The Lighthouse Café, Elberta, MI

It was a dark and stormy day in Elberta… Well, it was a slightly gray and windy day. We were heading north after visiting Inspiration Point north of Arcadia where we watched Japanese tourists taking selfies for 15 minutes. And the view of Lake Michigan. When the selfie sticks weren’t in the way.

We chose The Lighthouse Café as our lunch spot for a couple of reasons. It was the first place we saw heading north on M22. And it was open – very, very important. (Muy muy importante, as they say in California.) Be honest – those are two big factors in choosing a restaurant for you, too.

A little taste of Elberta, MI

A little taste of Elberta, MI

We knew it was good because we had to wait for a table. It didn’t look like much from the outside, but with a building full of locals, we figured it was decent. Yes, it was about the only thing open on a fall weekend in town, but Frankfort was just across Betsie Lake, so there were plenty of places to choose from. And yet, the crowds approved of The Lighthouse Café (hence fore know as TLC).

TLC was mainly a breakfast spot, but we zeroed in on the lunch page, it being after noon. I’m not one of these borderline sociopaths that eat breakfast foods after noon, after all. The turkey Rueben was calling, and it was a good thing. Though the coleslaw made the sandwich a bit soggy because, it was quite tasty. That’s really all I can say about it – it was basically a turkey sandwich, but trust me, unless you’re one of those breakfast after noon people mentioned above, you’ll enjoy it, too. If you are a breakfast after noon person, seek professional help.

The Lighthouse Cafe

The Lighthouse Cafe

Continuing on the theme of things you’ll enjoy are the homemade potato chips. Thick cut and mostly cooked to crispiness, I was of fan of them. You’ll probably want to add your own salt, but that’s a small price to pay. Carpel Tunnel Syndrome from excess shaker usage is quite rare, after all.

TLC is a decent spot to stop for lunch or (probably) breakfast. Most people seemed to be eating the latter, and I won’t judge them too much for that. But absolutely don’t go there for dinner – they’re closed.

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Jersey Mike’s, East Lansing

I’ll be honest, another sub shop in East Lansing wasn’t exciting news for me. The fact that it was in the location of the former Moe’s was just salt in the wound. I liked Moe’s burritos, but apparently not enough of you did, and Moe’s is done gone. This is why I other people suck.

I probably wouldn’t have bothered to go to Jersey Mike’s, but they sent me a coupon, and I thought it polite to check it out. The day I made the trip to the north side of campus from my location on the south side of campus (an easy trip with a bike and no students blocking my way), the chipper shredder crew was hard at work torturing a tree in front of the sub shop on Grand River.

After a minute of standing at the counter, one of the two employees said they’d be with me in just a minute. After a couple of minutes after that, one of them did decide to see what I was there for. In their defense, one of them looked like he was busy with a big order. In my defense, the people who made the order weren’t there, but I was.

I decided on the chipotle chicken Philly, an interesting sounding combination. The employee didn’t seem as thrilled with my choice, perhaps because it involved him grilling something instead of slapping cold meat on a bun. But that’s just conjecture. In any case, I eventually got my food thinking this would be my only visit.

Retreating to the back of the restaurant to avoid of the chipper shredder grinding away, I was greeted by a very good looking sub. Truly beautiful:

Jersey Mike's

Jersey Mike’s

But looks aren’t everything. Luckily, the sub was tasty as well. Generously stuffed with chicken and some substance resembling cheese, I was hooked. The chipotle sauce didn’t really do anything for the sub, but it didn’t detract from it, which is just as important. Everything came together quite nicely, good enough that I may return, even though my presence seemed to be an annoyance. That’s saying something.

Did East Lansing need another sub shop? Probably not. But at least Jersey Mike’s has good subs. It has a good selection of flavors, enough to keep life (or at least lunch) interesting. Try it – if you get decent service, you will probably like it.

Jumbeaux, Lansing

It was a special occasion for my first visit to Jumbeaux: My birthday. I had been wanting to try this relatively new spot on the west side of Lansing, which was not far from where I work. Cajun food had been on my list of favorite foods since a trip to New Orleans about ten years ago, and I was happy to see a spot that served up that style of food not far from home.

The restaurant was bright and busy, but there was enough seats that no one needed to wait. The employees were very friendly and I didn’t have to wait long for my food. Maybe they knew it was my birthday, but I doubt it –  I had left my party hat in the car.

Blah blah blah – the food.

I ordered the catfish poboy. The size of the poboy was larger than I had anticipated, and mo poboy is mo better. Shredded lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes, and a bun overflowing with fried catfish. Next to it was a plentiful amount of Bubba’s chips. I don’t know who Bubba is, but I liked his chips. The poboy itself tasted great, and had a spicy dressing that got my nose running. (Hopefully I didn’t share too much right there. If it did, forget that last line and replace it with this: The dressing has a spicy side to it, that really complemented the fish without overwhelming it.)

This will be on my list of restaurants to return to. They have an interesting menu, and the helpfulness of the staff is also a draw for me. I’m really interested in trying the alligator, even though it’s not Michigan alligator – the zoos frown on them being taken for meals. I’ve heard.

Brick’s, Northville

After a long day of cycling, who doesn’t want sliced meat? Exactly – nobody. And since I was in Northville, an hour from my house near Lansing, I didn’t want to drive all the way home to get a good French dip at Leo’s. And I could have found an Arby’s, but it was a special day – I wasn’t working – so I decided to splurge a bit. There were several good-looking choices on Main Street, but I went with Brick’s.

Brick's, Northville

Brick’s, Northville

I like French dips. Yes, ’tis true. So since it is true that everybody loves sliced meat after bike rides (and I never, ever overgeneralize), a French dip is what I ordered. The sandwich didn’t exactly fly out of the kitchen. I considered going back there to help, or to ask for a restaurant recommendation where I could get an appetizer while I was waiting for my lunch. But I had plenty of time to read my Kindle, and eventually the food did come, or else this post would be a lot shorter, and even more sarcastic.

French dip at Brick's

French dip at Brick’s

Sure looks good. Taste-wise, it was a little ho-hum. But it definitely improved when dipped in the au jus. It’s like most of the flavor had seeped into the juice, and the sandwich was only complete when dipped. So I’m glad I didn’t just order the French, and got the dip as well. It wasn’t a large sandwich, but it was fine for me. And the fries were a hit, with a soft interior and a slightly crispy exterior.

I would return to Brick’s, even though they were slow (it could have been the regular cook’s day off, or there could have been angry gecko’s running around the kitchen). Had it been warmer, the patio would have been a great place to enjoy a burger and beer, or French dip and beer, or just beer.

Leo’s Lodge of Lansing – French Dip

I work in south Lansing. Yes, I know, you people in boring places like New York City or Hawaii are very jealous. And to continue to tweak you poor people in those locations, we have Leo’s Lodge and you don’t. But we have plenty of empty houses, so if you want to live here, fly on over.

It was third trip in two weeks, which could mean one of two things. One, it was a decent place to eat. Or two, I need to vary my eating habits. Actually, both are true. On the previous trips, I had ordered a burger and tacos. The former was good, the latter not as much. On this tie-breaking visit, the French Dip was at bat. Henceforth in this glorious piece of writing, the sandwich will be referred to as “The Dip”.

How would the French make a dip? No clue – I’ve never had a French Dip in France. But how they do it is South Lansing, though, is quite good. There was a tall pile of thinly sliced beef in a focaccia-ish bun. That alone scores it high – lots of meat and fancy bread? Wow. But then throw in a generous pour of “au jus” and it puts it over the top. And I found that fries dipped in au jus are a thing for me. Not quite as life-changing as hush puppies dipped in cocktail sauce, but still good.

Wherever you are in Lansing, you are not far from a Leo’s. Pick one and do the dip.

Famous Dave’s, Holt

It was my first visit to Famous Dave’s. I had heard of them – they are famous, after all – and I had first noticed the one in Sandusky, OH adjacent to Cedar Point. But that would require me to leave the park, which was way too much effort. But FD has a Holt, MI location just a few minutes away from where I work in south Lansing, so it was destiny that I go there.

The décor gives the impression of a dumpy bar, with paraphernalia from gas stations and such. I was more interested in the TVs then the hoses and signs hanging from the walls, but if you are into both of those, this is your dream restaurant. But it was a clean dumpy – a Disneyesque dumpy, if you will. I spotted no filth or crumbs that I would associate with a true dive bar. It’s a place you could take your mom to, especially if she liked BBQ and beer.

I ordered the chopped pork sandwich with fries. Both were very good. The pork came topped with a little BBQ sauce, but there were six different sauces to choose from at the table. Hot, sweet, mustardy – take your pick. I like my sauce a little sweeter, but to each their own. The pork was nicely cooked and generously applied between the buns (make your own joke), and I did not leave hungry. It wasn’t pulled pork, remember, it was chopped pork, which meant there were little pieces of pork bursting from the seams. A little harder to eat than pulled pork because the pieces kept escaping from my sandwich, but there was no real crisis – there was no weeping, in case you were wondering.

Famous Dave's pork

Famous Dave’s pork

The fries were quite good. They were wedge fries (none of those fancy French fries here, bub) and were a little crispy outside and soft and potatoey on the inside. Nothing against the pork, but the fries were the best part of the meal. You have lots of sides to choose from if potatoes aren’t your thing, and if they’re not, you probably don’t hang out in bars. I know, I just judged you – tough.

I would certainly eat at Famous Dave’s again. They have a nice selection of BBQ meats and it looked like a good place to hang out and watch a game. Close to work, meat, caffeine – just what I need for my noontime break.

Al’s Beef, Chicago

After tasting fourteen different beers on the Chicago Beer Experience in Wicker Park, which was a great time, I realized I was surprisingly hungry considering the amount of beer I had just consumed. Fortunately, on my walk down North Milwaukee Avenue, there was an Al’s Beef conveniently located to satisfy the other man’s second favorite food group (after beer), meat. I had seen Al’s featured on Adam Richmond’s show on the Travel Channel, and had been hankering for one of the sandwiches for quite some time.

Al's Beef

Al’s Beef

I went with the “Little Al”, their smallest sub. The beauty is in the simplicity, just thinly shaved beef between bread.( You can get peppers and cheese if your boat needs floating, or whatever the saying is.) The magic comes when they dip the sandwich in the juice. And not just a gingerly dip. It’s dunked, so the entire sandwich is soaked.

The sandwich was incredible.  The spices gave the sandwich a great flavor and a little heat. I imagine that cows dream of tasting like this when they are walking around the fields getting fattened up for me. And it was a meal you needed to roll up your sleeves to eat, and watch your shoes, because it’s messy.

I didn’t forget to take a picture of the sandwich, I just didn’t want to get my camera messy. My hands were dripping with juice, and even with my precautions, my coat felt the effects of the beef sandwich, too. So don’t take the threat of a soaked sandwich likely – it can get you when you least expect it.

You can spend a lot more money and not get a meal this good, especially in Chicago. Al’s Beef stores are all over town, so take the time to find one – they are definitely worth the trip.