4th Street Market 2 of 2

Man, I had a pretty Santa Ana-y day. Walking the streets of DTSA, admiring local art, 4th Street Market (again), and band practice. Maybe I should just move there.

After a leisurely stroll around, Angela, my companion for the evening, was intrigued by Inc Waffles a.k.a. Ink Waffles a.k.a. Waffles Inc. Depends on which waffle one orders, I suppose. On this occasion, we both happened to get sandwiches on regular waffles.

Angela got the Ratatouille and I the BBELT (blueberry, bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato).

Angela got the Ratatouille (with gruyere and sprouts) and I the BBELT (blueberry, bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato).

The ratatouille on a waffle concept provoked a bit of a discussion between the two of us. I thought it was “weird,” though she countered that blueberry on a BLT was at least as “weird.” Regardless, both sandwiches worked far better than expected!

The ratatouille was an excellent specimen, so, as you would expect, a very soft experience. Perhaps I can illustrate the total softness of this sandwich with this:  the most textural component was the sprouts. Does that get the point across? Anyways, my irrational weariness aside, it was an excellent dish.

The BBELT also worked well, but this wasn’t quite as surprising to me as both a fruit and BLT enthusiast. And of course no right-thinking person would ever turn down an egg on top of, well, anything, right? Thin bacon and shredded lettuce yielded an overall pleasantly crispy sandwich, and the cooked blueberries were almost more fruitily rich and savory than sweet.

Also of note were the fries, which bore a seasoning suspiciously similar to PFC’s seasoning. Not that I begrudge any (alleged) seasoning powder sharing between food hall neighbors.

The order number buckets made handy beer holders, at least until you have to return them to the cashier. The classic "i haz a bucket"-"no they stealing ma bucket" story.

The order number buckets made handy beer holders, at least until you have to return them to the cashier. The classic “i haz a bucket”-“no they stealing ma bucket” story.

4th Street Market 1 of 2

This place had been on my list since its opening, and Sam, an old friend, finally becoming available for an outing provided the ideal opportunity to visit.

After a quick walk around the logically arrayed restaurants, PFC’s large trays of fried chicken and Wagyu Chuck’s burgers jumped out at us. I got the burger, and Sam the chicken. Service was (pleasantly) surprisingly quick! We barely had time to try our beers. Or beer, rather. We both got Ritual Brewing’s Wits End.

Sam’s first reaction upon trying the burger was “Oh, that’s just not fair.” I agreed! The balance of components in the double cheeseburger is bang on. Shredded lettuce, well formed and cooked patties, and thin buns make for a soft but hearty burger experience. The patties themselves were by far the most prominently rich burger patties I’ve ever had.

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Even the box reminds one of a certain Socal burger chain…

While the baked potato “fries” are pretty far removed from what I’d call “fries,” they tasted great. I’ll have to try the loaded fries option on another visit.

Really, the only thing I wanted was a nice chocolate shake, but there’s beer available, and the house cola is quite enjoyable for those teetotaler types.

Photo credit goes to my friend.

Photo credit goes to my friend.

One of the main things that drew me to the fried chicken was its appearance. It seemed to be quite dark, but I could tell just by looking that it wasn’t from overcooking. It was, in fact, from an excellent seasoning mixture applied to it. And, as one can see in the picture, the color is noticeably red in the normal light of the eating area. It’s mostly cayenne/paprika/other red powder spice in the nose, but on the tongue it balances sweet and spicy. A wonderful complement to perfectly fried chicken.

Their dipping sauce is also great, but almost superfluous for me.

Honorable mention to the charred corn salad as well! Good corn, lettuce, tortilla chip pieces atop, and quite a generous portion.

And since I had band practice the next night, I went again!

The Grilled Cheese Spot

I had originally planned to go to The Grilled Cheese Spot while I was waiting out my jury summons in Santa Ana, but I ended up getting sent to Westminster. Hardly a death sentence, eating wise, but I prefer to avoid sudden changes in plans. I had a free day Saturday, though, after helping my grandparents out with some work in Brea, and The Grilled Cheese Spot was pretty much on the way home. I lucked into great parking just two blocks away with 20 minutes left on the meter, and after giving myself an hour, I was off.

GCS was conspicuous with the crowd of people―some eating, some in line―around its front. Right away I liked the look of the sandwiches I saw in people’s hands. I was struck by indecisiveness, but then I saw the build-your-own menu. There, the only way is up! With the occasional upcharge, of course. I immediately zeroed in on the fried eggs and grilled onions, but aside from those, I circled white bread, cheddar, tomato, and bacon. I also ordered the Government Issue, american on white, to try a classic grilled cheese, the house potato chips, and the house onion onion rings.

I loved both sandwiches! Not as crusty as the ones my mom made me when I was a kid, but the fillings were well heated and activated and all that.

My custom sandwich on top, the Gov't Issue on bottom.

My custom sandwich on top, the Gov’t Issue on bottom.

As good as the sandwiches were, I have to admit that the fried offerings somewhat overshadowed them! The onion rings are obviously handmade, and very well, too. The membrane was removed, the crust was crispy, and the onion tender. The crust had some sort of aromatic flavor that neither I nor my mom could place with certainty, but whatever it was, it was really good. The chips, slightly simpler, were just overall excellently prepared―thinly sliced, seasoned well, fried crispy, and properly dried afterwards. I’ve encountered a good amount of chips that were not subjected to that last vital step.

Nary a grease spot to be seen on the bags.

They were still crispy hours later when I finished them at home.

I’d go back here any day.