7 Chicken Masters of the South

Like so many have said, there’s no chicken quite like mama’s chicken. But when mama is a master chef of the South…or just a belle who knows how to cook poultry like no other, the other stuff doesn’t even begin to compare. That is, until you head to these fine dining establishments and put her version to shame…not that you’d ever admit it. These master fryers know how to season, cook, serve, sauce, prep, and create chicken like we’ve never seen before. Add in an incredible smell and taste and it’s all uphill from there. In fact, they’re recipes are so tasty, folks rave about them from states away. Whether they’re from the South, or just happened to stumble upon some deliciousness while traveling. Never underestimate the power of a good piece of chicken. And, in our very tasty opinion, here are the seven best places to find them.

7. Busy Bee Café – Atlanta, Georgia

For a city known for its soul food, making a memorable plate of fried chicken is an incredible feat. It’s also one that Busy Bee prides itself on. Since the 40s, they’ve been serving up crispy and tasty chicken. Their secret? Brining the meat for 12 full hours, add a specialty flavored flour, then cook it in peanut oil. Order yours with their signature gravy, and bask it in sides like collard greens or broccoli and cheese casserole. Yum!

Photo by: Busy Bee Cafe-ATL
Photo by: Busy Bee Cafe-ATL

6. Raising Cane’s – Baton Rouge, Louisiana

If you’re looking for a restaurant that does one thing, and does it well, you’re in luck. Raising Cane’s offers home-fried chicken with the convenience of fast food. Their meals come in varying sizes, offering eaters chicken strips, french fries, coleslaw, and Texas toast. As well as their signature Cane’s sauce – a delicious addition to their hot, flavorful meals. Stop by one of their many franchised locations for a quick take on tasty dinners.

Photo by: Shoshanah via Flickr
Photo by: Shoshanah via Flickr

5. Martha Lou’s Kitchen – Charleston, South Carolina

Martha Lou is one example of its namesake working behind the scenes – Martha herself, along with her daughter, Debra, are chicken masterminds. And they’ve been perfecting their method for more than 30 years. Visitors can stop by their pink restaurant – virtually everything is coated in the color – for an added dose of “mama’s kitchen” charm. Fan favorite sides include okra stew and their signature pepper lima beans.

Photo by: Martha Lou's Kitchen
Photo by: Martha Lou’s Kitchen

4. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar – Miami Beach, FL

There’s a reason Yardbird is winning so many awards and public mentions – their chicken is delicious. Order it alone, with biscuits, or go for the full-meal deal and get their chow-chow cheddar waffles and watermelon (our mouths are watering already), which is topped off with hot honey, and bourbon maple syrup for the waffles. Chicken loving heaven. Oh, and did we mention each meal is plated perfectly, too? Sign us up!

Photo by: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
Photo by: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

3. Barbecue Inn – Houston, Texas

Self-proclaimed Southern hospitality specialists, Barbecue Inn has been dishing up chicken since the 40s. That’s four generations of incredible cooks who have passed their secrets down the line. Eaters can even choose from Southern versions, all white, or all dark meat when ordering their meal. Guests agree that the taste is virtually unbeatable, and that the crisp alone is worth the trip; chicken is served grease-free.

Photo by: Stephan Rushmore via Road Food
Photo by: Stephan Rushmore via Road Food

2. Beasley’s Chicken + Honey – Raleigh, North Carolina

One of the newer joints around, Beasley’s uses modern methods to reinvent an old favorite. Rather than traditional free-fry, they opt for the help of pressure fryers. It might sound new, but the taste is just as delicious as the old school ways. (Likely less messy, too.) Each piece is then topped with a thin drizzle of honey to bring out the Southern flare. Eaters also recommend a side of buttermilk biscuits to take in the whole honey-loving effect.

Photo by: Beasley's Chicken + Honey
Photo by: Beasley’s Chicken + Honey

1. Gus’s Fried Chicken – Mason, Tennessee

We don’t know who Gus is or how he got so good at frying up birds, but we’ll let him cook for us any day. The original was started in Tennessee back in 1953 and the chicken was so good, places elsewhere just couldn’t wait to get their hands – or mouth – on it. Today there’s locations all over where you can order their crispy, spicy chicken that so many have grown to love.

Photo by: Evan Blaser via Flickr
Photo by: Evan Blaser via Flickr

10 Things to See and Do in Raleigh

To an unassuming outsider, the city of Raleigh, North Carolina, probably seems like any other mid-sized American city. Don’t let the exterior fool you though: Raleigh is a city unlike any other on the East Coast or anywhere else in the U.S. This state capital has a storied history, one that has fashioned the city into one of the country’s fastest-growing, most technologically advanced metropolises. In fact, Raleigh continuously places high on the list of best places to live in the U.S.—and it certainly makes EscapeHere’s list of American cities that get less recognition than they deserve. With a distinct Southern flavor, a flair for the arts (including being named after Sir Walter Raleigh, a British poet and early American colonist), a celebrated history and plenty of greenspace and natural escapes, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Raleigh, North Carolina. Here are 10 ideas to help you get started planning your next trip to the City of Oaks.

10. Go to the City Market

One of the biggest tourist draws in Raleigh is the City Market. The market has been a central figure of commerce in the downtown core for over a century. From the time it opened on October 1, 1914, until the post-World War II period, the market flourished. As shopping shifted to supermarkets and malls in the 1950s, the market fell into a period of decline. In 1980, the market became a historic place and the Raleigh City Council began to study the architecture. Since then, the market has undergone various revitalization initiatives, including a May 2008 art project by the Visual Art Exchange. On the first Friday of each month, the market plays host to Raleigh’s First Friday festival.

The market has become a haven for local artists and currently, 5 art and décor shops are counted among the market’s boutiques. Showtime Events is a full-service producer of audio/visual events. Other businesses include clothing retailers, cafes, bars, restaurants and event spaces. Triangle Glides offers eco-friendly outdoor activities and guided tours of Raleigh. Stop by for a coffee, browse unique arts and crafts and then head out on a Segway to see the city sights!

Peaches Raleigh NC Market

9. Discover the State Capitol Building

Although the North Carolina legislature has since moved out, the State Capitol building remains today as a landmark in downtown Raleigh. Initial construction was finished in 1840 and from then until 1888, it housed the entire government of North Carolina. The North Carolina General Assembly continued to meet in the building until 1963 and the Lieutenant Governor moved offices in 1969. Today, the offices of the Governor are still located in the historic building. The North Carolina Supreme Court has also been known to meet in the Greek Revival-style building.

The North Carolina State Capitol Foundation currently runs educational programs, tours and other special events, including the popular lighting of the State Capitol tree in December, throughout the year. Each year, over 100,000 visitors take part in these programs, which fund the preservation of the State Capitol building and its collections. Visitors can tour the building between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and guided tours are available on Saturdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

8. Do Some Serious Shopping

Raleigh may not be the first place people think of when they want to go shopping, but there are a number of malls packed tightly in midtown Raleigh, which means that you can shop till you drop, almost literally.

The North Hills mall opened in 1967 and was the first enclosed, 2-story, air-conditioned mall not just in Raleigh, but in the area between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, Georgia. Today, the mall is an outdoor venue and frequently hosts concerts and a farmers’ market. It boasts nearly 100 stores, a movie theater and a spa, among other services. In 2010, North Hills East opened across the road, adding more shops and restaurants to the existing center. Just 2 miles down the road is Crabtree Valley mall, the largest enclosed mall in the area with over 1 million square feet and more than 220 stores, including the first H&M in the entirety of the state. Another enclosed mall is the nearby Cary Towne Center, which is also over 1 million square feet and has around 130 shops.

Dowtown Raleigh

7. Visit a President’s Childhood Home

The 17th President of the United States, Andrew Johnson, was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. Although he would later move to Tennessee, he spent most of his boyhood in Raleigh. Johnson was born into a poor family, which was often considered an asset in 19th-century politics, and the house where he is believed to have been born now stands in Mordecai Park. It is a small, one-story house with a loft structure, and originally stood behind an inn. It is believed to have been a kitchen outbuilding that was converted to a house and may have been constructed in the late 1700s.

There is some controversy about whether or not the house was actually Johnson’s birthplace; when the President visited Raleigh in 1867 to dedicate a monument at his father’s grave, no mention was made of a visit to the house, even though his itinerary was meticulously documented by local newspapers. The story may have been invented by Frederick A. Olds. Whether or not the house is where Johnson was born, the house now stands as an exhibit on the early history of Raleigh.

President Andrew Johnson statue

6. Tour Shaw University Campus

Founded in 1865 as the Raleigh Institute, Shaw University is the oldest historically black university in the United States. Notable alumni include Edawn Coughman, an NFL player; Angie Brooks, who served as president of the United Nations National Assembly; and M. T. Pope, a prominent Raleigh physician who ran for mayor in 1919.

The university was founded by Henry Martin Tupper in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. Tupper returned south when the war ended and established the Second Baptist Church of Raleigh (now the Tupper Memorial Baptist Church). From a 2-story building, he taught freedmen with the support of the American Baptist Home Mission Society. In 1867, the Raleigh Institute became Shaw University. Over the years, many buildings have been added to the campus for a total of 32; only 2 of those buildings existed when Shaw became a university. Shaw was also the first school to allow African-American women to enrol in classes. On the downtown campus, 5 of the buildings have been designated as historic places, including Frazier House, Leonard Hall and Estey Hall, which is the oldest surviving building, dating from 1875, as well as the 1st building constructed for the education of black women.

Photo by: Shaw University
Photo by: Shaw University

5. Stroll through Historic Oakwood

During the 19th century, anybody who was anybody in Raleigh lived in the Oakwood district of the city. Oakwood is the only intact Victorian neighborhood in Raleigh today and a stroll through the area shows many of the historic sites in the city. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 and is 1 of 7 historic districts on the list.

The area is most famed for the Oakwood Cemetery, which also contains the Confederate Cemetery and the Hebrew Cemetery. Popular seasonal events include the Christmas Candlelight tour, which allows tourists to enter private residences in the area, and the Garden Tour, which showcases the vast gardens managed by the Oakwood Gardening Club. A walk-through of the area will be enough for architecture buffs. Since the area was developed plot by plot, the district showcases the progression of “in vogue” styles and includes buildings in the Neo-Classical, Queen Anne, Second Empire and Neo-Classical Revival styles. The houses also have characteristically Southern features, as well as reflections of their individual owners.

Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

4. Explore Fayetteville Street

If you want to get a taste of Raleigh, take a stroll down Fayetteville Street. This historic district served as the main artery for downtown Raleigh in the early 20th century. During the middle of the 20th century, the street was a pedestrian-only thoroughfare, although it was re-opened to vehicles in 2006. Today, Fayetteville Street serves to connect the State Capitol Building with the Raleigh Convention Center. The street is home to many historic buildings, including almost a dozen buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Drop by the Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel (which shares a namesake with the city) or visit one of the many pubs that have set up shop here.

Fayetteville is also the cultural core of Raleigh in many respects, with many locally owned and operated businesses, including shops, restaurants and cafes. It plays host to several parades and events throughout the year, including Raleigh’s New Year’s First Night event, as well as corporate-sponsored events such as Brewgaloo, the Hopscotch Music Festival and the Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeo.

EPG_EuroPhotoGraphics / Shutterstock.com
EPG_EuroPhotoGraphics / Shutterstock.com

3. Get Back to Nature

With 28 trails totaling over 100 miles, Raleigh’s Capital Area Greenway offers great greenspace for hiking, biking, walking, bird-watching, jogging and more. The trails connect with many of Raleigh’s public parks as well. Ranging from half-a-mile to almost 30 miles in length, the trails offer the chance to see some distinctive features in Raleigh and to escape from the city. Many of the trails are centered around bodies of water, including several lake loops and many river and creek trails, which follow the path of the waterway. Several of the trails are also multi-purpose. Others connect major downtown areas allowing you to move (greenly) through the city.

The city also has over 8,000 acres of parkland. Nearby state parks also provide opportunities to connect with the great outdoors. Some of the most popular trails are located near William B. Umstead State Park. Sycamore Trail is an 8-mile long trail in the park that takes about 2 to 3 hours to complete. For those looking for a little bit more, the trail can be combined with the Company Mill Trail for a 12-mile figure-8 loop hike. An old dam is visible just off the trail.

Raleigh Nature Trail

2. Tour the Mordecai Mansion

Also known as Mordecai House or Mordecai Plantation, this 18th-century house is one of the original buildings in Raleigh. The house was, at one time, the center of a 5,000-acre plantation. It was built by Joel Lane for his son Henry in 1785. The house was later inherited by Margaret Lane, who married Moses Mordecai, a member of an Ashkenazic Jewish family. The Lane family helped to found Raleigh, with Joel selling 1,000 acres of the plantation to become the site of the city. The house was passed down through generations of Mordecais, who continued to inhabit the house until 1967, when it was listed for sale. Amid protests, it was purchased by the city and turned into a museum and historic park. Much of the original furniture, as well as many documents belonging to the Mordecai family, are now preserved in the museum. As of today, the house is the oldest structure in Raleigh still on its original foundation.

The house serves as the centerpiece of Mordecai Historic Park, which also includes the birthplace of President Andrew Johnson, the Ellen Mordecai Garden and St. Mark’s Chapel, which is a popular site for weddings.

Photo by: jill, jellidonut... whatever
Photo by: jill, jellidonut… whatever

1. Nurture Your Green Thumb at J. C. Raulston Arboretum

This 10-acre arboretum and botanical garden was establish by Dr. J C. Raulston in 1976 and is currently managed by North Carolina State University. Today, the collection contains representatives of about 6,000 plants. The arboretum is open daily and admission is free.

The arboretum boasts 13 different gardens, including a Japanese Zen garden that features various species of Japanese maple trees and a rose garden with more than 200 roses from 120 different taxa. The Winter Garden focuses on plants that are at their best during the winter months, while the Entry Garden showcases a number of tropical plants. The Xeric Garden contains the arboretum’s collection of desert-dwelling plants from Mexico and the American Southwest. The Klein-Pringle White Garden showcases plants with white flowers and foliage. The Annual Color Trials is a test site that examines 700 plants annually and there are also home demonstration gardens to inspire those with green thumbs. Most interesting is the Paradise Garden, which brings together a collection of plants designed to delight all 5 senses. For larger gatherings, the Southall Memorial Garden provides a large, grassy space and a hemlock tree grove.

Pink Flower

Top 10 Cities to Invest in Real Estate in the US for 2014

With the recession growing more distant as each day passes, it’s the perfect time to set your sights on investing in real estate in the United States. Affordable housing, low vacancy rates and low interest rates make this market attractive to all types of investors. Cities are finally experiencing population growth, job growth and expansion of international markets which is making the real estate market finally begin to rise. The time to get into that market is now and here we show you the ten best cities to invest in. Whether you’re buying a vacation home, rental property or a place to call home; these cities can offer up a great place to invest.

1. Houston, Texas

With a booming economy and adequate room for expansion, Houston is number one on our list of top cities to invest in. Being the fourth largest city in the United States and an international business hub; it is the gateway to Latin America. With affordable housing options, low cost of living and high quality of living; this city is begging to be lived in. With its growing population and job growth that will continue into 2015; Houston has ever growing industries. Being named the energy capital of the world with over half of Fortune 500 companies being headquartered in Houston; this city is moving forward and the right time to invest in it is now.

Skyline of Houston, Texas in daytime under blue sky

2. Orlando, Florida

Being one of the hardest hit cities during the recession, Orlando is still struggling to bounce back into the forefront of the market. In saying that; it’s also one of the top cities to grab up real estate right now. With low priced homes along with low interest rates; investors can score big on buying. High rental rates make Orlando more attractive to investors and with a massive tourist industry; rental units are a top investment choice. Along with the tourist industry, Orlando boasts an above average job growth and booming health science industry; both leading to further growth in this sunny destination. With prices on the rise and the country coming out of the recession; we suggest you get in the game now!

Orlando downtown welcome sign with tropical scene

3. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

During the recession, Pittsburgh proved to be one of the most resilient cities in the country and that is one of the reasons investing in real estate here is a great choice. With growth in medical, banking and education industries; Pittsburgh is seeing an increase in both in-town and out-of-town investors. Historic low vacancy rates and affordable house prices lets buyers into the market without breaking the bank. With a growing demand in the oil and gas industry, this city is proving to be unstoppable in terms of growth and stability.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

4. Minneapolis, Minnesota

The time to invest in real estate in Minneapolis is now. The strong diverse economy and low housing prices together with the low rental vacancy rates makes this city desirable for all types of investors. Currently out of town investors are snapping up huge chunks of apartment buildings in the core center. Although this means housing is harder to come by than some of the other cities we have mentioned, the value of real estate is quickly rising. Younger generations who don’t want to leave the Midwest are flocking to Minneapolis after graduating. The time is now to buy in this quickly growing market where one can choose to pick a long term investment or “turn and burn” a property to make money.

Morning view of Minneapolis, MN skyline

5. Atlanta, Georgia

More homes were seized in Atlanta than any major metro area in the country according to CoreLogic Inc, which makes this city a buyer’s market. With its usually warm winters, home of a dozen fortune 500 companies including Coca-Cola and Home Depot; Atlanta offers up a great place to invest in real estate. With a cost of living less than half that of Manhattans and a multitude of houses available; this city is the perfect place to grab some real estate. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, there are plenty of opportunities to buy a fixer upper well below the average price of $200,000 for a single dwelling unit.

Downtown Atlanta, Georgia, USA skyline

6. Seattle, Washington

As the economy continues to rebound; this city shows no sign of slowing down. Seattle is filled with not just rainy days but world renowned coffee and massive companies such as Amazon, Boeing and Microsoft. Always being a great city to buy property, Seattle remains true to its origins and is still a top choice to invest in real estate. Young people are flocking to this city to work for giant companies and the city is shifting from suburban to urban and there’s no sign of this city’s growth slowing down. Do yourself a favor and invest in an apartment, house or commercial property. It will be well worth it.

Downtown Seattle as seen from the Kerry park in the evening

7. Raleigh, North Carolina

Affordable cost of living and job growth in stable fields have propelled this city into our top ten list. Raleigh prides itself on being the hub of education and with job stability comes a great market for real estate investment. A low foreclosure rate and strong commercial real estate opportunities will propel Raleigh into a strong future. Real estate investors will feel confident in this city as there is nowhere to go but up.

Skyline of Raleigh, NC

8. Phoenix, Arizona

Sun lovers are scooping up real estate in this now trending city; one of the hardest hit cities when the housing market bubble burst. Bargain prices, plenty of availability and a steady job growth makes Phoenix an attractive place to invest. Top companies such as Walmart and Intel support the job growth and housing market. Investors are choosing secondary markets such as Phoenix over major cities where real estate markets are flooded. Take a page from their book and get your hands on some sun soaked property here, but act quickly; this housing market is only going up. With big banks such as Wells Fargo and Bank of America employing people; this city is bouncing back.

Phoenix Arizona

9. Manhattan, New York

By far the most expensive city to buy real estate in this list, Manhattan nonetheless is an excellent city to invest in –if you can afford it. With thousands of employees coming to work at the World Trade Center; the market is booming, especially in the financial district. Couple that fact with New York’s ever growing population and notoriously trendy “Hipster” neighborhoods; there doesn’t seem to be a bad time to invest in this city when it comes to real estate. You will have to have deep pockets to invest here, but in the long run this Empire State will make it worth your while.

Aerial view of Manhattan skyline at sunset, New York City

10. Dallas, Texas

One of the fastest growing cities; Dallas rounds off our list of top cities in The United States to invest in real estate. With houses priced below 12% of their actual value, it’s a great time to buy in Texas. Constant job growth, the ability to profit from future gas and oil development and home to the third busiest airport in the world; there is no shortage of growth in this city. With the ever growing technology industry taking place in Dallas; this is the place for people looking for long-term economic stability. Invest in real estate here today and in ten years you will wonder why you didn’t invest sooner.

A View of the Skyline of Dallas, Texas, USA