April 19, 2006 News & Features » Cover Story


Edible Underworld 

The best choices our critics missed.

How to Fool a Carnivore into Becoming a Vegetarian

Few people like to change their minds, especially meat-eaters. Appeal to their childish impulses with a grilled cheese sandwich at Ipanema Café : Gouda, caramelized onions, tomatoes. It's a painless introduction into a meatless world if tofu still seems a bit … eerie. And if you like it, that doesn't mean you have to vote differently or anything.

Where to Drink a Cheap Beer While Eating Breakfast at 10 p.m.

Hey, if a pregnant woman can crave fried pickles dipped in powdered Gatorade, there's room for those of us less fertile to have specific needs as well. Thus, there's Dot's Back Inn, with its trusty American brands of beer, cigarettes and merrymaking (which includes drinking and smoking in a diner), and, in the truest expression of democracy, breakfast all the time.

Which brings us to the Breakfast Club, that marriage of straightforwardness and innovation that, as the old newspapers on the wall will remind you, won us the war. Bacon, ham, lettuce, tomato, American cheese, mayo and, standing in for turkey, a fried egg. Grilled, on wheat or white. It's good out of all proportion to its components, paired with beer or coffee: a sandwich that spans breakfast, lunch and dinner, a sandwich for the pregnant American in all of us.

Best Dessert Theater

If you wanted to live in an Edward Hopper painting, Helen's would be it. If you wanted to live in a Dennis Hopper painting, Arthur's at the Inns of Virginia is your place. Tucked tightly into the surreal hotel on West Broad Street (near Target), Arthur's is a rather perfect little dive, with rather perfect little White Russians: More than half half-and-half, it's the adult milkshake, the kind of thing to sip whilst watching the local talent work the karaoke or catching the frequent zydeco shows. And with Kahl£a and accordion sloshing around the brain, head into the night to catch the covert parade of transvestite prostitutes and ask yourself just how far off Broadway you really are.

Withstand a Trial by Fire

­Caliente! has these wings labeled helpfully "stupid hot." They are tasty — sweet and tangy — for about three bites, at which point your tongue falls through the hole burned through your neck. While I personally disagree with the use of capsaicin extract in the preparation of hot, it nevertheless is a useful dish to, say, prove your mettle to your jerk friends or, perhaps, send the unwanted party howling out into the street, seeking medical aid and, eventually, a firearm. Until they return, enjoy a more well-behaved flavor of wing, BBQ or honey chipotle. S

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