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Monday, March 7, 2011 @ 08:03 AM

369Hi…I’m Katie and I’m an indecisive eater.  I know…an odd thing to admit, but I figure this information might help people understand how we actually choose a certain restaurant to review for PCC.  Well, most often we have a list in mind when we travel, and time and location will usually dictate our choice of restaurant at that moment.  However, if we are put in a spot where we have choices, be prepared for much anxiety mixed with hunger onset…often making the task all the more difficult.  It isn’t that I’m picky, I just have a really hard time verbalizing what it is I really want most of the time; and now that I am 13 weeks pregnant (SURPRISE! Open-mouthed smile), let’s just say the decisions aren’t coming any easier.  Rather, I seem to struggle more. 

So lucky for me, I have a husband who most of the time patiently tries to help me figure out what I want, which I’m sure most of you would find the whole scenario pretty comical I’m sure.  Most weekend mornings in our marriage start out like this, and trips with multiple lazy mornings are no exception…

Me: “I’m Hungry!”

Adam: “Me too, what are you hungry for?”

Me: “I don’t know…Food…”

Adam: “Ok, well let me know when you make a decision.”

Now this response from him isn’t meant to be mean, rather he just wants me to tell him what it is I am hungry for.  However, I will lay there for a moment, hoping that Adam will just suggest something first so I don’t have to make the decision.  Most people (or women) would be eternally grateful to have a husband that would let them pick the restaurant 99% of the time just so they would be happy.  I am not that woman.  I, on the other hand, freeze up!  His response and subsequent silence frustrates me…, I pout, and we go round and round until we finally agree on a place or what we are going to eat, usually an hour or so later than when we first said we were hungry.  You would think after 2+ years of marriage, I would know this and rather than ask, I would just say what I wanted and move on.  But as I said, I am in-decisive, and when given the ultimate option…I choke. 

I tell you all of this not just to blabber on and add a little comic relief (especially for you other married couples who I know do the same thing ), but rather to give a little background to today’s story, because this Saturday morning in Chicago was just like that.

It was the morning after our friends Jenn and Bob’s wedding and we were both enjoying sleeping in a little.  But without fail, my stomach started gnawing away and I knew I was going to need something to eat soon.  So I started to nudge Adam and get him moving, knowing the task that lie ahead with my uttering of those fateful weekend morning words…”I’m Hungry…”

I will spare you the details, but with us both being hungry, him waiting for me to tell him what I wanted, and us going through the infinite possible PCC worthy spots we could try in the Chicago-land area, let’s just say it took us a little while to get moving.  I was particularly hungry that morning so I knew something like a big sandwich would fit the bill, so we started doing a bit of research and stumbled upon just the place.

The Depot American Diner is certainly one of a kind and well worth the trip to the west side for their truly delicious home cooked meals.  They don’t try to be fancy, nor should they.  After all, this place used to be a speak easy and hide out for the notorious Al Capone.  Well, Chicagoans need not speak easy about this place any longer, cause now it the Depot’s food that is doing the talking, and it is saying good things; and I knew that when we saw a clip on Food Network’s “Diner’s, Drive-in’s and Dives” or their club sandwich that this is where we would be headed…



That turkey dinner just looked mouthwatering, and knowing that same home style turkey was coming on that club, I knew I was in for a real treat. 

It didn’t take us long to pull up and park ourselves at the counter, which we were happy to do seeing as the Depot is a small place and there were no other seats available in the main dining area.  Nonetheless, food was the priority, so we began to peruse their menu.  Everything looked delicious and I truly love a diner that focuses on what they are good at and doesn’t cloud the menu with pages and pages of stuff just because it’s expected.




After watching that clip earlier in the morning, we both already know what we wanted to order.  I had the club, while Adam chose a bowl of chicken noodle soup to start and the Pot Roast Sandwich; and to top it off, we ordered a batch of their famous donut holes for after our meal. 

The service was prompt, because before long I had a monstrosity of yumminess set down in front of me.  We both giggled a little when we saw our sandwiches, because I was trying to figure out just how I was going to take my first bite…


I mean come on…right?  Let’s just say, neither of us were talking for awhile, we were both too immersed in our food; and for you regular readers of PCC, you know I’ve mentioned before my constant battle over tomatoes, but I decided to leave them on and see what I thought, considering that’s the way the cook intended.  You might be happy to know they totally added an extra level of flavor to this sandwich that was awesome!  Their sweetness really played well against all of the other rich flavors of the buttered bread, mayo, and heavy meat. 

At another seat at the counter, Adam was in heaven with that gravy rich pot roast.  I’m pretty sure that “mmm” and “oh my gosh,” were all I heard out of him for awhile.

Then…when we had sufficiently stuffed ourselves and boxed up the rest, we were presented with a lovely dish of holes.


I have to say for that as good as they look…they fell a little flat in the taste department.  The donuts themselves just really lacked any kind of flavor and although the dipping sauce that came with them was good, I would hardly say it was the best thing I had ever tried.  Still, even though these were our last note, we still left singing the praises of The Depot and would willingly go back anytime!

SIGNATURE DISHAlthough they have some pretty standard home cooked staples, it would seem their open face sandwiches are what’s put them over the top when it comes to notoriety.  Chicago is a city where diners abound and you would be hard pressed not to find one on just about every corner, if not more.  That being said, there are very few that are putting out the level of food The Depot is; and with dishes that have so much love and flavor, it is not wonder that patrons are coming in droves to the west side to eat here.

TASTEI don’t typically order club sandwiches.  In fact, I think I have maybe only ordered 2 in my lifetime.  I typically have never found them to be that exciting…too much bread.  But this one stopped me short.  Something about the fact that it included their home style hot and fresh turkey, along with the other usual accoutrements that I could not pass up.  Adam and I were both wowed at just how good and upscale these dishes were coming from a tiny little west side diner kitchen.  I think it is safe to say that it is their attention to flavor and detail that is bringing their customers in droves.

AMBIANCEAlthough busy and buzzing that Sunday morning, it was not packed to the point of not being able to enjoy yourself, like some other PCC places we’ve been.  You could still easily move throughout and it just felt as if you were one of the gang their to enjoy your Sunday meal.  Sitting at the bar was a fun perspective and great to see the wait staff and owners interacting so lovingly with their customers.  And for being a diner, it did in no way have that old dingy or dirty feel, but rather was clean, nicely decorated, and classic.

SERVICESitting at the bar we were very well taken care of and in a prompt fashion.  Also, it seemed that everyone in the booths were being taken care of very well.  Everyone we encountered was super friendly and willing to chat, which I always enjoy.

PRICEBeing in Chicago, I didn’t think their prices were outrageous or unexpected by any means.  Many times places in the city with a lot of notoriety will up their prices because they can, but each of our sandwiches were $8.01 (you gotta love the quirkiness of the penny Winking smile).  You could easily pay for less food at Panera, so I thought it was well worth it.

Overall, we had a fabulous time at The Depot, and even though it may have taken us a little bit to research to ultimately wind up here, it turns out we made the right decision….a decision that led us to a great find and a place I hope to visit again someday.  So I am happy to give The Depot American Diner 4 1/2 ‘Little Piggies.’

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Monday, January 10, 2011 @ 09:01 AM

Well we are back from a wonderful weekend in Nashville celebrating my lil’ brother’s wedding.  Needless to say due to the business of all of that I apologize that this post is a little bit tardy.

Pop Culture Cuisine is officially a year old and we can hardly believe how fast time has flown!  Adam and I have loved incorporating all these wonderful culinary adventures into our travels, mostly because of the great memories it has made for us.  We have compiled a list of some of our favorite and not so favorite spots to share with you with links so you can read our reviews for yourself.  We love food and hope to continue to share lots of great finds with you all along the way.



1. Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous’ “Ribs” – Memphis, TN

2. Round Rock Donuts’ “Round Rock Donut” – Round Rock, TX

3. Lucky’s Sandwich Co.’s “Stuffed Sandwich” – Chicago, IL



1. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

2. Louie’s – Dallas, TX

3. Twisted Root – Dallas, TX


train car

1. The Silver Palm – Chicago, IL

2. Keller’s Drive-in – Dallas, TX

3. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX



1. Blue Ash ChiliAnna – Blue Ash, OH

2. PinkberryChristine – Orlando, FL

3. Avila’s – Dallas, TX



1. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

2. Keller’s Drive-in – Dallas, TX

3. Blue Ash Chili – Blue Ash, OH



1. The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX

2. Manny’s Delicatessen – Chicago, IL

3. Keller’s Drive-in – Dallas, TX

4. Blue Ash Chili – Blue Ash, OH

5. Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous – Memphis, TN



1. Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Q – Memphis, TN

2. Willie Mae’s Scotch House – New Orleans, LA

3. Acme Oyster House – New Orleans, LA

4. Drago’s Seafood – New Orleans, LA

5. Juan in a Million – Austin, TX



Best Burger – Twisted Root – Dallas, TX


Best Pizza – Giordano’s – Chicago, IL


Best Sandwich – Lucky’s Sandwich Co. – Chicago, IL


Best BBQ – The Salt Lick – Driftwood, TX


Best Bar Food – J. Gilligan’s “Irish Nachos” – Arlington, TX


Best Cocktail – Pat O’Brien’s “Hurricane” – New Orleans, LA

Three Little Piggies

Most Outrageous Dish – The Silver Palm’s “Three Little Pigs Sandwich” Chicago, IL

Thursday, August 5, 2010 @ 08:08 AM

153I want someone out there to tell me they don’t like donuts!  I am pretty sure I have never met a single person who didn’t enjoy at least one kind of donut.  I mean, what’s not to like?…sweet fried dough usually covered in even sweeter yummy glaze!  All around….sweet.  I know you health nuts out there might say, “oh…I don’t eat donuts; they are full of sugar, fat, and all that other stuff I can’t eat on my diet.”  But let’s me honest, and I mean HONEST…donuts are down right pure awesomeness and one of the many culinary enjoyments in life; and while we are in honesty land, although I don’t let myself have them all that often, when I do it is pure joy and I make sure to savor each and every bite.

So I am no donut connoisseur, nor do I really think there are many “superior” donuts out there.  It’s typically one of those foods that’s got a threshold for good (pretty low ;)) and once you meet “good’ the distance to “great” is not that much more.  I really have rarely ever found one that I think is the down right best (well maybe the chocolate glazed at Dunkin, but that’s another story :)), not to say they haven’t all been yummy good.  All I’m saying is that I’ve never been blown away by a donut that it was left standing above any other.  Well…that all changed after our visit to this week’s feature establishment…Round Rock Donuts in Round Rock, TX.

We saw Round Rock Donuts on an episode of Man vs. Food (Austin).  Open since 1926, under the name Lone Star Donuts, they have been tempting locals and visitors alike with their orange hued world famous “Round Rock” glazed donut.  The first clip below will show you a bit of history on the famed donut masters prior to their name change from Lone Star Donuts.  And then I have given you a clip so you can see for yourself what put Round Rock on the ‘must visit’ list the next time we traveled to Austin…a new menu addition for them, but one worth seeing…

Sources: “Round Rock Donuts, Texas.”  [Video].  (2008).  Retrieved August 5, 2010, from

“I Really Really Like Donuts!!!” [Video].  (2009).  Retrieved August 5, 2010 from

I mean that is a site to see…that donut is the size of human head, if not bigger!  I know it was certainly something I was interested in seeing for myself; and lucky for us it was not long after we saw this episode that were planning a trip to Austin so we figured it would be a perfect stop on our way back to Dallas.

So on our way out of town while headng through Round Rock on U.S. 35, we set out to find this behemoth of pastry.  Lucky for us we arrived just in time…their lobby hours on Sunday are only until 2 p.m. and we arrived at 1:45 (their drive thru is open everyday until 8 p.m. so we would not have been completely out of luck, I just was glad we were able to see the inside).  Their building is very cute and rustic looking, not like any other donut shop I have ever seen.  Apparently they had to rebuild in 2000, after a fire completely destroyed their original location.  That being said, their current building is beautiful and a fun change from a typical bakery site.

147Inside are glass cases filled with yummy donuts and other baked goods that appear perfectly hand crafted with care.  I wanted to seriously try each and every kind they had, but came with the intent of purchasing their original glazed; and for fun, we bought one of those giant Texas sized ones too.  I mean…you can’t go somewhere with donuts the size of your head and not buy one right! 🙂

143 142 154Since we bought a small glazed donut as well, we decided we would share that one and save the large one for Adam to take into work the next day.  I will say now that the large donut could feed his entire office for breakfast and was quite a hit! 🙂  Also a big hit was the one we shared…I’m talkin’ out of this world good.  There is a hint of citrus flavor, orange or lemon in their dough and the glaze provides just a hint of extra sweetness and flavor that is amazing.  Also, the slightly crispy outer texture with the super soft doughy center, likely from the yeast they use, is pure donut genius; and all I can say is I wish I could get my paws on these donuts more, because they are truly worth the splurge.

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SIGNATURE DISH: I am pretty sure from the name of the place that you figured out what they are known for…donuts, donuts, and more donuts.  But like any good donut bakery, they also have a wide variety of other yummy baked goods to try.  Still, when a place has donut in the name, I want one of them; and when they have a “TEXAS” sized behemoth donut, lemme’ at that big boy!

TASTE: What impressed me so much with these donuts is it truly tasted like no donut I have ever had.  I know a glazed donut is a glazed donut, but I am telling you there was something extra about these.  Their texture was doughy and hints of crunch all in one, and their glaze had flavor nuances that were not only good, but added a wow factor.  Yes…I just used “wow factor” to describe a donut, so it must be THAT good!

AMBIANCE: The building exterior is quite cute and unexpected, while the inside is also very well kept, while still familiar.  Not ever expecting much when I go to a bakery, I would say it exceeded my typical expectations as far as appearance in that you can tell they truly have pride for their business and want people to feel at home, welcome, and comfortable while they are there.  There is no seating inside, but tables outside where you can enjoy your donut and relax.  They also offer drive thru, which if I lived in the area would find awfully convenient (maybe too convenient ;)).  All is all…very nice.

PRICE: I thought their prices were very decent and pretty typical of most smaller bakeries I have been to.  At $.59 for a glazed donut,  I would hardly say that is breaking the bank of breakfast.  The Texas sized donut is $5.99, but again when you consider it feeds 5 or more people, I would still hardly call that outrageous.

SERVICE: Since this is your typical bakery, you simply place your order at the counter and they present your with your order.  All the employees were very friendly, chatty, and quickly able to produce our order to us.  They were even so kind as to let me photograph the inside and chat with them about the bakery after they had closed, which I was very thankful for.

Round Rock Donuts was a quick side trip, and I’m glad Adam persuaded me to stop for.  After a weekend of gluttony, I was hardly in the mood for a fried pastry, but after one bite my mind was quickly swayed.  True…I may never get to have one again or find one quite the same, but at least I now have a donut measuring stick.  It was truly like no other glazed donut I have tried, and that’s not to say I won’t still give others I come across a fighting chance. 😉  But for now, I will leave it at a lifelong great tasting memory and give Round Rock Donuts and Sweet 5 ‘Little Piggies’

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