Well, I had to go all the way to Disney World for this column, but it was so worth it, even though we had to walk 46 miles over the four days we were there.
A lot of people told me I would find some real food gems during our stay at Disney; and we really never ate at any bad places while there. But we also never ate anything really worth mentioning.
But when we went to Jacksonville Fla., to visit our friends David and Jessica Daes, we hit the jackpot. (If you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ll remember that they are the couple that got married in the Keys at the beginning of 2016; I wrote about all the great spots we ate at in the Keys.)
Maple St. Biscuit Co.
Dave met us when we got into Jacksonville, and asked if we wanted to grab a bite. He said he knew of a sandwich shop that made all the sandwiches on biscuits; I was very interested in trying this out.
The name of the spot was the Maple St. Biscuit Co., and as soon as you walked in the door, you saw employees running around working; everyone was so friendly, and greeted us as we walked in. Maple St. makes everything in-house, from the biscuits to the homemade pickles, and you can see the pride in their face when you ask them about their sandwiches.
Dave, having been before, made some suggestions, and we decided to go with his choices. The first was the Reinhold: a homemade flaky biscuit, an all-natural fried chicken breast, crunchy house dill pickles, and the insane house honey mustard.
The pickles and mustard made this sandwich; the pickles had a nice, firm bite to them, and the tanginess of the mustard coated that breast just perfectly. The sandwich is a tall-looking set-up, and when it comes to the table, you’re a little scared it may tip over, but it doesn’t. In fact, it was rather easy to eat without losing many of the ingredients.
The second biscuit was called the Squawking Goat. It was very interesting to me, because I love goat cheese, and the menu said this sandwich had fried goat cheese; how can you go wrong? This sandwich starts, of course, with an amazing biscuit, and includes a fried chicken breast, fried goat cheese medallion and house pepper jelly.
The pepper jelly and the goat cheese could stand on their own, or you could eat them with some crackers. But then you add the amazing crust on the chicken, and the best biscuit you are ever going to eat, and you have yourself a home run sandwich.
Dave ordered a side dish called the Smokey Mountain Mac-N-Cheese: a five-cheese baked macaroni with a crumbled Cheese It cracker crust. It looked beast mode, and I’m so very sad I didn’t get to try any.
This place has only been around for a few years, but they really have their concept on lock. They’re in business to make a profit, but they have a real focus on doing whatever they can to make the community around them better. If you’re out that way, you need to go have some of their delicious food.
Maple Street Biscuit Company
410 North 3rd St.
Jacksonville Beach, Fla.
TacoLu Baja Mexicana
Dave wasn’t finished showing off the great food finds he’s made since moving to Jacksonville. For dinner, he took us to a place called TacoLu Baja Mexicana. They’re known for their tacos, and one of the largest tequila selections known to man. In fact, each room of the restaurant is dedicated to a different style of tequila.
They have 54 choices of tequila blanco, which is the blue agave spirit in its purest form. It’s clear, and typically un-aged, so the true flavors and the intensity of the agave are present, as well as the natural sweetness.
This is the “essence” of the tequilero’s art, and, therefore, the benchmark for which his tequila is appreciated. There are some blancos that are aged for up to two months to provide a smoother spirit.
They carry 48 different choices of tequila reposado. A reposado tequila is the first stage of “rested and aged.” The tequila is aged in wood barrels, or storage tanks, for 2-11 months. The spirit takes on a golden hue, and the taste becomes a good balance between the agave and wood flavors.
Many different types of wood barrels are used for aging, with the most common being American or French oak. Some tequila is aged in used bourbon/whiskey, cognac or wine barrels, and will inherit unique flavors from the previous spirit.
There are another 45 options, including tequila añejo. After aging for at least one year, tequila can be classified as an “añejo.” The distillers are required to age añejo tequila in barrels. This aging process darkens the tequila to an amber color, and the flavor can become smoother, richer and more complex.
To finish off the list with 12 top shelf choices, you have tequila extra añejo. Each of these tequilas has been aged for at least three years. What happens to the tequila in the barrels has been called magical — really taking the “juice” to a whole new level. If you are a bourbon or whiskey drinker, these are the tequilas for you.
I know I normally don’t discuss alcohol, as I am not a big drinker, but I found the fact that there were 159 different choices of tequila amazing. I had to add this information because I know some tequila lovers who will appreciate it.
Well, let’s get to these tacos! I ordered several different choices so I could to try as many as I could handle. We got the brisket taco: beef brisket braised in Dos Equis Amber, in a soft flour tortilla with a home-made ranchera sauce and Cotija cheese, and finished with fresh cilantro and onion.
This taco is the owner’s favorite, and the first one that’s recommended if you ask.
Next, we went with the carnitas taco. The pork is braised in a mix of Coca Cola and orange juice. This sounds crazy, but using sodas to braise meat is actually common these days. The orange juice is an interesting addition. The taco is served on a flour tortilla with Monterrey Jack cheese, fresh cilantro and onion. The pork was beyond tender!
I couldn’t pass up the carne asada tacos: skirt steak marinated in soy and lime juice, served on flour tortillas with Monterrey Jack cheese, and topped with cilantro and onion. The soy and cilantro were perfect together, and gave this taco a nice punch.
To finish it off, we got the Ten Dollar Taco, which should cost $10 just because they use filet mignon. It’s served with two cheeses, lettuce and pico de gallo on a flour tortilla. This thing was $4.99, and really should have been more. It was tender and simple, which was nice, because it just let the filet shine without adding too many unneeded ingredients.
We had a great trip that ended with some great eats!!
TacoLu, Baja Mexicana
1712 Beach Blvd.
Jacksonville Beach, Fla.
Sloppy’s Invades Downtown
On the local scene, Sloppy’s Downtown is opening the week of Jan. 23 in the original Rikenjaks location on Broad St. Brett and Amanda are bringing their amazing food, and some of the best customer service you’ll ever find. They have helped push the food truck scene in Lake Charles like no one else, taking what Kristi Wooldridge of Weiniedog’s Hot Dog Stand started several years ago, when she was the only mobile food vendor in town, and turning it into an industry that has gotten great acceptance from SWLA.
I will be visiting with Brett this week to talk about the food, and to sit down with his in-house brew master to see what kind of new brews Lake Charles will be getting soon. Stay tuned for my next column on Feb. 2: “Sloppy’s Invades Downtown.”