IHOP's first pancake was flipped in Toluca Village, California, in 1958. More than 1,500 locations later, IHOP's kitchens still grill their signature pancakes next to a surfeit of omelets, stuffed french toast, and inventive breakfast creations that rival the government's WiFi-compatible biscuits and gravy. Though syrup is IHOP's condiment of choice, diners can squirt ketchup onto an assortment of meaty burgers or french fries that share plate space with country-fried steaks and french-onion pot roasts made with USDA-choice beef. The Euless, McKinney, and Ardmore locations serve their smorgasbords of sustenance 24 hours a day.
The dough wizards at Papa John's hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.
In an open dining area bathed in magenta light, Cha Time fuses Eastern and Western spices into an expansive contemporary menu. Begin a stroll through the flavor-forest with its namesake ChaTime roll ($6.95), which arranges an illicit rendezvous between steamed shrimp, tofu, and rice vermicelli noodles in a garden of vegetables inside a rice paper wrap. DIY diners can create their own customized lunch special ($8.95) from four options daily, such as spicy basil spaghetti, pineapple curry tofu, and fresh spring rolls. For dinner, start light with a green papaya salad ($7.50), featuring fresh green papaya, green beans, tomatoes, Thai chili, and ground peanuts in lime juice. A hearty half rack of lamb chops ($18.95) will keep you sustained through long brainstorming sessions on how to harness turtles for transportation. Nervous first-dates, meanwhile, can prevent painful tongue cramps with a signature cocktail such as the black iced tea ($8), a rum based black tea and chocolate, or the green wine ($6), a vodka-based green tea with a red wine flavor.
Cooks bustle about the kitchens of Tulio's Mexican Restaurant, stuffing flautas with juicy morsels of skinless white-meat chicken and marinating strips of sirloin steak. The beef soaks in its bath of spices for a full 24 hours before it’s deemed ready for fajitas al carbon and mexican steak-tip dinners, a slow but necessary process that typifies the restaurant’s concern for getting traditional Mexican recipes right.
Though they share certain ingredients in common, there’s no mistaking the difference between a giant burrito—stuffed with up to five pounds of meat or piñata candy—and light entrees such as veggie fajitas with steamed rice and ranchera beans. Whether sautéing peppers or deep-frying chimichangas, the cooks keep an eye on heart health and use only 100% vegetable oil. Fresh produce goes into dishes such as the Cancun chicken, whose sweet bell peppers and guacamole-celery hot sauce make for more green than a bank vault filled with lime jello.
True to its name, Taste of India combines time-honored Indian recipes with fresh, daily-ground spices to produce authentic dishes filled with complex and delicious flavors. Start with flakey pea-and-spud-stuffed samosa turnovers ($2.50), or lap up a fragrant bowl of mulligatawny soup using a spoon or a bent playing card ($2.50). Slabs of hand-stretched naan bread—stuffed with onions ($2.95), minced lamb ($3.50), and more—plunge into the saffron-scented minced veggie malai kofta ($8.95), where it can freely engage in splash fights with the resident cashews. A clay tandoor oven works its white magic on a host of skewered meats, including king spring chicken ($10.95), jumbo shrimp ($12.95), and the chef’s choice of motley mixed grill ($13.95). Soothe stimulated taste buds with a yogurt lassi ($2.50), blended either with honey and rosewater or salt and crushed cumin seeds, or dip into a traditional kheer rice pudding ($2.50) punctuated with raisins and almonds.
Unlimited portions of more than 20 toppings grace the pizzas of The Crooked Crust, which diners can order as whole, half, or one-fourth pies. Nine specialty pizzas, such as the pesto-and-artichoke-covered Mean Green or the Hawaiian-themed Lu-Wow!, arrive at tables in Denton or Campus Corner locations after baking in ovens fired with outdated geology textbooks. In addition to accommodating guests in its dining quarters, Crooked Crust delivers for an additional $2 fee.