The Northern Italian sub at Captain Nemo's is perfectly crunchy and perfectly priced.
I have become the master of eating out. I don't know a single soul that eats out as frequently as I do, while establishing such diversity. Sure, there's the nine-to-fiver who grabs lunch at Quiznos every day, but that's for sissies. I can tuck back some grub, and lots of it, in stunning variety. And tend to do so with horrifying frequency.
My standard hungry-girl MO is usually a little something like this. I ransack the fridge and ascertain that I do indeed have nothing in the house worthy of entering my precious tummy. So, I head over to Whole Foods where I proceed to drop $200 on the likes of pomegranate juice, yerba mate tea leaves, piles of frozen black-bean burgers, boxes of orzo and loads of various organic shampoos and conditioners that do nothing but sabotage my natural curls. Oh right, what about fruit and veggies?
Well, sometimes a farmer's market is hit up and on other occasions, you'll find me at Devon Market man-handling their fresh produce. Oh, they have the good stuff, trust me. What they also boast is a hot box in the back that houses plastic baggies full of homemade tamales. All just-purchased grub is duly ignored and the tamales are consumed in my truck while I imagine what I'd really like to be digging into at that that moment. Since I skipped breakfast, I jam over to A&T Grill and hang tight with the old-timers while I wait on my country-fried eggs, pile of hash browns and buttered English muffin to arrive. My coffee is filled no less than a dozen times as I watch the world fly by on North Clark Street. This Greek-owned hash-house doles out absolutely spot-on diner food, with just enough grease to escort one straight into a coma.
I hightail it back home, pack my barren fridge with all my new goodies and nap for a good, solid four hours. After awakening from a confusing and sweaty set of nightmares (why must the plane I'm on always crash into the middle of the Pacific?), I determine that a stroll on over to Capt'n Nemo's is in order. Ever had their toasted Northern Italian sub/extra mayo with a side of split pea soup? Holy Christ, it's a lesson in what fast food is supposed to taste like. The sub is perfectly crunchy, pristinely loaded and sliced just right. The split pea's texture is creamy-dreamy and you only need to order half a sandwich if you're partaking in the soup. Easy enough and really low-impact on the pocket.
Later that day, back at mi casa, I once again decide that I have less than nothing to eat in my kitchen ($250 down, mind you) and cruise over to Taste Food and Wine on Jarvis. This spiffy little European wine shop has all sorts of imported cheeses, beers and snacks to complement their global selection of wines. They also have a lovely panini of the day on the blackboard and I usually grab a cold one from the cooler while crunching my way through a pesto-soaked cheese sandwich. Yum.
Of course, bread is nothing but a bunch of empty carbs, so for my late-night shove-down, I can usually be found hitting up one of the multitude of Mexican joints that litter our city streets. My latest find is El Pueblito, an oddly spic-and-span restaurant blasting Daddy Yankee tunes from the jukebox, while busting out fresh grilled-veggie tostadas for a few bucks. The waitress does nothing but multitask: fill salsas, take phone orders, jabber on her cell phone, ring up to-go checks, bus tables and deliver food.
It's not 'til I am home in bed that I realize that I have tamales, tostatas, a full breakfast, sandwich fixin's, split pea soup, beer, coffee, chips and salsa and tamarind juice all floating around in my belly from one single day of eating. Can this be healthy? I think not. But you know what? I sure know where to go when a craving hits. I also know how to drop $300 a day on food and still have nothing to show for it except a raging bellyache. Them's some sad facts, yep, some real sad facts.
THE FINAL RAVE: Though Taste rocks a mighty fine, more gourmet-style panini, the provolone-cheese version I usually scarf down at Cafe Ennui is straight exquisite.
KEEP IT GOING:
EAT IT: Tank Noodle
It could be 9 a.m. or 9 p.m., it doesn't matter. The coconut tofu curry at this always-jammed Vietnamese restaurant is always killer.
DRINK IT: Horchata
I can't remember the last time I had a bad batch of this Mexican favorite.
DO IT: Shan Food and Restaurant
Every time I have been in this little Indo/Pak restaurant, I've dropped about five bucks and walked away with massive amounts of spicy leftovers. Always good, always cheap.
GET CRAZY WITH IT: Devon Avenue
If you are truly in the mood for food exploration, hit up one of the buffets lining this Indian-infused street. Most are fresh, low-cost and dare I say...rave-worthy.
Fatcake Misty Tosh explores back-alley eateries, holes-in-the-wall and seedy ethnic joints as she treks the city in search of the next raving dish. Join her in the quest.