When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, the location was cozy and quaint, but diners had only three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. However, as the restaurant grew in popularity, so did its menu selection and atmosphere. The restaurant first expanded four years later under the leadership of a Melting Pot waiter and enterprising college student named Mark Johnston, who teamed up with his brothers Mike and Bob to open a new outpost in Tallahassee. This location grew in reputation to pave the way for future franchise expansion. Today, the company—now owned by the trio of siblings—reigns as the premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants linked by underground tunnels. The restaurant's menu has also ballooned, and patrons can now expect six varieties of hot dipping cheese paired with salads, meats, and molten chocolate.
On a given night, groups of foodies gather around tables to nosh on signature four-course meals, from cheese-fondue appetizers and various salads to steaks and seafood cooked in a choice of healthy broth or oil. Birthday revelers and couples can share decadent evenings at private tables, capping off meals with chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.
Bamboo Fine Asian Cuisine isn't a Chinese restaurant or a Japanese restaurant—it's both, and it's got the menu(s) to prove it. Chinese dishes range from Hunan spicy beef and crispy pad thai to a daily lunch buffet, complete with baskets of dim sum treats. The Japanese dishes, meanwhile, hail from designated sushi chefs, who hand-craft nigiri and specialty maki such as the shrimp-tempura-stuffed dragon roll. For special occasions, or during flood warnings, diners can order their sushi served in a wooden boat—a fun alternative to a typical platter.
The burritos at Ixtapa Mexican Grill & Cantina aren't the handheld fast-food variety. Far from it, actually. The sauces and melted cheeses that smother the tortillas make them best eaten with a fork. Some of the burritos are stuffed with classic fillings, such as chicken or slices of grilled steak, whereas others are more innovative: the Atlantic Burrito is filled with shrimp, crab, fish, and scallops. There's even a fried apple-caramel burrito for dessert.
Though Ixtapa's chefs eagerly experiment with their dishes, there's no "Tex-Mex" on the menu—every taco, chimichanga, and enchilada is a remnant of an old family recipe. Each one can be traced back to its inspiration in Guadalajara and its namesake resort in Mexico. Margaritas complement the food with flavors of blackberry and kiwi, and range from the classic hand-shaken lime margarita to El Presidente, made with Cuervo 1800 tequila and delivered via motorcade.
James Alexander Wilson, W.M. Wilson, and their brother-in-law George Reynolds traveled from Enniskillen, Ireland in 1884 to establish Wilson Farm. Once settled in Lexington, the trio bought 16 acres of land and rented nearby farmland to start harvesting a variety of produce. Since then, their farm has been passed down through the generations and undergone a number of expansions, with a farm stand built in 1952 and an 8,500-square-foot barn and 37,000-square-foot greenhouse built in 1996.
Today, the farm harvests more than 125 crops year-round, which range from asparagus to zucchini, and it also carries farm-fresh milk and eggs, freshly caught fish, and homemade baked goods. The garden center and open-air nursery flourish with flowers as fresh as a newborn in parachute pants, as well as vegetable starters and spring bulbs, planting containers, and fertilizers.
Cake.'s simple, no-nonsense business name belies a menu full of elegant dessert creations, custom-made in stunning shapes for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and family celebrations in a wide range of flavors and fillings. Proprietor Michelle Ryan got her start in the baking trade at the age of eight, working in the kitchen making cookies and cakes alongside her childhood neighbor, Mr. Lewis. After years of delighting family and friends with her delicious desserts, Ryan turned her hobby into a career. Now, her handmade creations frequently appear in wedding banquet spreads, Hollywood feature films, and kitchens throughout the Boston area. Ryan wills into existence multi-tier wedding cakes clothed in creamy fondant, grooms' cakes in novelty shapes, and custom-made cupcakes in flavors such as Ghiradelli fudge, bittersweet mocha, and red velvet.
Avenue Deli's 35 sandwiches are built with Boar's Head meats, including German bologna, Genoa salami, and cracked-pepper turkey. Sandwich artists build specialty creations, such as the Thanksgiving Turkey with cranberry sauce and stuffing, and craft old standards, such as hot pastrami on one of 11 breads, including rye, focaccia, and onion roll. For the finishing touch on each sandwich, they look to a litany of 15 condiments and extras such as hummus and roasted red peppers. They also round out meals with a roster of salads and sides such as chili, and offer catering services.