The Weinberger family has been serving up Italian beef sandwiches in Chicago and Texas for 65 years.
So Dan Weinberger wasn’t sure at first whether to try his hand at banh mi.
“It was too complicated,” said the owner of Weinberger’s Deli, founded in 1952 in Chicago and for 15 years an anchor on Main Street in Grapevine.
“Then I realized it was actually a style of sandwich. I just put it all together.”
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At a time when customers’ tastes range less toward cheesy subs and more toward veggies, Weinberger’s has added a banh mi sandwich with roast pork, pickled radish and carrots, coriander, cucumber, serrano peppers and cilantro.
Technically, it’s not on a lighter banh mi baguette. But the combination of fresh and spicy flavors makes it a suitable alternative, sort of a Chicago-style version of a Vietnamese sandwich served in Texas.
He also serves versions with sweet chili sauce or Sriracha.
Weinberger’s has been teaching Texans to try new tastes since 2002. Other Chicago-style restaurants have come and gone, but Weinberger thrives on south-side-Chicago Italian beef with jardinère peppers and other classic deli sandwiches such as Reubens, Wisconsin brats, New York beef on weck, Detroit-style gyros and a Connecticut cheesesteak called the “steak bomb.”
Don’t get the idea this is solely for Northerners. (In Grapevine, that means somebody from Frisco.)
Weinberger’s also serves a muffuletta, a New Orleans pot-roast “debris” sandwich and six different Cuban sandwiches, from the “Mark Cuban” with provolone and Plank’s mustard to the elaborate “medianoche [midnight]” sandwich with ham, pork, salami, honey-Sriracha mustard and jalapeño chowchow.
“That’s the ‘Bobby Flay’ sandwich,” Weinberger said, referring to the TV chef.
“If Bobby Flay walked in, that’s what I’d serve him.”
Weinberger has come a long way from the early days, when one newspaper review spotlighted his fried bologna-and-onion sandwiches.
Weinberger’s now serves about 85 sandwiches, he said. That’s down from more than 100.
Weinberger’s is also trying something else new: It’s open later at dinner — until 9 p.m. nightly except for Sundays, when it’s open until 6 p.m.
“We’ve always had people coming to our door right at closing time [formerly 7 o’clock],” Weinberger said.
They were just getting home in traffic, or just getting out for dinner.
“With so much going on at night in Grapevine, we want to be part of it,” he said.
He’s also testing “late night” menu items and a “hidden menu” that included a pizza made on pita bread.
“I’ve got the same red sauce here that Lou Malnati’s [restaurant] uses in Chicago,” he said.
“It was just for fun. But I may try it again.”
Weinberger’s is open for lunch and dinner weekdays and Saturdays and lunch or early dinner Sundays; 601 S. Main St., Grapevine, 817-416-5577, weinbergersdeli.com.
There’s a new Clown (owner) in town
Nearly everybody in the North Beach Street or Haltom Road area knows about Clown Burger, the 1959-vintage burger grill in Haltom City.
But not everybody knows Kari Louthan-Negrete, who inherited the legacy and the burger spatula from 53-year grill cook Bill Louthan, her father.
A year after she officially took over the Clown, she said it’s “like coming home.”
The Clown, known for old-timey thin patties (great stacked double- or triple-high with cheese), opened nearby on East Belknap Street before the days of local McDonald’s or Whataburger restaurants.
Bill Louthan always called it a “working man’s hamburger stand.”
Some customers come every day, she said.
“The Clown is all I’ve known my whole life,” she said.
“I’m grateful to be back. … I knew when I bought the Clown it was more than buying a little hamburger stand.”
Louthan-Negrete hasn’t changed much there, but she did add loaded fries with chili, cheese, jalapeños and sour cream.
There’s also a new kids meal. But the small burgers are already kid-sized.
Warning: Regulars order the “six-by-six” burger — six thin patties with six cheese slices. Do not attempt this or you may find yourself going every day.
Louthan-Negrete plans a big party in 2018 when Clown Burger starts its 60th year and the countdown toward its 60th anniversary.
Clown Burger is open Tuesdays through Saturdays for lunch only; 5020 Stanley Keller Road, Haltom City, 817-298-1477, facebook.com/ClownBurger.