Football season is rolling, which means most restaurants are promoting the sport and hiring additional help to handle the influx of business. But what about other incentives?
Back when the 2011-12 NFL season was threatened by a labor dispute, Buffalo Wild Wings ran a petition on its website urging the NFL to "save our season," galvanizing 45,000 fans, who signed -- motivated in part, no doubt, by the chain's giveaway of six wings per signature. When I walked in to ask about specials this year, other than being open earlier on what the door calls "NFL Sundays" (9 a.m.), the hostess told me there are no specials.
Granted, the NFL is such big business nowadays that most places don't need to offer deals to bring folks in, as long as they pay the huge fee to get access to all the games via satellite. I've gone to B. Ryder's on White Lane in past years, and it has a full house every Sunday without specials. What it offers is every game on at least one TV, with typically the Steelers fans getting the big-screen theater experience due to their sheer numbers. BJ's and Buffalo Wild Wings also have been jammed on my visits in previous seasons.
One restaurant that will have specials on NFL Sundays is Goose Loonies, 816 18th St. Currently the happy hour on Sunday runs all day and offers $2 off draft beers and half-price appetizers and small pizzas. They're also working on establishing a breakfast menu and offering it at 9 a.m. on Sundays in the fall.
Hooters on Rosedale Highway also cuts beer prices during NFL games: half off domestic and imported drafts, with pitchers of Bud, Bud Light and Coors Light going for $8, and Samuel Adams for $10.
Do you have a place a favorite place for watching NFL games?
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New and different
Freddy's Steakburger has a couple of temporary specials, a S'mores Concrete and hot dogs and hamburgers made with chopped New Mexico Hatch green chilis (with grilled onions, cheese and mustard). The ingredients on that sandwich remind me a lot of a New Mexico burger stand recently featured on "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" ... Little Italy has added a very popular special to its regular menu, gnocchi with sausage ($18.95).
If you love the potato pasta pillows, this is a must order. The sweet Italian sausage is crumbled, mixed with the pasta, and everything is presented with a most winning sage butter sauce. My regular companion couldn't keep her fork off my plate ... Manischewitz has produced a free app for Apple and Android phones that has famous Jewish holiday recipes as well as gluten-free recipes, everyday kosher meals and more. The iPhone app is available at the iTunes store, and the Android app can be found at play.google.com/store/apps ... Famous Dave's has weekday lunch specials from $6.99, Monday through Friday ...
Amazing chile verde
Years ago, readers told me of a marvelous chile verde that was available only on Thursdays downtown, at a small mom-and-daughter cafe called T ruxtun Towers in the Bank of America building at the Chester-Truxtun intersection. We wrote about it and then the chefs expanded the operation to the Home Depot on Rosedale Highway, where the wonderful pork and green chile stew was available in burritos and tacos. Recently we got an email from the mom, Yvonne Torres, who said the award-winning chile verde is now available in bread bowls, too.
We've loved this chile verde in the burrito, and the bowl ($5.50) is another way to showcase the winner of this year's Amestoy Chile Verde cook-off (it also won in 2010), among a string of awards dating back to 2000. It's topped with "vegetables" (chopped white onions and cilantro) and shredded jack cheese. The little trailer near the main entrance does steady business. You might want to get it to go as there are two tables for two and a larger table near the door, but a longer line in front on a recent Sunday.
What makes this chile verde so good? The pork is uniformly lean -- you won't run into any fatty chunks that force you to reconsider the wisdom of eating this for lunch. It's medium spicy with an appealing tartness, and the meat comes in strings, small bits and large cubes.
The sauce has a smooth feel on the tongue, too. While styles vary in cooking this Mexican standard, you can understand why it draws a crowd.