A few qualifiers here. If you want to read about where I like to eat around the country regardless of whether or not I am touring, then stay tuned. That list is coming. This list is restricted to places I have eaten while I’ve actually been on tour. Thus, I lose the opportunity to gush about many of my favorite restaurants.
But since most of you only give a shit enough to read my writing because of my membership in the post hardcore/turned indie rock legends, As Cities Burn, I am setting these parameters. This way you can one day visit one of my favorite tour spots and say to your friend, “This is where the drummer for As Cities Burn ate! I don’t remember his name, and if I saw him right now, wearing his own band’s t-shirt, I wouldn’t have a clue it was him…but HE ATE HERE!”
So now onto my mission to become the music world’s version of Anthony Bourdain. Here are my Top 5 favorite places that I have eaten on tour, not to be confused with places that I WOULD eat on tour NOW. This list will change…probably later this year.
In N Out Burger - West Coast/Texas
Ok haters, I don’t want to hear your bullshit that In N Out Burger is overrated. For the same price of a Big Mac meal at McDonald's, you get a Double Double meal here. Except In N Out doesn’t start making your burger until you order it. They don’t have freezers. Nothing on this burger has ever been frozen. They even have their own bakery (Puritan Bakery) for which In N Out is the only client. The buns are only par-baked so they don’t finish until they throw them on the grill to be toasted. My wife worked at In N Out for almost 4 years, so she has given me the rundown of all their quality control procedures. No doubt, a well-oiled machine it is. As Cities Burn would eat there almost every day when on tour out west.
In N Out actually pays their employees well too, which in turn results in premium customer service. Do yourself a favor and order your burger the way I order my burger everywhere - Mustard, Onion, Pickle w/ American Cheese…Medium Rare. Yes In N Out will cook your burger medium rare. Your complaints are invalid until you order a burger this way…the way a burger was meant to be eaten. I also want to take this moment to say fuck Five Guys and their overcooked, under-seasoned, unmelted cheese burgers.
What I get - Double Double with mustard, onion, pickle only cooked medium rare.
Las Cuatros Milpas - San Diego, CA
Middle-aged-to-elderly Mexican ladies cooking Mexican food in a way you have never imagined. Tamales, rolled tacos, rice and beans, chorizo, tacos, and the best damn flour tortillas you will find on planet earth. It’s the epitome of a hole in the wall and always a long line out the door. You are an asshole if you leave somewhere like this because there’s a line to go somewhere with no line. You ever wonder why there might be a line outside of a food establishment? Could it possibly be because it’s gonna be some of the best food you’ve ever had in your life? If a place looks like a shit hole and there is a line out the door, you best wise up and GET IN LINE. Places like Las Cuatros Milpas make the world go ‘round for me. It’s my happy place. It’s the reason I eat.
No street tacos here. The corn tortillas are fried to make crispy tacos filled with shredded chicken or pork, and topped with lettuce, Mexican crema and cotija. Authentic as hell. I don’t want to hear it from the street taco nazi's about how these aren't real tacos. There is more than one variation of authentic Mexican tacos…
What I get - Pork Tamale w/ Rice and Beans, chicken taco (fresh tortillas come with your rice and beans for free!)
Mission Chinese - New York City, NY
This is my trendy, hipster, current to what’s going on in the “food world” pick. Danny Bowien started Mission Chinese out in San Francisco as a pop up restaurant, and eventually opened a second location in NYC. At one point Andrew Zimmern (that bald guy that eats bugs on the travel channel) declared Mission Chinese in NYC the “best restaurant in the country”. The hype led to long lines of hipsters wanting to experience this hybrid experiment of Chinese techniques with American flavors, as well as American techniques with Chinese flavors.
I’ve been fortunate to visit Mission Chinese when there wasn’t a 3 hour wait. Since eating there, I have seen Danny post pictures on twitter or instagram of himself hanging with Chris Connely (Saves the Day) and Geoff Rickley (Thursday) at the restaurant. It appears he grew up being into the same music as me. I secretly hope that there is a chance he is an As Cities Burn fan, and will graciously invite me to come feast and drink with him and all his super famous chef friends that I idolize (my false idols power rankings goes - baseball players, chefs, line cooks, and then way on down at the bottom, basically off the list in the “don’t give a shit category”….other musicians.)
What I get - Thrice cooked bacon, salt cod fried rice, chongqing chicken wings, bbq pigs tail
Mamoun’s Falafel- New York City, NY
We talkin’ about falafel. I’m a tad embarrassed as an avid lover of meat to have a God forsaken vegetarian sandwich highlighted on this list. As Ron Swanson said,- “You’ve accidentally given me the food that my food eats.” There will be plenty of time for me to talk shit about vegetarians and vegans (those of the privileged white American variety), but for now I must praise this East Village staple. On Saint Marks Place between 2nd and 3rd Ave on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Mamoun’s is walking distance from a number of NYC concert venues, including Irving Plaza and Webster Hall.
I’m not a falafel expert, but it’s the best damn falafel sandwich i’ve ever had. Perfectly fresh and chewy pita, crunchy and moist falafel, and a tahini sauce that is of the gods. Careful with the hot sauce. It will kick your ass. Best part about this place? The falafel sandwich is only $3.50 (I think when I first ate there like 7 or 8 years ago it was $2.50).
I’m sure the shawarma is great, but since I can’t get falafel this good anywhere I have lived over the past 5 years, I always just get falafel.
What I get - Falafel Sandwich, side of hummus and a water because I’m typically pretty loaded at that point in the evening when I usually end up here.
Central Grocery - New Orleans, LA
Get yourself a damn muffuletta sandwich and continue on with your consumption of Abita Amber in to go cups. Central Grocery is a New Orleans institution that makes a sandwich native to the city, created by Italian immigrants. Mortadella, salami, ham, mozzarella, provolone and olive salad on muffuletta bread (round sicilian loaf, similar to focaccia but closer to the texture of french bread). There is better food in New Orleans for sure, but when we play House of Blues, I almost always find myself taking the short walk down Decatur St. past Jackson Square to indulge myself. You can get it as a quarter sandwich and make it a snack so you can save some room for all the other good stuff New Orleans has to offer.
What I get - Quarter muffuletta, hot and pressed.