Mad Girl Eats Gus’s Fried Chicken in Chicago

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Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, 847 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL. Located in the West Loop with multiple locations in different cities.

Short and sweet. I had chicken and only chicken….and really, thats all that matters. First bite was an OMG moment. A perfect crisp and gentle bite, sunken deep into super moist and flavorful chicken. A medium spicey heat where the chicken doesn’t get lost. You’re not wiping your brow, nor crying due to your mouth being on FIYAH! More please!

Superbly done. This chicken is worth the trip.

Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:oopm to 10:00pm, Fri-Sat 11:00am to 12:00am.

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken

5 out of 5 perfect poultry points!

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Mad Girl Eats Danny’s Donuts in Vista CA!

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Danny’s Donuts, Donuts and Bagels, 102 Eucalyptus Ave, Vista, CA.

Donuts. Doughnuts. Whichever way you spell it, doughnuts are the end all be all of sweet goodness. A cup of coffee and a doughnut is the most delectable way to start my morning, afternoon, or evening. lol. Seriously! Finding really genuinely calorie-worthy doughnuts is a bit harder. A list comprised by The Daily Meal of “America’s 25 Best Donuts”, is one that brought me to Danny’s! Danny’s was ranked #6. I don’t trust many lists, because I travel and eat all over, but The Daily Meal never steers me wrong, unlike most.

A delightful variety, nice guy at the window, this tiny bakery shop on the corner deserves its place on the Best Of list. The Blueberry cake doughnut is what they are known for, and also the flavor I’m known for, so let’s have at it! I’m on a maple kick, so throw a long john in there too. OOOOMMMMGGGGeeeee, I’m glad I live on the other side of the country because I would not be able to resist these magical pieces of heaven.

I gently crisp outer and oodles of tender, pillow-y insides makes for a perfect textured doughnut. Add the blueberry flavor and glaze and yes, a divine doughnut. The maple long john was just as scrumptious. The amount of sweetness of the maple frosting and generous portion topping on the doughnut, gave me endless happiness.

Oh boy, I want a doughnut right now! Best doughnuts I have found in Southern California, and I’ve tried MANY. They place has been around since 1922, so they must be doing something right!

Hours: Mon – Fri 4:00am – 12:00pm, Sat – Sun 4:00am – 1:00pm.

5 out of 5 swoon-worthy sweet treats. Enjoy!

Mad Girl Eats Willie Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans

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Willie Mae’s is renowned for their fried chicken and soul food, and has stood the test of time since 1957. This restaurant is so beloved, the community gathered together to rebuild it after Hurricane Katrina ravaged it. It was the first site to be re-built in all of New Orleans. Now that speaks volumes about the food and the family that own it. Divine! All along the dining room walls, you see awards and dignified recognitions. It is pretty impressive!

Of course the only thing to try on your first visit (or any visit, say many), is the fried chicken. So load me up with chicken, some homemade mac and cheese, and a sweet tea…. and we’re ready to throw down! Soon after ordering this blissful looking plate arrives. Generous portions and the fried chicken, say what?! It’s not what any Colonel or Sailorman’s chicken looks like. This is magical. Layers of light tender crust, amid the juiciest chicken I’ve ever encountered! I mean, one of my bites squirted chicken juice up into my eye…and no worries, just comical. That was some amazing chicken. A great fry, moist, gentle flavoring, OMGoodness. The mac and cheese was cream, gooey good, but no one told me about the spice! This stuff had a definite kick. I’m not complaining, I ate every bangin’ morsel. It came with a side of peas, which made the plate pretty, but I’m not a fan, unless they come in a pod. The meal was something you MUST experience.

Willie Mae’s rocked my world!

Hours: Monday to Saturday 10:00am to 5:00pm. Closed Sundays.

Street parking, right off the bus stop 250 feet, easy in and out.

Willie Mae’s, a New Orleans institution. Get there.

5 out of 5 absolutely perfect points.

Mad Girl Eats Oblivion in Orlando

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Oblivion Taproom, 5101 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, FL.

After reading about this place from a myriad of sources I totally respect, I took the leap of faith and went to a “taproom”. I thought I may feel out-of-place, but bravely I sauntered in and was warmly welcomed into a funky, cool, punk rock, edgy atmosphere. I am cool, but none of the rest..ok, maybe a hint of artistic funk. It was nothing and everything I expected.

First off, the staff is completely amazing. Everyone from the Hostess, to the Servers, and the Manager that checked on my table were on-point. The décor was awesome, (the tables were far apart which I appreciate) you just felt special being there. There is a nice sized dining area, a bar, and an area with pool tables and darts in the back. They are known for their burgers, notably, The Hog Wild which seems to rate on many “Best Of” lists. They have a huge Beer list and also Cider list. Cray-zee!

I ordered the Hog Wild Burger, rare, with Tater Tots seasoned with Salt and Vinegar. Also, naked Chicken Wings with Teriyaki on the side and homemade Blue Cheese dressing. A beer is a must in this place, so I got a Haider Weiss…light and incredible. I highly recommend it. The superior thing about Oblivion is there are many flavor choices available to you. Peruse the menu, it tantalizes the taste buds.

Ok, the burger and wings arrive. Let us start with the wings. I like my wings naked, sauce on side if applicable, I don’t like breading. They were naked and golden, just like they had been to the beach all week. The teriyaki sauce was homemade and decadent; rich, with a slight kick. Like the majority of everything they serve, the blue cheese dressing was made from scratch as well. You could taste the pureness, so fab I dipped my salt and vinegar tater tots (done perfectly) in it and made magic! Best wings I’ve had in quite some time.

Burger up! This is not just a burger, this is a freakin’ insanity burger! It should be called Holy Hog Wild because “holy” was the first word that slipped out of my mouth with my first bite. Listen to this….house smoked pulled pork, sharp cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, fried onion straws, house bbq sauce and house smoked bacon. Oh yeah, and it is all on a half pound chuck-brisket-short rib burger and in between a delectable brioche bun. You know it is a sublime burger when you don’t want or need any condiments on it. Have mercy! This smokey sensuously meaty burger will make you cry. It will make you wanna slap somebody, and then when you have gone home, it will make you yearn to return. A carnivore’s dream.

Bliss. BLISS I SAY!

Vegetarian options are offered as well. Nice, right? Check it out. Oblivion Taproom offers its customers the best in food, drinks, rad atmosphere and staff. Damn, I am now obsessed.

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 4pm to 2am. Sunday 4pm to 12am. It’s a taproom, not a tearoom. Closed Mondays. Located just East of Downtown Orlando.

http://obliviontaproom.com

5 out of 5 perfect palate points. If you’re in Orlando and don’t eat here, you’re an idiot.

Mad Girl Eats Bern’s Steak House in Tampa

wpid-photogrid_1427921862101_wm.jpgBern’s Steak House, 1208 S. Howard Ave, Tampa, FL.

From the outside, the building that Bern’s is housed in doesn’t look like much more than a stucco-ed warehouse. No windows, no grass, just a big black top driveway with a Valet stand and double doors. Once inside, wow. A two-story lobby welcomes you, drenched in red, velvet, gold, a huge mirror and mega lighting…talk about moody! A line to check-in at the host desk awaits and you better be there by the time your reservation states, or watch out, they don’t play. Reservations* are a must, and all of your party must be present before you are seated. So, basically, get it together!

Seated in one of the lovely well-appointed dining rooms, you can tell this is an upper echelon Steak House. The menu offers whatever your carnivore heart desires, especially their various steaks, thickness, weights, and tips. The most flavorful of steaks for 2 when ordering rare, is the Strip Steak. Their steaks are aged for optimum beefy flavor. Opting for one large steak of 22 oz, which is 2″ thick, cooked to rare with a slightly warm center, then cut in 2 pieces tableside. A brilliant way to give you a perfectly cooked, juicy steak. The steak entrees come with French Onion soup and toasts, House Salad, Baked Potato, 2 vegetables, and fried onions. Foie Gras was ordered to top the steak.

The food came methodically and perfectly timed. The soup was luscious. The house salad was beautiful as it looked like a mini version of a Chopped Salad. Fab! The baked potato was large, and was ordered with all the toppings and a great accompaniment for a hearty steak. The vegetables were fresh and cooked just to done, and fried onions were delish. Excellent sides. The steak. Oh the steak. It was perfection. Beautifully cooked, bounding with flavor, freaking amazing. Moan-worthy. The addition of foie gras on top was out-of-bounds! Rich, smooth, damn scrumptious. It definitely wasn’t needed, but it was wanted 😉

Bern’s is legendary and continually ranks in the top 10 of Best Steak Houses in the Country.They also have one of the largest wine collections anywhere, so I got a fantastic glass of Rose’ to round out my experience. This was worth every penny and I look forward to returning to this absolutely spectacular restaurant. Not to be missed, their Dessert Room upstairs.

http://bernssteakhouse.com

Hours: Sun to Thurs 5:00pm – 10:00pm, Fri and Sat 5:00pm – 11:00pm.

*Reservation requests are accepted on-line with a 72 hour advance notice. For special inquiries, call 813-251-2421.

5 out of 5 perfect points. Undeniable excellence.

Mad Girl Eats Au Cheval in Chicago

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Au Cheval, 800 W Randolph St, Chicago IL.

After reading and hearing amazing things about Au Cheval Bar and Diner, it was my second shot at eating there, and I took it. In the freezing, dead of Winter, I was put on the waitlist for one and a half hours….with specific instructions. Don’t let the wait stop you. I would rather wait hours for fabulous, than 20 minutes for mediocre.

The most noted, their Cheeseburger with thick cut peppered bacon and one fried egg, was my number one choice. Second up, the
Crispy potato hash with duck heart gravy, topped with egg….I couldn’t resist.

A rusticly chic, warmly sophisticated atmosphere enveloped me, soothing me from the Windy City winter. Quickly the food arrived, and it was abundantly beautiful.

I first tasted the potato hash. The duck heart gravy was rich, meaty, and herbaceous. With mornay sauce and the broken egg yolk oozing throughout the perfectly done hashbrowns, I wanted to cry with delight. Ok Avery, step away from the dish of yumminess and dive into the burger.

Upon first bite, OMGreatGoodness. I mean…just let me moan. This burger exceeded my expectations. Superb beef, cheese….yada yada yada…the freakin bacon, and another ooey gooey egg brought a tear to my eye. I was leery because they only cook their burgers medium or well done, and I’m a rare girl. The medium did not disappoint and kept it’s outrageous flavor. One of the best burgers to date. Chicago does burgers right. Carnivore Heaven!

Au Cheval, I love you. I’m intrigued to eat my way through your entire menu.

Located in the burgeoning foodie area of Chicago’s West Loop.
Hours: 11am to midnight.
http://auchevalchicago.com

Mad Girl Eats the BEST German Chocolate Cake. Ever.

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C. Adams Bakery, 400 N. Water St, Milwaukee, WI.

Tucked into Milwaukee’s Third Ward Public Market, is C. Adams Bakery. A blissful haven for those of us addicted to sweets. C. Adam’s has an incredible size case, full of homemade delectable baked goods. Cookies, bars, pies, muffins, gooey sweet bread, cakes…I think you get it.

I was so mesmerized, I couldn’t decide which dessert to treat myself to! The smartest decision was to choose the one I rarely see available back home. In my case, it was German Chocolate Cake. In Florida, we can readily find Tres Leches, but hard pressed for German Chocolate anywhere.

Standing four gorgeous dark chocolate layers high, and separated by layers of thick luscious pecan and coconut frosting, this cake was a sight to behold. I had just finished a wonderful late lunch, so I took a slice to go. I made it 3 blocks back to my car, but I couldn’t wait another second to try just a bite. OH EM GEE. One bite, two bites, three bites, four bites…ok, needless to say, the piece of heavenly cake did not make it home.

So rich, so decadent, so freaking unbelievable. Ultra moist and dense cake with fantastic deep chocolate flavor. The frosting was divine, as you could taste all of its finest components of brown sugar, vanilla, pecans, and coconut.

I haven’t gone bonkers over cake in a long time. C. Adams Bakery’s German Chocolate Cake, is one of the best cakes I have ever had.

Stop and get a slice…or a whole cake as soon as you can, it will make you swoon….and super happy. You can thank me later.

http://cadamsbakery.com

5 out of 5   An extreme German Chocolate dream!

 

Hawkers Asian Street Fare, Orlando

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Hawkers Asian Street Fare,  1103 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL.  Also a new  location in Jacksonville, FL.

If you welcome big flavor and are looking for a quality experience of Asian cuisine, get to Hawkers Asian Street Fare restaurant. They offer some of the best Asian food I’ve had in a very long time. A big menu that offers something for everyone, depending on how adventurous you want to be, and how much spicy heat you can take.

My table ordered Pad Thai Noodles, Curry Duck Noodles, Hawkers Wings, Curry Laksa Soup, Chicken Egg Rolls, Roti Canai, and BBQ Pork Banh Mi. A nice array to sample. They arrive at your table the second they are finished being prepared. It was exciting to keep getting new dishes arriving, fresh and hot!

The Roti Canai arrived first. Roti is one of my favorite things, a Malaysian flat bread served with a side of very spice curry sauce for dipping. A fantastic start! The Hawkers Wings were ordered grilled, excellent choice and also came with dipping sauce as did the awesome Chicken Egg Rolls. Great choices again! The Pad Thai Noodles arrived, huge flavor but also huge on the heat! Noodles and Hawkers sauce stir fried with shrimp, chicken, vegetables and red chili peppers, topped off with peanuts and fresh lime. Hawkers authentic sauce is simmered for 6 hours, so it’s ready to kick your ass. Super spicy, so beware. The hits just keep on coming…. The BBQ Pork sandwich was hearty and heavenly with Char Sui bbq sauce. The Curry Duck Noodles were nice and easy. Egg noodles, veggies, and roast duck all stir fried together with Hawkers own curry recipe. This is for the non-spicy diner. The BEST IN SHOW however, was the Curry Laksa Soup. What a bodacious burst of flavor! Wow. This very large bowl of perfection, was a bit heated but I could handle it. You have egg noodles in coconut curry stew, topped with hard-boiled egg, shrimp, chicken, yow choy, and fried bean curd. This dish is a memorable one and absolutely made my “Best Of” list.

This place should be called Flavor Town. The food is outtabounds, the service is top-notch, the atmosphere is modern cool, and the experience is worth every step to get there. Located in the greater downtown Orlando area.

Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:00am – 10:00pm, Fri-Sat 11:00am – 11:00pm, Sun 12:00pm – 10:00pm.

5 out of 5 bountiful bites!

 

 

Mad Girl Eats Charley’s Steakhouse in Orlando

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Charley’s Steakhouse, 8255 International Drive Orlando, FL. Two more locations available in Orlando and one in Tampa.

Family owned since 1973, Charley’s Steakhouse has continually been named one of the Best Independent Steakhouses in the country. It only seemed fit that Charley’s was the first choice when an immense hankering for a great aged steak filled every crevice of my being. Wine lovers will fall in love with Charley’s award-winning wine list.

The restaurant location I chose was on I-drive, in the heart of the tourist and conventioneer corridor of Orlando.  It had a warm and inviting atmosphere that one you would hope for when dining at an upscale steakhouse. The staff was pleasant, knowledgable and professional. Their menu offered a decent array of appetizers and entrees. Escargot Bourgogne was the appetizer choice of the evening. Made to order steaks, with extras to choose, like having your steak stuffed with bleu cheese is a nice touch as well. I wanted my entrée to be fairly simple and straightforward so I opted for their Petite Tenderloin (rare), Scallops wrapped in bacon, Roasted Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes. Also, the Kansas City Strip (Pittsburgh style, charred with red center) and a side order of Black Pepper Parmesan Kettle Fries. All entrees come with salad and three cheese bread.

First up, the Escargot. Oh my, the snails swimming in garlic-y herb melted butter, wonderful thick toasted bread to dunk and soak up all that heaven. I’m still dreaming about this dish. Superb with a capital S. The house salad (which you can upgrade to other selections) was fantastic! I don’t usually get excited about a salad, but they do it up nicely. The added bene of their warm and squishy cheese bread was fab. The only problem was to stop eating all of it to save room for steak!

Finally, the masterpieces arrive. Things of beauty to my carnivore eyes! The 8 oz tenderloin, cooked to a lovely rare temp, was amazing. Excuse me while I close my eyes and relive that moment…….okay, I’m back. The scallops were divine, sweet and gentle with a hint of smokiness from the bacon. I love my potatoes and their red mash is right up there with the best. The bone-in 22 ounce Kansas City Strip took up the entire platter, done to perfection. The Pittsburgh style char was an awesome change and I liked the first 4 bites. Beyond that, the all over char was a tad too much for me, but the steak had so much incredible flavor, yeowza….it was phenomenal. Oh boy, let’s not forget the Parmesan fries, a huge order to be shared, served with horseradish cream. It was what every potato lover dreams of. Honestly.

Every bite of this meal from appetizer to the last bite of steak, was one of the best I’ve had in a long time. See their website for an array of awards.

Hours: Sun-Thurs 5:00pm to 10:30pm, Fri and Sat 5:00pm to 11:00pm.

Reservations are greatly recommended, call 407-363-0228  or see their website  http://charleyssteakhouse.com

5 out of 5. They deserve a Gold Medal at the Steak Olympics.

Mad Girl Eats David Burke in Chicago

Fatty Melt Sliders

David Burke’s Primehouse, 616 North Rush St., Chicago, IL 

David Burke’s Primehouse in downtown Chicago is nothing short of… amazeballs. I made it a point to stop in for lunch during my summer tour. On my mind for 2 days was the description of their Fatty Melt Sliders; Dry aged beef patty, smoked onion, hot coppa, cheddar cheese, Hawaiian buns cooked in beef butter with a side of truffle asiago fries. Ahh, take me to your leader and order me up a plate!

40 Day Dry Aged Prime Steak Burker

My counterpart ordered the 40 Day Dry Aged Prime Steak Burker topped with garlic spinach, crispy shallots, bacon mayonnaise,  on a toasted potato bun…and added smoked mozzarella.  Yes, we are going to share.

The restaurant ambiance was chic, but comfortable. The staff, truly wonderful. My first pleasant surprise was a lovely gentleman bringing fresh popovers while we waited for our meal. I haven’t see a popover in a couple of decades! Side note: I am now in the market for a popover pan 😉 They were served in a darling 1 cup metal measuring cup. Really nice touch.

Our food arrived in good time, cooked to order, and a picture of beauty. Like Olympic synchronized swimmers, we raised our chosen burgers and took a bite. You would have thought we were having an orgasm. The cacophony of moans were honest and organic….so was the tear in my eye. Luscious. The rich, pure beef flavor of being dry aged, there is nothing like it. No ketchup, no mustard needed. The price for these plates of deliciousness? 12.00 bucks each. Yep, no lie.

BEST BURGERS I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to go back for dinner and try their dry aged steaks and maybe get a tour of their pink Himalayan salt-lined aging room. As seen on Food Paradise/Steak Paradise….true paradise.

If you are in Chicago, love beef, and do not get yourself to David Burke’s Primehouse….you are an idiot. Don’t be stupid, go. You can fall at my feet later.

5 0ut of 5 swoon points for all-around excellence.

Avery

http://DavidBurkesPrimehouse.com

Located at the St. James Hotel

616 North Rush St., Chicago, IL

312.660.6000

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