The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 35

In Episode #35, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

Don’t forget my sponsor, Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode #32

Sonny Davis (r) with son, Spencer.

In Episode #32, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

  • Mission Pizza holds Knife Fight Vol. 3 on May 8.
  • Tim reviews Irie Rhythms.
  • Sonny Davis of City Beverage passes away.
  • Food holidays and history.

Don’t forget my sponsor, Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode #30

In Episode #30, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

Don’t forget my sponsor, Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Slàinte mhath!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode #29

In Episode #29, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

Don’t forget my sponsor, Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Slàinte mhath!

Cheers! Cin Cin Burger Bar is Quite Beefy

On Saturday, Stephanie and I had the pleasure of hanging out with my friend Paul Jones and his son, Parker. Parker, it seems was in the mood for a burger and Paul suggested Cin Cin Burger Bar.

Stephanie and I had tried to go to Cin Cin twice before. But, after driving around the very tight parking lot twice each time, we couldn’t find parking and we are just not ready to park away and walk there, no matter how much that neighborhood is picking up. So, we ended up going somewhere else. This time, though, we were able to find one pretty quickly. Paul was running a little late and I went in to get us on the list. I told them five people total as I didn’t know if Paul’s wife was coming or not. They were ready to seat us right away. Paul, then sent back that there was only going to be four of us, and I told them that. Well, that changed things. We were moved from “ready to seat” status to an hour wait.

No Beer – No Work: Fontina and mozzarella cheese, lettuce, tomato, fries, slaw and honey chipotle mayo on sourdough

Luckily, it was a lovely evening and the weather was really nice, so we sat outside waiting for our seating assignment. Paul and Parker came and we had good conversation talking about life and other things. We were finally seated and we got settled in. The decor of the place is bright and light and runs off a very subtle but defined “speakeasy” theme. They fit a lot of people in that dining room. If you ever ate at the Twin City Diner, the building’s previous tenant, then this is a big departure from that. Twin City Diner sat a good amount of people but this seems to be even more. Plus, there is outdoor seating on the large patio with ample seating out there, too. They were using it this night and it was still packed out.

Our server was Brian (Bryan) and he was both very nice and very helpful. He was knowledgeable about the menu, the ingredients and how to find what someone may want based on their preferences. Paul and I ordered our beer (Hop Cocoa from Wicked Weed) and after he returned with those brews, Brian was ready to take our food order.

Parker is a simple order-kind of guy. He ordered a plain burger with fries. Paul ordered the special Red Dragon Bison Burger with onion rings. Stephanie ordered the No Beer – No Work burger with eggplant fries. I ordered the Bootlegger’s Bourbon Burger with Creamy Gorgonzola Fries.  I will say that these burgers were quite beefy and huge. The pictures I included will not provide an accurate descriptor for how large or good they looked. There was no way of maneuvering the light to capture the burger in its full glory. Now, I understand the listing of them doesn’t describe anything. I’ll elaborate.

Bootleggers Bourbon Burger: Bourbon molasses glazed with caramelized onions, bacon and pimento cheese

The Red Dragon Bison Burger is Red Dragon Cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms, roasted garlic aioli, shredded lettuce and tomato. Red Dragon Cheese is like a sharp cheddar but with brown ale and mustard seeds to give it a little kick, not too spicy, from what Paul said. The No Beer – No Work burger is fontina and mozzarella cheese, lettuce, tomato, fries, slaw and honey chipotle mayo on sourdough. It is a mountain of a sandwich and it is funny that the smallest of us all is the one who had it. The Bootlegger’s Bourbon Burger is Bourbon molasses glazed with caramelized onions, bacon and pimento cheese. Yes, believe it or not, I left the caramelized onions on the burger. It was quite juicy and the onions didn’t overpower, nor was it prominent in the flavor. You could tell they were there, but it was not too strong. Juicy burger, it was. Bourbon-inspired but the burger was able to “speak” for itself; it was near perfect.

If the specialty burgers (called “Speakeasy Burgers”) are not your speed, you can always build your own burger. The list is extensive and so are the possibilities to have your very own burger. Other items on the menu include sandwiches like ahi tuna wraps, chicken and cream cheese melts, Reubens, Philly Cheesesteaks. Entrees include a cherry chipotle salmon, South Side Ribeye, chicken and waffles, bourbon meatloaf and Coco Chanel Filet. Eight different salads that, if the burgers are any indication, are huge. There are appetizers and small plates to whet the appetite or just have a small portioned meal. Of course, since Cin Cin Burger Bar is owned by the same folk that own Waldo’s Wings, then they will definitely have those on the menu.

One thing that the servers (I knew a few of them) said that we should try, but we did not, are the adult milkshakes. There are several to choose between ranging from bourbon and butterscotch schnapps (YiaYia’s Secret) to an alcoholic s’mores drink (Kumbayah My S’mores). There are plenty more for your brainfreeze headaches to endure. You can find more of their menu – I have not even scratched the surface of it, here – by clicking on the “Menu” tab to the left of this page.

I want to talk just a second more about the staff. While I do think that an hour wait, okay, a 45-minute wait, is way too long for a cheeseburger, the helpfulness of our server, Brian, the kitchen and their very juicy and very tasty burgers, and the ambiance were worth the wait. I don’t know that I’d wait that long again, but to try it and get in, along with the company made the night a great night out. Brian even dissuaded us from trying a “side” that Paul and I were going to order. He said we wouldn’t like it and that Mama Zoe (the owner) was going to take it off the menu. I asked if I could at least give it a taste – I had to know, after all – and he brought back a little ramekin and, while I thought the side was decent, I wouldn’t have wanted a full size side of it. I appreciate him setting us straight. I’m not going to say which side it is because I want you to try things, not shy from them.

Cin Cin has a great “speakeasy” cocktail list, too. They have classic drinks that range historically from 1823 (Pimm’s Cup #7) up to 1920 (several including Giggle Water, the Bees Knees and the Mary Pickford). They have quite a few of their own craft creation cocktails and a decent draft beer list and a craft bottle list. They also have the standard “beer” (Bud Light, et al) for people that cannot handle or do not want real beer. And their wine list is not shabby, at all.

Overall, my assessment of Cin Cin Burger Bar is that it is a great burger joint. I can’t speak for anything else, yet, but I will be going back; most likely during the week and possibly during lunch. When I go back, I will report my findings, as you know I will. I recommend trying to get there early as the line will form and get backed up fairly quickly and there is no reservations or call-ahead seating; it is first-come-first-serve. This was at 6:30pm, yes a Saturday, but still early in the evening. I hope you get Brian (it still could be Bryan) because he is pretty smooth. I had heard conflicting reviews about Cin Cin but I am going to give my assessment that it is quite a great burger.

You can find Cin Cin Burger Bar at 1425 W 1st Street in Winston-Salem. Again, look up their menu via our menu directory on this page.

Happy eating, slàinte!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode #22

©Yelp

In Episode #22, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

Don’t forget my sponsor, Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Slàinte mhath!

WP Kitchen + Bar: New Name, Fantastic Cuisine

I know I mostly focus on Winston-Salem establishments but I feel this is worth driving past the Sandy Ridge Line to be part of…

Last week, I was invited to attend a social media/blogger event at the newly named WP Kitchen + Bar in Greensboro. Starting as Wolfgang Puck Pizza Bar about four years ago, the restaurant started serving more traditional restaurant fare and Chef Puck and company decided to make a change. One of only three WP Kitchen + Bar locations in the world (the others being in Palm Desert, California and Charlotte, North Carolina), the Greensboro location is an elegant, yet casual place to eat. And, I’ll go ahead and spoil it… delicious.

I’ve been to a few blogger events, a few “get to know us” events, if you will, but this was a top-notch tour of food, drink and friendly ambiance. I, along with fellow food bloggers Kristi Maier, also known as Triad Foodies and food writer for Yes! Weekly, Kristen Daukas, Nikki Miller-Ka of NikSnacks and Amanda Clark of Cuisine and Screen, were given a cocktail demonstration that included a pomegranate bellini, and an eggnog martini (made with a raw egg, simple syrup, Myers Rum and Hennessey). We then took a tour of the kitchen with Chef Matt Culpepper, where he demonstrated their 750° pizza oven and made a pizza for us to have and share between us. After that we returned to the bar and were served a Cherry Sour, it’s made with bourbon, Campari and amaretto, and you can’t go wrong with that, right?

We were then seated and were served a plethora of fantastic food. I don’t know that I’ve eaten this much food, even on Thanksgiving.

First up, the Crispy Calamari. Rings and tentacles are marinated in buttermilk then dusted in flour and deep fried until golden-light brown. It’s seasoned with salt, pepper and parsley. It’s tossed, then, with pickled pepperoncini peppers and served with a pepperoncini aioli and WP’s TBG (which is tomato, basil and garlic). The peppers that were tossed with the calamari gave it a heated tang and I thought the seasoning along with that made it near perfect. I tried both sauces, which were both good, but the calamari was so flavorful, I didn’t need a lot of the sauce.

Served at the same time was the Truffle Potato Chips. Yukon Gold chips topped with a blue cheese fondue, truffle oil, chives and buttermilk blue cheese crumbles. I am a huge fan of blue cheese and to get a double dose of it with the crumbles and the fondue? Holy smokes. You could really taste the truffle oil, too. After most of the other stuff had been taken away, we asked them to leave the chips, we all liked it that well.

Next up was the “Pizza Course.” First was the Goat Lady Goat Cheese Pizza with pesto, Goat Lady Dairy goat cheese, overnight tomatoes and picked basil. Overnight tomatoes are roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper. I love Goat Lady Dairy and I loved this pizza. Great tang from the cheese and the tomatoes were caramelized nicely being roasted.

The next pizza was Giacomo’s Pepperoni Pizza. Giacomo’s is a local salami and sausage company in Greensboro that makes great sausages, salamis and other meat products. I have tried their products in several other Triad restaurants and love their stuff. The fact that WP takes the local ingredients and puts them in their culinary creations is a wonderful thing and when it’s delicious? That’s even better. The pizza had a red sauce, mozzarella, oven roasted tomatoes, red onion (yes, I ate that), oregano and, of course, Giacomo’s pepperoni. Great combination of the meat and sauce. Sauce and tomatoes was an acidic dream. Good stuff, that.

We were then served the Squash Soup. I’m not a fan of butternut and other orange squash, so much. But, I must say that this soup was heavenly. Kabocha and butternut squash was braised with water, oranges, cinnamon, cardamom, maple syrup, sage and rosemary and then cooked with yellow onions, butter, a braising liquid and heavy cream. The soup was thick and creamy. I prefer my soup and sauces to be a little thicker and this was great. It was garnished with a cardamom cream, which is cardamom infused cream whipped with honey, roasted kabocha squash, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil. The soup is vegetarian and served at lunch in either a cup or bowl and by the bowl for dinner, although you can request a cup. I get the feeling you can request a whole lot at WP Kitchen + Bar. They are very accommodating.

Up next, the Baby Kale Salad. Baby kale, cherry tomatoes, radish, marinated cukes, toasted quinoa and goat cheese, all tossed in a citrus vinaigrette on top of a fantastically creamy green goddess puree and garnished with more goat cheese. Crunchy and refreshing, I’m not usually one to eat kale but I will say this was perfectly matched with the tomatoes and cukes, where the radish added a little spice and we all remarked how good the toasted quinoa tasted. Before we were informed as to what it was, we all made guesses. I guessed quinoa. I guess I won. What? Well, to eat more of the salad. All that with the creamy green goddess? Tang all around. And dang it was good.

Next was the Bolognese Rigatoni Mezze. Browned beef and pork (yum), mirepoix, tomato paste, garlic, chili flake, cayenne, red wine-picked up with garlic, basil, the TBG sauce, butter and finished with an herb ricotta, olive oil and torn basil. Now, I have to say with this dish there was a yin and yang aspect. I thought the pasta itself was a little tough; chewy, perhaps under cooked. That threw me off a little bit, however, the flavor of the bolognese was some of the best flavor of the night, and there were many great flavors that night. So, if the pasta had been more on point for me, this may have been the best course of the evening for me. The flavor was acidic, tomatoey, and spicy. There was a burn, but the herb ricotta made a great balancing agent in the descriptor base. A very good dish overall. 

Fish was up next. North Carolina Mountain Trout. The trout was split, stuffed with oregano, parsley and thyme and grilled on both sides before being finished in the oven. It was served with a creamy cauliflower puree, made with shallots, cauliflower, white wine, heavy cream and thyme, all on top of the fish, then served with bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts. It was garnished with petite greens (you know I love me some microgreens) and drizzled with olive oil. The fish was tender, well seasoned and well prepared. Sometimes, to me, trout can be rubbery but not in this case. The puree was the perfect topping for the fish.

Pan Seared Salmon. Atlantic Salmon seared in olive oil and placed in the oven. On top of the fish is an olive tapenade made from nicoise and castelvetrano olives, parsley, oregano, garlic, orange zest, red wine vinegar and olive oil. That is all served with a shaved fennel and crunchy green salad, all finished with basil oil. My two favorite fish to eat are tuna and salmon. This was cooked properly, was seasoned well and the tapenade made it even more delicious. I really liked the flavors on this.

Springer Mountain Farms Half Chicken. We got a bit of the Springer Mountain Farms chicken, which is rubbed (under the skin) with herb compound butter. It was served with crispy potatoes that were tossed in roesemary chili garlic butter and seasoned with steak salt and then covered with a bit of bourbon chicken jus, which is mirepoix, white wine, sherry vinegar, bourbon (of course), chicken demi and finished with butter. I am one of the weirdos and like white meat chicken a little better. I’m not a dark meat bird fan, all around. I thought the jus and the potatoes were fantastic and the chicken was good, but it was dark meat and not my thing. However, if you’re into dark meat chicken, add to a well-done bird the jus and potatoes and you’ve got a perfect meal right there.

Grilled Flat Iron “Steak Frites.” Medium rare prime Flat Iron steak marinated in black pepper, thyme and extra virgin olive oil. It’s seasoned with steak salt and grilled. It was topped with a garlic herb butter. A very creamy butter that wasn’t needed but well worth having. The steak was perfect, to me, on it’s own and the butter just made it decadent, which, I love. I am a fan of butter anyway, but this was bonus. It comes with WP french fries. They included their own house made steak sauce and I tasted it but I believe a good, or in this case, great steak, needs no steak sauce. If you’re a steak sauce kind of person, though, definitely try this, there’s less preservatives in the house made version than in the bottle and it’s fresh. I really loved the steak, it wasn’t gristly and the seasoning and marinating was superb. Nice outer crust, great tender inside.

Also, we had the mac n cheese, which was quite creamy and delicious, topped with truffled bread crumbs. I could have eaten more of that, but I was getting very full. In addition, we had the roasted cauliflower. The florets were tossed in brown butter and roasted in the pizza oven with pepperoncinis and seasoned with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Again, it was very good, but I was getting quite full. I do love how the restaurant infuses pepperoncini peppers in their creations. I think that pepper gets a bad rap because it’s associated with a pizza chain. They do great work with an under appreciated ingredient.

The final piece of this culinary puzzle was the dessert sampler plate we were given. It was a beignet that was delightfully sugary and moist on the inside; an espresso semifreddo which means half frozen, it was like a frozen mousse and very creamy; and the salted caramel pudding with a whipped cream topping made of creme fraiche and topped with cookie crumbles. The pudding was definitely my favorite part. I love salted caramel and here it was in all its glory in a delicious pudding form.

Klaus Puck

Throughout the night we sipped on WP house wines; their WP Cabernet Sauvignon and WP Chardonnay. Wolfgang Puck donates a portion of procedes from these wines (all of their line of wines) to the “Keep Memory Alive” which is committed to improving the lives of patients and their families as they navigate the extraordinary challenges of brain disorders. I had the pleasure of meeting Klaus Puck, Chef Wolfgang’s brother, and he said that their mother suffered with Alzheimer’s and they are doing this in her honor. Klaus is a fantastic guy, too. All of the staff that we dealt with from Paul Cloninger, our server, who has been at this particular location longer than anyone else, to Rick Berger the general manager to the bar staff and kitchen staff, are fantastic people.
There’s so much more to WP Kitchen + Bar than just these dishes. They have a full brunch menu, even more on their dinner menu and they are open for lunch. There are event facilities for private dining available, customizable catering options for your functions and special themed dinners that happen throughout the year. I am highly recommending that everyone take that leap across the “Sandy Ridge Line” and visit WP Kitchen + Bar. They’re located at 607 Green Valley Road in Greensboro. If you live in Greensboro, you can order online by visiting their website, wolfgangpuck.com.

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode #18

In Episode #18, proudly recorded from Test Pattern Studios:

  • I’m joined by my wife, Stephanie
  • Food holidays and history
  • Twin City Hive opens second location.
  • I attend a blogger/social media event at WP Kitchen + Bar in Greensboro.

Don’t forget my sponsor, Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Slàinte mhath!

HakkaChow for the Win

I talked about this in this week’s The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast.

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Egg Rolls

Stephanie, along with 5 other friends and myself went out on Saturday to celebrate my birthday. The restaurant that I chose was HakkaChow. I had eaten there a few times but, I’ll admit, it’s not in my area of frequency, meaning I don’t get over that way often. I had done an interview with Jonathan Chung, owner, sous chef and business developer of HakkaChow. To be sure, this is Asian. But, don’t jump into the cliché of calling this Asian Fusion. I think they prefer Chinese with a little bit of Thai and other Asian cuisine thrown in. Jonathan came out of the kitchen to say hey to me and his mother, Caroline, made sure that everyone at the table was well taken care of. It was easy to get rezzies as I just hit Jonathan up and informed him that I was coming with a small group. He took care of the rest.

I didn’t really take inventory of what everyone else was having, just Stephanie and me, so I’ll go over that a little.

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XO Crispy Duck

We ordered the egg rolls as an appetizer and they were very good. Crispy with marinated pork and vegetables, served with a hot mustard and a vietnamese dipping sauce. That hot mustard sauce, man! It clears your sinuses, and fast. That was spicy stuff. I advise you to barely dip in unless you want to burn your septum. You’re not really burning anything but it’s potent and powerful stuff, to be sure; it’s a slow and delicious burn. Lots of flavor in those egg rolls, too. They were perfectly cooked.

Stephanie ordered the Xo Crispy Boneless Duck which is Lightly battered crispy duck on a bed of stir-fried mushroom, onions, celery, zucchini, and carrots with xo sauce. It comes served like fajitas in a Mexican restaurant: sizzling. I didn’t try it but she said it was really good. She is a fan of duck and this looked amazing. Pinkish duck in that light deep-fried shell? Yep, it looked fantastic and she said it was.

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General Tso

I ordered the General Tso Chicken. Now, I know that it’s not traditionally Chinese and was created, mostly likely, anyway, in the USA by a Chinese American chef. General Tso is battered chicken breast in a mild tangy sauce with green bell peppers, onions, broccoli. The sauce was thick and very flavorful. It was slightly spicy but, really, only slightly so. The tang was just right and I love thick sauces, I don’t like my food swimming in liquid as much as I do seeing it wade in the murk and this was just the right consistency for my taste. It comes with a side of rice (your choice white or brown – I went white).  Great dish.

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Surf n Turf Sushi

I also ordered the surf and turf sushi roll (it was created by Jonathan, by the way). It’s an inside-out roll filled with kani, asparagus, and cucumber. Topped with premium tuna, yellow tail, and Korean BBQ beef. It was drizzled with Korean hot sauce, eel sauce, and spicy aioli. I asked for the asparagus to be left off. I find that I can tolerate onions a little better now and asparagus, even the smell starts to turn my stomach. I tell you what about this roll, though… that Korean BBQ beef on the top? It was amazingly delicious! And, it’s not often that I eat sushi without soy sauce and wasabi. There was wasabi on the plate but I didn’t need it or the soy. I ate each piece as it was and it was quite a fine treat without the extra sodium.

I also had one of their signature cocktails: the spicy mango margarita. I somehow managed to not get the recipe but I can tell you that it was sweet and salty as a good margarita should be and there was a slight heat that snuck up on you, in your throat, after you drank it. I recommend that if you like sweet and spicy together.

And, they gave me a creme brulee for dessert to celebrate my birthday! Excellent experience. The only hitch was something went wrong with their draft system so we were relegated to bottled beer, no worries, we went with Tsingtao and Singha and there’s nothing wrong with that for flavor with Chinese/Asian food.

HakkaChow is located at 615 St. George Square Ct. and it is right behind the Carmax on Hanes Mall Blvd. You can find more about them, including making rezzies by visiting their website. I highly recommend it, especially if you like Chinese food, but don’t want the mainstream junk that is offered at other “chinese” restaurants. I think all at the table thought it was delicious and I can’t wait to go back. Thanks to Jonathan, Andrew, Hai-fang and Caroline for making us all feel welcome and for the great food!

It’s a Taco Joint, NOT a Mexican Restaurant

It has finally happened. I have alluded to it for the last few weeks, even mentioning it, albeit ambiguously, on this week’s podcast. Chef Kris Fuller and her fantastic taco voyage – Crafted: The Art of the Taco Winston – have arrived. Chef Kris had a sort of soft opening on Saturday, with no warning to anyone other than some foodie people, and a sandwich board standing outside of the restaurant’s doors.2016-11-02-16-29-56

Today, November 2, 2016, they opened their doors, for real. Now, the first thing you need to know is that this is not a Mexican restaurant. This is a taco joint. With food offerings for everyone: the vegans, the vegetarians, the omnivores and the carnivores, Crafted: The Art of the Taco has a menu full of delicious sounding food. Stuffed avocados, “dirty south nachos” made from sweet potato chips and pulled pork, “Mason of Bacon” or a mason jar filled with applewood smoked bacon served with salted caramel and chocolate sauce for dipping (shudders!) and taquitos are some of the main appetizer items.

Salad people may freak out a little when they see only one salad on the menu, but fear not! it’s not really, the only salad on the menu. The base is mixed greens kimchi, citrus vinaigrette, orange segments, guacamole, crumbled queso and topped with fried tortillas. But, you start with that and then add your protein of choice. Choices include grilled or battered fish, chorizo, pulled pork, braised chicken or beef, seared tuna, spiced potato, fried tofu, chofu (chorizo flavored tofu, still vegan) and seitan (vegetarian wheat meat substitute) among other things.

Salads and tacos not your thing? Burgers, man, burgers. There are seven different burgers on this menu and each can be manipulated in so many ways that it’s really hard to put a count on how many variations there really are. The first one up, “The One & Only” which is a beef burger topped with white cheddar pimento cheese, bacon and caramelized onions. “The Fuego” is topped with guacamole, grilled jalapeno, house-made “hot-hot” sauce and crumbled queso. “Smoked Goat” is topped with smoked goat cheese and an apple, bacon, onion and pepper jelly. “Poppin’ Jalapeno” is topped with jalapeno bacon, jalapeno ranch, pepper-jack cheese and a jalapeno and cream cheese fritter. Then there’s the “Greasy Spoon” (I love that name) with two diner-style patties layered with American cheese and topped with diced grilled onions, tomato, lettuce, house made pickles, ketchup and mustard. The “Chori” is beef topped with queso sauce, chorizo, pico de gallo, fried egg and guacamole… holy smokes!!

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“Baja” taco with seared, rare tuna

You can add additional cheeses, bacon, eggs, jalapeno and so on, to make your burger your own. There’s also the vegan burger made of black bean, falafel and corn patties with vegan queso, pico de gallo, guac and a cilantro-lime aioli.

But, as awesome as all that sounds, we’re here to talk about the main event, tacos!

There are 11 tacos on the menu and one predetermined three taco “combo.” You get 2 tacos and 1 side for the prices on the menu. You can also mix and match your tacos and just pay the higher of the two prices. Let’s examine these tacos: “Big Truck” with pulled pork, mac-n-cheese, tobacco onions, scallions and bacon BBQ sauce. “Bowtie” with beer battered fish, roasted corn and poblano salsa, sweet chipotle aioli and honey mustard. “Fedora” with blackened, rare, tuna, kimchi, garlic and pineapple aioli topped with scallions. “Fixie” with beef brisket, grilled pineapple, spicy sweet chili sauce and coconut aioli. “Hoodie” with falafel, spicy pickled cucumbers, shredded carrots, mixed greens and house sauce. “Messenger” with chorizo, scrambled egg, potatoes, ranchero, guacamole and crumbled queso. “Oxford” braised chicken, napa cabbage slaw, hoisin sauce, spicy Asian mustard and scallions. “Po’ Boy” with cajun fried shrimp, lettuce, pico de gallo, cajun remoulade and spicy pickles. “Wayfarer” is pulled portk, korean red sauce, sesame marinated cucumber and red onion relish topped with cilantro and scallions. “Baja Style” is cilantro, guacamole, baja sauce and pico de gallo and you pick your own protein. “‘Mericanized” is lettuce, tomato, sour cream and shredded cheese, again, you pick your own protein. The “Box Truck” is one “Big Truck,” one “Oxford” and one “Bowtie.” How’s that for whetting the appetite? Plus, you can make any of the tacos a rice bowl (for an additional charge) or into a burger. Also, you have a choice of flour or corn tortillas.

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“Baja” with pulled pork, a side of chip & queso

The menu states this but I’ll repeat it, all of the sauces are made in-house and most of them are vegan. Most of the items can be made vegetarian, vegan or gluten free (ask your server for more info). They do not use nut products in their kitchen, so those with nut allergies are safe. They take into account any food allergies that you may have.

For the kids, they have a mac & cheese quesadilla and they have churros (fried pastry tossed in cinnamon sugar, then drizzled with caramel and spiced chocolate) for dessert. I’ve basically just rewritten the entire menu for you. I don’t feel bad about that because it’s a well-organized menu and without knowing what’s on it, you may not visit or go in. Now, you’re well informed.

I went in today and ate along with local food writers Michael Hastings (Winston-Salem Journal) and Kristi Maier (Triad Foodies, Yes! Weekly) and sampled some of Chef Kris’ fantastic food. We all three sat and shared food. There was a lot of “here, Tim, try this stuffed avocado or, Kristi, try this queso, or Michael you have to taste this mac-n-cheese.” It was fun being in our own little corner having the food. Chef Kris was there with us explaining items and helping us concoct the best combo for us. I tried one of the “Baja” tacos with seared tuna from Michael. I ordered my own “Baja” with pulled pork and a “Fixie” because it had beef. My side was the queso and chips. On the table was the “Bowtie” but I didn’t get to try that one, but I got a picture of it.

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“Bowtie” with duck fat braised collards

The stuffed avocado was decadent. Spicy but not hot, creamy and tender but firm and topped with pico. Great balance and oh so good.

The “Fixie” was tangy and spicy. It was also messy. So be warned when you eat at Crafted: Art of the Taco, it will be messy. The beef was perfectly seasoned and oh, so tender. Mixed with the sweet chili sauce there was the heat without being hot. The pineapple and coconut aioli gave it a definite Hawaiian feel. I liked it a lot, but it was the last of the tacos I had and I was getting full (and fast).

The “Baja” with the pork was delicious. The tangy baja sauce had that tangy cilantro mayo type sauce that you’d expect, especially if you’ve had anything from Taco Bell with that sauce. This, however, lays the smack down on that stuff; leaves it tattered and torn. The pork was tender and seasoned. It was all a little spicy, but again, not hot. There was some of Chef Kris’ housemade “hot-hot” sauce and verde sauce by my plate and I made sure to incorporate them into the food (or just have it with chips). As great as the pork was, the “Baja” taco I had from Michael, with the seared, rare tuna, was divine. That was my favorite of all of them. I’m a sucker for rare tuna, anyway.

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“Fixie”

I enjoyed my chips and queso, but when I go back I’m certainly opting for either the duck fat braised collard greens or the pimento mac and cheese. Both of those were top notch. I am one to usually put vinegar on my collard greens, mainly because I love the taste of vinegar. But with these, there was no need or want of that. The duck fat brought out the earthy flavor of the collards. I’ve had some fantastic collards from other places and this is certainly rivaling those places. I’d say top three, for sure. The mac-n-cheese was oh so creamy and oh so rich. Melting in my mouth, I think I audibly moaned upon trying them for the first time.

To say that it was “good” would be ridiculous. That’s lying, outright and maliciously. This was fantastic! There’s a reason the town got excited about Crafted when it was announced they were coming. The reason is because it truly is some of the best tacos I’ve ever had. The tacos are actually “crafted” and tedious care is taken to make sure they’re right. Again, make sure you keep a good bit of napkins handy, you’re going to need them. I can’t wait to get back there and to take Stephanie with me. She’s going to really enjoy this.

Because you know I love my alcohol, they have taps and bottled beer and wine. To tell the truth I was too busy eating phenomenal food to even look what their libations were. I’ll report back on that, later. Perhaps on a podcast?

You can try your own Crafted goodness by visiting the newest location, 527 Liberty Street. You can find out more about her menu and her two Greensboro restaurants, Crafted: Art of the Taco (East) and Crafted: Art of Street Food, by visiting their website HERE.