Wednesday, February 03, 2010
Pete's Blue Chip in Eagle Rock
I feel like this review will write itself. Pete's Blue Chip, which has apparently been around forever, is a neighborhood treasure, though often invisible, sitting in plain sight on the corner of Mt. Royal and Colorado. It offers an authentic, non-chain, unslick, unsexy approach to greasy food -- an approach that has become rare. Places like The Oinkster make a big deal out of and put a lot of effort into trying to recapture the feel of an old-school neighborhood fast food joint. Pete's Blue Chip doesn't have to put in the effort, doesn't have to hire interior decorators to achieve a retro, nostalgic effect: that is because Pete's Blue Chip is in fact the real thing, not a simulation.
This is a place where the people at the counter remember their faithful regulars, and greet them in English and Spanish. This is a place families come to regularly on weekend mornings for the massive and delicious breakfast burritos, Orange Bang, and crappy coffee. Where Eagle Rock high schoolers and neighborhood hipsters in tight jeans come for cheap but tasty zucchini fries, burgers, and the most incredible milkshakes in the neighborhood.
Orange Bang fountain.
I had my first Pete's milkshake not long ago. It was a vanilla milkshake. At first, the shake was too thick for me to be able to pull up through the straw. I kept at it, and then the first taste of it hit me. I was immediately taken back to those humid New England summers when I was a kid, getting ice cream scooped into those Eat-it-All cones, the taste of non-gourmet vanilla ice cream in that mass-produced cone that felt like styrofoam: rich, delicious, vaguely industrial. It was the best milkshake I had had in years. (I had a chocolate milkshake tonight, and it was equally amazing.)
On that same trip, I tried the zucchini fries for the first time. They were a revelation. The fries had a thick, almost breaded crust -- reminiscent of Burger King's onion rings, with the zucchini still soft and green inside. It was only later that I realized what they reminded me of -- vegetable tempura. They were fantastic with both the ranch sauce they were served with or with ketchup.
Gigantic breakfast burrito.
The garden burger here is decent. Not too different from the garden burger offered at The Oinkster. The fish sandwich I had was forgettable -- sort of an overgrown cousin of a McDonald's Filet-O-Fish.
I couldn't finish the breakfast burrito in one sitting. The thing was gigantic. It must have weighed more than a pound. A very fine tortilla wrapped around massive portions of egg, potatoes, onions, cheese, mushrooms, spinach -- maybe some other stuff. Pete's breakfast burrito is rightly famous. It's enough for two meals. It's a delicious kitchen-sink, Pynchonesque interpretation of the breakfast burrito.
I almost forget to mention the Orange Bang. People get excited about the Orange Bang here. (Senor Fish also has Orange Bang.) I like the Orange Bang okay. Mostly, it tastes to me like a melted Push-Up Pop.
The food is cheap here and wildly unhealthy. (The menu is extensive: I can't offer you opinions on the various meat offerings here, though I've heard good things.) If you get stuff to go, you'll need a plastic bag, in addition to the paper bags the food comes in, to hold in the grease. I've eaten here a couple times recently for the purpose of this review, and I'm certain I've sacrificed several weeks off my lifespan as a result. This is what I do for you, dear reader. You should go to Pete's and drink in the atmosphere (and a milkshake) -- just don't make it a habit.