Fresno, CA

Tater Tots, hamburgers and an evening at Mad Duck. Oh boy!

Mark-John Clifford

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It's funny sometimes how Patti and my dining experiences happen. Take, for instance, the other day. We were driving around, and she mentioned tater-tots and Mad Duck when just the day before I had it on my mind that I could go for some tater-tots and Mad Duck had the best around.

When she brought it up in the car as we tried to decide what to eat, I started laughing and told her my side of the dining story. I wanted tater-tots also, especially from Mad Duck.

Mad Duck is a local restaurant and brewpub in Clovis and Fresno. We go to the Clovis location mainly because it's close to the house, but I hear the Fresno location is good also.

We enjoy the atmosphere at Mad Duck, but the food is what stands out for us. Not that the beer they brew isn't great. I've had a few of their beers, and I enjoyed them more than the stock picks, but their food is our favorite, especially the tater-tots.

This night Patti and I decided to have hamburgers, which we were dying for, and more importantly tater-tots on the side.

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I ordered a BBQ burger without the onion strips. Patti ordered a burger with no cheese but with avocado and no side. She had the choice of sides but wasn't sure which to order, so I helped her with a decision.

We had already ordered a bowl of tater-tots that we were munching when we gave our hamburger order, so I said, "get more tater-tots for your side; we need them."

She agreed and started to laugh as I did, and the server even found it funny.

Let's get to the food

The chef cooked our hamburgers to perfection. We ordered them medium, and that's how they were done. They were juicy, thick, and served on a bun with no sesame seeds. Thank God for that. I'm allergic, remember?

If my memory serves me right, the buns were buttered on top, making them moist and adding another layer of flavor to our burgers.

But let's be honest here, we didn't go there for the burgers. We went for the star of the meal, the tater-tots.

I don't know about you, but tater-tots are the best with a meal if they are done right, and these were.

Mad Duck must have a professional tater-tot chef because I have never found a better tater-tot in this area.

I know what you're thinking, tater-tots aren't that hard to cook, and in some way, you're correct. Just throw them in heated oil or bake them in the oven, and voila, you have tater-tots. But I guarantee they don't taste as good as Mad-Ducks.

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I know these are frozen tater-tots, but I couldn't tell you the brand, but that doesn't matter. All frozen tater-tots are pretty much made the same. Although there are inferior products out there, it all comes down to preparing them.

That's where Mad Duck comes in first in preparing tater-tots. Their tater-tots are crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They add just enough seasoning that you don't need ketchup or anything else to eat these.

They can be ordered as an appetizer, a side to your meal, or in my opinion, a meal unto themselves.

That's how great they are. I know there are only tater-tots, fried potatoes with a coating, so why am I making a big deal about them?

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The big deal is that I haven't found another restaurant that can compare to their tater-tots and how they are prepared.

I've tried numerous times to replicate the process, but I'll be honest as good of a cook that I feel I am, I can't get my tater-tots like Mad Duck's.

I've used canola, vegetable, avocado oil, and I can't get that crunch outside and tenderness inside like Mad Duck's.

I know they don't use peanut oil because if they did, I wouldn't be writing this review since I have a peanut allergy, plus I asked them to make sure the first time we had them.

We've been going to Mad Duck for years now, and ever since we had our first bowl of tater-tots there, that's the first thing we order with our drinks. There is no doubt about that order.

We've never had a bad batch of tater-tots. I can't count the number of times we've had Mad Duck's tater-tots, but what is even more impressive is that each time we've ordered them, they are always great. That's something right there.

Next time you're dying for something other than fries, we suggest you try Mad Duck's tater-tots. You can also try some of their other foods to tell you the truth; they have a great menu.

Before I go, one other menu item that stands out is their fish and chips. I go crazy for great fish and chips, and Mad Duck is above par when it comes to that.

Hope to see you there one day!

Buon Appetito.

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Patti, my wife, and I write about life here in Fresno, California, and the Central Valley. We especially enjoy writing reviews about restaurants we've dined at, along with the food that is served. From time to time, we also write about and share recipes that we are fond of and hope you'll try them and let us know your thoughts. We are not traditional food critics. We don't have to worry about restaurants making unique dishes for us. We're just the average customer going in to dine, and then we write reviews.

Fresno, CA
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