Monthly Archives: January 2015

Sami’s Varsity Grill: 1/3lb Cheeseburger

As I sit here at Ft. Irwin approaching the half way point to this little “adventure” I am realizing that my posts are almost non-existent. Mostly because there isn’t much to report on here, and it’s also a pain to post from my phone. However, there were a couple of opportunities for some cuisine that doesn’t come from plastic packaging.

When we first got here and shacked up in the RUBA there was a handful of food trucks that gave the soldiers an option to buy some food. Yes, the army chow provided is “free,” but it is only served twice a day, so lunch you can either eat an MRE or buy something. I personally love food trucks, as any freedom loving American should. If you have ever been to Portland it’s part of the culture of the city. You can even download an app that will tell you everything you need to know about all the food trucks around the city. New York has the hot dog carts, pretzel carts and falafel stands on almost every corner. Anchorage has the reindeer sausage stands all over downtown that sell some bomb ass sausages and brats well into the late night/early morning hours. If you ever get the chance to hit up Arts, Beats and Eats in Royal Oak, MI I would highly suggest it, food trucks like whoa. Hell, even in Juarez, Mexico if you want a tasty treat go find the cholo slanging tacos on the side of the road.

Down here I was trying to save some money to spend on booze when I get back to Alaska by eating as much army chow as possible. However, as hard as I tried I couldn’t resist the allure of the food trucks. When I finally broke down I obviously went for the cheeseburger stand.

The line wasn’t that long, maybe seven people in front of me. Well, an hour later I finally got to put in my order. Yes, one whole fucking hour at a food truck. Shit, at half an hour I thought about walking away but I committed at that point. I gave them the benefit of the doubt thinking maybe they were cooking them as they were ordered. They also serve hot dogs so maybe not everyone is ordering a burger (not really sure how hot dogs would slow things down though). I finally get to the front of the line and the mother fuckers aren’t even using the grill at this time. Ol’ Boy is back there cleaning the grill, and Fat Boy gets me my 1/3 pound burger out of a warming tray. On top of this, they were out of bacon. Once I finally got the chance to eat this burger it was plain as fuck. Not really any other way to explain it. The bun was fine, the cheese melted but the patty itself was just kind of there and was cooked very very thoroughly. I should have just hit up an MRE if I knew I was going to be this disappointed.

So, if you see this rolling turd of a food truck serving up burgers in your area, avoid it. Not only will you be disappointed, you will be late for wherever you were going. Even if you have nowhere to be at anytime in particular, you will be late and unsatisfied. They also claim “World famous chili cheese dogs.” Sorry broskie, you aren’t National or American Coney Island so nobody gives a shit about your hot dogs. All you really need is some ball parks, Hormel and a bucket of cheese wiz and you have a solid chili cheese dog. You could even switch out the ball park with a cardboard tube and I’d probably still eat the mother fucker. Not even going to waste my time on their fries, there is no point.

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Player Hater’s Ball

Unless you live on Mars I’m pretty sure you either saw or heard about the Seahawks bat shit crazy win over the Packers in the NFC title game. The Seahawks basically gave the Packers a 56 minute head start then finally said it was go time to make it to their second consecutive Super Bowl. As a Seahawks fan it made me pee a little. If you are a Seahawks hater you probably peed a little too. As a lifetime sports fan there is only one thing I know for sure, people love a winner. This is when the general populous stars throwing around the term “bandwagon fans.” It’s inevitable. You see it even in your home markets. When I first moved to Michigan I would go to Tiger’s game, often by myself. This was because they were on the verge of losing 115 games and nobody wanted to go. Even with a brand new stadium they couldn’t get more than 10,000 fans in the ballpark. Now, it’s standing room only on weekends and big games. Everyone loves a winner.

Success brings out another type of “fan,” the haters. I have seen the Seahawks latest success breed more new haters than new bandwagon fans. These are the people who call you a bandwagon fan because you have a new game jersey. Well the Seahawks changed their uniform 3 years ago and have a slew of new superstars, of course you are going to see them at the bar. You want to know why teams update their jerseys? So they can sell them and make money. It could be someone who still has their Steve Largent jersey in their closet at home but feels like repping a Kam Chancellor uniform because he is bad mother fucker. These haters are much much more annoying than the bandwagon fans. They claim everyone is a bandwagon fan. They never cared who was a Hawks fan before they finally noticed the team from the northwest beating everybody with a swagger not seen since the ’85 Bears. When the Seahawks were losing nobody even thought twice about them outside of the NFC West, but now that they are in the forefront of the NFL people are tired of watching them beat their team. Most of these haters have already forgot Seattle was in Super Bowl 40 in Detroit. In reality the Seahawks have had a great fan base for years before their recent success.

December of 1984 the Seahawks retired the #12 in honor of their fans. The No Fun League subsequently instituted new noise rules the following year that nobody really cares about. After their new stadium was built the organization was even accused of pumping crowd noise into the stadium. The crowd noise that set the Guinness world record was 137.6 decibels, only 12.4 decibels below rupturing your ear drums. That’s fucking loud. It can actually be noticed at near by seismic research facilities. This noise does make for a nice home field advantage, leading the league in opponent false starts.

Personally, I welcome “bandwagon fans.” Part of winning is expanding your market share to make money, and pumped that back into the organization. Whether you’re a new fan or an OG fan doesn’t make a difference to me. I used to be the only one at bars wearing my Alexander jersey and would be sitting by myself, but now there are people to bullshit with wherever I go. It’s part of the experience. Sure they might not know who Cortez Kennedy is, but they sure as shit know the current roster. People have to root for someone, there only two teams left playing so go ahead and pick one. Unless you’re from Wisconsin or lost money on that game, I find it hard to believe that you didn’t get excited watching that finish last weekend. Haters are going to hate, ballers are going to ball, it’s science. But if you want to come into the bar wearing a brand new #3 jersey, there is always room at my table.

Go Hawks!

Fatburger: The Fatburger, Large

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So far I’m going to say 2015 has sucked. After I blacked out on NYE it’s been a downhill slide. First I have to spend my birthday month at Ft. Irwin, CA doing some bullshit, next I have to watch the Seahawks games in the goddamn laundry room here because it’s the only place with a TV, and the fucking Buckeyes win the National Championship. Seriously, what’s next?

This is also how I feel Fatburger has been sliding over the years. It’s been almost 10 years since the last time I had Fatburger. It was outside of Seattle and was glorious because I could get my value meal with a Red Hook ESB. They still do it on an open grill, you know, because people like to watch. But let me back up a minute to explain something before I get into the burger.

Fatburger started as Mr. Fatburger in 1947 in LA, until Lovie Yancey bought out her partners in 1952 and dropped the Mr. Much like In-N-Out it remained mostly a California chain and rivaled In-N-Out for cult status. If you are like me you know that even Ice Cube enjoyed some Fatburger at 2 in the morning. Where I feel that Fatburger started slipping and let In-N-Out take over as the burger to have was when Fatburger sold out to an investment firm in 1990. In-N-Out is still owned by the same family that founded it. With an investment firm taking over the franchise it was no longer about the burgers, but about making money. It’s a commodity, not a legacy. You can see this when you enter a Fatburger these days, it is more and more like a fast food joint than a burger joint. The one I stopped at in Barstow, CA even sells wings. WTF? They have also expanded globally with franchises in places like Pakistan and at sports stadiums where In-N-Out has barely reached Texas. Even back in the day McDonalds and White Castle where real burger stands and we see what franchising has done to them (even though I’ll still crush a crave case like it was my fucking job).

With that aside, the burger hasn’t gone by the wayside yet. One thing that I like is that they do cheeseburgers, and that’s it. No fucking around. All you chose is medium, large, XL, XXL or even the XXXL which is 1.5 pounds of beefy goodness. They make it fresh right when you order it, no frozen patties. This burger is still better than most of the shit I get in Anchorage so they haven’t abandoned all their principles in the quest for riches. Another thing I love about Fatburger is you get to chose your fries, skinny, regular or fat fries. No other places let you do that and I love me some shoestring fries. All in all I’m still a fan of Fatburger but get it soon because who knows what the next 10 years will have in store for this chain.

Arctic Roadrunner: Kodiak Islander

Kodiak Islander

Kodiak Islander

The Arctic Roadrunner has been at the top of my list for a long time followed closely by Burger Jim’s, and now solely in third place Tommy’s.  This is because Long Branch, one of the first places I ever got a burger in Anchorage, had a kitchen fire and is out indefinitely.  The original Arctic Roadrunner on Arctic Blvd was the one that got the top ranking with their Kenai Whopper, a double cheeseburger that was fucking on point.  I decided to try their second location at Old Seward and International (across the street from the Peanut Farm or The Great Alaskan Bush Co. depending on your preference for drinking holes).  This time I decided to try something a little different, the Kodiak Islander.  It comes with mayo, lettuce, tomato, mild chili peppers, bologna, salami, ham, american cheese, mozzarella cheese and topped with an onion ring.  Of course I was not disappointed.  Their 1/4 lb patties are fresh pressed and not frozen, and they are actually cooked to order.  I ordered it medium and it came out with some pink in the middle.  Hard to find places that pull that off up here.  Granted I would like a little more meat but it was juicy enough I didn’t care.  Even with the amount of toppings they put on this burger they didn’t take away from the heart of a cheeseburger, the cheese and burger.  You could still get a full beefy flavor in every bite.  Their buns also do their job, just enough fluff and stability to hold the whole thing together.  I would prefer the Kenai Whopper again next time I go, or their straight up bacon burger is pretty fucking good as well.   The Kodiak is a nice twist though if you want something a little different.

This location is a much bigger venue than the original drive up stand on Arctic.  Plenty of seating and has all kinds of Alaskan swag on the walls.  This location is also great in the summer time with their patio seating right on the little stream that runs past it.  One thing about both locations though is that they are cash only.  The prices are pretty fair, my burger, medium fries and drink were around $11.50 and filled me up.  I will be putting this place to the test when I get back from this event in California next month.  Burger Jim’s and Tommy’s are coming for the belt, nobody stays on top forever.  This isn’t the Mayweather of burger joints, it will have to fight Pacquioa to prove itself.  Plus the Local Burgerman won’t beat your wife or girlfriend, it will treat her real respectable like.  Even give her free refills if she wants.

Inside the Road Runner

Inside the Road Runner

Picture of Long Branch on fire

Picture of Long Branch on fire