El Sobrante, CA 94803
510-758-9227

xo, Biggles

Sumo Grub – Berkeley California

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Last week Chilebrown of Madmeat Genius offered up a new place in Berkeley for some tempura fare, he mentioned Tempura Cheese Pizza. Yup, it’s like that.
He and Ms. Goofy (his wife) stopped by at noon on Saturday to haul my lazy ass out of the house and on a food adventure. I figured downtown Berkeley, noon, on a Saturday would be something of a snarl for traffic & parking. Traffic caused us to hit the back streets, but parking was right around the corner. We entered!
Sumo Grub is nice, clean, cute and had a handful of tables for in-house dining. The menu to the left was done on a chalk board, it was laid out well, very legible. Under burgers they have their 1/4 lb Angus beef and something called, “Vegan Meat”, I thought that was very cool. The woman running the front was exceptionally kind, helpful and cheery. The best part though? Is that they have a backyard for outside seating! It was awesome! Loved it.
The prices are exceptionally affordable, probably due to the location directly across the street from Berkeley High. So, ordering a bunch of goodies is of no concern for those of us that haven’t attended such a school for 30+ years. I ordered a cheese burger with onion rings, tempura mac & cheese and bottled water.
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I really liked the onion rings, but the burger fell short. The poor beef patty was cooked beyond its life expectancy. But after meeting the owner and chef, I’m sure he’s working out the kinks and won’t hold that against him. I was the one that ordered a burger in an Asianny restaurant. Other than that, the bun was absolutely stellar along with the lettuce, and the green fleckled sauce stuff.
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Here’s a shot of Chilebrown’s Chicken, Apple Sausage Tempura.
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Here’s the Tempura Mac & Cheese. I’m a hard core mac and cheese guy, if it ain’t a home made southern mac & cheese, I’m not interested. I should be reviewing on its own merit, but I can’t.
When we were nearly done with our lunch, Chilebrown got up and ordered us a Tempura Heart Attack for dessert, it serves 3? This would be Tempura Oreos, Twinkies and ice cream.
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I really liked the Oreos and the ice cream, the Twinkies were good. The owner really knows how to Tempura anything. This was the piece of resistance, what really tied it all together. The bread crumbs varied from item to item.
To sum it all up, Sumo Grub really shines in a few areas and I will go back to try some more dishes that compliment his skills.
Sumo Grub
2235 Milvia Street, at Kittridge
Open Monday through Saturday from 11am until “The freaks come out”
Closed on Sunday
xo, Biggles

Boilerhouse Restaurant – Richmond CA

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A week ago or so Meathead’s mother came to town and my sister Kallisti offered up the Boilerhouse as a nice, new destination restaurant to visit. It’s only a few minutes from either of us and neither of us had been, it was time.
The Boilerhouse is located at the old Ford Motorplant that was producing vehicles back in the ’50s, very industrial. It’s out near the harbor and the Bay Trail ends right at their front door. You have to drive out near Pt. Richmond, then head out and actually be checked in by a guard at the gate.
At first glance we were all impressed they’d kept and worked with such an industrialized area and old buildings. The place isn’t huge and the day we were there they were hosting a high school graduation. It all worked seamlessly. While it does seem somewhat upscale, it’s more inviting than that. A seating for 7 was easily dealt with, the servers were well groomed and attentive. The menu simple, pointed towards burgers. Burgers!
Ground beef from Niman Ranch and hand patted, cooked to your specification.
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I got the Texas burger cooked medium raw. Gently packed with home fried red onions, bread roll was soft yet chewy. My father got the Jalapeno burger, said to be as awesome as well.
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All of us ordered drinks and burgers, all were satisfied. The Boilerhouse really succeeds to down scale a great meal in a wondrous atmosphere of old industrial manufacturing. It’s going to be tough for them to bring business their way considering where they are, which is why I wanted to stop by and let you know this is a place worth visiting!
The restaurant opens up directly on to the harbor, marina and the bay. The view is epic, go now! Just to let you know how awesome it was, as we finished our meal the disco version of Star Wars emptied in to the audio system, everyone got dreamy eyed and fell in to a trance.
Go now, go soon. The Boilerhouse in Richmond.
xo, Biggles

Mississippi Catfish – Richmond, CA

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Alright, gather close. Raise your hand if you’ve driven by a restaurant or food truck and swore to yourself that you really need to stop by and see what they’re up to? Yup, nearly all, myself included. Okay, how many of you drive past the same place day after day, week after week, then year after year saying the same damned thing? Oh, comon, tell the truth. Yup, nearly all, myself included.
Back when they started up, in the parking lot of Mel & Son’s Muffler, they were in a stark white catering trailer. Even had tables set up outside for people to enjoy their food stuffs. They spent 7 years there, and a few years ago moved in to a brick & mortar building right next door. I drive past anywhere from 4 to 6 times a day, watching & waiting. What a noodle, why not just stop the hell by and see what’s going on?
It wasn’t until I saw a smoker on a trailer puffing mightily away that I started twitching and biting my lip. Okay, I give up, you got me.
Parking is a little odd what with being surrounded by auto related service stations, not a biggie though. The place is exceptionally bright and clean, very inviting and well taken care of. A few tables in the center with the kitchen facing you in the back. If Pops is there, the conversation is boisterous and all smiley. Earlier in the day his son is in the kitchen, I hear his daughter comes in later in the day. Ordering was easy because the son helped, me. I mentioned I’d never been and looked lost. He suggested the Lunch Delight with 2 pieces of catfish, 3 hushpuppies, slaw or fries for $7.25. And it comes with a soda !!!
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Ain’t that somethin’? The cornmeal coating on the fish is thin, tasty and has a nice toothy crunch. The meat is firm, yet yields, then goes down quickly. I’ve been 3 times now and so far I’ve never just received 2 pieces, it’s always been a bit more. The hushpuppies were perfect in every way, crunchy on the outside, creamy steamy on the inside with nice savory wafty flavors. On the first one I did the fries, having 3 fried things at once was too much. On the second visit I ordered the slaw, was good, had raisins in it, didn’t ask if they make it er not. Oh, make sure you ask for an extra hot sauce packet or two if you’re getting it to go. It comes with 1, 1 is not enough and they’re happy to oblige.
All in all it was an uplifting experience with really tasty catfish & hushpuppies. Heck, I’d pull off the freeway for those ‘puppies! Oh, and the best part? I’ve always been the only white boy in there!
Mississippi has other items on the menu as well, snapper, prawns, wings (I think) and L&D BBQ Thursday through Saturday. Start with the catfish, yes start there and move your way around the menu as you see fit. I’ll get to the que as my budget and time see fit.
xo, Biggles
Mississippi Catfish, inc.
12440 San Pablo Avenue
Richmond, CA 94805
510.682.5377

Blackened Gater & Fried Pickles at Felix’s in NOLA

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While the good Reverend Doctor Biggles spends his days hunting and hopefully trapping his muse, we bring you some travelin’ meaters.
My sister Kallisti, and her husband Meathead are right now in New Orleans. She lived there for maybe 4 or 5 years many moons ago and wanted to revisit. I’ve got a sneaking suspicion this was taken not too terribly long ago, what with how the internet and fancy phones be.
xo, Biggles

The Grub Shack – Terlingua Ranch Road in West Texas

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Editor’s Note: Ya know, nobody has ever accused me of being current. Here we find JLee, on her birthday (over a month ago), at the Grub Shack in West Texas. Joe Bob is doing all the fancy shootin’ with his electronical camera rig. Check it out, it’s a trailer with an awning out in the middle of fricken nowheres! JLee says:
I had been reading about this place on a blog, The Field Lab and then I saw Betty Doyle on youtube and knew we’d have to come here. A tiny place out in the middle of 360 degree desert eye candy, serving up hearty, filling food. This was by far the best breakfast of the trip. Egg, sausage & bacon on Texas toast, mmmmm. A couple of the ‘regulars’ were having biscuits and gravy, cracking on each other and life in general. Not a hipster or laptop in sight, aaaah.
JLee
The Grub Shack
Hwy 118 & Terlingua Ranch Rd

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Editor’s Note:
If you’re interested, or not, you really should visit The Field Lab link up there. I’ll bet it’s a lifestyle in a place you ain’t at or livin’ in. Here’s one of my favorite links on The Field Lab, it’s labeled Poop. I find it pretty humbling when I feel so high and mighty about buying locally grown and ranched food, then read about how someone has taken it about 10 steps further to do well by the planet. Cheers!
Annnn, since this picture was taken, Betty has packed up and headed out to take care of some sick relative. The Grub Shack has new people serving up the food action today. I don’t know yet if Betty plans on returning any time soon.
Biggles

Saul’s Restaurant & Deli – Berkeley California

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Urp, sorry. Saul’s Restaurant & Deli has been open since 1986, doesn’t seem too terribly long. But for anyone to has enjoyed the faire, it feels as though it’s been a lifetime. My mother frequented it so often that if anyone she knew would come to eat, the waitresses would send home cookies for her. My sister and her husband Meathead go all the time, I’m sometimes in tow, pried from underneath from my rock.
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It’s a little on the large side for a “deli”, but perfect for a restaurant. Saul’s has gone out of their way since the beginning to bring their customers not only an excellent Jewish Deli, but also the best in local, sustainable and organic ingredients. In-house made pastrami? Yup. In-house made pickles? Yup. In-house made tons of other goodies? You bet!
Your grandmother would be grins from ear to ear to be served their, “Chicken in a pot.” A home-made chicken soup that contains it all, and about half the size of the Titanic. One of my favorite parts though is their policy about NOT trimming the fat off their pastrami brisket. Pretty cool, eh?
To be perfectly honest though, the reason I go back is the fact is that the quality of their ground beef is so high they can offer their burgers cooked rare. That’s right, rare.
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The burger is so perfect, so wonderful. It’s served on an Acme bun, resting by itself. Next to it lay nestled good leaf lettuce, thin red onion and tomatoes so read they hurt your eyes. You can order cheese and/or pastrami as a topping, I chose pastrami this time. Sure you can get real french fries, potato salad or whatever. I find they detract from the burger. When cooked rare, I suggest you do not lay it down. Once you hold it how you want, eat it. The juices are the one you want in your mouth, not on your plate.
I love Saul’s, as do many. If you’re looking for destination burger and pastrami, Saul’s is the place to seek. After your meal, you’re left to wander Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto with The Cheese Board and Chez Panisse and many others.
Saul’s Restaurant & Deli
1475 Shattuck Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94709
510-848-DELI
Biggles

Hot Pit BBQ – Del Rio Texas

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Editor’s Note: Here’s another installment of JLee and Joe Bob’s trip to West Texas. They’ve been back now for a week or so and we’ve got some insight to what’s going on in BBQ there. Pretty cool trip, eh?
Remembering McBee’s in Hondo, a very swell brisket. Very moist, proper smoke. Lotsa side carbs here. Appears I am eating off Joe Bob’s plate, pacing myself. I’m wondering if we’re just getting lucky, or if there’s better cows this year. This sauce was sublime. Joe Bob ended up putting it on the beans even. Requisite Dr. Pepper, if there’s no RC Cola.
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JLee & Joe Bob
Hot Pit BBQ
309 Avenue F
Del Rio, TX 78840
(830)775-3883

McBee’s Bar-B-Q – Hondo Texas

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Editor’s Note: This just in directly from Hondo Texas. Joe Bob and JLee are meandering their way through Texas as we speak. Texas Barbecue is on the menu and Shiner’s Mesquite Smoked Lager Beer is the grail. Will let you know when the holy grail is discovered.
Meal was great! some of best brisket we ever had. Really good Polish sausage too. chicken was chicken but amazing skin like turkey and rub of some sort. we kept leftovers for later and they did not last long. Brisket had killer smoke ring and crusty outer layer. Most….not that tired dry stuff you normally find on the tour de Texas.
This is brisket country no doubt. No pork yet but we keep searching. Tried another place in Del Rio but that come over tonight. We in Marathon now at cool hotel, RV park and got last room. Now we off to James Evans gallery and French Grocer store. Searching hard for Pearl Beer !! (Search for Shiner you knob!)
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Joe Bob
McBee’s BBQ
1301 19th St
Hondo Texas 78861
830-426-4045

Bistro 1491 – Albany

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I grew up in Albany, went all the way through Elementary, Middle and High School, seemed like forever. Back then, Albany was a sleepy little town stuck in time and Solano Avenue (the main drag) was no exception. It wasn’t uncommon to visit stores, shops, pharmacies, offices and diners that’d been there for 50+ years. As a teenager it drove me crazy and ended up taking a bus in to Berkeley (right over there) for a little fun and merriment.
Today, one of the last strongholds of that era, was Walker’s Pie Shop. I was sad to see it go for posterity reasons, but honestly the food didn’t keep me coming back. Wondered what would replace it?
Bistro 1491, babeee !!!

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Taqueria Del Palmar – El Cerrito, CA – v2.0

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Keeripes! I just checked the last time I wrote about Taqueria Del Palmar and it was fricken’ over 3 years ago! Weren’t we just 23? No, huh.
It was soon after that the food seemed to fall off kilter, I think I had 5 off meals in a row. Big D wasn’t impressed either. So, we let it go for a while.
Well, Mr. Owner Guy is back and the last few weeks have been pretty fricken’ good. The warm house-made tortilla chips fried in lard seem to be as good as they should be. The meat is tender, flaky, full of good flavors and plentiful. The red sauce on the Burrito Especial is also house-made. Everything, so far, is spot on and I will return again this week and more than a few times next week.
Plus, get this. I noticed their prices are lower, at least on the burritos. Yet another reason why I stopped going. I mean, nearly 10 dollars for an All Pastor Burrito? Yes, the size of the rig is down as well, but that’s fine by me. It’s still way large enough for a 220 pound, 6’2″ tall man to get a good lunch down, perfection. If you haven’t been in a while, it’s worth a return trip.
Taqueria Del Palmar
11252 San Pablo Avenue
El Cerrito, CA 94530
510-307-4312
xo, Biggles

Tofu Yu – Deli / Cafe – Organic & Vegetarian – El Cerrito California

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Whoa, whoa whoa, hold on there Tex. I’m a complex man and I got my reasons for posting this. Just hang on a moment and give me a chance. Besides, the damned place ain’t even open yet.
Some of you may or may not know, it could very possibly be, a vegetarian dish could be worth eating. Even enjoying, no really. Remember, a large percentage of the world’s population eat vegetarian. The deal is tho’, they have many dishes per meal, not just one plate o’ shrimp.

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The Squirrels – Lafayette California

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I love traditional cafe’s, always have. Some of my fondest memories are breakfast meals coated in some non-descript gravy. It’s the first thing on my mind, “Where’s the gravy?”. First on my lunch list would be the Hot Turkey Sandwich, oh man. The older I get though, I find that my body can’t take that much sodium, oh well. It still doesn’t stop me from making a hard left and pulling in to a homey town cafe and ordering up a nice breakfast.
For months I delivered and retrieved Boy #1 from school and would drive right on by The Squirrels, closed in the early afternoon. I knew that some day I would be early enough, and have enough time to stop by and poke my nose in the door. From the outside I could see it had booths, and counter space to sit and enjoy. The tall ceiling sported some cool, hanging, globe-ular lighting, neat! Oh, and the colors. Kinda lightish, brownish, yellowish 70′s inspired vinyl upholstery, trimmed with plastic wood veneer. Put Stimpy in your mind rejoicing, “Happy Happy, Joy Joy !!!”.
An opportunity knocked, and I answered. “Hello Ren.”

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Pollo Campero – El Salvadorean Fried Chicken

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Last year I wandered in to Joya de Ceren and bought this little, tiny red box full of fried chicken. It was 10 bux for just a few pieces, and not freshly prepared. On the side was this little chicken made up like a cowboy with the words, “Pollo Campero” on the side. Country Chicken, that is. As near as I can dig up, it’s a chain of places dear to the hearts of our brothers and sisters down south. It’s a little slice of home and that, means a lot.
We ain’t got that here, so someone decided to make their own! And they live just down the street, oh yes.
Taqueria Las Americas has reopened and is now serving their own version!

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