Sammy Barker’s Knows How To Do Street Food

Sammy Barker's Pensaconey Dog

American Street Food at Sammy Barker’s

I’ve been looking forward to the opening of Sammy Barker’s ever since I first spotted their “Coming Soon” sign.  I’m all about locally owned and operated establishments, and it’s especially nice to have more and more non-franchise restaurants opening on 9 Mile Road.

Since the arrival of spring, it seems I’ve had an intensified craving for a good burger and even a hot dog from time to time.  I think it’s largely due to the fact that I’ve been chomping at the bits to try out Sammy Barker’s. They had me with their advertisement of “American Street Food.”  Who doesn’t love street food!?

A Craving for Coney Dogs

Typically I don’t crave conies or hot dogs and it’s the rare occasion where I order one (unless it’s a Kielbasa or Bratwurst). I have to admit, Sammy Barker’s menu has turned that on its head. I’ve found myself craving hot dogs all of a sudden.

As any foodie is prone to do, I almost always check out the menu before I visit a new restaurant. For two reasons: First, I want to be sure it looks like food I would enjoy. Secondly, sometimes it takes me a while to make up my mind as to what I want to order. 😬 Does anyone else have this problem??? Please tell me I’m not the only one.

While I was eagerly awaiting my first visit to Sammy Barker’s, I began to check out the menu online.  Their coney dogs all sound fabulous! With choices like the Cubano, the Pensaconey, the Memphis Dog, the Bahn Mi Dog, and the Hurt Dog, I knew I was going to be trying a coney dog on my first visit.

It was a hard a decision, but I finally narrowed it down. Plus, I was eating with friends, so that made it easier to try out different styles of coney dogs and even the tacos.

The Bahn Mi Dog

This coney dog was straight up delicious! It was also slightly soothing to the conscience. The fact that it had vegetables and nothing deep-fried made it almost healthy. 😁 All kidding aside, this was a great coney.

One thing that Sammy Barker’s does to give their coney’s a unique twist is instead of traditional hot dog buns, the “bun” is three dinner rolls that have been halved down the center. The rolls are similar to Hawaiian rolls. Slightly sweet, but not overly so.  Normally I’m all about savory, but I enjoyed this spin on the coney. The choice of bread went together quite well with this Vietnamese-flavored hot dog.

The meat on the Bahn Mi Dog is a standard hot dog. It’s then topped with thinly grated cucumber, carrots, pickled onions, fresh jalapeños and cilantro. To top it off, the Bahn Mi Dog has a hoisin mayo that gives just the right level of spice and sweetness you would expect from a Bahn Mi inspired dish. It does not come off too strong, but preserves the savoriness of the coney dog. I was a fan!

Sammy Barker's Bahn Mi Dog
Bahn Mi Dog

The Pensaconey

When I first spotted this coney on the menu, it definitely jumped out and I knew I was going to have to try it! With toppings like pimento cheese, bacon, sweet potato hay and onion jam, I was thinking, “Ok, so I’ll try this one after a good workout.” Luckily for me, my friend ordered it the other evening and I didn’t have to wait to try it.

Again, another win on the coney dogs.  The Pensaconey has everything a good Southern comfort food should have – pimento cheese, bacon, onion jam – it doesn’t get much better than this!

I’m really on board with how the dinner rolls paired well with the saltiness of the coney dog and its other savory accompaniments. The pimento cheese and bacon gave it a seasoned and slightly peppery flavor. I loved the onion jam, as this added some depth and an additional flavor element. The sweet potato hash was a nice touch as well. Not over-powering, but well-balanced. The Sammy Sauce takes this coney over the top.  A sauced-up mayo that gives just the right kick.

Sammy Barker's Pensaconey Dog
The Pensaconey Dog

Asian Roasted Pork Tacos

In the interest of variety, we included the Asian Roasted Pork Tacos in the mix. I was expecting one taco, but it was a generous serving of three pork tacos. A nice and welcome surprise.

These tacos reminded me of the Bahn Mi Coney Dog. Soft, white flour tortillas filled with tender, mouth-watering pork. Slightly sweet, but with a good balance. Topping the tacos are cucumber, onion, carrots, green onion, and cilantro. The hoisin mayo brings all the flavors together and makes for a diabolically delicious street taco.

Sammy Barker's Asian Roasted Pork Tacos
The Asian Roasted Pork Tacos

Sammy Barker’s knows how to do street food! Not only is the food tasty, but the staff was friendly and helpful as well. I can’t wait until my next visit – I have it on good authority that the burgers are incredible as well.

The Best of Budapest – Great Local Eats, Where to Stay and Things to Do

This week I thought I would share some of my favorite eats, where we stayed and a few highlights of my time in Budapest. This city is unlike any city I’ve visited. From its tragic and tortured past, to its emerging modern, urban scene, this city has so much to offer. It’s no surprise that it has become a popular European vacation destination.

If you have the opportunity to visit Budapest, don’t pass it up! A blend of old and modern, this city has quite the diverse landscape. Its architecture encompasses a wealth of different styles. Gothic, Renaissance, Ottoman, Baroque, Classicism, Romantic, Art Nouveau and even bleak utilitarian designs from the Communist era are all vividly captured in this beautiful city. The longer I was in Budapest, the more I grew to appreciate this city. And while parts of the city can be a bit gritty (like most large cities), there is something captivating about it.

Today I’m sharing my favorites from my recent trip to Budapest. Starting off: Where to go for great food. I’m the type of person that likes to experience the local culture of a city. You can spare me the touristy restaurants, I want to eat where the locals eat! If you’re planning to travel to Budapest and want to know where to eat, where to stay, and things to do, read on!

Favorite Coffee Shop – Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó

The first morning in Budapest we tried out Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó. This happened to be a coffee shop recommended by our Airbnb host, David. I visited three coffee shops while in Budapest, and this was by far my favorite.  Zoska seemed to be more of a local coffee shop and less of a tourist spot and I loved that aspect.

Neutral walls and rustic wood floors made this coffee shop simple and inviting. A loft area showcased a wall decorated with bright Post-its. Visitors scrawl personal notes and leave them on the wall of the coffee shop. Tranquil and inviting, it was the perfect spot to spend some time journaling and just soaking up the atmosphere before embarking on another full day of sightseeing.

Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó - Budapest, Hungary
Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó

For breakfast I enjoyed a rich and robust cortado. Bold and velvety, it was the jolt of caffeine I needed. For breakfast, I was in the mood for something unique so I ordered the scrambled eggs with goat cheese and pear. This interesting combination of sweet and savory intrigued me. I love goat cheese and while I was a bit skeptical of pear with scrambled eggs, I decided to go for it.  And I’m very glad I did! It was quite delicious and I was highly pleased with my selection. The sweetness of the pear complimented the scrambled eggs in a surprising way. The creaminess of the goat cheese was the perfect agent for balancing the sweet and savory elements.

Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó - Budapest, Hungary
Zoska Reggeliző Kávézó
Scrambled Eggs with Pear and Goat Cheese

Favorite Local Restaurant with Authentic Hungarian Cuisine

The second day of my stay in Budapest I went on a walking tour.  Andris, our tour guide, was quite personable and informative. In addition to learning more about the history of the city, Andris shared some of his favorite local restaurants. For dinner we dined at one of his suggestions:  Frici Papa Kifőzdéje. This was definitely a local establishment and it was spectacular.

Our waitress was quite friendly and helped us with our menu selections and offered suggestions. A point of interest: most of the locals knew at least a little English and between their knowledge and hospitality, along with a little pointing and gesturing, we were able to communicate surprisingly well.

Our authentic Hungarian meal started with an appetizer of Ràntott Sajt. This is basically a Hungarian version of fried mozzarella sticks. I’m not sure what cheese was actually used in this dish (my Hungarian was quite limited and the menu did not specify), but it was definitely similar in taste and texture to mozzarella.

Frici Papa  Kifőzdéje
Ràntott Sajt

For our main course we enjoyed Vörösboros marhapörkölt. This was a beef goulash with red wine sauce and it was phenomenal. The sauce was deep and rich, adding layers of flavor to the beef that made for a well-seasoned and hearty dish. The goulash noodles had a firm texture to them and a mellow flavor that nicely absorbed and carried the notes of the beef and red wine sauce.

Frici Papa  Kifőzdéje
Vörösboros marhapörkölt

For dessert we ordered the Király palacsinta. This reminded me a crepe. It had an apricot filling and topped with chocolate and vanilla sauces and finished with a cloud of whipped cream. This dessert was not overly sweet. The chocolate and vanilla sauce were both rich and decadent. This was not my favorite dessert, but fun to try.

Làngos – A Favorite Local Snack

While researching and preparing for my trip, I learned of this popular, local snack food. I figured I had to try it out while I was there. Làngos are pockets of deep-fried dough – already sounds heavenly, right?!? Traditional Hungarian toppings for làngos are sour cream and cheese. Other options are also popular, such as ham, sausage, mushroom and even cabbage.

Andris suggested Retro Làngos for làngos, so our last night in Budapest we set out to find it. It actually wasn’t hard to spot. Even at 10 pm this little food stand sported a modest line. We patiently waited in line and our wait was soon rewarded. This local snack reminded me of a savory version of the funnel cakes you get at the fair. It was hearty and filling. We split a traditional làngos topped with cheese and sour cream. It was huge! Between the three of us we still were not able to polish off the entire thing.

Where to Stay in Budapest

I traveled with two amazing and adventurous friends. In the months preceding our trip we dreamed, researched and planned our itinerary. We wanted to make this trip fun and affordable and we knew one way we could do that would be booking our accommodations through sites like Airbnb. While budget is a large factor, we were also in agreement that we were not willing to sacrifice safety or cleanliness. Airbnb was the perfect solution for us.

For our stay in Budapest we reserved Sophie and David’s Airbnb and I can’t say enough good things about this cute little apartment. It was the ideal place for us! The location was perfect. Located on the Pest side of the river and right by Fashion Street,  we were within walking distance of the Danube, a metro station and a host of restaurants and shops. Sophie has done a fantastic job of decorating the apartment and we all three loved her sense of style. The apartment is secure and we felt safe during our entire stay there.

Where to Stay in Budapest
The Cute Kitchen
Where to Stay in Budapest
View into the Dining Room and Living Room
Where to Stay in Budapest

David manages the apartment for Sophie (she travels a bit) and he was in constant contact and easily assessable. He helped us navigate from the train station and answered any and all questions we had. When we arrived, he was there to meet us, show us around, and gave us some great recommendations on where to eat and things to do.

Recommendations for Sights to See and Things to Do

Budapest has so much to see and unfortunately I did not have time to see everything. That’s ok though, all the more reason for me to make a return trip.😊 Here are some of the things I did and places I visited that I highly recommend:

  • Free Budapest Walking Tour – Our tour was about 3 hours. Andris was our guide and did a wonderful job of giving a brief history of the city, pointing out must-see sights, as well as giving us great recommendations for restaurants and places to visit in Budapest. The tour itself is free, and you are encouraged to tip the guides.
  • House of Terror Museum – For anyone who is interested in the history of Hungary, this is a must. I walked in with only a limited knowledge of the history of this country. After taking the audio tour, I left with much more insight and a better understanding and deeper appreciation for this country and all the suffering and struggles its citizens endured.
  • River Cruise on the Danube – This one is non-negotiable. If you’re in Budapest you have to do this! Fortunately, there are no shortage of options for this. Cruise companies offer night cruises, day cruises, dinner cruises, party cruises and just about any type of cruise you can imagine. What we ended up doing (another capital idea from Andris) was taking the Danube River Ferry Service. We purchased a 3 day transportation card and the Ferry Service was included in this. This was probably one of my favorites of the trip. Take the last Ferry of the day and you get a stunning sunset view of Budapest.
  • Buda Castle
  • Fisherman’s Bastion
  • Matthias Church
  • St. Stephen’s Basilica
  • Chain Bridge – I loved walking the Chain Bridge and did this a few times.
Budapest, Hungary
Chain Bridge

Budapest is a captivating city. It has so many layers, paradoxes and complexities. I merely scratched the surface of it in the three days I had to make its acquaintance.  This city left an unforgettable mark on me and I hope to return again some day soon and more fully embrace it and all its charm, culture and character.