Mann's menu is the work of owner Jim Mann, an artist whose medium is meat and whose canvas is your face. No-nonsense noshers can order meat by the pound—sausage ($11.99), brisket ($12.99), ribs of bovine ($9.09) or porcine ($12.99) origin, pulled pork ($12.99), and more. To keep a hand open for impromptu gong solos, have Jim slap some of that meat between ground-wheat slabs for a barbecue sandwich ($5.59) and side it with potato salad, turnip greens, or black-eyed peas ($2.59 for one serving, $4.99 a pint). Larger appetites have their choice of combo plate with two sides (two meats, $11.59; three meats, $12.99; four meats, $15.79; veggie plate, $7.59). Once your plate looks like a pig exploded on it and your mouth and clothes are gloriously slathered in barbecue sauce, potato salad, and flecks of cobbed corn, finish up your power lunch with a jumbo Texas sweet tea ($2.29) and banana pudding ($2.89), then go nail that job interview.
The cooks at Pappy’s Bar and Grill fill an express line with six hearty entrees that rotate daily served alongside steaming sides. Pile on the protein at a barbecue cutting station that whips up freshly sliced brisket, juicy sausage, and smoked chicken. The ever-changing selection of entrees quiets even the loudest stomach-opera aria with servings of homemade meatloaf, smoked-chicken enchiladas, or slow-roasted beef, each coupled with one of up to a dozen side options such as gravy-drenched mashed potatoes or okra stewed with tomatoes. After polishing plates, patrons can let off steam with a rousing game of pool or a high-stakes William Tell–style round of darts.
The Common Interest’s specially designed private rooms accommodate music tastes of all types, with each boasting a touch-screen system stocked with more than 65,000 songs. Cram up to 10 aspiring vocalists inside the newly remodeled spaces, which include customizable light controls to help set the mood before marathon renditions of German oom-pah classics ensue. Nonmusically inclined patrons can use the flat-screen televisions to watch live sporting events, play videogames, or conduct motivational seminars over the Internet.
The chefs at Kerbey Lane Cafe have spent decades combining locally sourced ingredients to craft a menu brimming with eclectic breakfast fare, Mexican-tinged entrees, and rotating seasonal dishes served all day long. Batter craftsmen flip stacks of Kerbey Lane's signature homemade pancakes ($2.99–$5.39), dressed up in a full wardrobe of adventurous flavors including gingerbread, apple whole wheat, vegan, and crushed velvet. The SoLa enchiladas pack tortillas with portobello mushrooms, spinach, and cheddar-jack cheese under a downpour of your choice of sauce ($7.99). Groups can scoop through an appetizer of the Kerbey queso ($8.09)—guacamole blanketed with queso and pico de gallo and served with tortilla chips for dipping and flinging at open-mouthed dinner dates.
Smoldering post oak saturates Stubb's house-smoked meats with a complex bouquet of flavors, liberating mouthwatering aromas to surf through the air and into eager olfactories. The menu is a carnivore's concerto of mouthwatering pork ribs ($11.95) and beef brisket ($11.95). Nestle into a warm heap of pulled pork like a drowsy Paula Deen with the Bar-B-Q plate, which flanks a choice of meats with homemade sides such as fried okra and mashed sweet potatoes ($11.95). Desserts such as banana pudding ($3.95) are available to punctuate saucy meals.
Hickory Street Bar & Grill fosters a sense of weirdness, with a cross-dressing patio-regular who was once a mayoral candidate, a stage for local performers, and an eclectic menu of comfort food. Starters, such as tortilla chips with homemade chili con queso ($3.99) and the summer salad, topped with fresh strawberries, blue cheese and caramelized pecans ($6.99), push diners down a road of culinary satisfaction that leads to a full-meal city. The mushroom, swiss, and onion burger ($7.99) and homemade black-bean burger, topped with mango salsa and sprouts ($6.49) take advantage of the great advances in bun technology. Heartier appetites can fill up on chicken-fried steak paired with mashed potatoes ($9.49), and others can check out the breakfast menu, which compiles omelets, french toast, and breakfast tacos.