Google, Safari, and PowerPoint all share something special: a place on the sushi menu at Otto Sushi & Seafood. At least, they inspire some of the tongue-in-cheek rolls that chefs create there. The Google roll hugs avocado and fried shrimp inside fried rice; the Safari roll is composed of crab, avocado, and cream cheese; and the PowerPoint roll includes asparagus, cheese, and fried fish in soy paper with squid salad on top. The rolls represent the Japanese portion of the menu, but chefs also pay homage to Mexico and America through cooked seafood plates—try the spicy à la diabla fish or shrimp for a taste.
Not only does Don Taco Villa's bright green and pink exterior make it easy to spot from the road, but many of its specialties can feed an entire family tree's worth of people. Cooks prepare whole chickens and pile plates with double or triple portions of grilled steak, flanking the family-style meals with sides of rice and beans. Other menu items, which also lend themselves to sharing, include shrimp cocktail and barbecued ribs. Smaller groups or solo diners can grab breakfast tacos filled with eggs, chorizo, ham, beans, and cheese, or savory taquitos.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Jing Yang grew up in China, training to compete in the world's most elite gymnastics competitions since she was five years old. Her lifetime of hard work paid off: she joined the National Women's Gymnastic Team of China, tumbled her way around the globe, and even won a bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics. When she retired from active competition, she still wanted to be involved in her sport. So, she began coaching the Women's Gymnastics Team of Beijing while attending the College of Athletics and Kinesiology to pursue a degree in coaching. Eventually she moved to the United States, bringing her expertise with her to found Jing's Gymnastics, Cheer, and Dance. As the head coach and owner of the gym, she maintains her commitment to elite competition, using the latest equipment to help young gymnasts participate in national, international, and soon interplanetary competitions.
Though the burger patties at Gridiron Burgers are made with a hearty 12 ounces of ground chuck, and are the favorite burgers of WILD 104, they're not the star of the menu. Instead, the focus is on the chefs' innovative toppings. Their specialty is using those toppings to mimic other classic dishes—they pile burgers with mozzarella and pepperoni to emulate pizza flavors, or create an entire Frito pie between two buns, complete with chili and melted cheddar cheese. This culinary playfulness even extends to the shop's non-beef burgers, which include catfish burgers and buffalo chicken burgers. To complete meals, chefs fry up traditional sides such as chili cheese fries, fried pickles, and fried silverware and napkins.
Kolache Factory sates handheld cravings with its sweet and savory sachets stuffed with more than 25 flavorful fillings. The pastry purveyor's innovative bakers put a tasty twist on the traditional fruit-and-poppy-seed kolaches that originated in Eastern Europe, packing them with delectable stuffings, such as pepperoni and mushroom ($1.65 each, $17.82/dozen), bacon, egg, and cheese ($2.19 each, $23.65/dozen), and sausage, jalapeño, and cheese ($1.45 each, $15.66/dozen). Greet the slowly receding swirling darkness of morning with nibbles of sausage and gravy kolaches ($1.69 each, $18.25/dozen), or take a bite-size break with one of seven fruit options ($1.09 each, $11.77/dozen).