Monday, August 11, 2008

Five Things I Wish We Had in Baltimore

There are lots of things we have. Some are exclusive (Berger's anyone?) and some are just better here than anywhere else (anything and everything crab-related - and yes, I mean the whole Chesapeake, not just our corner of it). But no city has everything. A few of the things I miss from other parts of the world that I wish I could find here, with the first being the closest to get to from here:


1. Sonic Drive-Ins - Based in Oklahoma City, Sonic has over 3,000 locations in the United States, almost all of them in the South and Southwest. In just the greater Mid-Atlantic there are almost fifty in Virginia, two five in Pennsylvania, four in West Virginia, three in Delaware...and none here. Sure I would not eat there every day. Probably not even every week. But their drive-in service brings milkshakes, Texas toast, hot dogs, burgers and many more things right to your car. It's the perfect way to gain weight if you eat there on a regular basis. The last time I ate at one I was visiting former landlords who had moved to the Tulsa area. The closest Sonic to here? Ironically it's above the Mason-Dixon Line, around 50 miles away in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Maybe I'll visit on the way to the Choo-Choo Barn. Sonic logo from Wikipedia.


2. Wagamama - With locations in 12 countries (mostly in Western Europe), this London, UK-based noodle chain charmed me twice, in London and Amsterdam. I have no idea how many locations this more-than-just-a-noodle-house noodle house can boast, but the food is amazing. It really gives "ramen" a whole new meaning. The closest Wagamama to here? Ironically, it's in the United States, two locations, both in Boston, Massachusetts - seven hours and 400 miles away, in Faneuil Hall and Harvard Square. Photo of the Wagamama near the Tower of London, from the hardware.silicon.com website.


3. Del Taco - Yes, another fast food place, based in Forest Lake, CA. Much of their food is junk, but Taco Bell can't hold a candle to this place. This is edible Mexican fast food. Every time I visit SoCal this is one of my very first stops, because I have to get two soft tacos del carbón, one chicken and one beefsteak, with chopped fresh onions and cilantro on top. You can find most of Del Taco's 500+ locations in the West. But there are Del Tacos scattered on this side of the Mississippi, including Tennessee and the Great Lakes. The closest one to here? Toledo, Ohio, about 475 miles away, or 7 1/2 hours by car. Photo linked from the 99W website.


4. Fat Tire Beer - A rich, smooth, full-bodied amber ale manufactured by the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado, introduced to me by a former graduate adviser and his wife in Riverside, California. Fat Tire almost feels fattening in the mouth. It's so good, but it has no peer on the East Coast, since (like Del Taco) it's almost entirely found west of the Mississippi, with no immediate plans to get out here. The closest place to here that you can buy Fat Tire? Ironcially, east of the Mississippi, in Tennessee. I'm not sure where in Tennessee. Maybe somebody could volunteer that information for me? They probably sell it at least in all the major cities. The closest one to us is Knoxville - eight hours and over 500 miles away. Graphic linked from the New Belgium website.


5. In-N-Out Burger - Whereas we might see the other four things in Maryland someday, In-N-Out Burger is now and will always be a West Coast franchise - with 200+ locations in Arizona, Utah, Nevada and (mostly) California. Unlike the "Hundred items for $1" state of McDonald's and similar locations, Irvine, California-based In-N-Out has just a handful of selections on its menu, and every single one is made from fresh ingredients. Nothing of a diet nature is on the menu, except for Diet Coke if you can get it. Since it won't be coming out here, I have to get out there. The closest one to here is in Phoenix, Arizona, almost 2,350 miles away - five hours by plane (use Southwest - they still don't charge for a second bag, much less a first one). Photo linked from the CNN website.

14 comments:

strawberriesinparis said...

I agree about Sonic! There are SOOOO many commercials on TV about it and there is not one to be found in the area! crazy!

jmc said...

I think there's a Sonic on Rte. 13 near Bridgeville in Delaware...which is on the way to the ocean if you like Dewey, Lewes or Rehoboth better than Ocean City.

Every time I visit Houston, I tell myself that I'm going to stop at a Sonic, since there's one right near the airport and others all over the place, but somehow I never make it there. Usually because I end up eating at places like Japaneiro's (oh, their chef's nirvana rocks) Pappadeaux's.

Alex said...

My freshman year of college, there was a Del Taco in Rochester, NY. You can still find reports (using Google) of the location there (technically in Henrietta). Guess they didn't fare too well there.

The Girl From Park Heights said...

Yeah never been to any of those places, especially Sonic which we still get commercials for.

Downbeat said...

Maybe a Sonic is on the way. I always pass one on my way to the beach if I drive through Delaware and it's my first stop.

Jenny said...

Fat Tire is distributed throughout Tennessee. You can find it in most of the major chain grocery stores!

Jemaleddin said...

In-N-Out should be #1 on your list. That place RULES.

And I know that the family that owns the place isn't interested in growing the company much bigger, but I wish somebody would just rip off their concept. How hard can it be? Fresh ingredients, friendly service, simple menu. What more is there?

John said...

SiP & TGfPH - Aren't all those Sonic ads on cable irritating? And that husband and wife duo: he just will never learn. They are a silly couple.

JMC & DB - Yeah, but the one in PA is technically closer to me. Now would I drive 50 miles just for food? I don't know.

Alex - Sounds like the Jack in the Box fiasco during the 80's (or was it the 70's?) when they tried to expand out here and then a few folks got sick in some East Coast franchises and they pulled back west, where they flourish. Nowadays whenever I visit Cali I go back alright - but only for their aerial balls shaped like Jack's head. A friend of mine told me a really funny story once about her mother always insisting on going to JitB for their "pumpkin shakes". It was her imitation of her mother that made it funny.

Jenny - Oh, damn so close to here and yet so far! I'd drive to Tennessee just for it if I had, like, lots of time and gas money :( Here's crossing my fingers it at least works its way to Virginia.

Jemaleddin - Oh I wasn't listing them in order of preference, just in order of how far I would have to travel to get it. Since I don't each too much junk food anymore I probably wouldn't go too often (ditto for Sonic and Del Taco), but I would definitely skip Wendy's for this place (McDonalds? BK? Ick.)

Meghan said...

I find it totally torture to see the Sonic commercials here in Baltimore, if I can't find one anywhere!
UGH!

Agreeing with your other suggestions too!

Leslie Ann said...

I used to love Del Taco when I worked in the mall in college. But I had to stop due to the extra unwanted weight. :(

Love Sonic too.

John said...

Meghan: It is torturous. But that's cable for ya', ain't it?

Leslie: I still love Del Taco. I forgot to mention their breakfast burrito, although I can only eat about half of it, again because it's just too fattening for me. And those hash browns are crunchy little slabs of potato-flavored greasy death. I forgot to mention those.

Katie said...

I just got back from SoCal and the first place my brother and I went when we got off the plane was In-N-Out. I wasn't terribly impressed with their burgers... Five Guys is still my #1

K8teebug said...

Fat Tire is my favorite beer! I miss it so...

I also really miss In-N-Out burger. Nothing beats their sauce.

billy said...

I am in San Diego, and wish I had steamed crabs, UTZ potato chips, Tastykakes, Pit Beef, decent pizza, and Chineese food. In-N-Out reminds me of Gino's Giant, though...