Endless Roadtrip USVI: BBQ Off the Grid

Off the Grid BBQ Truck USVI

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.

Off the Grid BBQ Truck USVI

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

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All Bow to the King of Condiments

All Bow

Apologies that I haven’t contributed anything of substance lately but I’ve been locked deep inside the ES Test Kitchens trying to perfect the ultimate food condiment and I think that all of my hard work has FINALLY paid off! If you’ve ever had the great fortune to eat off of one of those big city food trucks that specializes in middle-eastern chicken and rice dishes served on top of fresh Halal bread, then you know what I’m talking about; the magical secret all-purpose white sauce! It’s that gunk that makes everything it’s squirted on taste better. From waterlogged hot dogs to fusion tacos to simple soups and chili, this stuff is so good it would make a corpse edible. (That’s just conjecture on my part and it has nothing to do with my research!)

After countless variations and taste comparisons I think that I’ve finally hit the perfect combination of ingredients that make what I refer to as my ‘Valhalla Sauce’. I call it that because this stuff is so good only the Gods previously knew how to make it. And also because ‘Valhalla Sauce’ sounds a lot better than ‘Angel Jizz’.

Katt’s Valhalla Sauce

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Hott Link: Food Trucks 2.0

Back in 2008, I wrote a trend piece about food trucks going gourmet. Wonder if that ever caught on? J/K.

I know we have all heard enough about food trucks—but here’s one more aspect I’m loving. When I was out in Portland, I paid for my squid sandwiches and blue cheese breakfasts without even taking out my wallet. I also recently helped new tech publication iQ produce this series on food trucks that are going more high-tech than ever. Check out the link or watch the vids below.

Part 2 and 3 after the j.

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Beet Fries, Pork Belly and Tongue Buns

Pork belly is having a serious moment in Austin. I know it’s been a trend for awhile now (what, the past 3? 5? years…?) and I know I recently gushed over Tacodeli’s pork belly tacos. But seriously! I had never seen SO. MUCH. Pork belly love until I moved down here. This is evident in the popularity of East Side King, Top Chef winner Paul Qui’s Asian fusion food truck with three locations in East Austin. Ask anyone what they like about ESK and the answer is always the same: “oh my god, the pork belly!”And yes, it’s good. Really good.

I’ll happily state that East Side King is one of the best, if not THE best, food trailers in Austin. Their original trailer at The Liberty is my favorite. To be slightly controversial, though, I will say this: I think the ESK pork belly hype unfairly overshadows some of the other delights on their menus. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely amazing, but I feel as though most people discount the fried chicken and even some other less obviously delicious options like the tongue buns and beet fries.

Want to see what really, really, REALLY good food from a truck looks like? Of course you do. (I’m really trying hard to restrain myself from making any sort of obvious “food porn lol buns” remarks here.) Photos a the j.

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The Endless Road Trip — San Diego’s Top 10 Eats: 4. The Veggie Burger Comes Full Circle

Once upon a time, veggie burgers were merely a last-resort option for lonely vegetarians at BBQs or meat-centric restaurants that didn’t have a single other flesh-free entree. As we know, they’ve come a long way since then. Now, faux burgers are less likely to be be a poor man’s meat substitute, and more often something inventive enough that even a human carnivore would want to eat.

My second San Diego food truck stop took me to MIHO Gastrotruck. I had heard good things about their carnitas tacos and pork belly bahn mi, but one particular thing on the chalkboard menu caught my eye:

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The Endless Road Trip — San Diego’s Top 10 Eats: 2. Tostada Loca

As has been mentioned many times previously on ES, I have a crazy addiction.

Because I am so obsessed with bringing you, dear readers, news of the outrageous and over-the-top food world, I always, always, always have to order the craziest thing on the menu. If the item actually has the word “crazy” in its name, it’s just over.

The well-reviewed Mariscos German Taco Truck (that’s pronounced her-man, they’re Mexican, not some kind of weird Bavarian taco truck) in San Diego had tons of exciting, classy menu items on the day that I went. There were smoked marlin tacos. There was shrimp ceviche. There was calamari. There was also something called “tostada loca,” so I pretty much had no choice.

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America’s Best New Sandwiches — 2012

You want sandwiches? We got sandwiches. Last year, Endless Simmer’s post on America’s Top 10 New Sandwiches was our most-read story of 2011, and even helped turn The New Luther into a bit of a sell-out phenomenon. But America’s sandwich artisans haven’t stopped innovating, and we haven’t stopped salivating. So here we go, for your drooling-at-work pleasure, this year’s list of America’s top 10 craziest, loveliest, cheesiest, most creative new sandwiches.

10. The Noble Pig —  Noble Pig Sandwiches, Austin

Texas may be best known for its beef, but perhaps not for long, if chefs John Bates and Brandon Martinez have anything to say about it. Their year-and-a-half-old Noble Pig serves up a namesake sandwich that somehow combines everything that is beautiful about pork products on one truly outstanding sandwich. Tender pulled pork, spicy slivers of ham, and crispy bits of bacon are all mixed together, topped with provolone cheese, and served on toasted, house-baked bread, for a porky trifecta that hits all of the spots. (Photo: Marshall Wright)

9. Pane et Panelle — Bar Stuzzichini, New York

Chickpeas may get typecast as functioning only in falafel form, but it turns out balls aren’t all they can do. Panelle is actually an old Sicilian street food snack—chickpeas and flour formed into light, airy strips and fried in olive oil. Stuzzichini‘s sandwich revives that classic and perfects it, layering crispy strips of panelle on a sesame-studded bun, in between levels of soft ricotta and caciocavallo cheeses. The result is a light-but-addictive sandwich that will make you curse every overly dense falafel wrap that has crossed your lips.

8. Chicharrones Banh Mi — Ink Sack, Los Angeles

There are a million banh mis in American nowadays, but we were most swept away by this version from Top Chef champ Michael Voltaggio. At his new Ink Sack sandwich shop, tender slices of pork belly and pork butt are topped with pickled vegetables, plus the kicker — crispy chicharróne fried pork rinds, creating one incredible multi-culti pork bomb.

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