Last week, it was a slow day at a Williamsburg, Brooklyn pizzeria and the cooks decided to try something new: whipping up mini-sized pizzas and layering them on top of other pizzas. It was really just a joke — until they put a photo on Instagram, bloggers picked up the “news” and crazed customers demanded a taste of this pizza-topped. So Vinnie’s Pizzeria actually started offering “pizza on pizza” and in just a few days have sold some 400 slices. America: Is there anything we can’t do?
As luck would have it, the BEST food truck in St. Thomas (or quite possibly, anywhere ever) just happened to be located in the entrance of Sapphire Village, right where we were staying on the East End. When we were in the Virgin Islands last month, we heard they were gearing up to open a second truck on nearby Coki Beach as well. Double your chances to get in on this mouth-watering meat wonderland!
Off the Grid is a BBQ truck with a vibrant Caribbean twist. Pay only $15 for all-you-can-eat meats of the day such as wings, pork belly, brisket, pulled pork (A++++!) ribs, and mussels. Yes friends, BBQ mussels, and they were amazing, basted in a sticky-spicy-sweet sauce. BBQ sides are Caribbean style as well: gooey baked sweet potatoes, spicy-creamy rainbow slaw, rice and peas, etc.
Fellow vacation lushes, don’t worry, because Off the Grid also offers a bevy of booze. I, of course, opted for the bottomless mimosas (mixed with a homemade tropical fruit blend instead of your average orange juice) but they had fresh margs, beer, sangria, the whole shebang. As you probably know, Austin is ridiculously rife with BBQ and food trucks, so you might think an Austinite wouldn’t be able to find the novelty in eating at a BBQ truck on vacation, but this was worlds away from Texas BBQ. Plus, no food truck in Texas has this view.
Note: Off the Grid opens around 11am and closes when they run out of meat, often around 4-5pm. So plan on a big lunch/brunch here, not dinner. Bring your appetite and steel your liver.
More Endless Roadtrip USVI:
1. Caribbean Comfort at Gladys Cafe
2. Bones Rum Shop
Last month Rob and I embarked on a big, amazing Caribbean vacation to USVI. We mainly stayed in St. Thomas but went to St. John for a few days, Water Island for one day, and also embarked on a boating excursion around the BVI: Virgin Gorda, The Baths, Cooper Island, Norman Island, and Jost Van Dyke. Do I recommend it? ABSOLUTELY. The Virgin Islands were a badass vacation: the perfect mix of relaxation and activity, plus home to the best white sand beaches I’ve ever experienced.
We stayed in Red Hook, on the east side of the island, but the main town (and cruise port) in St. Thomas is Charlotte Amalie. While it’s very pretty (see the photo above – a clear day with no ships in port!), it gets crowded with tourists and shoppers when the ships are in. Charlotte Amalie is home to tons of duty-free shops, jewelry stores, designer bag sellers, etc… not really my scene. But hey! If you love to shop you might dig it.
But you know what else Charlotte Amalie has? One of the most popular and beloved traditional Caribbean restaurants in St. Thomas: Glady’s Cafe.
It pretty much had to happen.
We’ve seen poutine potato skins, poutine tater tots and poutine just about everything. A few years ago it was just an obscure French-Canadian specialty, but now it’s America’s favorite over-the-top comfort food.
And now, Hopdoddy Burger Bar in Austin is serving a burger topped with a full serving of poutine: French fries, gravy, cheddar cheese (although apparently, NOT authentic curds) and for good runny measure, a fried egg too.
Take that, Canada. Anything you can do, we can do unhealthier.
For example, if you serve a hamburger with giant onions ring on top, but then even an extra-large-mouthed person has to deconstruct the burger and take the onion rings off to get any kind of decent bite in, then that’s not really that crazy of a dish. It’s actually just a burger with onion rings on the side, but presented crazily, with more work involved for the eater. #foodaddictproblems
In Pittsburgh this weekend, home of the great Primanti’s french-fry-on-a-sandwich, I was fortunate enough to stop in Franktuary and be offered a hot dog served “Pittsburgh style” — topped with housemade, slaw and a housemade cucumber-y ranch dressing on top. Now, this could easily fall into the gimmick category if they overloaded that dog with so many pierogies that you have to pick them off and eat on the side. But with just two crispy pierogies on top it’s just crazy enough that you can actually pick the whole thing up and get a taste of each element — dog and dumpling included — in each bite.
In fact, they didn’t even offer me a fork. Bravo, Pittsburgh.
At Philly’s new V Street, the all-vegan menu is inspired by street food from around the world, fusing flavors from as far afield as Hungary, India, Peru and the Philippines into an amazing array of meat-free snacks like jerk trumpet mushrooms and harissa-grilled cauliflower mixed up with spiced avocado, olive salad and chermoula, an intensely flavorful North African marinade.
The cocktails are particularly off-the-wall—the “Cruz Control” mixes tequila with horchata, lime and tepache—a Mexican fermented pineapple drink—but the true crazy prize has to go to this dessert waffle: it’s layered with rich chocolate ganache, gooey bites of banana, vegan ice cream and a chunky miso caramel, with Sriracha peanuts and syrup poured over the whole thing. Yes, please.
(Photo: V Street)
This savory, fat-filled take on the classic Jewish pastry is just the amuse bouche at Abe Fisher, but it’s a perfect introduction to Chef Michael Solomonov’s unique new restaurant, where he explores inventive takes on foods from throughout the Jewish diaspora. Solomonov offers a tiny, flaky take on the rugelach cookie and fills it with schmaltz (clarified chicken fat, a Jewish traditional ingredient usually used for frying or spreading on bread). It may seem like a gimmick, but it’s one of those gimmick-seeming things that actually work, and makes you wonder why they ever put chocolate in these doughy pastries when pure chicken fat works so much better.
Elsewhere at Abe Fisher, the borscht tartare is a deconstructed beet dish topped with trout roe, hard-boiled egg and onion potato chips (any dish that has both caviar and chips wins my vote). The smoked sable cakes are a crispy, crustacean-less Kosher answer to Maryland crab cakes, bursting with the surprisingly effective combination of Old Bay and dill, while the requisite Kosher-busting piggy dish subs pork belly in for pastrami on a delightfully cheesy rueben. Even the simplest dishes here impress, like a side of warm and juicy carrots amped up with aged gouda, little bits of pumpernickel bread pudding and savory prune butter. Overall, one of the best new restaurants in the country I’ve been too lately. Also, it’s March and still like 10 freaking degrees. Can I get some more chicken schmaltz in here please?
(Photo: Yelp / Melissa P.)