Hula Mamas swathes guests in complimentary shell lei and outfit empty hands with non-alcoholic tropical fruit drinks in preparation for the Hawaiian dinner and show, which enlightens audiences about the South Pacific with rousing island entertainment and a brimming buffet. Polynesian delectables from mahi-mahi and pulled pork to sweet pineapple nut cake line the copious spread (the restaurant is BYOB pending a liquor license). Later, lights in Hula Mamas’ tiki hut will dim to highlight the flames of fire knife twirlers during the hour-long Polynesian Revue, which also features burly male warriors and shimmying hula girls. Audience participation is encouraged, so wear your loudest Hawaiian shirt and most recently mown grass skirt to join in.
Behind the curtain at V Bistro Noodle & Grill, the Vo and Huynh families join forces to bring the time-honored tastes of Vietnam to the Lone Star state. A big part of the collaboration revolves around creating the perfect pho—a staple of Vietnamese cuisine for more than a century, and a dish the families have been tweaking for three generations. Traditional recipes, seasonings, and cooking methods have been passed from one generation to the next, like a family crest or a great, great grandparent’s lucky powdered wig.
V Bistro’s diners reap the benefits of that relay when they dive into one of the restaurant’s pho dishes, which range from strictly veggies to a meat lover’s medley of steak, brisket, tripe, and tendon. Diners can also excavate rice plates loaded with pork, chicken, beef, or shrimp, and wash it all down with homemade lemonade or Thai iced tea.
Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza was born out of the owner's frustration with bad pizza from chains, which often tasted as if every ingredient was canned or frozen. Deciding to change the industry, Papa Murphy's tosses every ingredient, all of which are never frozen, onto the crust in front of the customer's eyes and sends them home to bake in a home oven. This dedication to fresh flavor earned Papa Murphy's the top spot on Zagat's National Chain survey.
Visitors can create their own take on the pizza pie or chomp into one of their signature pizzas, which range from meat-filled stuffed crust to calorie-conscious lite varieties covered in vegetables. Their appetizers and desserts follow the same pattern. Customers order raw cookie dough or cheesy bread ripe for the baking, resulting in every course being fresh from the oven.
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.
Anothai Cuisine's chefs grind their own fresh herbs and spices to awaken patrons' tongues with each bite of their Thai dishes. Pungent curry coats seafood, chicken, and noodles, and on the other end of savory-to-sweet spectrum, mango imbues shrimp with flavor that evokes the tropical drinks of which ice fishermen's dreams are made. Artfully arranged garnishes complement colorful dishes to excite the eyes, which can scan the bright red and white accents between bites.
HoustonPBS, the country's oldest educational television station, beams critical knowledge, entertainment, and news into households in more than 30 counties in southeast Texas. Support by members, which makes up more than 60% of the station's budget, sustains their varied schedule and offers viewing alternatives to the bloodsports and commemorative bloodsport-plate sales that dominate commercial channels. In addition to celebrated programs for adults and children, including Frontline, Arthur, and Austin City Limits, the schedule brims with locally produced fare such as InnerVIEWS, which has featured illuminating discussions with Edward Norton, Arianna Huffington, Dan Rather, and other notables.