Monday, February 27, 2012

Golden Angel Pancake House (North Center)

A pancake angel descends from heaven.
This 24-hour diner is a perfect example of a dive. It's not like one of those diners that are on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives where it's actually really cute inside and the chef moved from Nicaragua to grace our hungry American mouths with his exotic take on waffles. Nope. No frills. No whistles. No lasers. It is straight up diner food.

Golden Angel Pancake House 4344 N. Lincoln Avenue
Golden Angel Pancake House is a diner dream come true: wood paneling, vinyl seats, colored blocks suspended on the walls, stained glass, old waitresses with perms, old people sitting at the counter. It looks like there hasn't been a decor update since 1975. I went with my friend Katie on Saturday morning for breakfast AKA hangover cure. She ordered pancakes, scrambled eggs, and devoured accordingly. She was also pleased as punch when one of the busboys filled our coffee cups before we even sat down: "I love diner coffee!" she exclaimed. I ordered my staple of french toast with hash browns and sausage. But listen, the french toast at Golden Angel is orange. Not orange as in citrus-flavored, but orange colored. I don't know why it is orange in color but whatever batter the chefs use send me into a yummy heaven. It's soft in the middle and almost creamy. What a wonderful thing to eat.

A glorious feast.

The prices here are cheap, but I added too many sides onto my breakfast so it was probably the most I have ever paid at this joint. I have only ever gotten breakfast here and that is all I recommend. The guy sitting next to us ordered pork chops at 11:30 IN THE MORNING. I bet the chefs didn't have any pork chops in the back and had to run to the Jewel down the street because nobody would ever order pork chops from that place, let alone at 11:30 IN THE MORNING.

So if you're a foodie, do not go here. You will get mad and write a mean Yelp review. But if you love diner food and feeling like you're stuck in the seventies, check out this establishment. It is one of my favorite in the whole city. Breakfast is absolutely one of my most happy-inducing meals of the day, and sometimes the simple form of it is the most satisfying.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Smoque BBQ (Irving Park/Avondale)

3800 N. Pulaski
Sometimes I can't put into words how I feel when I get excited about food. Instead, what comes out is sounds: chirpy humming, long "Mmmmm"s, short "Mmmmm"s, maybe a bit of laughter, a giggle. Or, a small dance in my chair occurs where I wiggle my butt back and forth. Well, Smoque BBQ gave me a major food high.

Order first and then take a seat to wait for the delicious wave to hit you. I ordered the sliced brisket sandwich with macaroni and cheese and cornbread. Oh boy. I drooled over my food for a good two minutes before diving in. I always eat the sides first so I started with the mac and cheese. DANG. OH DANG. Packed into a tiny, round tin, the creamy mac and cheese was somewhat of a cheesy dream.

Insert Homer Simpson drooling sound.

I do not have anything to say about the cole slaw. Not a fan of the stuff in general. I want it to be lettuce so badly but it's not. My fellow eaters put some cole slaw on their sandwiches, which seemed to make them pretty happy.

The cornbread, also in a round tin, was wonderfully moist but after a while I decided I could no longer wait to taste the brisket. It was time. This stuff hangs out in a smoker for 14 hours before ending up on my plate. FOURTEEN HOURS. I could drive all the way to New York in my imaginary '76 Chevy Corvette that I own in my mind while blasting Tom Petty & The Heartbreaker's Greatest Hits, because it's just a great driving album, by the time that meat is cooked.

Billy Bru chowin' down on some goods.
My first bite made a smile spread across my face.. The bun: soft. The meat: juicy. The sauce: thin and tangy. As I chowed down on my velvety brisket, I was transported to a BBQ heaven where the napkins never end and the BBQ sauce flows like gold.

The whole place is fairly small and fills up quickly. It's incredibly welcoming, with one of the owners standing near the register chatting with people and seating everybody. As soon as you walk in it smells you're in your friend's backyard during summer and grilling up a meat storm.

Dining with me were some friends and some family who all devoured their meals. Everyone was happy. And when everyone leaves happy you know it was a good meal.

"You had me at meat tornado." Ron Swanson

 And then Dairy Queen for dessert because it's all about the simple things.