Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, Wilmington’s New Sub Place

Capriottis Sign

We had heard that Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop makes some of the best subs across the country. I knew down the road we would have to come to our own conclusions about that statement. It proves to be sooner than later. They have shops across fourteen states and their newest one happens to be in Wilmington, NC. Only a couple of hours from us, we decided to head for historic Wilmington for some photos and grab some lunch at Capriotti’s newest location.

The shopping centers in the area made it an ideal location for Capriotti’s.  But I was surprise that they pick a location that already has a few sub shops within few hundred feet. I’m guessing that Capriotti’s feel they deliver a superior product and once you try a sandwich you’ll be hooked. The layout was very clean which was expected for a new place. As soon as we walked in Capriotti’s, we were greeted and educated about the menu by the staff. The first thing I noticed about the menu was the size options: 9″, 12″ and 20″ subs.  I was very tempted to go with the 20″ meatball sandwich but I was still committed to my new diet plan. If two people were having same sandwich, the best deal would be to split a 20″ sub. The cost would be around $7.30 for 10″ while normally 9″ cost $7.59.  ( Sample of menu at very bottom)

Inside Capriotti's Sandwich Shop ~ Wilmington, NC

Inside Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop ~ Wilmington, NC

The most popular and famous sandwich on Capriotti’s menu, “The Bobbie”: Homemade Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and mayo. Basically the sandwich is described as Thanksgiving meal that you could have any time in the year.  A very interesting sandwich but I lack the fondness for cranberries. Even before I left the house I knew the meatball sandwich was my goal for lunch. I’ll be honest, I usually eat at fast food style sub shops, where the meatballs taste artificial and the bread becomes soggy from the sauce. The complete opposite can be said about Capriotti’s meatball sandwich ~ the meatballs were large full of flavor and the bread manage to stay together. Overall a very well done meatball sandwich and I should have gone with the 20” version.

Caprtotti's Meatball Sandwich 12" ~ Their own signature homemade meatball recipe and topped off with Provolone cheese, grated Romano cheese, and sauce.

Caprtotti’s Meatball Sandwich 12″ ~ Their own signature homemade meatball recipe and topped off with Provolone cheese, grated Romano cheese, and sauce. It’s hard to make a meatball sub look pretty. All that matters is the taste.

Josh decided that he would try the 12″ Grilled Italian. He said it was awesome and the only improvement was if the cheese was more melted. I think the new staff was still learning “timing” with the hot subs because my cheese needed little melt too.

Capriotti's Grilled Italian ~ genoa salami, capacolla and prosciutini makes for an awesome sandwich.

Capriotti’s Grilled Italian ~ genoa salami, capacolla and prosciutini makes for an awesome sandwich.

The verdict about being the best sandwich shop in the country still up in the air. It would be only fair to check out other worthy opponents. But I will admit they have very good meatball sandwich and anytime I’m on the road near a Capriotti’s, I’m stopping for a 20″ sandwich. Hopefully Jerry or Nick is not afraid of cranberries so I can get “The Bobbie” review.

specialmenu_CAPCapriotti’s Sandwich Shop

3501 Oleander Dr. #2
Wilmington, NC 28403
capriottis_lower 

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, No Bacon Shortage Here

A little bit of a delay on the review, we visited Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar back in early August. The first food stop on the Charlotte road trip was not up to our standards and Carowinds, our main goal, was closed. I made the failed assumption that Carowinds would still be open during the weekdays in early August. I needed to find a great place to make up for my prior mistakes during this particular road trip. After reading some reviews and our love for good burgers we settled on Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar. I had 2 strikes against me during this trip, this burger bar may keep me from striking out.

The customer service was outstanding from start to end. Our server, Ashley (maybe misspelled) was on her “A” game. She was very knowledgeable about the menu and offered up her personal favorites. The conversation didn’t seem fake and she was very up beat. She will go down as the best server to date that I have ever had in a casual dining atmosphere. The manager on duty didn’t charge us for our fried pickles starter because he thought the fried pickles were slow getting to the table (For us ~ no time issue). The service alone will have us come back when we make a return trip to Charlotte.

Let’s go over the food:

We started with the Fried Pickle Starter served with ranch dressing. ($7.25)

Fried Pickles

This would be the second time I have had fried pickles and this version had a little more of a kick in flavor. The batter was crispy and fell apart from the pickle easily. As you can see the pickles were lightly battered. Overall they were alright, I’m slowly becoming a fan of fried pickles.

Jerry’s Build a Burger: Bison burger with Fried Egg, Buttermilk Fried Bacon, Blue Cheese and Bacon Mayo. Along with House Made Chips ( $17)

Jerry’s Build a Burger

Shawn’s Build a Burger: 6oz burger with Fried Egg, Buttermilk Fried Bacon, White Cheddar, and Bacon Mayo. Along with Sweet Potato Fries ($15.50)

Jerry and myself decided to get creative with our burgers from a wide variety of topping options. We highly recommend getting the Buttermilk Fried Bacon, it takes the burger to a whole new level of awesomeness. The fried egg starting to be a “must” for me when available. The busted yolk adding to the flavor of the burger. The bacon mayo was not a big impact so next time I’ll probable leave it off the burger. The cost of the burger was well justified and had no problem paying that price. I will never have an issue paying higher price for better quality burger over a $6 tasteless mess from a fast food place.

Josh’s Southern Burger: Basic burger topped with chili, American cheese, relish, mustard and slaw.($10)

Josh’s Southern Burger

Josh’s memory of his burger experience was lacking. I guess in future reviews I need to get his information right away. He was able to say his burger was good, the chili was mild and tater tots were normal.

The overall experience was great! We’ll definitely make it back. Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar so we can sample the shakes (Chunky Elvis) along with the burgers.

Service: 9.5/10

Burger: 8/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

We Visited Bad Daddy’s Ballantyne Location: 15105 John J. Delaney Drive, Ste. A
Charlotte, NC 28277

Ria’s Bluebird, Done Right Their Way

Ria’s Bluebird, a breakfast institution in the heart of Atlanta known for world-famous pancakes. Only a few miles away from the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca Cola. We read in countless articles that many writers put Ria’s Bluebird on top ten list of best breakfast joints across the United States. It was our time to decide the validity of these claims.

We arrived on an early Monday morning in September, much to our delight the place was not hopping yet. We were able to walk in and stake our claim to some good day starters. Before we jump in about the food, I have to make note of some observations I made while waiting for breakfast. Ria’s Bluebird is kinda on the small size on the inside, a very limited amount of seats. I can easily see how a line of people outside the door waiting to hear “Next” on busier days of the week. In our readings of Ria’s Bluebird, we came across a comment that stated “Hipsters frequent this establishment often” . No bother to us, we did see one patron that fit the hipster bill. A very interesting gentleman with very short cut off blue jean shorts and classy handle bar mustache. He helped himself to some coffee with a cup he brought in himself, walked around for a few minutes talking with the locals, and constantly grooming his fine tuned mustache. This only added to the very interesting atmosphere of Ria’s Bluebird. Now lets get to the food.

Looking at half the seating available at Ria’s Bluebird. Get there early.

Shawn: I was originally going to order the famous pancakes with pecans/bananas but I saw an old friend on the menu that I had not seen in a while. Mr. French Toast, my favorite breakfast buddy, who I had not sat down with for some time. The plate was piping hot and loaded with maple syrup. They did not cheap on the syrup, it was actually overflowing the plate. The bananas and maple syrup was the best part of the dish. The best maple syrup I have ever had, granted that I never had maple syrup from local Vermont maple farm. The bananas melt in your mouth with goodness. All bananas should be served this way. I’m not a breakfast person in general, but this dish could make me do it on the daily. I’ll give this dish 9/10 losing a point for just average french toast slices.

French Toast ~ Myer rum dipped brioche with caramelized bananas

Nick: He had the special omelette of the day which was bacon cheddar with mandatory sides. Ria’s Bluebird has strict rules against substitution of sides. The Ria’s standard with special: 1 meat, 1 starch, and 1 bread. Nick’s standard with special: 2 starch and 1 bread. Denied because the chef feels the dish has been perfected the original way and should not be altered for integrity of guest experience. We always give respect and it prove to be a non issue.

Nick’s Feedback “As soon as the waitress told me the special was a bacon cheddar omelet I was sold. It was the best omelet I have ever had in my life. However, I am deducting two points from my rating because I was unable to substitute a side. I simply wanted extra potatoes instead of a meat. I don’t like sausage and there was already bacon in my omelet. My rating is 8/10. Amazing food and definitely a fan of everyone sleeved with tattoos!”

Special omelette of the day: Cheddar Bacon with skillet potatoes, bacon, & warm biscuit

Overall:

A great experience with the added luck of being seated promptly. A lot of good menu items, some people could view the pricing on the high side. But I always felt, the price you pay always matches the quality when it comes to food. So for us the pricing is justified. It’s too early for us in our adventure to call this place “Top Ten” but it definitely left a long-lasting memory.

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SweetFrog, Get in My Tummy

SweetFrog is a chain of premium frozen yogurt shops found across the United States. They are a type of yogurt shop where you grab your own cup, flavor, and toppings. The weight comes into the factor of the cost of the goodness. I only became aware of this place couple weeks ago while reading a post on Facebook. Someone mentioned how they had a craving for some SweetFrog that needed fixed ASAP. After 36 “Likes” and positive comments I knew we had to check this place out.

Josh’s Choice: Peanut Butter & Chocolate Milk Yogurt with chocolate chips chopped up snickers, caramel syrup and hot fudge with whip cream.

The closest one for us was only 4 miles away. When we walked into SweetFrog, we were greeted right away. The employee had so much joy and enthusiasm that it actually carried over to us. I was so pumped up to pull the yogurt machine handle and win my prize. They have over 50 flavors but the location we were visiting only had ten flavors available. Before going to SweetFrogs, I checked the flavor options online ~ I was gunning for Jolly Rancher Fruit Punch. It would bring back memories as a kid walking home from school and stopping at small newspaper/candy shop to buy some 10 cent jolly ranchers. I was a little disappointed that my memory was not available and I had to go with a back up plan. I decided to get all Top Chef “Just Dessert” creativeness with the red velvet yogurt with white cake pieces and white chocolate chips. It was amazing and only $5 out-of-pocket (pretty good value) It actually tasted like red velvet cake.

I told Nick ahead of time to get crazy with his selection and be somewhat adventurous. Prior blog entries ie Wilber’s Barbecue might give you a clue how far out of the box Nick goes. He went with Cookies & Cream with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. His selection reminded him when he was little, his mom would take him to dairy queen almost every day after school to pick up some cookies and cream blizzards or sometimes stop by the gas station and pick up some Reece cups / slurpie combo. Overall he agreed with me that SweetFrog has some good yogurt.

Shawn’s Choice: Red Velvet with white cake & white chocolate chips

Nick’s Choice: Cookies & Cream with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

We will definitely be repeat customer at SweetFrog. So many interesting flavors to try. As we try them we will update this post.

Our Flavor Hit List: Apple Pie, Maple Bacon Donut, New York Cheesecake, Root Beer Float and Thin Mint Cookie

Side Note: Josh went a couple of days later after us.

Coccadotts, Rule 106: Never Turn Down a Good Cupcake

It was a nice surprise that Coccadotts Cake Shop recently opened just two miles away from us. They had some pretty good credentials for making good cupcakes.  An automatic decision was made to go check them out and welcome them to the neighborhood.

As soon as I walked in Coccadotts, I was greeted with a warm welcome and smile.  They encourage questions to help out with the selection that fits your taste buds.  They have so many different cupcakes;   it would take a couple of trips to just go through the top-tier ones. On the first trip we sample several flavors.

Below are photos and comments about each one.

Gnome Cupcake: Shawn's Favorite ~ Chocolate cake with peanut butter flavor Nice surprise at the base

Tough Cookie: Josh's Favorite ~ Chocolate chip throughout the cake with cookie dough pieces on top.

Snickers Cupcake: Very good, has piece of snickers in the center of the cake.

Guinness Cupcake: Actual made with Guinness Beer

Chocolate Mint Cupcake: Makes your kitchen smell minty.

Boston Cream Cupcake: Sadly no cream in the center of the cake.

Bacon Maple Cupcake: Definitely taste the maple.

They were all good cupcakes; we will be back for sure.   Rule 106 applies here  “Never turn down a good cupcake.”

Wilber’s Barbecue, Must Get BBQ Pork – Do Not Pull a Nick

We decided to do a road trip up the coastline of North Carolina. The plan was to make stops at Fort Macon, North Carolina Aquarium, and Duplin Winery. We were going to end the day on a high note with some great barbecue. I did a little research and found Wilber’s Barbecue, well-known for the best eastern carolina style BBQ in the area. So I made it a goal not to ruin my taste buds by not eating anything until we got to the restaurant. No breakfast, lunch, or snack stops. Nick did not get the memo so he was left starving for majority of the day. The only thing I allowed in my system was a bottle of Mountain Dew, my own personal addiction and how I often start the day.

We arrived at Wilber’s Barbecue around 3 in the afternoon. The hushpuppies were the first thing we received from the waitress. They were incredible (best I ever had) , hush puppies were so hot the butter melted on contact. It was hard not to eat the whole basket and I had my hunger control on lockdown for BBQ.  Here was our food order:

Myself: I ordered the Pig & Chick(white meat) combination plate with Mountain Dew. The Pig was the BBQ pork chopped up very fine and carolina style(no sauce, vinegar base) and the Chick was chicken thigh covered in some kind of gravy. The pork had a great spice mixture that gave the taste buds a tangy kick at the end of the meat shovel down the throat. The chicken was so tender, juicy, and the meat fell right of the bone. A choice of two sides, I went with a double portion of french fries and stayed clear of the healthy veggies.

Pig and Chick Combination Plate

Jerry: He had the BBQ Pork Sandwich with fries and sweet tea.

BBQ Pork Sandwich with Coleslaw on it.

Nick: Two cheeseburgers with an order of fries and sweet tea. What? Who orders cheeseburgers when you can have the best BBQ around, I was baffled at his decision and so was the cook. It took an extended time for the food to come out because of the burgers. Our theory was they probable serve a burger once every 3 months and had no clue where the burgers were stored. It became a Where’s Waldo for burger meat and two burgers at one time was even more challenging.

Proof that Nick Ordered Two Cheeseburgers and No BBQ

Overall you have to check out Wilber’s Barbecue if in the area and do not pull a Nick and order something that is not BBQ.

Hominy Grill, Good Breakfast Leads to a Great Day

Back in spring we decided to go to Hominy Grill in Charleston for breakfast. We had heard that they serve the best breakfast in the country and we had to test that rumor out. The challenge was trying to get to Hominy Grill without going crazy. Like most historic towns, Charleston has numerous  one way streets and a shortage of parking spaces. The Garmin GPS we were using had no clue where to direct us once inside Charleston and the catchphrase “Recalculating” repeating over and over again was ruining the good tunes from our ipod. Once we got to Hominy Grill comes the parking portion of the challenge. The Hominy parking lot can only hold about 10 to 15 spots and being such a popular place they were already taken. We went around the block once looking for street parking but the people living in the area had those spots on lock down. I considered us very lucky though because on the second attempt at the parking lot a spot was available. Time for some breakfast at the Hominy Grill.

Outside the Hominy Grill

There was a small line formed outside the Hominy Grill’s door and we figured we will add to the back-end of the line. After a minute in line the nice couple in front of us informed that we needed to put our name on the list. Without that knowledge, we could have been outside for a much longer period of time. So as a reminder: Put your name on the list when you arrive. The space inside the Hominy Grill is small, not much room to navigate around the tables. Must be a challenge to be a server there. The building back in the day was a barber shop and it definitely has that old school feel with the hardwood floors and one person bathroom. Let’s get to the most important part, the food:

I had the strawberry pancakes (it was the special and not on the menu) with a glass of orange juice. I was giving them a task of making me a believer by what I ordered. In general I’m not a fan of oj or strawberries. The only kind of orange juice I care for is the no pulp version. The only time I can handle strawberries when I have them with a little sugar and whipped cream. The Hominy Grill’s orange juice is about as fresh you can get and has a very high pulp volume to it. The orange juice was alright, I know there was nothing artificial about it. The strawberry pancakes were awesome, they used nice whole slices of strawberries in the pancake. It was just the right portion amount and they kept the ingredients simple and fresh. The pancakes were so good I did not need to kill them with maple syrup which is rare for me. Overall I had a very good breakfast.

I asked each guy to write one sentence sum up the menu item they ordered.

Josh had something of the daily special (he has short-term memory) : I forgot what I ordered there. HaHa All I remembered, it was good and the sweet tea was excellent.

Jerry: Big Nasty – It was perfectly fried chicken breast with a hint of spice in the gravy to even the dish out. It was the perfect portion, very authentic place on the sidewalks of Charleston

Nick: Big Nasty – The menu is like any other breakfast place, but the Hominy Grill has one thing you won’t find anywhere else, the Big Nasty!

Big Nasty: Biscuit with Fried Chicken Breast, Cheddar Cheese and Sausage Gravy

Overall we thought that Hominy Grill was a great place to have breakfast. We recommend if allow go during the weekday for crowd reasons.