Gratzfood Review: Percy Street Barbecue

I love barbecue. Pulled pork. Brisket. Ribs. Chicken. My mouth waters just typing that. Might be the most underrated type of food there is. Despite my affection for slaughtered animals doused in barbecue sauce, I never made it to Percy Street Barbecue in Philly which is kind of surprising considering it’s right down the street from where I live. This past Saturday my buddy and I finally tried it out, here’s the scoop.

What I ordered: Pulled Pork Sandwich, split an order of wings, whiskey ginger.

Verdict: As always, my anxiety ridden self was in a state of panic when it came time to make a decision on what to order. I love brisket and I love pulled pork. Luckily the waiter started off by saying that he personally recommends the pulled pork. When I asked him if it was better than the brisket he subtly gave the pulled pork another vote of confidence. It was settled. Pulled pork sandwich. Fries. Whiskey ginger. Ohh yeah. While I waited for that my friend and I split an order of wings. The wings were awesome. I really enjoyed them. Dry rub, meaty, flavorful. They had almost a maple kind of taste to them or something. Whatever it was, I was down. Before the main food comes out they storm the table with a barrage of different sauces. This is not a bad thing. At all. They were rattling off the sauces the same way one can rattle off girls Derek Jeter slept with. I was overwhelmed and didn’t retain anything, obviously. Strong pulled pork sandwich. Very strong. A generous portion of meat, some onion, plenty of fries. Some of the sauces were hits and some I could do without but having that variety was awesome. Since I didn’t really know which was which i just blindly poured different ones onto the pork. Aggressive, but necessary.  Here’s the thing, I would gladly come back to Percy street for their pulled pork sandwich and wings. However, their prices are a little steep. Steep enough that it would prevent me from coming on a normal basis. $14 for the sandwich. The wings were $9 ($4.50 each). A whiskey ginger is $10. That’s $28.50 before tax and tip. Ended up costing $35 for a sandwich, drink and three wings. I don’t mind paying a little bit more for a quality sandwich (which I consider their pulled pork to be) but $14 a sandwich isn’t something I would want to do all the time. Sure I can probably hold off on the wings and maybe do without the alcohol, but still a $14 sandwich with a soda or something is still going to end up being close to $20 bucks or more. Delicious sandwich, might not be a $14 sandwich. At the end of the day though if you’re really craving barbecue you might not mind spending the extra moolah. Pulled pork isn’t something I eat on a weekly basis so hey spending a few extra bucks might not be a deal breaker.

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On a side note, the service was phenomenal. Everyone was friendly from the hostess to the wait staff. Our waiter was energetic, informative and handled everything well. The food also came out fast, despite it being pretty crowded. The service and experience went a long way in making me feel more at ease about paying a premium. If it took forever to bring out a $14 sandwich on South Street I probably would have lost it. Overall good, quality barbecue. Great service, nice atmosphere, definitely worth trying but probably not special enough to give it a repeat visit with so many places to try in Philly unless you really want barbecue and/or are really close.

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Amendment: John’s Roast Pork Makes A Top 5 Cheesesteak

The constitution may very well be the most important document in America to this day. Gratzfeed’s top 5 cheesesteak article, a close second. Like the constitution, sometimes amendments are needed as times evolve and things change. They’re an important way to update and preserve the integrity of important works. As a result, I am making the very first amendment to my most popular article.

I first had John’s Roast Pork some years ago. While I think I liked it, I never thought it was quite the sandwich some had made it out to be. As the years went by, time and time again I kept hearing John’s Roast Pork’ cheesesteaks being referred to as some of the best Philly had to offer. I decided I had to give it another go. Another go turned into another go. Another go into another and so on and so fourth. Get it?

There’s a reason John’s Roast Pork has the strong reputation it does, their cheesesteaks are out of this world. The meat is flavorful. The rolls are terrific. They give you plenty of cheese and onions. But it doesn’t stop there, something about their cheesesteaks must be addressed and right this very instant. The sandwiches are HUGE. Seriously, it’s borderline offensive how much meat they pile on a single sandwich. Disturbing. Last time I went I was pretty full from just one half, but curiosity got the best of me and for some sick reason I was compelled to experience the feeling of eating a whole one again. It’s pretty much a suicide mission. It’s like having a football in your stomach. Or quintuplets. The thing is, I can eat a lot. If anything I usually complain about portions being too small. Not at John’s. You get your moneys worth and then some. You’ll be full for pretty much a whole day.

If you never been to John’s and want to get some intel, let me paint a picture. It’s your standard Philly dive joint. Small inside where a line wraps around. You either order at one stop at the counter or the next depending on if you’re getting something from the grill like a cheesesteak or the next if you’re getting a roast pork or beef. They have an enclosed seating area with benches and condiments and then some additional benches outside with no enclosure. Simple. Divey. Delicious.

On a side note, while in this case I’m focusing on the cheesesteaks, their roast pork and beef is dynamite too. Like the cheesesteaks, the sandwiches are humongous. Definitely worth a try if you’re into those.

Now you may be wondering, who’s getting bumped from the top 5? Honestly, I think I’d go with John’s Roast Pork over Tony Luke’s. Tony Luke’s is still great though and is undoubtedly a South Philly classic. So, I’m going to do the logical thing and make John’s Roast Pork 5A. and Tony Luke’s 5B. Does that make any sense? Probably not. But I want people to know Tony Luke’s is still a top cheesesteak and I want them to know about John’s Roast Pork too. There you have it, the first amendment to Gratzfeed’s top 5 cheesesteaks has been made. John’s Roast Pork, welcome to the cheesesteak elite. unnamed-5.jpg

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Gratzfood Review: Taco Bell Naked Chicken Chips/Chickstar

I love Taco Bell’s promotions. They’ll take anything and put a Mexican spin on it. Mexican pizza. Doritos locos tacos. Now it’s “naked chicken chips” or as any regular American would say, “chicken nuggets”. They come in counts of 6 and 12, $2.39 and $4.49 respectively. They also come with a side of nacho cheese to dip into (which I guess justifies them being called chips). I’m not going to make this long. They’re chicken nuggets. I liked them. They’re actually better than Wendy’s and Burger King’s (shouldn’t be too hard). I feel like they’re a little bigger than a regular chicken nugget but still $2 for 6 of them felt steep. You can get a loaded griller or a little burrito for less than two bucks which I think is the better deal. They’re processed chicken nuggets, nothing you haven’t had before but I did enjoy them. The cheese is an interesting side and your enjoyment of that will ultimately come down to if you like Taco Bell’s nacho cheese or not. I think the chips are a good compliment if you’re getting something else. For example a crunch wrap supreme might not be enough but a side of naked chicken chips would obviously be more filling and you get some variety. Ironically, they don’t have a spicy option. I think that’s something they’ll eventually roll out and those might be even better.

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I think the better option is this new thingamajig they got called the “chickstar”. It’s essentially a little folded wrap (think crunch wrap without the hard shell) with breaded chicken inside but it comes with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and avocado ranch sauce. I think at $3.39 this is a better play than just the standard nuggets, er, naked chicken chips. When I say there’s breaded chicken inside, they literally take like four of the chicken chips and put them in. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. The extra stuff inside makes it a little more filling but it’s still kind of a snack sized thing. I really love their avocado ranch sauce and thought this chickstar was pretty bangin’ overall. Well, that’s a wrap. Taco Bell rocks. Chicken nuggets are tight. Get the chickstar. Peace.

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Look at all that goodness stuffed into that wrap baby. 

Gratzfood Review: Chick’n Shack Sandwich

I get really defensive when it comes to chicken sandwiches. As you probably know, I am a vocal and devout supporter of a certain Atlanta based fast food chicken chain and am undoubtedly biased towards their food. I must be honest I was a little hurt when I initially saw Shake Shack was adding a chicken sandwich to their menu. I viewed it almost as a direct attack at my beloved favorite. But as a chicken sandwich enthusiast I had to at least try it, had to see what the competition was bringing to the table. After hitting the NFL Draft in Philly my friends and I were looking for a place to eat and when someone mentioned Shake Shack there was more fanfare than the actual draft itself. Here was a golden opportunity to finally try the chick’n shack sandwich and once and for all satisfy my curiosity.

Simply put it was really good. Very crispy breast of chicken. I really enjoyed all the toppings (lettuce, pickles, buttermilk herb mayo). The herb mayo was zesty and a welcome addition as it provided just the right amount of flavor without detracting from the chicken itself. One minor complaint was the chicken breast wasn’t evenly proportioned, one bite might have been all breading while the next was all meat. Inconsistent. I think this sandwich can coexist with others because it’s just different than the competition. Different vibe. At $6.49, it’s more expensive than a normal fast food chicken sandwich. Add $2.50 for a fountain soda and another $2.99 for fries and you’re looking at a $12 meal compared to something maybe a little smaller at $7.50. This is the perfect chicken sandwich option if you have a hankering on a Sunday. Look, there’s no denying Shake Shack has pretty damn good food. This sandwich, while maybe a little expensive, doesn’t really feel like a ripoff although I can probably eat two if I forgo fries. If you’re at Shake Shack, this is certainly a viable option and I would recommend it if you’re a fan of chicken sandwiches. Not the biggest, not too small, but just about fair and the taste surpassed my expectations. This is a welcome addition to the chicken sandwich game and a legitimate option for the fast casual realm. unnamed.jpg

It’s Time We Address These Oreo Milka Bars…

When I went to Israel in December I left with a deeper sense of purpose and a greater understanding of the meaning of life. Experiencing growth both spiritually and mentality, there’s one specific moment where I can attribute this boundless transformation to. One defining moment where it all clicked and I saw the earth through a new lens. As someone who’s a bit of a picky eater, I found myself hungry to the point of delusion and needed some sort of substance to power me through the day. At the store I saw these “Milka” bars and noticed one that was Oreo based. I wasn’t sure if these existed in the states or not so I decided to give it a try….

You may think the purpose of this piece is to celebrate and admire these candy bars. Far from it. This is a warning. This is to raise awareness on a potentially life altering substance that is (for the moment) legalized and carried in real stores. Since Israel I have learned that these bars are now available in the states. For the sake of you and your loved ones do not try them. Just say no. We could be on the verge of the next big epidemic and it’s up to us to nip it in the bud. Colossal consequences at stake. I’m happy that I found my purpose in life. I’m glad to know that if I can stop just one person from eating these then I can make a real difference. The responsibility of preventing a massive outbreak falls squarely on our shoulders. If you know someone who’s been affected by Oreo Milka bars, or are personally affected yourself, please call the Gratzfeed hotline where you will receive one on one consultation from one of our trained experts. Have a blessed day.

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Underrated Gem: Marmont Steakhouse

To be completely honest, when it comes to places to get a good steak in Philly I never really thought of Marmont Steakhouse. Until I tried it. Here’s the brief story of how I discovered this place. My family and I wanted to go out for restaurant week last year. My mom told me to pick a place and we’ll make a reservation. After perusing some of the promotional menus I thought Marmont had one you couldn’t really go wrong with. Cheesesteak spring rolls, potato soup, 12 ounce ribeye and a dessert. Booked.

Marmont is located on 2nd & Market in the Old City section of Philadelphia. The first time I went there I was kind of thrown for a loop. I was expecting some grand, fancy steakhouse but in reality the atmosphere is more of a bar setting. Some tables, the bar, few TV’s and that’s pretty much it. It’s low key and casual to say the least. In a way, it’s pretty refreshing that you can have a quality meal without all the fancy fanfare.

When going out to dinner with your mom (or at least my mom) it’s pretty essential to start with an alcoholic beverage. Marmont has you covered. They have standard beer and wine options but my eyes always gravitate to their speciality drinks. Their signature cocktail menu is expansive and no matter whether you’re a rum, gin, vodka or fan of whatever else, there’s an interesting concoction with your alcohol of choice.

Drinks are fine and dandy but unless the food is good it’s a moot point. Lets start with the appetizers. They have a potato soup with large chunks of potatoes, cheese, topped with bacon. I have had it twice and both times it was out of this world. Unfortunately it’s only a special offered on occasion which I was a little disappointed to hear during my last visit. It’s absolutely delicious and should really be a menu mainstay but since it wasn’t offered last time I opted for the fried shrimp. Woah. The shrimp were huge. You get 8, big pieces of shrimp (I know, I know it’s an oxymoron) that are full of flavor as they’re topped with fried jalapeños. Definitely a hit at the table. The real star of the show (as one may expect at a steakhouse) is the steak. I usually go with the 16 ounce ribeye ($30) cooked medium or medium rare. All three times I went it’s been with a party of four. Among the four of us we are still yet to have a bad meal at Marmont. Consistency is key and because we have had stellar meals each and every time, we gladly keep coming back. The meat is full of flavor and can go toe to toe with even the fanciest restaurants in Philadelphia. I truly believe that. I always get a side of mashed potatoes with mine which are also outstanding. Last time they came out rather cold so we mentioned it to out waitress and without hesitation she went back and got new ones for the table, which leads me to my next point…

The service is always great. The wait staff is knowledgeable and friendly and will do whatever it takes to make sure you’re satisfied. Whether it’s taking the time to explain a cut of meat or checking to see if you need another drink, we always feel well taken care of at Marmont. Sometimes at upscale places there can be an arrogance but at Marmont is completely devoid of that. If you’re looking for a relaxed, casual environment to enjoy great food and service, look no further than Marmont Steakhouse.

 

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Gratzfood Review: Moriarty’s Pub

Love me some chicken wings. I mean who doesn’t? You would be hard pressed to find a more satisfying feeling than the one you get after staring down at a plate full of empty bones knowing you just did some serious damage. When it comes to Philly, I know where to get a good cheesesteak. Chicken wings? Not as much. A simple Google search (as well as word of mouth from those in the know) will point you in the direction of a pub called Moriarty’s on 11th and Walnut. So when my friend told me he wanted to hit Moriarty’s for dinner one night, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see if these wings live up to their strong reputation.

When we got there (it was a weeknight) the place was jumping. That’s usually a good sign. Mostly every table and barstool was occupied but we still managed to get a table right away. The wings are $10 for an order and there didn’t seem to be any variation of sauce options on the menu. It just says cooked in a “tangy sauce” which to no surprise was a buffalo sauce. I trusted the process and put in an order no questions asked. Then I tried the wings and it all clicked.

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The bar (no pun intended) for chicken wings in Philadelphia has been set pretty damn high. Moriarty’s wings were not just some of the best I have tasted in the area, but some of the best I have eaten anywhere. These wings just fire on all cylinders. They’re big and meaty. The sauce is phenomenal. Not overly hot. Not boring. They describe them as tangy and that is the right word for them. It’s a straight up great tasting flavor of buffalo sauce. They don’t need the gimmick of having a whole bunch of ridiculous sauces. They do it one way and nail it. You can’t not respect that. The overall texture of these wings were delightful as well. Some wings get soggy from too much sauce but these maintained just the right amount of crisp the whole way through. If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed these wings. I don’t normally give quantifiable scores but these are an “A”.

On a side note, I would also like to acknowledge the quality of the service there too. Like I said earlier it was jam packed but we didn’t wait long for our drinks, food, or anything. We were checked on multiple times to see if there was anything we needed and each time our requests were fulfilled instantly. The drink prices were reasonable too. If you’re looking for a fun bar atmosphere to have some brews and chow down on some delicious chicken wings, look no further than Moriarty’s pub. Their reputation for such activities is well deserved.