I am sitting at my desk, holding my tummy, trying to stay awake until quitting time. This afternoon I was out running errands, and I stopped at a little Greek Place near work that serves the best Gyro’s in town. If there’s one thing I can count on in my life it’s that I will never learn from my mistakes. Every time I eat there I devour their Gyro’s like a ravenous beast, licking, and slurping each drop of Tzatziki sauce from the foil wrapper. Then I go back to work and sit listening to my tummy rumble and gurgle like distant thunder.
At what point did my digestive track become so delicate? At some point in the last 10 years I have gone from being able to eat and drink anything with impunity, to an ever growing list of foods that do not like me. Middle age sucks.
Still, their Gyro’s are so delicious I know I will keep going back for more pain and suffering. I may not have an ounce of Greek in me, but Greek food is like crack. What is it that makes it so addicting? I feel like I need to sneak it back into the office, and shut my door when I am eating it.
We never had a lot of Greeks in Western New York, compared to the size of the Sicilian, Polish, German and Irish populations, and yet it seemed like every Greek in the city of Buffalo owned a restaurant. When I left WNY to go make my mark in the world, I discovered that there are three things you can count on wherever you travel in the world, Chinese Laundries, Irish Bars, and Greek Restaurants. I’ve never been too into doing laundry, but Lord knows I’ve seen my share of the inside of Irish Bars, and Greek Restaurants, usually on the same night, and always in that order.
In the city of Buffalo bars are open until 4 am. During my college days, we would stay in Allentown drinking at Nietzsche’s until the bitter end in, and then walk down the street to the Towne Restaurant for breakfast before we drove home. I think it’s been at least 20 years since I pulled one of those all nighters. If I tried it now, I think it might kill me.
Closer to home in Genesee County, our bars closed at 2 am, apparently so our industrious farmers could get up and milk the cows in the morning. Our favorite late night hang out was a diner across from the Batavia Downs, called “The Sport of Kings”, or “Sporto’s” for short. (I just googled them, and they even have their own facebook page now). This is the place to stumble into, stinking of beer, and smoke, and down countless cups of coffee and a full meal at 3 am.
So in honor of Sport o’ Kings, and all the other great dives where I have spent the wee hours of the morning, I offer the following list:
The Ten Best Late-Night-Drunk-Foods
10.) Pizza: Yes, I know, BORING. But a slice of Sergio’s Sicilian style pizza after bar time in Potsdam is a slice of heaven. Nice and doughy crust to soak up all that alcohol sloshing around your stomach.
9.) The Convenience Store Frozen Burrito – I’m not sure this is even food, but I am including it on the list because there is some strange chemical reaction that occurs in the brain of 20 something males that makes them suddenly decide eating a microwave burrito at 3 am after a night of heavy drinking is a good idea.
8.) White Castle Sliders – See #9. I confess, I have eaten them sober. Every year we have a holiday potluck at work. Everyone cooks up some sort of casserole involving tater tots and cream of mushroom soup, or a crock of beans and weenies, but not me. I drive to White Castle and bring back the 30 Pack of Sliders. My coworkers laugh, and say how horrible they are, but when my back is turned the sliders mysteriously disappear.
7.) Chinese Food – What it is about Chinese food that makes it irresistible once the clock strikes midnight? Is it the MSG? Does that stand for Midnight Snack Goodness? If you are ever out drinking around the campus of the University of Minnesota, do yourself a favor and stop in at the Village Wok for an after hour meal. Chances are you’ll be the only Dà bízi (Big Nose) in the place. Don’t order off of the English menu, just point to the table next to you and ask to have what they are having. You will not be disappointed
6.) Gyros – I know it’s only some sort of minced lamb meat, but I’m still convinced that it’s laced with crack cocaine.
5.) French Fries with Gravy – I always assumed this was a normal thing, but only when I traveled outside of Western New York, did I realize it was a French Canadian thing. (They call it Poutine, and sprinkle cheese curds in too) This is standard diner fare after midnight. A big plate of French fries covered in brown gravy. Don’t look at it, just eat it.
4.) Beef on Weck – This is a Buffalo specialty. Thin sliced roast beef, steeped in a pot of au jus until tender, served on a salty Kimmelweck roll, and slathered in horseradish. MMMmmmmmm!!!! Damn, I think I need to go change my shorts now.
3.) Nic Tahou’s Garbage Plate – It’s every bit as delicious as it sounds. A plate of macaroni salad, beans, home fries, and either a red hot of a beef patty thrown on top, covered in a mysterious hot sauce. You will take your life in your hands driving into downtown Rochester after dark, so bring company, and weapons if you got ‘em. People eat this for the same reason that they climb mountains. Just because it’s there.
2.) Frites – An international flavor for #2. From Belgium, the home of the French Fry. (Yeah, it pisses them off that no one calls them Belgian fries) there is nothing better than a hot serving of frites, with mayonnaise, on a cold, raw, Flemish night. Go into any city center and you will see little shacks, and food trailers called “Fritures” that specialize in serving fries, kabobs, and other drunk food. Their frites are amazing, thick, but crunchy all the way through. The secret is frying them twice, at two different temperatures, with a 5 minute rest in the middle. (Belgians pay very close attention to details) There is no actual bar time, so if you feel like it, just head back inside for another beer to wash them down.
1.) Souvlaki – This seems to be a little heralded dish outside of Western New York Greek diners. Everyone else in the world goes for the Gyro, but in Buffalo it’s Souvlaki that is king. The big difference, cubes of grilled beef, instead of gyro meat. Salty, savory, melt in your mouth goodness. The Japanese word for the experience is Umami.
So what’s your favorite drunk food?