Team USA vs. The World may sound like the title of Shaquille O'Neal's autobiography, but it is in fact a mixed martial arts competition that pits 12 of this country's finest mixed martial arts athletes against teams of fighters from Australia, Ireland, and Poland. Stuff your pockets with miniature American flags and gird your thrillcitement nodes for an evening of leg tussles, arm bars, and rear naked chokes. With ground-floor seats, you'll be close enough to see the beads of sweat on the fighters' brows and smell the adrenaline puffs as they condense into clouds shaped like clenched fists in the air above the ring. Fighters scheduled to battle for Team USA include John Hansen (205 lbs.), the 2008 USA National Champion in the LHW Division, Alex White (155 lbs.), who won in the 2009 Ringside World Boxing Championships, and Eric Daigle (155 lbs.), who obtained the lightweight title during the ISCF National Tournament in 2009.
Applying his background in engineering, Stony Gardens founder C.J. Jackson tackled a problem familiar to any family every Thanksgiving: cooking the perfect turkey. Determined to find a way to cook the poultry without drying it out, Jackson created a rotisserie smoker that cooks the bird thoroughly while retaining its natural juices. Injected to the bone with one of three marinades—herb and garlic, Cajun, or Caribbean jerk—each turkey slow-roasts over mesquite wood until cooked thoroughly, after which it's packaged for delivery or pickup along with recipes for reusing leftovers. In 2009, in an effort to give back to their community, Jackson and his wife, Dr. Chrystal Strickland, founded the Avert Foundation, a non-profit organization that donates 100 turkeys annually to local underserved families.
The menu at The Lucky Dog is pure Chicago: Vienna Beef franks with all the fixings, grilled italian beef and sausage sandwiches (red sauce optional), gyros, even catfish and pit-smoked barbecue ribs and chicken. It's a lot to master, but the restaurant has been tinkering with its recipes since 1984?which they can do because they make so many staples of the menu in-house. Here you can find gyro and Italian beef slices sizzling on the grill beside the made-to-order burgers, as well as soups and chilis that are whipped up from scratch. Of course, this kind of hearty food seems extra comforting late at night, and accordingly, all four locations stay open until the wee hours of the morning.
Guests quaff cocktails and savor new york strip steak inside Nikos Bar & Grill, a casual pub-style restaurant attached to Nikos Banquets. Besides grilling up half-pound angus beef burgers, heaping plates of marinated chicken, and other hearty fare, the chefs also tend to the lighter side of things with a selection of sandwiches, flatbreads, and crisp, fresh salads. On Saturday nights, a DJ gets the party going inside the art-deco-style space, whose glimmering mirrors and tufted leather couches recall the stately 1930s glamour of the top-secret speakeasy FDR used to run in the White House.
The first IHOP—the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin—opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the "International House of Pancakes." Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.
Sultan Palace's all-you-can-eat spread of classic Indian curries, vegetarian dishes, and chicken entrees pleases diverse palates during lunch and dinner. A line of silver-plated catering trays host poultry choices such as chicken beryani and chicken tikka, as well as mixed vegetables for herbivorous cravings. Chicken and lamb curries entertain taste buds bored of leftover pizza and rehydrated astronaut cheeseburgers, and gulab jamun, a popular Indian dessert, embraces sweet teeth with donut-like bites smothered in saccharine syrup. Inside the newly established eatery, white-linen-cloth tables host maroon chairs surrounded by peach, textured walls adorned with artwork.