Two days after graduation, I set my sights on a few famous eateries between me and Venice, Florida. Sure I was going for vacation, to sit in a beach chair and drink beer at noon if I wanted, but I knew of a few places I should stop and eat too.
On the way down, all of us - me, my girlfriend, and my mom - stopped at the now famous Taco Bus. I first saw the Taco Bus on Guy Fieri of Food Network's "Dinners, Drive-ins, and Dives," and I thought "Hey, maybe I'll actually go there like he says everyone should!" Sure, Guy says every place he goes is awesome and every dish he tries is "out of bounds" and so on, but the Taco Bus really caught my eye (and my appetite) the first time I saw it on TV. Not everyone's a Guy Fieri fan, but after visiting the Taco Bus, maybe they should be.
First of all, I was absolutely insistent that we eat at the Taco Bus. It was a good 45 minutes out of the way. Other suggestions were made as to where or when we could make it, but I was determined to go then and there immediately. Second of all, this place is a semi-permanent food truck with beer! Yes, food truck with beer! As I approached the gravel parking lot and saw a tap and buckets, I knew I picked the right place.
The menu is large at the Taco Bus, especially for a place that is almost entirely on wheels. The torta (Mexican sandwich) is one of their most popular, and it's the dish I saw on "Triple D" that made my mouth water. This sandwich is made with the "cochinita pibil," (shredded pork) they say comes from a 5,000 year old Mayan recipe. I wish I found this place first, but at least I can confirm that one place Guy swears is good truly lives up to it. A few Dos Equis and satisfying a hunger I experienced nearly a year before: check!
A few days later, it was on to a new place and a new adventure. I knew Adam Richmond of Travel Channel's Man V. Food had an episode dedicated to Sarasota so I did a little research - also known as a youtube search. I'm not into the whole competitive eating thing but Adam always visits a few awesome places before stuffing his face. One of those places is the Old Salty Dog.
After being burned to a crisp on the beach the day before, it was time for some shade, more beer, and lunch. After much deliberation - choosing whether or not we should go to a famous Cuban place - we decided on the Old Salty Dog. This drive was a bit of a road trip in itself. We pulled up to the restaurant, got out, and gazed at the sign like we found the holy grail (that's supposed to be in Florida right?).
Insofar as hot dogs are concerned, I might have found it:
Yes, that's cheddar cheese, bacon, and sauteed onions on top of a beer battered hot dog. Sure, it's not some breakthrough in the culinary world, but just look at it! That is heaven on a bun. Bacon, yet again, makes an already awesome food item even better. Beer batter on a hot dog. Need I say more?
The trip would've been worth it to visit these places alone, but we made some pretty tasty dishes at home too: homemade BBQ sauce and salsa from scratch, both of which I was advised to jar and sell. More on that soon!