Uncle Julios Guacamole
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Uncle Julio's EntryIMG_7245

I’ve never been a fan of guacamole; maybe it’s because of the clumpy texture or that it’s $2 extra at Chipotle like what?  Or perhaps it’s the brown color it turns after oxidation. Regardless of the reason, I’ve always said “Hold the guac.” One visit to Uncle Julio’s changed my whole mind! My boyfriend was raving about tableside guacamole and since he was paying, I was all in. I was so intrigued when the waiter came to the table and made the guac in the front of our face with our input on all the ingredients. There’s something fascinating about restaurants that prepare your meals in front of you. I love when we’re included in the experience without having to do the labor and we can supervise everything prepared to the liking of our taste buds.

Tableside Guac

The rich, smooth, and creamy guacamole was complemented with bottomless chips! Luke, our server was very attentive; a fresh hot basket was delivered every time it became half empty. Of course, no Mexican meal is complete without drinks, so we ordered “Lucky Horseshoe” (Herradura Reposado Tequilla, Grand Marnier, lemon/lime sour) and “The Swirl” (a frozen collision of margarita and sangria). Don’t be fooled by “The Swirl”, it looks pretty but definitely gets the job done!

Horseshoe & The Swirl

Uncle Julio's Vibrant

While sipping my drink, enjoying my “not your average guac”, and waiting for my main course, I had the chance to admire the decor. The place was so vibrant; it forces you to be happy. The entrees were overwhelming but scrumptious. Uncle Julio’s is located in seven states but it’s totally worth the trip. The next time you are near Texas, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Florida, or Pennsylvania make sure you visit Uncle Julio’s.

Uncle Julio's Juanitas Platter

Uncle Julio's Shrimp Fajita's

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batters and berries chicken
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It is too good for words. Though Harold’s still stands as my favorite chicken spot in the Chi, Batter’s and Berries really had me thinking what do they really put in the chicken in Chicago? Seriously.

Batter’s and Berries was an hour wait, BYOB, popular brunch spot that was worth every second I stood in line. The 7-eleven a few blocks away is easily accessible and ready to make your champagne wishes come true. The restaurant doesn’t have a corkage fee but they will charge for flutes if you want to get fancy with it. Aside from their menu, sounding simply mouth watering, they run a number of specials every weekend. Not being able to decide between the rumchatta French toast and the ones on the menu, I opted for a super flight. The flight, gives you EACH of the french toast on the menu, in addition to the special. Yes, this is my kind of party.

batters and berriesBlueberry, Strawberry, Rumchatta, and the lemon French toast all graced my plate to my anticipation. Each piece was infused with the flavor it called for and I must admit, that strawberry French toast was like nothing I ever tasted before. I could sit here and have flights all day, which I recommend for those who just can’t help themselves to everything. It would be a disservice to your tastebuds, to just try one.

batters and berries

But then I reached across the table and had the chicken. Again, what do they put in the chicken in Chicago!? Sweet Potato waffles and a beautiful piece of chicken breast sat across from me with the batter & berries in-house hot sauce  on the side. I meant to only have a piece, but this was an amazing thing – I had to go on and order my own. When was the last time you had something so good off someone else’s plate that you had to go and order your own? It was THAT good. The meat peeled right off my fork, evenly crisp on the outside and succulent on the inside. With the appropriate amount of sauce on the top, I knew they were onto something here.

Batters and Berries

Not only was my server a doll, but the food was also amazing and the vibe at batter’s and berries was busy but not congested. It’s definitely not a brunch you want to pass up in Chicago

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Austin ale house Mimosa & Fruit

Queens is the most underrated borough when it comes to food.  When I talk to people about NYC, they instantly think about Brooklyn or Manhattan but I am here to drop some Queens gems on your palette. Austin’s Ale House is one of them.

Austin's Front View

My first adventure to Austin’s Ale House was extremely laid back. They had a casual dress code, was serving brunch, and they are in a location where I could find any parking near. The restaurant is big, so when you walk in you can either go towards the left to the bar and lunch area or to the right for dinner. There was also an outside patio area that I didn’t learn about until after I got home and went on the website. There were televisions with the World Cup on and a family rooting for Ecuador in the middle of the room. My father and I decided to sit in the main lunch area surrounded by dartboards, paintings, and a random lotto machine.

Austin's Interior Decor

Once we were seated, we received our menus. I chose the steak & eggs Father’s Day Brunch Special which included mini muffins, bagels, a fruit cup, and a MIMOSA. My dad ordered a cheeseburger and onion rings (a pretty simple meal, if I were him I would have ordered the most extravagant item, knowing my daughter is paying the bill).  Our waiter, Andrew, was really invested in us. He shook my dad’s hand, told him Happy Father’s Day, expressed how he wishes he could be home with his but he is working until 11pm, and told us if we need anything, “Just yell, scream, shout.” Service is important to me; my ideal waiter is timely, checking in at the right moments, and FULL OF PERSONALITY! Andrew was exactly that!

Austin's Burger & Fries

Austin's Bagels & Muffins

So we’ve talked about decor and service but what about the food? My starters of a fruit cup and bread were good enough to hold me during the wait. The steak & eggs were delicious! I had very specific orders that my steak was medium well and my eggs were scrambled well because I HATE runny eggs. Instead of using AI sauce, I used the restaurant’s own steak sauce, it was the precise balance of bold and spicy. The meat was tender and flavorful so I didn’t have to chew forever. My father said his burger was good, I’m not a burger person so I didn’t take a bite, but I did try the onion rings and loved that they actually had real onions inside instead of that fake mushy stuff.

Austin's Mimosa & Fruit

Austin's Steak & Eggs

Austin's Homemade Steak Sauce

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Yuerba Beuna Guacamole

It always feels good to cross restaurants off of my “To Eat” list, especially with new friends, so I was super ecstatic to try out Yerba Buena despite the struggle it took getting there. The restaurant is on the corner of Perry Street but the avenue is completely blocked off from the east side, which is where I was traveling from. I couldn’t complain for long because I found out the unlimited drinks are interchangeable here, that was all I needed to know to start loving this place.

So I indulged in the Brazilian Bellini, which included passion fruit instead of orange juice, Sangria, Mimosas and some other drink I couldn’t pronounce but didn’t like too much anyway. We happened to be starving so we decided on trying the guacamole. Neither one of us was very impressed with the flavor but it would do as we waited for the entrees.

Yerba Beuna Guacamole

As I looked forward to savoring the steak “a caballo” which was a hanger steak with fried eggs, I checked out the scene. Not going to lie, the place was packed but despite that our waitress was really attentive and kind to us. She even left a few extra drinks at our table before our time was up. A large party had been set up down the middle and directly behind us, which made me consider this as a reasonable location for a birthday brunch or dinner. Alas, brunch had arrived.

Steak and Eggs

The rice and beans had a subtle flavor of herbs, which I got to spice up with the Salsa Criolla that you see on the side of the Congri. Apparently, Congri is a fancy way of saying “sweet banana” in its entirety. The steak was medium rare, partially overdone, and a part of it was just right. I ate what I could and continued drinking. The parts that I was able to enjoy were juicy and rich, however the egg to accompany it was basic, so I ate what I could to get filled up. I wish the steak would have been more consistent in order to devour it completely but some places you win with the drinks and lose on the food. It wasn’t an entire loss but disappointing indeed.

 

Eggs at Brunch

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French toast lexington brass

How do you enjoy burnt french toast or anything really? YOU EAT AROUND IT! At least that’s what I had to do at Lexington Brass because this French toast was too good, to be bad…

I wound up at this quaint location ready for mimosas, pretty good service and a some pretty great dishes. The downside here was that they don’t have Mimosas. Wait, what? I’m sure they could have made one but they only talk cocktails.

So I opted for this drink with a name I can’t recall which was later replaced by the strawberry sour. Like the total baby sitter I am, I dreamt of guzzling champagne and orange juice as I sipped slowly from these sweet sweet drinks.IMG_3092IMG_3101

Our waiter was a complete doll, very accommodating but not overbearing unlike the eyes next to us who just couldn’t wait for us to look away so they could keep staring. Creeps. I decided on the French toast that was covered in oranges and grapefruit. Should have known something was up because I’ve never had grapefruit over my brioche. Just kidding, that’s not reason to second guess this so I bit right into this amaz- WAIT IS THIS “somewhat” BURNT?

Lexington Brass French ToastAnd it was, so I sent it back. They brought me a new dish that was just as yummy and still burned. I’m talking charred all over the place, did they mean for it to be like this? I felt bad already that I had to send it back. So I did what any person would do when their friend is done eating and they’re feeling bad about the burnt French toast of their some kind of food blogger friend is pouting about, I ate it. Well I ate around it the best I could, it really did have some potential though. The citrus soaking into the bread was really tantalizing my taste buds but the roof was on fire char was too much to bear and it had to stop. Chicken and waffles here are a go though so maybe you can opt for that. If all else fails and you really want that toast, do it! But tell them first that you like it medium and not well done.

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Soccarat Paella at Soccarat

I’m sitting here enjoying risotto and it’s making me think about the amazing paella at Socarrat Paella Bar.

My Honey pot took me on a date to a churro spot once in soho (or maybe it was noho), where this paella bar was it’s neighbor and I vowed to visit. So, when my girlfriend wanted to grab a bite after work in the neighborhood, this was just calling me. I’ve actually been there twice so sit back for a dose of both experiences. The downtown location is dark and moody. There’s a super long wait for a table and it’s completely worth it. Don’t expect a neat cocktail though; this one is strictly a wine bar. Not in midtown though…the Midtown location is bright. I made a reservation (since I learned from last time) but the dining room wasn’t packed anyway. They DO have cocktails here and I ordered “the lola” which was pretty good. It was very strawberry and had an obvious kick to it.

La Lola at Soccarat

I believe I finished my drink, which I probably baby sat, before I decided on which Paella to try. The menu is mouth watering just by reading what they’re tossing in each dish and it gets overwhelming, especially when you’re out with people who want to eat it all. *cough* Martine and Mike *cough* But finally, we came to a compromise. This was after reviewing paellas that have eggplant, sugar snow peas, and rabbit. And those were in three different paellas, so imagine. Any who, in Downtown, I had the Socarrat (chicken, beef, calamari, shrimp, white fish, cuttlefish, mussels, clams, and green beans) and in Midtown I had the Carne (pork, duck, chicken, chorizo, and mushrooms).

Carne at Soccarat

The Socarrat was so rich and flavorful. It had bright flavors and not too much of the rice stuck to the pan. We devoured this “Bowl” for two somehow and I still wanted more of it. The Carne, however, was heavy, which left me full instantly. The mushrooms, which I usually put towards the side, were full of the flavors from the meats and the textures were similar, yet all providing something different. It was all so good and it’s even better a day later for lunch.

Soccarat Paella at Soccarat

If you like Paella, Socarrat Paella Bar is definitely worth the trip.

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