October 31, 2017

FOOD WEEK | Ithaca’s Secret Menus

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While Cornell is known for its superb dining hall food, Ithaca has many of its own culinary gems, one of which is Louie’s Lunch Truck. A favorite among Cornellians, Louie’s is that place you go to when you’ve got those late night or post-partying greasy food cravings.

But did you know that Louie’s has a secret menu? Technically, you’re not even supposed to talk about Louie’s Secret Menu, but the fries you see below were simply too good to keep to myself. And while I won’t be telling you how to find the secret menu (which is how I’m making up for even telling y’all about it in the first place), I’ll give you two clues: you can either (1) use your imagination and intuitively guess where or how it’s hidden or (2) try Google. And now, without further ado, I shall delve into the world of underground dining.

So far, I’ve ordered two items from Louie’s Secret Menu–the Maven Chicken Cheese Fries and the Dueling BBQ Chicken Sub. If “Maven” sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the name of a sub with similar ingredients that is on the truck’s regular menu. In fact, the Maven sub itself used to be on the secret menu and was eventually moved to the regular menu as a result of its popularity!

Louie's 2

While Cajun Fries are probably the fries you’d usually associate with Louie’s, I really believe that the Maven Chicken Cheese Fries are far superior. This secret menu item contains fries and fried chicken smothered in melted mozzarella, as well as barbecue and buffalo sauce. These copious toppings also mean that this item is quite filling but mind-numbingly delicious! While barbecue and buffalo are two strongly flavored sauces, both have a certain tanginess that make their combination appealing. Furthermore, because barbecue is sweet while buffalo is just a little spicy, your taste buds will be treated to an ever-changing flavor profile within each bite that you take. You do, however, get some consistency in the item’s texture; there is a slightly crunchy chewiness that persists, as both the fries and the chicken are fried on the outside and softer on the inside. I give the Maven Chicken Cheese Fries a five out of five stars! Seriously, people, order these the next time you go to Louie’s, or, better yet–go to Louie’s just to order these!

The other half of the secret menu is composed of subs, which is really what most people go to Louie’s for. When I was looking over the secret menu, I was deciding between two subs: the Dueling BBQ Chicken or Brisa’s “O” (for orgasm). I settled on the O, but when I ordered it, I was told that the truck was too busy with a lot of orders to make it as it would require every piece of equipment in the kitchen. This, of course, was totally understandable, since the O sub contains steak, turkey, chicken, egg, cheese and thousand island sauce! So if you do plan on ordering this in the future, it’s probably best to do so when the truck isn’t particularly busy. Luckily, though, I had my backup, the Dueling BBQ Chicken sub, which contains chicken, melted mozzarella and barbeque and honey mustard sauce.

Louie's 3

I’m not sure if it’s because I was eating this sub and the Maven fries concurrently, but the sub wasn’t as savory as I had hoped it would be. The sauce ratio could be improved with a little more honey mustard, and some mushrooms, lettuce, or onions might give the sub a more sandwich-like texture. If you do decide to order these two items together, though, take my advice and put some of the Maven fries into the sub. YUM!!!

Louie's 4

A Collegetown establishment with a substantially more famous secret menu is the omnipresent Starbucks! While I don’t actually drink coffee since I usually have a negative reaction towards caffeinated products, a lot of the items on Starbucks’ Secret Menu are frappuccinos, which have quite a bit of sugar and can be ordered decaf.


As I browsed some articles about Starbucks, I found something that seemed perfectly suited to my tastes–the Ferrero Rocher Frappuccino! It’s basically a Double Chocolate Frappuccino with mocha syrup, hazelnut syrup, and hazelnut drizzle–and, of course, I ordered it decaf. The frap was pretty rich and not overly sweet (which Starbucks is known for), but it didn’t exactly taste like a Ferrero Rocher. While chewing on the blended ice reminded me of the crunchy nuts and layers you’ll find within a Ferrero Rocher, a hotter drink like a cappuccino or latte might be better, since its warmth and creaminess would better simulate a Ferrero Rocher melting in your mouth. To be honest, I’d rather have a Ferrero Rocher than its frappuccino counterpart, but that’s probably because I’d rather eat than drink my calories. 🙂

I know that two other corporations with locations in Collegetown have secret menus, but when I went to Dunkin’ Donuts to try to order a Creamsicle (as in vanilla and orange!) Coolatta from their secret menu, which only consists of drinks, I was told that the specific location only had three flavors of Coolatta. I took this to mean that they probably couldn’t make most of the stuff on the secret menu, which has a ton of complex flavoring. I should, however, mention that Starbucks does have an Orange Creamsicle Frappuccino on its secret menu, so maybe I’ll check that out someday! I also know that Subway has a secret menu, but (1) the Collegetown location has terrible reviews, (2) I have literally never seen a customer in there, and (3) it already makes subs to order for customers anyway, so Cornellians probably aren’t missing out on much there.

I’m really hoping that CTB actually has or will eventually come up with a secret menu, but, until then, I hope you take advantage of the secret menus at Louie’s and Starbucks and feast to your belly’s content before winter comes and finals hibernation begins!