Though The Hot Box Restaurant & Grill is owner Caitlin Standridge’s first business venture, she is not new to the restaurant world, as highlighted by the Millington Star. In fact, it was Caitlin’s more than five years of experience in the food industry that inspired her boyfriend and the restaurant’s co-owner, Jeremy Payne, to convince Caitlin to take a leap of faith and establish The Hot Box Restaurant & Grill in 2013.
The pair now satisfies locals with Southern soul foods that range from catfish and butterfly-shrimp dinners to sauce-drenched wings and sides of okra and green beans. After meals, diners can be found surfing Hot Box’s complimentary WiFi or playing darts in the spacious dining room. They can also attempt to break personal records on the restaurant’s arcade games, which include the classic Ms. Pac-Man and the more forward-thinking Bet You Can’t Beat Your Personal Record.
During spring at Jones Orchard, families gather to bound through the territory’s rows of fruit, peeling back leaves to get at the ripest morsels hidden deep within the thicket. Since growing their first peaches more than seven decades ago, the Jones family continues to ripen juicy varieties of peaches, strawberries, and other fruit on their 600-acre farm, eschewing long-distance produce shipping for local distribution, mostly available at farmer’s markets and during the orchard’s pick-your-own fruit season. Inviting families to pick fruit together is one of many ways the Jones family lures visitors to their orchard seasonally—come autumn, the farmers transform the fields into a vast corn maze. Visitors not content to wander the idyllic grounds can enjoy the orchard’s bounty at the Country Café, where matriarch Juanita Jones flavors her fresh pies and preserves with fresh-plucked fruits.
Amidst burnished gold walls and soft lighting, Thai Bistro & Sushi's chefs use a palette of ginger, Thai basil, lemongrass, and chilies, painting a bouquet of aromas across the restaurant. Thin or wide rice noodles twine around chicken or shrimp in various sauces, and bamboo shoots and bell peppers float in coconut-milk curries, all perfumed with the range of spices. The spiciness of each dish can be adjusted to suit a palate sensitive to heat or a need to pretend to be crying at a third-grade production of Of Mice and Men. Inside the dining room, pieces of modern art, suspended statues, and images of Buddha punctuate the walls.
Fat Larry’s quaint checkered tablecloths, worn wood floors, and warm colors greet meat eaters seeking saucy, down-home Memphis barbecue and eats. Molars masticate a bevy of appetizer options, including fried dill pickles ($4.99) and barbecue nachos ($6.99). Tickle flavor whiskers with the catfish plate ($9.99), paired with a helping of well-trained hush puppies fetching a second side of slaw. Barbecue sample plate No. 1 ($13.99) brims over with ribs, pulled pork, beef brisket, beans, and slaw. Keep belly foundations safe from hungerquakes by teaming four bone ribs with a 10-ounce steak ($19.99), then washing it down with a domestic beer ($2.75). Kids’ meals include mini corn dogs, hamburgers, two chicken strips, or grilled cheese ($4.99 each). Save space in abdomen storage facilities for coconut cake ($2.95) or a large banana pudding ($2.95), then walk out of Fat Larry's with a full house of goodies.
A steady stream of servers constantly moves from the kitchen of Grand Pacific Buffet kitchen to the buffet serving station, where they replenish trays of sesame chicken, pepper steak, crispy egg rolls, and other Chinese cuisine classics. Diners can also load plates with assorted sushi rolls or, on certain occasions, unlimited helpings of succulent snow crab legs. Giant koi fish swim in an indoor pond, adding to the restaurant's Asian-inspired decor.
The cheerful family that birthed Guacamaya's prides itself on flavorful south-of-the-border fare that comes cooked to order. A favorite is the gargantuan El Zarape platter ($9.95), which sports a savory heap of broiled fajita meat, onions, and bell peppers draped with melted white cheese, rice, charro beans, and corn or flour tortillas. The tilapia fish tacos ($9.95) please the sea-slanted, and patrons harried by rigid taco and burrito algorithms may wish to try the pupusas ($7.99 for three), plump pancakes stuffed with a tasty cheese or pork center and served with smoky charro beans and any of the warm, zesty homemade salsas. Guacamaya’s gastronomic engineers prepare each item with tender care, and if they have the ingredients, they’ll whip up any plate your customizable heart desires. Thanks to a BYOB policy, you’re spared both the expense of drinks and the worry about a menu lacking bottled armadillo tears.