Okie dokie kids, I’m going to do one more quick write-up before taking off to spend the weekend in Portland. I haven’t hopped on the smart phone bandwagon yet so I’m going to be largely incommunicado, except perhaps for random, stream of consciousness text posts to my Facebook page. Before I go foraging for exotic foodstuffs not indigenous to the greater Boise area (like good doughnuts and dim sum), I had to throw in my two cents on an up-and-comer to the local food scene which has already been generating a fair amount of attention: Archie’s Place.
|Hmm. I wonder what they sell…|
I love street food, and it’s a popular thing with the foodie community in general right now (though it might be on the way out if some people have their way). I got into it by watching shows on the Travel Channel, finding myself fascinated by taco, sandwich, seafood and other vendors who worked out of trucks and carts. It occurred to me that this was cuisine we could, for the most part, trust. These people do massive turnover and for the most part don’t have freezers on hand, which all but guarantees your food will be made with fresh, simple ingredients (of course, there are exceptions). Peruse my earlier entries and you’ll find reviews of taco trucks and stands, a mobile fish and chips eatery, barbecue and Mediterranean shacks, etc. Not a lot of good old “all American” street food though, because to be honest it’s kind of lacking if you don’t count the hot dog carts. A while ago, there came rumblings of a sloppy joe truck getting ready to open. This intrigued me not because I love sloppy joes, which I really don’t…at all, but because it was interesting to me to see that kind of focus on a single food, even if it IS a comfort food. So, I “liked” their Facebook page and paid attention to the regular updates about the menu, the ingredients, outfitting the truck, and so on.
Now as I said above, I don’t really dig sloppy joes. I don’t care much for ground beef as anything other than the base of a meatball or a hamburger, and my experiences with sloppy joe sauce always left me with the impression that I had eaten a bunch of loose meat soaked in ketchup and brown sugar. And no, I don’t consider that a good combination. All of this might (or might not, doesn’t matter) have you asking “Hey, are you so desperate to write a snobby review that you’re going to single out a vendor that focuses on serving something that you don’t even like in the first place?!” It’s a fair question, but there’s a fair answer to it: the Mean Joe Green. You see, a lot of things about the development of Archie’s Place began to intrigue me. For one, they have three kinds of sloppy joe proteins and two sauces to choose from, but SIX kinds of bread. Those looking for something mess-containing and familiar might choose the whole wheat bun, which along with the rolls for the sliders and the vegan foccacia bread come from Gaston’s Bakery/Le Cafe de Paris. There is a pocket bread from Bosnia Express, Dutch crunch rolls from WinCo, and even a homemade gluten-free cornbread option for a total of 24 different configurations. Now, back to the sauces and proteins. There is of course the standard beef (in this case Wagyu beef sourced from M&N Cattle in Bliss) in red sauce, and their big draw will likely be the “unicorn meat”, aka Boca Burger Crumbles, which are available in red or green sauce. Yes, I said green sauce, and that brings me back to the Mean Joe Green, which is made with that green sauce and pork sourced from Double XL Ranch in Melba. Everyone who knows me well knows that I can rarely resist the siren call of pork in verde-style sauces, and that’s how I found myself standing outside a truck in a church parking lot on my lunch break Wednesday. Six dollars did strike me as a little high for a sandwich (we’re talking a sloppy joe here, not a footlong Italian sub), but I was able to add a side of their lemony potato salad and a San Pelligrino Orange (no ordinary sodas here, my friends!) to my order and still wind up paying only nine bucks, and that seemed more fair.
|Lemony potato salad|
It had been a while but the San Pelligrino was as good as I remembered it, and it was really refreshing to have a different beverage option than I’m used to from a food truck. The potato salad, on the other hand, was unlike anything I’ve had before. It was light (as light as a potato salad can be, anyway), brightly flavored, and thankfully not overpowered by the lemon component. If a potato salad could be described as refreshing, this would be the one.
|Mean Joe Green|
I wish this had turned out to be a better-looking picture, but all in all it’s not bad for a sandwich with “sloppy” in the description and which survived a three or four mile car ride in the back seat. While I guess this has all the classic components of what we consider a sloppy joe to be…heavily-sauced ground meat on a bun, basically…that’s where the comparisons end. Tried on its own, the meat and sauce was ever-so-mildly spicy, with that nice tangy flavor that only that kind of green sauce can have. The pork was also of exceptionally high quality for a ground meat, with not so much as a single overly chewy or otherwise questionable bit to be found. The bun was pure perfection as well, not too light or too dense, fluffy, chewy and delicious, and not at all the kind of whole wheat bread item that shoves its origins in your face. And yes, I did save the fork from my potato salad to scoop up the errant bits of pork that escaped the bun.
In the end, I went in with my my curiosity high and my expectations low, and came out of the situation very happy. I’m already looking forward to the next time I cross paths with Archie’s Place so I can try some of the potato chorizo or the carrot ginger soup, both of which sound right up my alley. Not to mention all the other bread options. Hell, I may even give the beef and red sauce sloppy joe a whirl! Something tells me it’s probably a far cry from Manwich. I’ll probably just order the slider size though, no need to get carried away…
Final Grade: A-
Archie’s is a truly mobile eatery, check here for times and locations!