I’m probably not in the majority when I say I don’t love tater tots. I mean, I don’t dislike them; they are fried potatoes after all. On their own I just find them greasy and kind of boring. They never hold salt the way I want them to and are more often than not soggy; I’d prefer fries or home fries any day.
Imagine my surprise when BS and I sat down at R Gang Eatery in San Diego, the laid-back base of Top Chef’s Rich Sweeney, and were offered a slew of stuffed tater tots. After some debate (do we want foie at 10am?) we ordered the craziest ones (clearly) — tater tots filled with pickles and cheese. They were the first thing to come out of the kitchen, and let’s be honest, we both stared at them for a minute before touching them. Were we really going to eat pickles and cheese as breakfast?
Yes, we were, and we did. I assumed these tots would taste like dill pickles (like in a pickle and cheese sandwich), but instead this dish used a sweeter, bread-and-butter type of pickle. The result? The sweet, tangy, acidic pickle mixed perfectly with the smooth goat cheese; the balance of fat to pickle took all the pucker out of what had the potential to be a culinary disaster.
The bonus…after we were finished the tots, were the burnt bits of potato in the bottom of the dish. I of course sampled this and was wowed — even the burnt leftovers were amazing. Top mac-n-cheese with the burnt tater crumbs from R Gang and forget it. If you’re listening, R Gang, sell these things by the bag.
After I devoured the crumbs I made a quick realization: maybe San Diego isn’t just for vegan health nuts after all. Cheese and pickle stuffed fried potatoes sounded about as far from health food and as close to perfection as possible…and that was just the beginning.
More of the Endless Road Trip — San Diego
1. Pickle Tater Tots
2. Tostada Loca
3. Pacos (Pancake Tacos)
4. The Veggie Burger Comes Full Circle
5. Live Sea Urchin
6. Uni Everywhere
7. Pork, It’s What’s for Breakfast
8. Triple Threat Pork Sandwich
9. The Best Drunk Bus
10. Scrambled Eggs, Meet Rice and Beans