Archive | October, 2013

Late Night Munchies Brown Bag Style

7 Oct

What do you do when you’ve got a salty late night craving, but don’t want a sit-down experience? You sit outdoors and do a little people watching at Ben’s Brown Bag.

Ben’s Brown Bag is an excellent walk-up spot for easy food. The staff is humble, friendly, and very welcoming. Although fairly new to the Howell Mill block and neighbor to LaFonda’s, the “Little Food Joint that could” isn’t shy about strutting its stuff on cool fall nights. The place is very simple with outdoor seating. The colors of brown, orange, and yellow remind of us a time where we would all “brown bag” our lunches at school or just bringing something to the office. Prices are a little higher than your “fast food joint,” but they have local, quality ingredients going into every food item…and you can taste the difference.

Ben's Brown Bag with coke

I stand at the window and order the special of the day, “The Big Ben”. A small burger with white cheese, thick bacon, and a special house sauce is aligned with Ben’s theme. My friend (MR) ordered the popular Boom Chicka sandwich which is a marinated and lightly battered chicken breast with garlic mayo and four pickles. No skimping out on the chicken and it’s pressure fried. All items are served in a brown bag (of course!) with a smiley face in line with the feel and theme. One order of chips to share and an ice cold bottled glass Coca-Cola  completes it all. Other drink options include other fountain drinks, sweet tea, lemonade, and Kool-Aid of the day.

Chicka Boom chicken sandwich

The brioche bun is buttery and soft. It’s more like a pillow than a foundation to house the combination of meat and cheese. The burger was cooked to perfection, medium well to be exact. Melted white cheese and thick cuts of fried bacon cooked on a flat top soaks the bun delicately without drowning it to the depths of sogginess. The special sauce is spicy, smoky and yet it’s not a chipotle type sauce. The sauce definitely kept it interesting and quite simply, “special”.

Big Ben Special Beef patty and bacon

Beef patty and bacon

Chips were the perfect complement. Who eats sandwiches/burgers without a side? I call blasphemy on those who think that is acceptable for such an abomination to happen. Chips were sliced a bit thicker than your standard chip. They were crispy, light and with just enough density at the same time. Not quite kettle chips, but crispy enough to hear a loud crunch between your ears. The potatoes were fresh and not oily at all. I guess deep-frying in soybean oil is something I can agree with. Also, the chips were lightly seasoned perfectly for sea salt & vinegar flavor (MR’s chose). Not exactly complimentary to the sandwich and Coke, but satisfying nonetheless. Other chip flavors include cajun, sour cream and onion, sour cream and cheddar.

Lastly, the crowd was ratchet due to the many events in the city of Atlanta including the BET Awards (and after party at Compound), Falcons game, Braves game, “Money” Mayweather in town, unknown rappers trying to market themselves, the ladies headed to the club, and the police to “keep the peace.” Ben, the owner, was a pleasure to talk to. He gave us the background on why and how he started the business and is a very down to earth person with a passion for selling good food in the Atlanta area at competitive prices.

Chatting with Ben the owner

Although the guys in front of us ordered the last shakes of the night, I’m sure we’ll be back again. I hope his business thrives and that Ben continues to share his love of the “brown bag”. And don’t worry, the place closes at 2 a.m.

Ben’s Brown Bag

1021 Howell Mill Rd, Atlanta, GA 30318

This is a guest post by my buddy who goes by the name “Cookies.”