The Endless Road Trip — San Diego’s Top 10 Eats: 8. Endless Porker

I am normally extremely skeptical of any Mexican food that is billed as high-end, farm-table, or just generally cooked by white people. It’s not that Mexican food can’t be creative or fancy, it’s just that in my experience I have found “modern Mexican” to generally mean smaller tacos, higher prices, and less flavor than the taco trucks (and of course — the dreaded no free chips and salsa).

So of course I was hesitant when I head that San Diego’s hot taco spot of the moment is Carnitas Snack Shack, a new venture from Chef Hanis Cavinserves (red alert – chef!) that serves slow food-inspired, pork-centric American cuisine, snacks and locally sourced craft beers. But then again, I’ve never turned down any meal described as pork-centric. I’m almost embarrassed to report that this was the best taco I ate in California.  Slow-cooked salmon creek farm pork carnitas are layered on fresh, hearty homemade tortillas and topped with a vividly green mound of guacamole. The crispy-on-the-edges, melty on the insides strands of pork are like a weird, amazing fusion of southern BBQ and traditional Mexican. Fine, maybe Mexican food is allowed to get inventive after all.

But that was only the begining of a pork party that would know no bounds…

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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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