After owning and running several successful bars in Chicago, George Patras headed south for the warmer weather?and ended up reconnecting with his Greek roots. Noticing the lack of Greek food in their adopted Georgia hometown, George and his wife Kathye opened Papouli's, where they whipped up family recipes brought over from Greece. Soon they were adding other Mediterranean offerings to the menu that included hoummus, gyros, and fava bean salad. They eventually established a market brimming with goods like olive oil, coffee, and cheese and expanded to two locations, treating local residents to mouthwatering Mediterranean cuisine that doesn't require a long drive over the Atlantic ocean.
Chefs at Scratch Fresh construct classic comfort fare from scratch, dishing up a menu of hearty entrees and desserts at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Like a rooster sounding his ceremonial bugle, stone-ground cheese grits ($2.20) salute the dawn of a new day. Fresh eggs populate numerous breakfast dishes, joining hearty sustenance such as fried chicken and sausage gravy ($5.99). Diners can paint blank burger canvases ($3.59–$5.59) with condiments or craft avant-garde sculptures by fusing toppings such as roasted garlic mayo, grilled mushrooms, and artichokes. The grilled honey ham 'n’ cheese ($5.39) pilots a convoy of sandwiches, and pie—made with peanut butter crafted from boneless peanuts—caps off the meal ($4.59 for a quarter pie, $7.99 for a half pie).
The Derby Sports Grille Pub's crew of cuisine crafters delivers a capacious menu of pub favorites and beverages. An appetizing arrangement of cheese sticks bathes in a marinara concoction ($6.50), and battered buffalo shrimp inhabit oceans of mild, medium, or hot sauce ($6.95). The deft cooks stack up the Derby Melt, an 8-ounce burger cushioned by marble-rye bread and melted swiss cheese ($8.95), and diners can dollop mounds of barbecue-infused pulled pork and coleslaw on waiting buns ($7.95). Order a mealtime multiplicity of wings engulfed in sauces both classic and inventive, such as teriyaki, lemon-pepper, or sweet and sour⎯all served bone in or out ($6.99 for 6, $7.99 for 10, $13.99 for 20). Any of these meals can be enjoyed with a mug of beer, a glass of wine, or a derby hat filled with cognac.
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% 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 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 Häagen-Dazs 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 to 160 restaurants in five years, 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.
An earthy, open space with burnt-orange walls and wooden seating sets the scene At Cafe Efendi, which is celebrating it's 10th year in business. Their brick fireplace's flames echo the flames in the kitchen that cook thin slices of housemade Doner (gyro meat). The chefs flavor this and other Turkish dishes with aromatic Mediterranean seasonings, putting together moussaka and lamb kebabs to be enjoyed under the glow of streetlight-like wall sconces. Live music floods the space on Friday and Saturday nights, and belly dancers also enliven the atmosphere three nights a week, as hookah-smoking patrons blow smoke rings worthy of asking a jeweler to appraise them. Patrons have a full bar at their disposal, as well as patio seating that coaxes them outside to dine in temperate breezes.
The warm oranges and reds splashed across the walls at Kababish only hint at the chef's profound fascination with Indian spices. More direct evidence comes with every dish, from the chicken curry to the paneer tikka masala. Though there's no shortage of options to choose from at dinner, lunchtime finds all the classic dishes lined up for guests to take as much as their plates and top hats can hold.