The ruleta wheel at Pancho Villa Mexican Restaurant sends tablefuls of friends into a frenzy when one of the bunch is chosen to take a spin. Landing on the right space in this wheel can grant the entire table free drinks from a selection of specialty margaritas and cocktails. This is just one of the ways the staff amps up the festive atmosphere in the restaurant—there's also karaoke every night Thursday through Sunday. And thanks to the flat screen televisions, patrons can keep an eye on their favorite teams as they face off with rivals or trade secrets for keeping their shoelaces tied.
Patrons come as much for the atmosphere as they do for the menu of chicken flautas, cheese enchiladas, shrimp chimichangas, pork ribs, and other traditional Mexican cuisine. When the weather's nice they can dine outside, where umbrellas protect their entrees from the sun's sticky fingers. Regular lunch specials and the Monticello location's lunch buffet make midday dining even more enticing.
When Maynard's Restaurant opened its first location on the shores of Lake Minnetonka in 1998, it was a melding of the nostalgic and the modern. Sure, it was an old-fashioned diner, but one that added a gourmet flair to its American casual cuisine done right. It features an approachable menu with generous portions and plenty of variety for those repeat visits, from a pot-roast French dip to a butternut squash ravioli swimming in cranberry cream sauce. In 2005, a second branch opened in Rogers with equally comforting ambience, swapping out the lakeside locale for a cabin-esque dining room lit by a roaring fireplace.
When Travis Dickey opened the first Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in 1941, the menu offered beef brisket, pit hams, barbecue beans, potato chips, drinks, and that’s all. By focusing on perfecting the flavors of a few dishes, Travis was able to increase quality, and, ultimately, customers. Patrons were so enamored of the food that the restaurant eventually expanded into a nationwide franchise, allowing Americans all over to wear badges made of barbecue sauce. Over the past 70 years, Dickey’s has been passed on to Travis’s sons, but not much else has changed—the quality meats are still seasoned and smoked on site, and except for the addition of spicy cheddar sausage in 2011, the menu remains the same. Regional meats ensure that the most succulent Texas-style chopped beef brisket, old-recipe polish sausage, and fall-off-the-bone pork ribs make it to tabletops. Sides such as mac 'n' cheese and green beans with bacon continue to enhance feasts with an extra punch of homestyle tastiness. Each meal comes complete with complimentary ice cream, soft rolls, and dill pickles.
It started with a single store, opened in Fridley, Minnesota in 1964. But Dick Kempe's pizza proved too tasty for one outpost, and Chanticlear Pizza eventually spread to 14 locations in the following years. And although Dick no longer owns the pizzerias, his uncompromising standards for quality pies remain in place. Fresh dough is mixed up and hand-tossed daily. Vegetables are chopped each morning. Instead of adding sugar to their sauce, the chefs rely on the tomatoes' natural, charm school-perfected sweetness. And the from-scratch foundation is always topped with house-shredded, 100% Wisconsin mozzarella cheese.
Once the dough and sauce are ready, Chanticlear Pizza's chefs continue the process by loading them with meats and veggies. The selection of toppings range from shrimp and bacon pieces to a secret-recipe pickle blend. A splash of spicy, bourbon-tinged molasses or chunky salsa can add additional pizzazz to pizzas. Beyond circular eats, polygonal dishes as pastas, calzones, and sides of buffalo wings and garlic toast populate the menu.
From humble beginnings as a single donut shop in Lakewood, California, in 1953, Denny's has grown into a nationwide destination for classic American diner food served around the clock. Today, just shy of 1,800 locations thrive across the nation, serving up breakfast, lunch, and dinner at any time that guests feel a hunger for good food. Family owned and operated, Denny's of Otsego's friendly and attentive staff serves up a menu of more than 100 options, including build-your-own breakfasts and burgers and fried fish for an all-you-can-eat meal on Fridays.
Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milk Shake, and Best Drive-Thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through their program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.