A Man v. Food Odyssey

foodI don’t really watch much TV (it’s all repeats!) but if I have the telly on for background noise while I do something else it’s usually foodie or travel shows. A few years back, I was fairly obsessed with Man v. Food and every time I went to stay with friends across the pond I badgered them to take me to places that had featured in Adam Richman’s travels. I then undertook a road trip around the States and, whenever possible, my travel companion and I would stop off at joints that have likewise featured on the show. Below is a list of Man v. Food places we managed to take in (and at the bottom a few that I think could have featured, but haven’t), a bit of information about them and my personal rating (out of 5).

San Francisco

543484_10151473338478700_2117480888_nSan Francisco Creamery (American and Ice Cream)

Me and my Californian pals rocked up here to try the Kitchen Sink challenge which is a massive sundae consisting of eight large ice cream scoops, eight toppings, three bananas and mountain of whipped cream. Meant for up to six people, if you are brave, stupid or hungry enough to eat it all within 30 minutes you can win free ice cream for a year (if you’d ever want it again after this challenge, that is!). Before you take on the Kitchen Sink you have to sign a waiver on the off chance you have a wafer thin mint moment and explode yourself.  My group of four finished but only just – one guy ate it himself in 7 minutes, 15 seconds! They excel in delicious desserts but also serve savoury dishes if you wish to contrast the sweetness.

Rating: ★★★★

Click here to visit the San Francisco Creamery website for more information.

399191_10151242806653700_2061219016_nIke’s Place (Sandwiches)

Ike’s was my very first Man v. Food location and it is probably my favourite. Ike’s serves up a mind-bogglingly wide select of sandwiches including a large number of off-the-menu offerings. I believe you can create your own too, and if the finished product is deemed worthy enough you’ll be allowed to name the sarnie and add it to the ever-growing list of available choices. If you are feeling like a glutton, you can splash your cash on one of the gut-busting house specials like the Krypytonite or the Doomsday which offer enough substance for roughly three sandwiches! You get a few complimentary lollies included with each sandwich. Ike’s Place’s popularity has sky-rocketed and the business now has a number of locations throughout San Francisco and Oakland. You should definitely pop in if you pass one by – you won’t regret it!

Rating: ★★★★★


Click here to visit the Ike’s Place website for more information.

Taqueria La Cumbre (Mexican)

Taqueria La Cumbre offers a selection of delicious Mexican dishes – including burritos large enough for two meals – made to order from a range of high quality ingredients. The owner, if he is about, is a good laugh, very approachable and will be more than happy to chat with you or pose for photos if, like me, you find yourself in awe of this TV superstar! If you are a fan of traditional Mexican fayre and find yourself in San Francisco you owe it to yourself to call in here.

Rating: ★★★★★

Click here to visit the Taqueria La Cumbre website for more information.


P1030698Buckhorn Exchange (Steak House)

Serving prime cuts of meat for over 100 years, Buckhorn Exchange is Colorado’s oldest restaurant. The interior is covered in mounted animal heads of every conceivable kind or pictures of celebrity visitors providing an unusual dining experience. I just had to try the adventurous rattlesnake starter but even the slathering of chipotle cheese couldn’t disguise the taste of the flesh which reminded me strongly of the taste of burning tyres. Risk takers with an aversion to serpents might instead wish to partake in a few Rocky Mountain Oysters – deep fried bull’s testicles in plain old English. As much as I liked the buffalo and elk steaks I ordered, the real highlight of the meal for me was the garlic mash which is to die for! Expect prices to be high but the quality of the meat to reflect the cost.

Rating: ★★★★

Click here to visit the Buckhorn Exchange website for more information.


DSCN2060Slows Bar BQ (BBQ)

Slows is located slap bang in the middle of a neighbourhood that is almost entirely abandoned. If you are a fan of urban decay then you’ll have a field day wandering around the surrounding deserted buildings. Slows itself is like a shining beacon in the midst of this desolation, modern-looking and attracting people who queue outside for entry despite its location. The inside was split into two sections that were both rammed.  We had a wait of about 15 minutes before being seated at the bar. I went for the Longhorn brisket sandwich and my friend for the Triple Threat Pork (both $9.99). Sandwiches were pretty good although not mind-blowingly so. That said, Slows offers a number of homemade sauces which can be mixed and matched to help spruce up your food. Worth checking out if you are passing through.

Rating: ★★★

Click here to visit the Slows Bar BQ website for more information.

Los Angeles

El Tepeyac Café (Mexican)

There are hundreds of Mexican restaurants to choose from in LA so when one is located in such a remote spot you know it must be good to be able to keep its head above water. El Tepeyac is a homely and humble little place that serves up whopping great portions of great Mexican chow. We went as a group of three and ordered an absolutely huge burrito that dwarfed my friend’s phone completely.  There are plenty of ingredients packed inside but you can pay for extra so I picked up some extra grilled jalapeños for an additional kick. We just about managed to finish the thing off and proceeded to compliment ourselves on this fact when the server told us we hadn’t even picked the biggest one! Madness! El Tepeyac is definitely a worthy spot for those of you who are ravenously hungry.

Rating: ★★★★

Click here to visit the El Tepeyac Café website for more information.


DSCN1766Charles Vergo’s Rendezvous (BBQ/Ribs)

Hidden in a back alley off a main street in Memphis, Rendezvous serves some of the best barbecue I’ve ever tasted. With a long history of serving food to the highest standards, Rendezvous is extremely popular and draws in people from all over the States. As a result it needs plenty of floor space and this it definitely has – the restaurant is like the Tardis inside with two huge floors able to accommodate hundreds of diners at a time. Our server was Robert Jnr. and he was extremely chatty and seemed proud as punch of his long employment at this fine establishment, taking enjoyment in explaining celebrities he’d waited on and the different options available on the menu. I’d go as far as saying that, even more so than the great food, he made our visit. Me and my companion both went for the large order of smoked ribs with beans and slaw. This was my first rib experience and I was a little apprehensive as I’m usually a fan of meat off the bone but I must admit to being pleasantly surprised. We got a huge amount of food and there was plenty left over for second helping the next day – crazy when you think the order came in at less than a small sandwich at Katz’s. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to good food in Memphis but if you hit up Rendezvous, you won’t be disappointed.

Rating: ★★★★


Click here to visit the Charles Vergos’s Rendezvous website for more information.

New York

DSCN0011Katz’s Delicatessen (Sandwiches)

I was excited to try Katz’s Delicatessen, famous for that scene from When Harry Met Sally, when I visited New York. I walked to the deli, getting myself turned around quite a few times on the way, but I found it eventually. I went in and discovered a bustling establishment full of chatty midday diners. I was given a ticket which wasn’t fully explained to me when I entered and I stood around for a while, confused. I almost left but instead I choose to stride to the counter in mock confidence. After a lengthy wait I was finally served. Turns out that ticket is used by the counter staff as a way of totting up your bill – you hold onto it until you finish and use it to pay before you leave. I went for the Reuben Hot Sandwich (an extortionate $20.25) as it is apparently a Kat’z speciality and a root beer ($2.75). Although the sandwich was okay the meat was a bit fatty. If I’m honest, the overall experience was nothing to write home about, especially considering my bill came in at just under $25. Reviews for Katz’s are generally positive, however, so perhaps I just caught the deli on a bad day…

Rating: ★★

Click here to visit the Katz’s Delicatessen website for more information.


DSCN1911Tony Luke’s (Cheesesteaks)

As a huge Rocky fan I dragged my travel companion, who was feeling much the worse for wear that day, all the way to Philadelphia so I could get a photo of the statue near the museum. To make him even more miserable, it was lashing it down that day. To help cheer him up a bit I took him to Tony Luke’s to try what is regularly dubbed as Philly’s best cheesesteak to treat him to lunch. We went to the flagship store which is quite out of the way but there are Tony Luke’s franchises popping up all over Philly these days so finding one shouldn’t be a problem. I chose the signature cheese with provolone and no onions. My friend, still feeling a bit woozy, went no frills, a cheesesteak minus the cheese. I quite enjoyed my sandwich although it was quite a bit drier than a slightly better (in my opinion) cheesesteak that I had at  99 Miles to Philly in New York that was much more moist and succulent. My friend didn’t pass comment; I think he was too preoccupied with the torrential rain I was about to drag him through.

Rating: ★★★


Click here to visit the Tony Luke’s website for more information.


DSCN1584Los Reyes De La Torta (Mexican)

Specialising in Mexican sandwiches or tortas, the Los Reyes we ate at is based on N 7th Street in Phoenix, Arizona. We arrived a short while before opening and had to withstand the gruelling heat of the midday Arizona sun – even standing in the shade offered us no respite! Thankfully the place opened soon after we rocked up and we were ushered to a table amidst the whirling fans of the restaurant’s lifesaving air con. Los Reyes has a wide selection of exotic juices available and I went for a delicious and pulpy papaya based refresher. We wanted to sample the enormous Torta King Carlos V that appeared on the show but, not feeling brave or famished enough to go it alone, decided to split one between the two of us. It was a sound choice as the sandwich portion, even cut into two, was immense. The ingredients were many and varied and I think this went against the sandwich as there was too much going on in my mouth at any given time. I must admit to not being able to finish my portion, much to the delight of my companion who had been eyeing my leftovers hungrily. The bill came to about $15 each before tip.

Rating: ★★

Click here to visit the Los Reyes De La Torta website for more information.

Washington D.C.

DSCN1904Ben’s Chili Bowl (Chili and Hot Dogs)

Ben’s Chili Bowl is a Washington D.C. landmark and has been in business for nearing 60 years. Its main specialities are hot dogs, fries and burgers all, as the name implies, topped with a generous helping of their highly-rated chili. It has attracted an almost endless list of celebrities to its doors including actors, musicians and even presidents. Prices are reasonable (cheese is usually an extra 40¢­) but sizes were quite small and staff surly during our visit late one evening. We found the chili to be pretty tasty, but not as nice as my homemade version!

Rating: ★★

Click here to visit the Ben’s Chili Bowl website for more information.


Listed below are a few restaurants that I stumbled upon that haven’t appeared in Man v. Food but I felt would have fit in perfectly with the theme of the show.

IMGP2059Honolulu – Eggs ‘n Things (Breakfast)

If you find yourself hankering for a sizeable breakfast (at any time of the day!) whilst in Oahu then Eggs ‘n Things is the place for you. Serving a myriad of hearty morning staples, you can gorge yourself on huge helpings of pancakes topped with a fruit topping of your choice and slathered in syrup. Have a hankering for something more savoury or carnivorous? They also have you covered with sizeable omelettes, Loco Moco and steak and egg options also available. Everything can be washed down with deliciously moreish fresh fruit juice.

Rating: ★★★★

Click here to visit the Eggs and Things website for more information.

P1030644Las Vegas – Heart Attack Grill (Burgers)

The Heart Attack Grill experience is more about saying you’ve been rather than the food itself. The walls are decorated with humorous movie posters referencing the restaurant and starring owner Jon Basso in substitute of the original hero and there are giant scales outside so you can see how much additional weight you’ve gained after your food. Serving burgers and fries cooked in pure lard and offering milkshakes with a knob of butter dolloped in them, meals at the Heart Attack Grill can clock in at up to 10,000 calories per sitting! The restaurant has attracted controversy by allowing you to eat for free if you are heavier than 350lbs and for employing obese brand representatives who seem to die with alarming regularity! The waitresses are all kitted out in nurses’ costumes (just in case you blow an artery) and, although they might seem nice, they will paddle your backside if you fail to finish your meal! You’d expect food cooked in lard to be off the chart flavourwise (as well as obviously unhealthy) but my group found the burgers to be bland and disappointing. An hour or so after we left and everyone in our posse was in a waking food coma, barely able to speak and more than a little miserable. It’s not every day you get to eat 5 days’ worth of calories in one go, though!

Rating: ★★

Click here to visit the Heart Attack Grill website for more information.

Los Angeles – The Hat (American)

When I stayed with my friends in LA they all raved about the magical hangover cure that is The Hat’s mountainous chili cheese fries topped with pastrami. Served in a heaped mound about a foot tall, you get plenty of grub for your buck, more than most mortals could undertake in a single sitting. There are plenty of locations to choose from around LA and the carb-heavy menu will have you back on your feet  in no time!

Rating: ★★★★


Click here to visit The Hat’s website for more information.

DSCN0545San Francisco – The Stinking Rose (Garlic)

Set on Columbus Avenue in San Francisco, The Stinking Rose is a restaurant that specialises in garlic based dishes – vampires and those who loathe the clove should definitely skip this one! Start with a sharer of oven-roasted garlic spread over focaccia bread and then sample other delights infused with near-lethal levels of garlic such as pizza, pastas, steaks or ribs. Your visit will stay with you for days and I don’t just mean the memories – make sure you pack some industrial strength mouthwash for afterwards!

Rating: ★★★

Click here to visit the Stinking Rose website for more information.

DSCN0567Santa Rosa – Johnny Garlic’s (Italian and American)

Probably not featured on Man v. Food owing to the fact it’s the restaurant of Guy Fieri who hosts Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, a rival show during MvF’s run on the Travel Channel. I visited the flagship location in Santa Rosa, some distance outside of San Francisco and was pleasantly surprised by the offerings available. There are some eclectic dishes to choose from, ranging from Italian to American and the staff were very friendly and accommodating to our large group. I’ll definitely head back for second helpings next time I’m in the States.

Rating: ★★★★★

Click here to visit the Johnny Garlic’s website for more information.


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