Inside The Jambalaya Shoppe's Government Street eatery, diners savor dishes of smoked chicken, crawfish pie, slow-cooked red beans, and other mouthwatering Cajun classics. The comfortable ambiance—paper towels are a staple at each table—is enhanced with red-checkered tablecloths and a black-and-white mural depicting a classic Southern landscape. When patrons approach the counter overhung by a chalkboard menu, ordering a spread for takeout is also an option. The restaurant's cooks can pack styrofoam coolers with potato salad, gumbo, and chicken-breast dinners for patrons to take to tailgating events and picnics.
Roly Poly's staff crafts a menu of nutritious sandwiches, soups, and salads from fresh vegetables and other healthy ingredients. Inside a Santa Fe chicken sandwich ($6.25 whole; $3.95 half), sleepy sliced chicken breast snuggles under a blanket of melted jalapeño jack cheese, only to be rudely roused by a splash of salsa. Alternately, a fashion-forward Spa salad ($5.95) shows off a multicolored frock of plum tomatoes, avocado, and alfalfa, and the Brown Derby cobb ($6.95) crumbles blue cheese and bacon over mixed greens. For liquid sustenance, cauldrons of seafood gumbo ($3.95 cup; $4.95 bowl) and shrimp-and-corn bisque ($3.95 cup, $4.95 bowl) boil and toil to practice for upcoming Macbeth prop auditions.
When Mike Kantrow founded his original sandwich shop in 1979, he thought the name Byron's looked too boring. So, as he explains on his restaurant's website, he scratched the s and added a z to the end, giving birth to both a local legend with the Big Byronz sandwich and a local controversy over how to pronounce "Byronz." "If you want clarification on how to say it," Mike explains, "don't ask me."
So while regulars may fight over phonetics, few argue over the flavors infused in Bistro Byronz's southern-styled bistro cuisine. Hearty entrees anchor both the lunch and dinner menus, inviting diners to dig into the roasted potatoes that flank a French-cut pork chop marinated in Abita root beer. Comfort dishes soothe the soul, such as tender pot roast that wades in creole gravy and the signature Byronz sandwich with three types of meat, cheeses, dressing, and black olives.
Thai Pepper spicys up evenings with authentic Thai cuisine served with a plethora of fresh vegetables and herbs, minimal oil, and extra-lean meat. Feasting begins at 5 p.m. with the clanging of the bell pepper, ushering in dinner-menu options such as the papaya salad ($7.25), a dynamic duo of papaya and carrots flying high with lime juice, roasted peanuts, and fresh chili. Rice gangs stick together, staking out their turf on the entrees, all of which can be made-to-order with meat staples such as chicken, pork, or beef ($9.75 each), shrimp or combo entrees ($11.95 each), fish ($12.75), vegetables, or vegetables and tofu ($8.95 each). Cuisine conquerors can wash down hearty meals with imported beers ($3.75), such as the Sapporo from Japan or the Tsingtao from China, or the house wine ($3.25/glass), which comes in chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and white zinfandel incarnations.