Pieces of split hickory tumble into the bottom of the smoker. On the racks above, chefs lay on freshly trimmed cuts of meat—including beef brisket, pork shoulder, and tenderloin—to braise for up to 12 hours in the velvety smoke. A veteran of the pipe-fabrication business who builds his own smokers in his spare time, Steve Ohman knew what he wanted when shopping for his two commercial smokers, which have anchored Stone Mill BBQ and Steakhouse since it opened in 2003.
But other aspects of the restaurant also bear his personal stamp. All of the menu's meats and seafood come spiced in Ohman's own blend of seasonings, and he built the restaurant's wood tables from scratch with the help of his wife and kids. The restaurant's rustic yet elegant decor of exposed wooden trusses, split-log furnishings, and a wagon-wheel-turned-chandelier complement the main dining space's stone double fireplace.
Shiloh's Restaurant's homestyle fare is born of the love and dedication of several generations of restaurateurs. The Hermann and Rodgers families have more than 50 years' experience in the kitchen, and although they're retired, entrepreneurial pros Grandma Ethel and Great-Grandma Gladys still oversee the recipe book to ensure quality.
Following these thoroughly scrutinized instructions, chefs cook up a well-rounded menu of all-day country breakfasts, meaty sandwiches, and pan-fried country steak. At tables, Shiloh's signature housemade rolls are always on hand to sop up leftover homestyle gravy and goulash. And to ensure that no mouth is left unfed, chefs also serve up their piping-hot comfort food to offices, parties, and the hungry families of vacationing grandmothers.
Though Lasamee Xiong and her husband Thoa have owned restaurants in Minnesota, Michigan, and Oklahoma, their native land will always be Thailand, according to Tulsa World. With their son Saya at the kitchen's helm, they continue to serve up their homeland's cuisine in the quaint 30-person dining room at Thai Garden. Although Thai fare is the primary focus, the 30-item menu also includes Vietnamese and Chinese selections—many accentuated by spices and herbs directly from Thailand.
To the soft rhythms of Southeast Asian music, green and maroon laminate tables populate with steaming soups, traditional pad thai, and chicken and beef in sweet curry and sichuan sauces. Though fork and knife are the primary utensils at Thai Garden, chopsticks are also available upon request.
The owners and chefs at Santa Fe Cattle rely on old family recipes that demand steaks are aged and cut in-house, rolls are baked fresh each day, and signature sauces are mixed onsite. These touches transform the menu’s casual, regional eats into dishes worthy of John Wayne’s personal dressing-room buffet. Steaks, fajitas, and sliders are plated next to housemade sides of cole slaw, Santa Fe taters, and of course, a bucket of peanuts—which guests shuck directly onto the floor. The peanut shells add character to each one of the restaurant’s 20 locations, which evoke old-west saloons with touches such as brick walls draped in horse saddles and weathered wooden floors.
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.
Chefs at Family Back Creek Deli & Gifts stir pots of baked-potato soup and spread their signature chicken salad between slices of bread each day. The restaurant has a rustic, homey atmosphere with exposed-brick-wall accents and decorative birdhouses, along with a gift area teeming with olive oils, jams, and greeting cards.