It’s about 11 in the morning, and you are about to climb into your car and drive to Madison or Chicago or Green Bay. Suddenly, the first pangs of lunch hunger begin to rear their head, and you figure you’ll just get something to eat in the car on the way.
A spill on your shirt or tie. Your skirt gets an embarssing stain. Your car may become littered with some kind of formerly edible product. Or worse, a spill in the car can quickly escalate into a far more violent spill on the road.
Driving and eating is a perilous combination but one that can be accomplished with success with a little inside knowledge. And here it is.
I’ve done this countless times with varying degrees of success and mess. Along the way, I’ve learned a couple of things.
The biggest thing is you have to think "CHEESE." Not because we’re the dairy state but because cheese holds stuff together as long as it’s melted. Put it on almost any sandwich, and you increase your chances of clean eating by almost 37 percent. It’s a fact. You can look it up.
So, with this background, here are the top 10 things you can safely eat while driving. I went for taste, too. Health ... not always.
1. Hummus from Aladdin in the Milwaukee Public Market – It’s the best in the entire city and a dish that stays put when you dip one of their baked pita chips into it. You can’t glop it on, but a little bit is great. You can try to put small slices of cucumber on top, but that requires some right hand dexterity that only a few have.
2. Grilled cheese from George Webb – Gourmet? Not so much. But a solid sandwich, cut in half, with a kind of bread that leaves very few crumbs. I think it’s the globs of butter the cook puts on the outside of the bread. Adding bacon or ham is also an option, but be careful of ham; it can be a little oily and ooze out of the side.
3. Well done French fries from Solly’s – If you get them like that, you get that great crispy outside and that soft, smooth center. Of course, ketchup always goes along with fries, but beware: Ketchup runs. It’s just too thin and hard to control. Instead, ask for a cup of mayonnaise and dip your fries in that. The mayo stays where you put it, and it’s a new taste experience.
4. A burrito from the Taqueria Buenavista, which can be found on Chase Avenue in Bay View – Don’t go crazy here and load it up with all kinds of stuff. Stay away from sour cream, for example. But if you go al pastor with a little bit of refried beans and some queso, you’ve got an easy to eat meal. Make sure you ask the cook to double the tortilla so that you’ve got something solid to go after.
5. Spring rolls and crab rangoon from Jing’s in the Third Ward – The spring rolls are delicious, fresh and perhaps even slightly healthy. As for the crab, a little bit of creativity is needed. While driving, use your right hand to break off the crisp wonton edges of the dish until you are down to the crab center and just a little bit of fried wonton. Otherwise, you may drop crumbs. You may well be able to put the whole thing in your mouth.
6. The classic lox sandwich from Benji’s – This one is simple, but a couple of things should be considered. Don’t get any of those sesame or poppy seed bagels, or you’ll get crap on the lap. A plain bagel is best. Ask them to go easy on the cream cheese so it doesn’t squirt out. And make it plain cream cheese, none of that garden or raspberry favored by so many millennials. And finally, cut it in half so it’s like a sandwich.
7. Barbecue ribs from either Ashley’s or Speed Queen – On the surface, this looks like it’s impossible, but with some experience you can handle it. First of all, ask the cook to leave the sauce off the ribs. Put it about two inches of it in a large soda cup. Then ask for the rack to be cut into individual ribs. No white bread, either. Then you can eat these and if you want, dip a rib into just a little bit of sauce. Be careful if you dip.
8. A sandwich from the Pita Pit on Farwell – Here’s the problem with every pita sandwich served in every restaurant in the world: Since the ingredients are so inexpensive, restaurants figure they can charge more if they overload the sandwich. If you want to go the pita way, ask to fill it with whatever you want but only 75 percent of the way to the top. No oil or dressing; eat it naked. You can close the top of the pocket and feel safe as you munch. This is especially good for vegetarians, vegans and other crazy people.
9. Pizza from Ian’s – Pizza is a tough choice because no matter what you do, that tomato sauce is a problem. Ian’s has a great quattro formaggio (four cheese pizza), however, that doesn’t have the sauce. It’s wonderful, and if you ask them to bake it a little longer, it comes out without anything that will spill. You can’t add any meat because that’s where the grease comes from. But you can learn to fold a pizza slice in half lengthwise and eat it like that. Practice this at home first.
10. Go to Honeypie for a sweet treat to take along with you. The shop has two things on the menu that are good for drivers. One is its cannoli, which is sweet and creamy, and if you take small bites, you will be safe. The other is the caramel brownie. Caramel. Brownie. Nothing more needs to be said.
There you have it. The top 10, plus the overall hint that everyone should remember while dining: drive safely.
With a history in Milwaukee stretching back decades, Dave tries to bring a unique perspective to his writing, whether it's sports, politics, theater or any other issue.
He's seen Milwaukee grow, suffer pangs of growth, strive for success and has been involved in many efforts to both shape and re-shape the city. He's a happy man, now that he's quit playing golf, and enjoys music, his children and grandchildren and the myriad of sports in this state. He loves great food and hates bullies and people who think they are smarter than everyone else.
This whole Internet thing continues to baffle him, but he's willing to play the game as long as OnMilwaukee.com keeps lending him a helping hand. He is constantly amazed that just a few dedicated people can provide so much news and information to a hungry public.
Despite some opinions to the contrary, Dave likes most stuff. But he is a skeptic who constantly wonders about the world around him. So many questions, so few answers.