Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Joe House and Bill Simmons reseed the 2018 Playoffs in order of the best NBA Food cities

AUDIO: Bill Simmons on the Best NBA-Finals Food Cities | House of Carbs (Ep. 40)

Joe House welcomes the Podfather to reseed the Playoffs according to their culinary PER with a disclaimer that it's not flawless analytics
JOE HOUSE: There is only one man in the Ringer universe qualified to have an opinion about all 16 of the NBA teams and cities that are in this years 2018 NBA Playoffs, that is "The Podfather" himself Bill Simmons. He is coming on, we are ranking from 16 to 1 the very best food experiences among all the playoff teams in this year's NBA Playoffs
BILL SIMMONS: When I told you I was going to do this, I was going to give you a Top 6. I went a little further, we're going from 16 to 1 cuz I think we should sh*t on some cities too.
HOUSE: That's so rude.
SIMMONS: Let's do some sh*tting. Coming in at 16—by the way no offense to these cities, it's not the fault of the people who live there. Not every city gets to have David Chang pop up and start a culinary revolution. Not every city has a history of BBQ, Chinese food or whatever's going on. Some cities are just in America getting by and it's not their fault
HOUSE: I also want to add the observation that we're going to get a lot of input from people who'll claim "you guys are idiots", you're white-washing this whole thing. You're using too broad a brush in considering this. I'm gonna admit it upfront, we're making gross generalisations here about the food scenes in many of these cities. We haven't been to everyone one of these cities.
16. Cleveland (5m 58s)
BILL: We settled on Morton's [The Steakhouse]

VIDEO: Kevin Durant and Grant Hill Get Cooking on Inside Stuff

15. Oklahoma City (6m 27s)
BILL: It's basically Cleveland but with a little more Southwestern. There's a meat scene going there... KD opened a restaurant called KD's [Southern Cuisine] that ranked 4th in the best restaurants in OKC. Anytime a restaurant named after an athlete isn't in your Top5, it's probably not a great food city.
JOE: That's a good rule of thumb. If one of the Top 5 restaurants in your city has been opened by a sports figure, not a great food look for your city.
BILL: I was there in 2010, the "best restaurant" to go there after the game was called Mickey Mantle's [Steakhouse], yet another sports figure.

14. Indiana (8m 59s)
JOE: I like Indiana, we had a good time at St Elmo's [Steakhouse]
BILL: St Elmo's is a fine restaurant. The shrimp cocktail was great, it put hair on my chest but I'm always skeptical of cities that when you go people only mention one restaurant... and St Elmo's is good. It's fun, it's a giant steakhouse, the bloody mary's are great. I like the shrimp cocktail, I had a good steak.
JOE: To be honest the best meal we had together when we went to Indianapolis for the Superbowl was when we visited the [Masterpiece Lounge] bar owned and operated by Jason Whitlock. We got homestyle food, we were eating ribs and I couldn't stop.

13. Milwaukee (11m 08s)
BILL: Basically in that OKC/Cleveland range except there's sausage/bratwurst, old school things you're not supposed to eat anymore or sauerkraut, cheese curds. All stuff that's incredibly and unfathomably unhealthy... I don't know if there's the high-end restaurant scene that we're looking for

12. San Antonio (12m 03s)
BILL: Good Mexican but the thing with Mexican is that it has a ceiling... I found a fish place that I really like. The Riverwalk—throw that out, the Riverwalk is a tourist trap... there is a very good Mexican scene and it should be commended
JOE: It deserves where you're putting it because it's a one-note food town in my experience.

11. Utah (13m 48s)
BILL: I've only eaten there once and it was a great meal. The thing that stuck with me is that Steve Kerr said to me once that somewhere in Utah or Salt Lake had the best restaurant [Valter's Osteria] he's ever been to... to me this is just word of mouth. I feel like I've heard many times over the years that the food in Utah is kind of a thing

10. Minnesota (15m 12s)
BILL: I hit up David Chang on some of the cities and he's very bullish on Minneapolis...
JOE: I got a lot of input from folks in Minnesota... it fell in two categories it seemed like. A lot of gastropub focused stuff. A lot of innovations in terms of that and you know they're going to do beer correctly. I want to explore if we have time, they have Ethiopian food in Minneapolis because of a big concentration of Ethiopian folks.

9. Boston (17m 30s)
BILL: Every good major city has pockets of different food, at the North End is one of the most satisfying pockets I've ever seen in any city. It's just a finite amount of space in blocks, you know exactly how big it is. You know where all the places are. There's an Oyster House place that's the number one place there.
JOE: You could just have 6 Italian meals and cover all of the regional cuisines of Italy. You could do high-end pizza, you could do low-end pizza, you could do meat-focused, you could do pasta-focused

8. Philadelphia (20m 27s)
BILL: Cheesesteak that'd be great but after two days you're ready for other stuff...
JOE: You can get some great Asian food and there's a strong Italian tradition in Philly. There's cheesesteak and then roast pork, you know the whole sandwich game... Chris Ryan and I ate a variety of Mediterranean and Israeli focused food that was just unbelievable...
The best restaurant in Philly by reputation and accolade is a restaurant by a chef name Michael Solomonov, he and his partner Steven Cook have this restaurant, Zahav which is an Israeli restaurant... that Spanish tapas idea but with flavours of Israel... go do a Philly food tour that covers a whole lot of unexpected varieties. Unbelievable Vietnamese varieties, Thai places, the guys behind Federal Donuts which is a donut and fried chicken place. Our boy Tom Henneman pointed out this joint called Stock which is unbelievable, of that Vietnamese pho style.

7. Washington (25m 56s)
BILL: I would love to go to Momofoku one day. I'd like to go that place we went with Uncle Tony that one time, you would take me to that Italian place that you love and that one steak place you love. I'd basically get the greatest hits 'House' Tour and I'd be very happy
JOE: (House never elaborates cuz he uses the segment to defend the Wizards' honour)

6. Portland (30m 42s)
BILL: Portland has a real eclectic scene. There's a lot of microbreweries, weird restaurants. It's a cool city, I like it there. I like the different kind of options, you don't need to have a hugely expensive dinner to have an awesome time... there's a huge coffee scene.
JOE: I like how you used the word eclectic, cuz that's the perfect way to describe Portland and it's food scene. They have been at the forefront of a number of different movements. You mentioned coffee. They were sort of first on the elegant coffee vibe, not expensive but elegant. Taking the time to pay attention.
I also just wanna give Portland a pat on the back for really being at the forefront of the food truck scene, as far back as the early and mid-2000s. They were really first on farm-to-table. This way of describing local, regional ingredients and getting those ingredients in their meals.

Notable Mention: Seattle (36:29)
BILL: I love Seattle, such a fun place to go. Such a fun place to eat. They have that crazy market that's all-time, all-time great. They have an unbelievable seafood scene, great restaurants and it's shame on you NBA.
JOE: I just wanna go eat there again, it's such a good eating town. The sushi in Seattle I'm dying for it.
BILL: The tradeoff from a food standpoint, from Seattle to OKC was half as bad as the James Harden trade.

Champagning and Campaigning in the NBA Cities: Eastern Conference edition
5. Miami (37m 54s)
BILL: I've led a very blessed life. Jalen and I did the NBA show for 2 years, Miami was in it for 3 of the 4 shows we did. We went to Prime 112 a bunch of times and got to watch Jalen eat lobster over and over again. That restaurant alone and the restaurant across the street, that [Prime Italian] pasta place. Those two alone, then you got Joe's Crab Shack... they have a little bit of everything... we're talking about all these little pockets. Now we have the Cuban pocket... I'm a 100% all the way in on the Cuban scene for food.
JOE: You and me both... very clean seafood. Very fresh, bright seafood taste. You can have very authentic Cuban street food. I've had some of the very best Italian food in my whole life in Miami.

VIDEO: Eating Congolese Food with Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors

4. Toronto (40m 25s)
BILL: A city I've never been to... I'm deferring to David Chang on this. Number one option in the East. Most options, most ways to go...
JOE: For some reason Toronto keeps showing up in our food news... Chang included a restaurant called the Fishman [Lobster] Clubhouse as his last meal on earth so he could go conquer the salt & pepper kingcrab or the lobster mountain...
What commends Toronto based on the stories me and Juliet are reading is the incredible diversity of micro cuisines. A lot of the folks displaced by the civil war in Syria and relocated in Toronto and there's a Syrian food scene. I'm into that.
BILL: From a diversity standpoint, it seems to have the most to offer maybe of all the cities we're gonna list on this podcast
JOE: There's one city that rivals it. It definitely has that international vibe that covers so much different territory—Arabic, Indian, the Syrian thing, huge Asian thing. Great sushi there and we haven't touched anything that's sort of Native Canadian. Shout-out Toronto.

3. San Francisco (43m 10s)
BILL: I think the Chinese food scene in San Francisco is a little overrated... but one of the things I like about it is all the pockets you can go outside. You have Berkeley, you have Oakland. You can get adventurous...
JOE: Highly well executed meals whatever the cuisine is chosen... one of our guests on 'House of Carbs', Kenji López just opened a German-Austrian style bier hall featuring wursts 10 minutes from the airport. That would be my first stop. I'm arriving at the airport, getting in the Uber and going straight to Wursthall.

"2 versus 1 is the Bird vs Magic... Joe House' belly vs David Chang's belly"
— Bill Simmons
2. Houston (46m 30s)
BILL: Houston does not get enough credit for a) being a great food city b) for the unbelievable BBQ scene to the point Daryl Morey was telling me for years and years they had an advantage in free agency partly because of the size of house you can get and the food... it's a sprawling, massive city and there's food everywhere
JOE: David Chang's instagram today shows a giant pot of crawfish, it looked beautifully spiced. The Houston food scene features...Viet-Cajun... Chang says it has some of the best Vietnamese food he's had anywhere... it has a season, it starts in February and goes through June

1. New Orleans (50m 17s)
BILL: The problem with New Orleans food is that it's so rich, it's so good and so heavy, so decadent that you just get in the rhythm of eating it and after Day 3 you kind of become an addict. It's almost hard to go back to normal food... and on top of everything else you know how much I love gumbo... you throw in the fish and everything and we didn't talk about the bearnaise... New Orleans is number one. It's unassailable choice
JOE: I have not eaten in Houston. I have eaten in New Orleans several times... I know I'm banned from the Acme Oyster House after the state Sal left that place... the problem is the list of classics in New Orleans is 40 deep so each time you go you feel like you have to eat at 4 to 5 places...
BILL: There's no sauce on the side BS in New Orleans... your in New Orleans, you're playing the game
JOE: You're having Po' boys 5 different ways. You're having jambalaya, you're having the gumbo... you're having oysters rockefeller, you're having bananas foster
BILL: I'd say the dessert scene in New Orleans trumps everybody else
JOE: It's the first place I had basked alaska

Find Champagning and Campaigning posts here:
- NBA Cities: Eastern Conference
- NBA Cities: Western Conference
- Follow @30HomeGames on Instagram to track the food and culture finds I've found through hoops
- Jalen's Black Guy City Power Rankings