Another year, another 10 to 15 pounds gained in pursuit of the best burgers, pizza and Tex-Mex I can find. Sure, I do it for you, dear readers, but mostly I do it for me. Culled from some 25 entries, here are my five favorite Dude Food moments of 2009.
5. El Fenix
Dude Factor: 10, or Jerry Haynes, on a scale of 1 (Mary Kay Ash) to 10
This was the year I officially rekindled my romance with El Fenix, hitting up at least 4 locations while exploring the possibilities of the 80-page menu. Just last week I ordered something new that blew my mind, though I honestly can't remember what it was called--all I can say is that involved meat, cheese, lard and tortillas, just like everything else on the menu.
On a side note: Did you know that some employees of El Fenix actually have e-mail addresses at elfenix.com? How awesome is that?
4. Rooster's Roadhouse
Dude Factor: 10, or Brave Combo, on a scale of 1 (Don Henley) to 10.
My enjoyment of the Rooster's Roadhouse fare may or may not have been directly-related to beverages imbibed next door at Dan's Silverleaf, but no matter. The fact that decent dude food can now be found next to one of our favorite music venues is a revelation. Will forever be remembered by historians as our first Dude Food 10.
3. Maple & Motor
Dude Factor: 9, or "Mama" Cass Elliot, on a scale of 1 (Billy Elliot) to 10 (Eliot Ness)
A decent burger joint just a few blocks down Maple from Observer headquarters? Just a few months ago it seemed like a dream.. After the disappointment that was Burguesa Burger, Maple & Motor blew us away with jalapeno cheese tots, great burgers and RC Cola in the soda fountain. Easily the best burgers on Maple Avenue, and a great, quick alternative to the slightly depressing confines of our own Oak Lawn Deli.
Dude Factor: 10, or Jake Tyler Brigance, on a scale of 1 (Darby Shaw) to 10.
Sure, Hattie's isn't the dudeliest locale on our list, with its white tablecloths and lack of flat screens, but the food sure is good--for the most part anyway. Honestly, I thought their burger kind of sucked when I tried it (several weeks after I wrote about the joint), but I'd still give them at least a 9 based solely on their execution of a sadly neglected Southern delicacy--chicken and waffles.
1. The Porch
Dude Factor: 10, or The Stodg, on a scale of 1 (The Great Pyramid of Giza) to 10.
With the possible exception of some stuff I consumed on a recent trip to Santa Fe (green chile is kind of like bacon--it makes anything taste better), The Stodg burger at the Porch was easily the best thing I ate all year. I wrote about it, made my friends try it, dreamed about it nightly, etc., etc. If they made pinup-style posters of The Stodg, wars would be won and the term "burger wood" would quickly enter our national lexicon.
I'd also like to give a special shout-out to my doppelganger, upon whom I'm bestowing a Dude Food 2009 Career Achievement Award for his stubborn allegiance to pork, his cool beard and his sweet pig tattoo. Congrats, bro.