Baby Back Shak's pork is smokin'!
Baby Back Shak's pork is smokin'!
Merritt Martin

Dude Food: Jesse's Year In Review

After a year of pizza, Tex-Mex and deep-fried everything, it's time to take a look back at my year in Dude Food.

While they might not have all ranked a 10 on the Dude Factor scale, the following five Dude Food meals were my favorites of the year.

Look for Dude-bro Noah's 2009 wrap-up next week, same Dude-time, same Dude-channel.

5. Baby Back Shak
Dude Factor: 9, or "Bobby Patterson" on a scale of 1 (Cowboy Troy) to 10 (Freddie King)

My salivary glands (I'm told that's what they're called) still activate every time I look at the photo of those smoke-stained pork ribs. And the joint-puffing swine on the building cracks me up every time. Smoked pork--get it?!!

4. The Grill at Reno's
Dude Factor: 10, or Dr. Emmett Brown, on a scale of 1 (George McFly) to 10

Turning a food item into a mixed drink is pretty girly, as shots like the Birthday Cake and PB&J prove. But turning a shot into a hamburger? The Dimebag-honoring Blacktooth Whiskey Burger is about as manly a meal as I've had in a long time.

3. Galaxy Drive In Theatre
Dude Factor: 8, or "T-1000," on a scale of 1 ("John Connor played by Nick Stahl") to 10 ("Arnie in the original Terminator")

It's not a restaurant, but the snack bar options at the old Ennis drive-in theater are so good, so unhealthy and so cheap that this wonderful retro date-night, group-fun or family-night destination deserves mention. If a corn dog, fries and funnel cake isn't a Dude Food meal, what is?

2. Norma's Cafe
Dude Factor: 10 (June Cleaver) on a scale of 1 (Kate What's-Her-Name, the one in all the tabloids) to 10.

There is no better place in Oak Cliff to get a cheap hangover-curing breakfast than Norma's, especially now that the Cliff Cafe at Hotel Belmont (which, let's admit, was a little overpriced anyway) has gone up in Smoke. Eggs, pancakes, grits, bacon and gravy, this is breakfast like Mom used to make, back when Mom used to make breakfast.

1. Willie's Place
Dude Factor: 8, or Grandpa Simpson, on a scale of 1 (Grandfather clauses) to 10 (Royal Tenenbaum)

Watching my Grandpa Neudecker buy us dinner, flirt with the waitresses, drink Lone Star, smoke and egg on fights between his grandsons was by far my most memorable meal of the year--even if the food was pretty average. I didn't mention it in the writeup, but Grandpa knew he wasn't long for this world at the time. Our trip to Carl's Corner was something of a pilgrimage for the old coot, who died a few weeks later just before Thanksgiving. "Your gramps is pretty kick-ass...that's exactly the kind of elder statesman I hope to be..." commenter Kelly wrote. I couldn't agree more. Grandpa made it just shy of 81 on a steady diet of booze, cigarettes and dude food. Minus the smokes, I can only hope to do the same.

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