The chefs at Chopstix top their artistic maki, sashimi, and hand rolls with vibrant caviar and crunchy tempura flakes, entertaining guests who dine at the sleek, black sushi bar. Behind the kitchen's doors, chefs quickly sauté meats and seafood on their hot hibachi grill or on the stove, the enticing aromas of tangy teriyakis and saucy curries wafting to customers as a prelude to arriving meals. In fairer weather, diners may choose to sit outside on the restaurant's patio or remain inside at large banquettes with plenty of room for leg stretching.
Although tomatoes top the grocery list each week at Twisted Tomato, the pizzeria's most prominent ingredient might be cheese. It's melted inside crispy pizza rolls and calzones, layered across 7- or 14-inch grinders, and sprinkled over hand-spun specialty pizzas such as the Maui Wowi, which is generously topped with ham, pineapple, and plane tickets to Hawaii. Additionally, parmesan, provolone, and blue cheese abound on Twisted Tomato's salads, and cheesecake makes a sweet ending for a dairy-driven meal.
Mulligan’s 52 flat-screen TVs, 108-inch projection screen, and full bar set a sudsy, sports-circled backdrop for classic American dining. Pair one of 40 beers with one of the burgers to enjoy a game with the Babe Ruth, 6 ounces of beef on a kaiser roll ($6.89), or the Michael Jordan, a 12-ounce patty topped with chili, jalapeños, and mixed cheese ($8.99), both served with seasoned fries. On the menu built by Mulligan's executive chef, traditional dinner entrees draw delicious inspiration from across America, with St. Louis–style pork slathered in Jack Daniels honey-barbecue sauce to fill out a full Rusty's rack o' ribs, ($18.99), and Fernando's fajitas sating Southwestern appetites with beef or chicken, tri-colored peppers, onions, and flour tortillas ($13.99).
When Ronn Teitelbaum opened the first Johnny Rockets location in 1986, his goal was to create a restaurant where people could escape the postmodern blues of everyday life and experience a taste of time-honored Americana. The name itself is a nod to this ideal—it combines the star of a classic American fable, Johnny Appleseed, and a classic car, Oldsmobile’s beefy Rocket 88. The chain now makes itself at home in America's cultural landmarks, including Yankee Stadium and the Flamingo Hotel.
During dinners at the famous burger joints, you’ll see signs of simpler times, starting with the cooks and servers—dressed head to toe in white, including white paper hats, they look like they’ve fallen out of a wormhole from the 1950s ready to sling shakes and cook up some eats. Behind a stainless-steel bar lined with red leather stools they tend to their traditional diner fare, including burgers and melts with sides such as chili-cheese fries and onion rings. Riding sidecar to each meal is a collection of hand-dipped and hand-spun floats, shakes, and malts topped with whipped cream.
Spanish for “the blue hill,” El Cerro Azul takes its name from the highlands surrounding the owners' hometown of Degollado, Mexico, whose fields of deep-indigo agave reward the patience of waiting seven years for the plants to ripen. The menu promises an equally colorful pay-off with traditional Mexican eats such as golden-brown pork carnitas, marinated-chicken chipotle, and rib-eye-steak campestre smothered in grilled veggies and onions. An ample selection of vegetarian choices stuffs chimichangas with mushrooms and organic spinach, and burritos with squash. Lobster tails in tequila-butter sauce, however, offers a a flavor of Mexican cuisine that is rarely enjoyed outside of a lobster's bachelor party.
Servers muddle fresh avocado with cilantro and onion beside tables at Plaza Azteca Restaurantes. The theme of the restaurant is freshness—chefs prepare salsa throughout the day and sleep in tupperware containers overnight. The founders of Plaza Azteca opened their first restaurant in 1994 to bring traditional Mexican dishes from Jalisco, their native Mexican state, to Virginia Beach. Today, they have restaurants in six US states. To create fajitas, the cooks fill skillets with grilled vegetables, chorizo, steak, and zesty chimichurri sauce. For the molcajete Azteca, they stuff hot stone bowls with rib-eye steak, chicken, shrimp, poblano peppers, and pineapple, topping it with honey pasilla sauce.