Author Archives: Christopher Nank

Gulf Coasting: The Veal Schnitzel Reuben at Mr. Dunderbak’s

Breaded veal cutlet, Thousand Island, sauerkraut and swiss on grilled rye.

Breaded veal cutlet, Thousand Island, sauerkraut and swiss on grilled rye.

I know I’m not the only one who watched the Berlin episode of “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” and was totally sold on schnitzel. Right? Not the only one who thought to myself, “Pounded, tenderized, breaded, deep-fried veal, and somehow I’ve never given this dish much thought,” right?

On another note, it’s a great feeling when you discover that “signature” item on a menu, and you know it’s what you will go to that restaurant for, you almost come to identify that place with the meal and nothing else. It might be the crispy szechuan pork at Rice Bowl in Tallahassee, or the lamb tibs at Dukem in Washington, D.C. In this case, it is my sandwich discovery of the year in the Tampa area: the Veal Schnitzel Reuben at Mr. Dunderbak’s. Continue reading

Gulf Coasting: The EAS-South Meatless September Sandwich Party

Top: The Stoplight: Red pepper, yellow squash and kale Bottom: Eggplant portabella

Top: The Stoplight: Red pepper, yellow squash, kale and vegan mozzarella on a pressed hoagie roll 
Bottom: Eggplant portabella, with vegan mozzarella, spinach and hot sauce on a kaiser roll

By Christopher Nank, Gulf Coast Correspondent

Eat a Sandwich can finally claim to have moved the needle on a grassroots, far-reaching level, at least when it comes to sandwich culture (if such a thing exists). And as an added bonus, this month’s focus on vegetarian-friendly sandwiches inspired what is probably the healthiest meal I’ve eaten in some time.

From this blog and other sources, I’ve determined that the hallmark of a truly good meatless sandwich is this: Would you seek it out and eat it even in the presence of other options? To my mind, I can honestly say only the Capri from Waterworks in Tallahassee fit this description for me — and as you might sense from the profile I wrote earlier this year, that old favorite ain’t what it used to be. I’ll generally go out of my way for good falafel, as well, but my tastes there aren’t tied to a specific establishment. Continue reading

Gulf Coasting: The Fried Pork Tenderloin at Hott Mess

The Panko-fried pork tenderloin sandwich from Hott Mess food truck

The Panko-fried pork tenderloin sandwich from Hott Mess food truck

By Christopher Nank, Gulf Coast Correspondent

Organizing a food truck rally is probably an exercise in crazy-making even under the most ideal circumstances. The permits, the generators, the facilities upkeep alone. Organizing the World’s Largest Food Truck Rally (it’s expected to be certified by Guinness later this month), which took place Aug. 31 at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, must have been a whole different animal. According to the Tampa Bay Times write-up, 99 trucks showed up, besting the previous single-event record of 62 by a fair margin. (Incidentally, the location of the previous record-holding rally? Miami, naturally, with whom our fair city has had other culinary beefs of note.)

In any case, the record-breaking festival stood out for two things: 1) one of the hands-down best pork sandwiches I’ve ever had; and 2) a failure of organization that bordered on total incompetence. The event’s organizers have spoken of making this an annual Labor Day event. Let’s pray they learn their lessons from this one. Perhaps a second entrance to the massive parking areas might be helpful? Hell, while we’re at it, a simple map of the fairgrounds and each truck’s location within would be quite helpful, also. Continue reading

Gulf Coasting: Datz’s Chicken and Waffle BLT

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The Chicken and Waffle BLT… kind of.

BY CHRISTOPHER NANK, GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT

“We don’t have that anymore.”

Heartbreak. The the last thing a questing diner wants to hear is exactly what I was told upon taking a seat at Datz and ordering the South Tampa gastro-deli’s Chicken and Waffle BLT. I know Datz, a popular destination among locals and visiting luminaries for brunch, sandwiches and inventive cocktails, regularly rotates items in and out of their menu. But considering the recent local fascination with chicken and waffles, not to mention the fact that mere moments before placing my order I had spotted one of the sandwiches being bussed through the dining area, I admit to being a little nonplussed. Why remove an item so obviously in demand?

Perhaps sensing my desperation, our server mercifully agreed to cobble one together by making several alterations to the Smokey and the Bird, substituting fried for smoked chicken and two waffle sections (not the ideally sized for this purpose) for a sourdough bun. Sigh. So it is. Continue reading

Gulf Coasting: The Tampa Cuban Sandwich Festival


By Christopher Nank, Gulf Coast Correspondent

To call the 2nd annual Cuban Sandwich Festival merely a contest to determine the best Cuban sandwich in Florida would be grossly understating the scope of the event. Set entirely within the one square block of Centennial Park in Tampa’s historic Ybor City, the scene had the feel of a Latin food festival, a farmer’s market, crafts fair and music showcase rolled into a single glorious spectacle. Not even the absence of a beer truck could overshadow a beautiful late March day spent amid the wafting scents of grilled, fried and smoked food.

Continue reading