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Photo TR: Jason's Roadfood Adventures


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The New York adventure continues. Enjoy!

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The next day, we took a self-guided dining tour of several restaurants we read about online that we wanted to try in Manhattan, starting with breakfast at Doughnut Plant.

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So many to choose from!

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Even the (very limited) seats in the restaurant were doughnut-themed!

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Our order, clockwise from top left: peanut butter and jelly, cashew orange blossom, tres leches, black-out (devil’s food covered in chocolate with a chocolate pudding filling), coconut cream and carrot cake.

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A cross-section of the peanut butter and jelly. Most of the doughnuts were filled. The coconut cream had a sort of Bavarian cream inside, and the carrot cake was filled with cream cheese frosting. We both liked coconut the best, but the only one we didn’t really like at all was the cashew orange blossom; it tasted like doughy Froot Loops.

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Lunch took us to a place I had long wanted to try: the famous Katz’s Delicatessen.

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We arrived early to avoid the crowd, but the place was still swarming with people.

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Knoblewurst and knishes! I heard great things about both, but didn’t have a chance to try either.

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Katz’s is also famous for its salami… which I also didn’t try. I have lots of reasons to return!

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Or I could just have one sent to me….

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The “Send a salami to your boy in the army” slogan began during World War II.

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They still use it today.

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Movie buffs, take note: The infamous “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in “When Harry Met Sally” was filmed at Katz’s.

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Most people order at the counter, then find a table in the communal seating area.

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Because we weren’t in that big of a hurry, because the wait was only about 15 minutes (if that) and because Kelly believes all counter service in crowded restaurants is disorderly and unorganized, we signed up for table service.

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As with the best traditional New York delis, our meal began with a complimentary plate of sour and half-sour pickles, as well as a pickled green tomato. I was surprised that I liked the tomato more than the pickles.

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I had read online that a number of people believe Katz’s hot dogs to be the best in New York. Though skeptical, I decided to try one. Personally, I like Nathan’s better… but I certainly wouldn’t turn down a Katz’s hot dog if it was offered! The egg cream soda made it taste even better. Fun fact: despite its name, the traditional New York egg cream contains neither eggs nor cream. It’s sort of like a chocolate milk, only foamed up with seltzer.

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Kelly opted for the corned beef Reuben, which was pretty good. At any other restaurant, it would be superior, but at Katz’s, a Reuben would be my third or fourth choice (and still a great one).

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This is the *real* reason I came to Katz’s: a giant pastrami sandwich! I really liked the fact that it was cut brisket-style instead of thin-sliced deli style. And the taste…. The sad fact of the matter is, I may never get to try Katz’s knoblewurst, regardless of how much I would like, because I don’t know if I could stand to return here and not get the pastrami!

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Or… I can have Katz’s bring the pastrami to me! Not so sure about those liver puffs, though.

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Just down the street from Katz’s is Economy Candy, where we stopped to kill some time and also check out its legendary assortment.

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This is a portion of one of the windows… which I thought would make a cool computer background. Unfortunately, I had a hard time being able to read my desktop files among all the candy-fied shapes and colors, so I reverted back to my former background, a view of Indiana Beach from across Lake Shafer.

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Despite being not quite twice the size of my living room, this story literally had just about every U.S. candy I could imagine, along with an interesting supply of vintage comic books and stacks of unopened boxes of late 1980s/early 1990s baseball cards.

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Unfortunately, with temperatures nearing 100 degrees that day and our being on foot for most of the afternoon, chocolate purchases were out of the question. Kelly bought some gifts here, but otherwise, we left empty-handed. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a long time!

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Sarita’s Macaroni and Cheese was our dinner stop for the day. But no one calls it that. Even the restaurant’s own marketing materials refer to it as simply “S’mac.”

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If you plan to dine in, plan to wait for a table! This is the entire seating area. Fortunately, we got lucky and snagged the last table in the place.

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Individual macaroni dish sizes range from “Nosh” (for one) to “Partay!” for 10 or so. We selected the sampler (one size only), which came with this handy identification card.

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Cheesy goodness! Our favorites were the Parisienne (with brie, roasted figs and mushrooms) and the Cajun (with peppers and andouille sausage). The Alpine (gruyere cheese and bacon) wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as I had hoped it would be.

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Afterward, it was off to Little Italy for dessert at Rice to Riches. This futuristic-looking storefront is directly across the street from Lombardi’s Pizzeria (seen earlier in this thread).

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Think of Baskin Robbins. OK, now take away all the different flavors of ice cream and replace them with different flavors of rice pudding. That’s the concept behind Rice to Riches.

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Rice pudding porn!

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These are just a few of the flavors available. It helps to know what you want in advance, however; the clerk asked for (nay, demanded) our order long before we ever got far enough to see what was in the case.

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Don’t like rice pudding? Doesn’t matter; you’ll love it here! I ordered the cherry mascarpone, which wasn’t as good as I had hoped… though it was still pretty good. Kelly ordered the cheesecake flavor, which was absolutely phenomenal! We also bought a set of the unique bowls and spoons they used to serve the pudding (the largest size here is “Moby”). When (not if) we go back, both of us are excited to try the French toast flavor. Thankfully we don’t live closer; I anticipate roughly half our weekly income would go directly to this place!

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And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also Gary Coleman-approved!

 

Up next: fried sauerkraut balls and Cincinnati chili.

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I miss New York!

 

Unfortunately, with temperatures nearing 100 degrees that day and our being on foot for most of the afternoon, chocolate purchases were out of the question. Kelly bought some gifts here, but otherwise, we left empty-handed. It was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do in a long time!

 

I went through the same thing at Chocolate World at Hershey Park last year. I would have bought lots of chocolate if it wouldn't have all melted. Definitely sucks!

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^Yeah, after well-made pie, doughnuts are my favorite dessert, so I’m always on the lookout for a good doughnut shop. At some point I’ll have to post a photo of the ones from one of our local places, DeVage’s, in Salisbury, MD. They come from a recipe that originated in the ’50s at a restaurant called the Polar Bar. Several years ago, DeVage’s bought the Polar Bar’s old building and, with it, the doughnut recipe.

 

They’re good any time of the day, but they’re especially great hot out of the fryer first thing in the morning. Peanut butter and cherry-coconut are my favorites. When I lived near there, I often stopped in for a couple early on Saturday mornings before going yard sale-ing. They’re also sort of a Christmas tradition in my office.

 

The Doughnut Plant had been on my list to try for awhile. I think the only other “must try” doughnut place left on my list is Round Rock Doughnuts in Texas. Not sure when or if I’ll get there, but I hear they’re something else.

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After this year’s East Coast Bash, I took a drive out to Ohio to visit Kings Island, along with a few roadside attractions and some unique local cuisine. Enjoy!

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On the way to Cincinnati, I made some stops in Columbus, OH, to visit a couple places I missed during my brief stopover there to visit Jungle Jack’s Landing earlier in the summer. First up: the Hey Hey Bar and Grill.

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The reason: fried sauerkraut balls! Honestly, I have no idea why these aren’t sold nationwide. They’re awesome! Stuffed with sauerkraut, sausage and some other unhealthy stuff, they kind of have a tangy-fried taste like fried pickle… but better! The waitress made a big deal when she found out this was my first time trying them. If I’m ever I this area again, I plan to stop in for more.

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Not far away is Schmidt’s Sausage Haus und Restaurant. This place is a landmark eatery in Columbus.

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The inside was packed. I read online to expect a half-hour wait, minimum, but since I was dining alone, I got a seat right away.

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Buf-fay! Schmidt’s has a regular menu, though almost no one orders from it (at least not while I was there). Like the Hey Hey, Schmidt’s also sells sauerkraut balls, but I figured going to the Hey Hey would give me a chance to try multiple restaurants in the area. Plus I would have felt kind of funny saying, “Yes, I’ll have the all-you-can-eat buffet… and some extra stuff, too, just in case that doesn’t cut it.”

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Plate No. 1! Schmidt’s is known for its “Bahama Mama” hot link, which I thought was good, but not great. The real star here, as far as I’m concerned, was the sausage stew (in front), which more or less tasted like a bratwurst slow-cooked in onions to the point of nearly falling apart, smothered in molasses-based barbecue sauce. The gray slab of meatloaf (I think it may have been veal-based, accounting for its color) was surprisingly good, as well, for buffet meatloaf.

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Apparently, it’s almost unheard of to go to Schmidt’s and not get one of their famous creampuffs. Online reviews described them as “softball-sized,” though mine was closer to the circumference of a six-pound bowling ball! This is the peanut butter-chocolate fudge version. I basically finished maybe a third of it, then put the rest in the refrigerator at the hotel and finished off a few nights later.

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The next day at Kings Island, I stood in line for a loooong time (with only two people in front of me) to try one of Cincinnati’s signature dishes.

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Kings Island was a great park, and the ride operations were good… but the service at the shops and restaurants was probably the worst I’ve ever experienced at a park, so much so that I gave up on a couple of the purchases I was hoping to make and just walked out. But the beyond-abysmal service meant most other people just gave up after awhile, too, so there were plenty good seats for lunch with views like this!

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This was the view in front of me. With the first bite, I became a huge fan of Cincinnati-style chili! For the uninitiated, Cincinnati-style starts with a base of spaghetti, followed by a layer of chili—with fine crumbles of ground beef and a thin, non-spicy broth—and a layer of cheese (a combination called a “three way”). Onions (and in some places, beans) are optional.

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After lunch I stopped by the park’s Graeter’s for some ice cream. I waited for 10 minutes at the one cash register they bothered to open (I guess all five employees standing behind the counter took turns not understanding how to run it?) while the couple in line in front of me sent back multiple wrong orders. Then I spent five more minutes sending back the multiple wrong orders they tried to give me. Seriously, how hard is it to scoop ice cream into a cone?

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After finishing up some rides at Kings Island and several painful attempts at buying souvenirs—some successful, some unsuccessful—it was time for some legendarily quality service. I headed north to Dayton and its historic Pine Club steakhouse.

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It was so dark inside that the only way I could get this photo to come out was to convert it into black and white… and even then it’s grainy. The Pine Club was built in 1946 and hasn’t really changed since. Everything inside is still all leather and dark wood. This time, Internet reports of minimum 30-minute waits turned out to be accurate, so I waited in the bar for a half hour. I brought a book to read, but there wasn’t enough light to even make out the words on the page, so I spent that time watching the beginning of a Reds game on a TV in the corner.

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Eventually, I was seated and had some decent light thanks to a small lamp that shone on a painting above my booth. This was the bread basket, and it was all good! My favorite was the “salt sticks,” sort of a cross between a breadstick and a soft pretzel.

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And then came the main course! They were all out of medium prime rib, which I was hoping to get, but again, Web reviews warned that particular cut is not always available, so I came with a backup in mind and ordered the ribeye. The steak itself was good, as were the onion r.ings. The creamed spinach wasn’t very good, but still better than the stewed tomatoes I substituted them for, which I absolutely hate. The potatoes were Lyonnaise style, which isn’t found at most restaurants anymore. It’s basically a big plate of hash browns with a core of sweet onions in the center. I kind of wish I had opted for the plain hash browns instead, but these were OK.

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On the way back to my hotel in Mason, OH, I stopped by Bill’s Donut Shop in Centerville, OH.

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There were a lot of “no loitering,” etc., signs posted inside, so I didn’t feel overly comfortable taking pictures in there. It’s basically an old-fashioned doughnut shop in very plain building (so plain that I actually drove by it the first time and likely would not have found it without the aid of GPS). The sidewalks and parking lot were full of high school (maybe college) kids hanging out with nothing better to do at 10 p.m. on weeknight — when I came out, a couple of them were making out in front of my car. That said, I got much more of a “kids being kids” vibe than the “kids being homicidal maniacs” vibe I got in Athens, OH, earlier in the summer.

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The selection at Bill’s was tremendous, but I settled on these three. I ate the sour cream doughnut (right) on the way to the hotel. All three were good, but that was the best of the bunch. The apple cider (top) was dessert the next night and actually had an apple-spice flavor to it (not just cinnamon, which I’ve found with other cider doughnuts). The peanut (bottom) was breakfast my last morning in Mason, and it was good, but not as good as I thought it would be.

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The next morning, I started my day in Cincinnati at Tucker’s Restaurant.

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Tucker’s is a traditional neighborhood diner. But there’s a reason I chose this diner over many others.

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What time is it...?

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Goetta time! I had read that Tucker’s was one of the prime places in Cincinnati to get this city specialty (lesser known than Cincinnati chili). That’s it at the top of the plate. I’ve written about scrapple before in this thread. Well, goetta is kind of the same thing, only made with ground pig parts and oatmeal instead of ground pig parts and cornmeal. It was really good!

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After breakfast, I made my way to the new home of the American Sign Museum I Cincinnati. If I ever get around to creating my roadside attraction thread, I plan to dedicate a post to it. In the meantime, it seemed appropriate to includes some of its more iconic food-related holdings here. For those who have been living under a rock for the past few decades, this is Frisch’s Big Boy (not to be confused with Bob’s Big Boy, which is a different regional franchise of the same chain, with a different version of the mascot).

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This McDonald’s sign came from Alabama.

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I know some of the museum’s Howard Johnson signs came from Times Square. Not sure if this one did or not, but that would explain the graffiti on the bottom.

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The new location includes a recreated American Main Street full of recreated storefronts with original neon signs. This is that street’s pizza parlor.

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Si!

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Right down the street from the museum is Camp Washington Chili. This place has been voted the best non-chain chili restaurant in Cincinnati.

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It’s chili time!

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It looks good! Sadly, this was probably the worst of all the chili I had in Cincinnati. That’s not to say it was bad… but it didn’t have as much flavor as the “chain” versions, and it was infinitely greasier. It was, however, the only chili I got to sample in Cincinnati with the addition of beans (a “four way”), so that was good.

 

Up next: the world’s most unique grocery store.

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Wow, you risked life and limb to go to Tucker's. Don't wander around that neighborhood after dark! I think they get their goetta from the butcher shop I frequent at Findlay Market.

 

Also, still never been to Camp Washington chili. Not sure why.

 

If you're ever back this way I suggest the Senate (down the street from Tucker's) and Terry's Turf Club. Especially Terry's if you're into neon signs.

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^Funny you should mention Terry’s Turf Club; that’s where I ate dinner that night (it’s coming up soon in the TR). I also thought about going to Findlay Market, but ran out of time.

 

I was a little worried about the Tucker’s neighborhood, but it didn’t seem as bad as some I’ve been in. That said, I did go out of my way to park near a construction site down the street where there were plenty of people around. I figured it was safe enough at 9 a.m., though you’re right; I wouldn’t have gone there at night.

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I had a college roommate from Centerville and his parents used to bring us boxes of Bill's donuts every time they came to town, very very good donuts, even after a half day's transit (although not as good as my hometown donut shop, Dough Daddy's Donuts haha!).

 

Cincinnati style chili is one of my all time favorite dishes, it makes me feel like a complete slop tart after I'm done eating it but no amount of shame could keep from devouring a glorious pile of noodles covered in chili and cheese! One thing I never quite understood was the the disdain among people from southern Ohio for brands of chili other than Skyline. I always went to a Goldstar Chili in Lexington growing up because that's all there was and honestly didn't find it to be any better or worse than Skyline yet everyone I know from Ohio will look at you sideways if you say you prefer Goldstar haha. Anyways, a 4 Way bean and 2 Coney's no mustard or onions makes me a happy happy man, and if I'm wasting it at Kings Island even better!

 

Great reports as usual Jason, thanks for making me hungry and making me miss home in the process!

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^Thanks! I have a couple of friends with connections in Cincinnati; one prefers Skyline and the other Gold Star. I made a point of trying both (the Gold Star photos are coming up soon) and thought Skyline was slightly less greasy, but both were good. Better than Camp Washington for my money, at least.

 

I brought home a can of each to my parents, who opted not to pour them over spaghetti. My mom even went so far as to buy spaghetti, but just couldn't bring herself to take the "unnatural" action of combining the two.

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I brought home a can of each to my parents, who opted not to pour them over spaghetti. My mom even went so far as to buy spaghetti, but just couldn't bring herself to take the "unnatural" action of combining the two.

 

I have no idea why anyone thinks it's odd to put a meat sauce like chili on top of pasta. Have they never heard of bolognese sauce, ragu, etc?

 

I'm not a huge Skyline person, but I've always found it to be better than Gold Star. I swear Gold Star sells me stale buns half the time. For me, the appeal is basically that it's an inexpensive and lightning fast table service lunch. You can actually go out to lunch and be back within an hour.

 

One big improvement both Gold Star and Skyline could do would be to use better hot dogs in the coneys. I'd gladly pay a lot more if they'd offer a good dog, because they opt for the cheapest ones they can find.

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^The Skyline at Kings Island is fairly representative of what you'd get anywhere else. Cincinnati chili is polarizing. People from Texas especially seem to have a disdain for condiment chili. According to their way of thinking, chili should be a heartier, self-contained meal.

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  • 1 month later...

Well, the largest hurricane in my lifetime is bearing right down on me. What better time to update the Roadfood thread?

 

One of the tourist attractions I visited near Cincinnati (in Fairfield, OH) was not a restaurant, but it is food-related, so I think it fits nicely with this thread. Jungle Jim’s is that attraction, and it’s a grocery store… but what a grocery store! Complete with audio-animatronics; international food, beer and wine sections the size of some entire normal grocery stores; and some of the world’s most famous bathrooms (really), this place must be seen to be believed!

 

If this isn’t exactly what you came here for, feel free to skip it… but you’ll be sorry!

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Is that the old Kings Island monorail? Why, yes, yes it is. It now beckons shoppers to Jungle Jim’s in Fairfield, OH.

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This is the monorail station, on the other side of the parking lot. I’m not sure whether the monorail still runs at times, but it wasn’t the day I visited.

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Just like at a theme park, it’s a good idea to remember which section you parked in!

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Or you can just remember where your car is in relation to the giant sea monster. Whichever.

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Gorillas and giant fruit? Yep, that about sums up Jungle Jim’s!

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Much like Disneyland, the store has its own elephant bathing pool.

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“Welcome foodies!”

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Gentlemen… start your carts!

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Vrooom!

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Jungle Jim’s grew from a roadside produce stand. The version that stood in 1974 has been incorporated into the store’s main entrance.

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After losing their coveted Kitchen Cabaret gig to Mr. Ham and Mr. Eggs, Corn and Butter hit the Midwest comedy circuit in hopes of making it big on the grocery circuit.

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It’s like something out of Andy Warhol’s nightmares!

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An Elvis lion? Why not?

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They sang “Blue Moon.”

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Robin Hood welcomes you to the store’s “Foods of England” section.

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So does Maid Marion…

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…and Little John (and others).

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They’re reportedly never seen an elephant fly.

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A true story about getting old: Occasionally, I’ll poke my stepdaughter in the stomach and say “hoo-hoo!” She has absolutely no idea what that refers to.

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Someone took a wrong turn and ended up on top of the deli case.

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No… horse.

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Cakey cake cake cake cake… cake!

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I was hoping Morgan Freeman would narrate my grocery list when I walked down this aisle. I was disappointed.

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“Ma’am… I don’t mean to be rude… but something smells like fish.”

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They’re hoping to catch flying fish.

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Rickshaw!

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It’s a fire truck. Because hot sauce is hot. Get it?

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Asiantown!

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It’s just like being at Universal Studios!

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Fun fact: You can take a guided tour of Jungle Jim’s. A three hour tour…. (No, really, they do offer guided tours.)

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My favorite part of the store is that the giant boat in the seafood section included characters from the short-lived 1970s Filmation cartoon “The New Adventures of Gilligan’s Island” and even shorter-lived “Gilligan’s Planet.” How random is that?

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"Skipper!"

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In fairness to Filmation, Jungle Jim’s seafood section also rips off a few King Features characters.

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Each country has its own “storefront” in Jungle Jim’s international section.

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Beat it! (The drum, that is.)

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Did I mention that the bases for the shelves in Jungle Jim’s candy section are retired bumper cars from Cincinnati’s Coney Island amusement park?

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This 776-pound cheese will age at Jungle Jim’s for a year, then sold to unsuspecting customers.

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See?

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The store includes a small theater, presented by Kraft, with a nicely produced documentary about its history. I watched about five minutes of it and probably would have bought it on DVD had it been offered, just for the randomness of it.

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This is where the store holds cooking classes.

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Jungle Jim’s also features its own barber shop!

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But let’s get to those famous bathrooms, shall we?

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These are them! They look like port-a-potties… but once you open them up, you find yourself in a short hallway that leads to bathrooms fancy enough to put Club 33’s to shame! Part of the display in front includes monitors featuring (real) TV shows and news reports around the country that have featured them.

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I have no idea if this is real…

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…but this is what it looks like.

 

Up next: More from Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland.

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Jason - sorry I missed your NYC updates, I was in China and only just caught up with your thread. Glad I could be of some help.

 

I didn't get the buffet a Schmidt's in Columbus, I had been lead to believe the sausage platter was the way to go and I enjoyed it. Also, I had a mini roadfood adventure, as I finally tried a steamed cheeseburger in Connecticut today. The melted cheese was killer.

Edited by larrygator
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^Nice! Did you go to Ted's or the Lunchbox (or someplace else)? I've been to Ted's, and it was good--the cheese makes it, 100 percent. I'd like to try the Lunchbox; apparently they offer not only traditional steamed cheeseburgers, but a steamed cheeseburger omelet, with a full burger (including the bun) diced and mixed up in the egg, and then the whole thing enrobed in even more steamed cheese!

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^Nice! Did you go to Ted's or the Lunchbox (or someplace else)? I've been to Ted's, and it was good--the cheese makes it, 100 percent. I'd like to try the Lunchbox; apparently they offer not only traditional steamed cheeseburgers, but a steamed cheeseburger omelet, with a full burger (including the bun) diced and mixed up in the egg, and then the whole thing enrobed in even more steamed cheese!

 

Ted's. They have a second location 2 miles from Wild Bill's. Just got a straight up steamed cheeseburger (plain) with bacon.

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Edited by larrygator
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Looks like some expensive overhead for a grocery store.

 

It's mostly old kitsch that he clearly purchased on the secondary market. There was a rumor he was going to put in an Intamin launched coaster. Dude totally would too.

 

Random secondhand animatronics aside, Jungle Jim's is an excellent store. The selection, especially of random foods from foreign countries, is hard to beat. If you're ever in this area, it's an excellent way to spend a few hours.

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