First Bites

Oh the (House of) Horror, Carnival Food at Its Finest?

Well-rounded eaters will embrace a crusty corn dog just as happily as a slice of seared foie gras, and I absolutely fit within these parameters. In fact, what kind of food writer wouldn't appreciate the glory of greasy fries covered in chili and cheese just as much as a three-star worthy lamb en croûte?

So, when I received an email from my editor who thought it would be "fun" for me to trek out to the House of Horror at Miami International Mall in Doral and write a review of the carnie food, I figured, Okay, that's totally an excuse for a calorie fest, I'm in.

First off, it rained. Heavily. My funnel cake did not survive the sudden onslaught (nor did my white t-shirt, hello embarrassing). Secondly, the carnies weren't very nice, and they were too busy talking on their cell phones to take orders. Lastly, it turns out that carnival food is f-%$#-g expensive. I kept taking money of out my wallet, putting it back in my purse, only to find out that I needed more cash.

"Tax" ranged from $1 to $2 no matter what you buy, and you are at their mercy. When I asked about the extra charge, a man behind the counter gave me a dirty look as if I was trying to cheat him! You'd think the white t-shirt thing would have gained me some leverage, but no discounts, just leering. I did get a lot of attention inside the actual haunted house where black lights illuminated EVERYTHING, although I don't think the actors were supposed to break character. Oh, the horror.

On the other hand, those chili cheese fries were damn good, better than many diners and dog-joints (no beans means less moisture in the chili, so crucial). Overall, it was less Coney Island and more of a low-end street fare, Nathan's where art thou?

Definitely a highlight, we loved the chili cheese fries oozing with plenty of hot toppings, but at a cost of $6, kinda pricey.

The classic corn dog ($4) was cooked at too high of an oil temperature, leaving the dog inside tasting like undercooked ham and the outside too crunchy and dense. A crushing defeat for a corn dog enthusiast.

Without a doubt this Argentine grill was the best value, offering a range of meat platters for two people cooked over hot charcoal ($12.99 - $14.99).

Although the poultry tasted like pork, and the pork tasted a lot like chicken (strange, I know) this mixed sampling of sausage, ribs, gigantic chicken legs and steak was by far the best deal with the tastiest side effects. Brushed with a slightly spicy sauce and grilled within an inch of its' life, the meat was flavorful if a little burnt around the edges. This stand is right across from "The Orient Express," FYI.

It's hard to screw up a candy apple, and although the apple inside was a bit bruised and battered, let's face it, you aren't eating it for the antioxidant properties. We licked and licked, and tossed the fruit when finished with the candy coating.

Final words of wisdom: You'll love the place. Particularly if you tipple a little before attending.

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Lesley Elliott
Contact: Lesley Elliott