Fat Maggie's is a tiny barbeque joint located just off I-4 in Lakeland that is totally worth the drive. If you like classic, fatty, cheesy, unapolagetically decadent southern comfort food elevated beyond your wildest dreams, this is your spot. Do yourself a favor and don't even mention the visit to your cardiologist. What happens in Lakeland stays in Lakeland.
The scene is cute and kitschy with an inside maximum occupancy of approximately two dozen patrons. Never fear...the season for outdoor deck seating is nigh.
My long-time pal (Georgia Peach) and I arrived at around 1:30 on a weekday, and I daresay there is probably a wait during a more mainstream lunch hour. Our server, Brittany, was charming and helpful...we loved her and she deserves a shout out. The interior of the establishment is quaint but somewhat spartan, not that we gave a rat's arse about ambiance (or lack thereof) once the food started coming out.
We started with a basket of fries which were lavished with truffle oil and Parmesan cheese, and presented with a zippy sidecar of chipotle ketchup. Hot, crispy and pungent, one would be hard-pressed to find a more addictive version of frites in the Tampa Bay area.
My deep and abiding love of corn dogs has almost been a source of embarrassment in the past, but I feel that Maggie's hand-dipped Angus beef corn dog pops somewhat redeemed this shameful passion. Not the heavy, doughy, State Fair version (which I will, nonetheless, gleefully snort given any opportunity), these playful bites of heaven were enrobed in sleek, golden brown jackets and served with a trio of dipping sauces...dijon mustard, garlic aoli and barbeque, although we gurlz kept returning to the spicy ketchup that came with the fries.
The menu is short, but pretty much mind-blowing. Three entrees are available (grilled chicken tenders, beef brisket and pulled pork) all of which include two side dishes. I selected the $10 melt-in-your-mouth pulled pork offering with southern-style cheesy broccoli casserole and gooey mac 'n cheese topped with yet ANOTHER blanket of molten cheese and studded with candied bacon.
I realize that no one's really interested in Candied Bacon Mac 'n Cheese, so I'm posting this photo solely for my own enjoyment.
The Peach opted to "build her own sammie" from an astonishing array of options. Her custom made dream sandwich was comprised of approximately a half pound of smoky, tender beef brisket, bread and butter pickles, juicy tomato slices and condiments, all sandwiched between her bread of choice...and her choice was two grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh, yes they DID. Sandwiches come with one side at Fat Maggies and GP couldn't resist getting her own crock of candied bacon mac at a $1.00 upcharge.
Of course, dessert was involved. The $3 Banana Pudding with house-made Whiskey Whipped Cream will have you slappin' your mama. It's far better than one can conceivably expect for the price and hefty enough for two to share. Welcome to my redneck fantasy!
Food quality and quantity are off the chain at this little independent. Peach and I walked out for $60 encompassing everything pictured plus two local craft brewskis apiece and both of us were packing enough leftovers for a second meal. A worthy destination.
My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.