The hot dogs grilling away at the Snappy Dogs stand may look traditional, but the end result is anything but. Naturally-encased Pearl Meats beef hot dogs, as well as veggie dogs and chicken sausages, are served in a roll baked at nearby Colella's. But it's not just the quality of the local ingredients at Snappy Dogs that makes the food special?it's also the stand's condiments. In addition to classic ketchup, mustard, and relish, the team is often called upon to top hot dogs with their seasonal homemade watermelon-rind chutney, chipotle ketchup, or fresh zucchini relish. Each meal is grilled to order, giving customers a few minutes to enjoy the shady trees nearby or imagine each one as a giant hot dog.
Krua Khun Yah's vast lunch and dinner menus encapsulate the many and varied flavors of Thailand's culinary history with dishes such as massaman curry, tamarind duck, and Bangkok beef. Chefs willingly adjust the spice level of dishes based on how many ounces of sweat bead on customers' brows from just the smell. Authentic ingredients include rich coconut milk and native chilies, and fresh ingredients come from local farmers' markets. Meals are also cooked in pure vegetable oil to bring out each flavor, coaxing any shy ingredients out of hiding.
Ken's Steak House is an improbable success story. Ken and Florence Hanna opened the Lakeside Cafe in 1935, the throes of the Great Depression. Bite by bite, they built a loyal base of customers (who always just called the eatery "Ken's"), and after five years, the restaurant took up residence in a small diner on Route 9, then known as Starvation Alley.
But Ken dreamed of a day when the grimly named strip would flourish. Today, it's known as the "Golden Mile"—and Ken's Steak House itself has mushroomed. The kitchen still serves the salad dressing recipes created by Florence Hanna—now a national line of salad dressings—and Ken's son, Timothy, and his wife are in charge.
Chefs broil and fire-grill prime cuts of steak, marinating the chateaubriand's center cut roast tenderloin in a reduction of port wine, or infusing the 8-ounce filet mignon with the earthy smoked notes of the warm cedar planks it's served on. Seafood options nestle up against their turf counterparts, including bacon-wrapped scallops, a full pound of lobster stuffed with crab and shrimp, and pistachio-crusted Atlantic salmon. Chicken and pasta dishes round out the menu, and diners discover Italian influences and plenty of seafood-pasta plates. The rustic wood paneling harkens back to Ken's Steak House's roots, and the upscale fare and soft light cast from chandeliers make the spot an ideal choice for an anniversary dinner or a piñata's last meal.
When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, diners had just three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. The restaurant first expanded four years later, when an enterprising waiter at the initial location opened up a new outpost in Tallahassee. Today, the company?now owned by that original waiter, Mark Johnston, and his brothers Mike and Bob?reigns as the premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across the U.S., Mexico, and Canada with more than 140 restaurants and plans to expand to Saudi Arabia and Dubai. The restaurant's menu has also expanded, and patrons can now select from six varieties of hot dipping cheese fondues paired with salads, entrees, and their signature chocolate fondue.
On a given night, groups of viscous-dip-loving foodies gather around tables to nosh on cheese-fondue appetizers and various salads while cooking a variety of steaks and seafood in a choice of one of three flavored broth or traditional oil styles. Birthday revelers and romance seekers cap decadent evenings sharing the chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.
“It’s the next best thing to having Greek friends who put a spit in the yard come Easter,” proclaims The Improper Bostonian of Aegean Restaurant. The glowing review should come as no surprise—for one thing, Aegean’s founders Nicholas and Toula Ntasios hail from Greece, and for another, they've been working at it for nearly three decades. In 1972, the pair left their small village to chase after success in America. Their gamble paid off in 1980 when they opened the first Aegean Restaurant. As locals discovered the strip-mall eatery, a spot as deceivingly nondescript as a fortune cookie that contains the president’s phone number, business went from sparse to thriving. In the three decades since, Nicholas and Toula (eventually joined by sons Arthur and Chris) have drawn customers not with glitzy marketing campaigns, but with authentic, personalized food. The Improper Bostonian deems their braised lamb “especially worth the trip,” but Mediterranean influences shine through most in seafood dishes, such as the charcoal-grilled, lemon-kissed swordfish steak.
Guadalajara, nestled in the state of Jalisco, was the birthplace of many of the flavors used in Mexican food. Those influences shine through in the recipes at Taqueria Mexico, where the chefs draw on family recipes brought by over from the inventive city. The dishes have helped earn the eatery very good to excellent ratings on Zagat.
As at any good taqueria, the gorditas, tacos, tortas, and burritos can be stuffed with a wide range of meats and veggies. Carnitas, pork traditionally slow cooked with green chilies, is nearly as tender as steamed beef al vapor. Lengua, or beef tongue, is also a time-tested taqueria meat. And like the dependents section of a scarecrow’s taxes, the eatery’s quesadillas brim with squash.