Proponents of dry rub can be found across the Midwest—Oklahoma’s barbecue joints are an especially good bet. If you ask any of these die-hards, they’ll say that what dry-rubbed meats lack in sauce, they make up for in the delicately balanced flavors of their spices. Rib Crib BBQ & Grill captures these flavors and brings them to its cozy Lakeland restaurant, where guests can feast on chicken, ribs, and briskets smoked onsite over hickory chips. In addition to pit choices, Rib Crib dishes out Southern¬-style sides such as corn on the cob, mac ‘n’ cheese, and slow-cooked cowboy beans that guests can lasso individually with a tiny rope of floss.:m]]
The taste-bud ticklers at La Valentina prepare gourmet Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine from scratch, using fresh ingredients united by rave-worthy recipes. The menu edifies traditional dishes with tenets of contemporary gastronomy, resulting in enlightened edibles such as fish tacos—corn tortillas topped with grilled tilapia, spinach, and pineapple-avocado pico de gallo ($10.99)—and smoked chicken enchiladas with zesty roasted tomato sauce ($8.99). Avocado artists chop, mix, and serve guacamole ($7.99) tableside, and the back-kitchen preps heartier plates such as the 12-ounce adobo marinated rib eye ($14.99). After the last plate clears, dessert devotees can pay their respects to the sugar gods with Mexican ambrosia such as the volcano—a gooey chocolate mound with a warm fudge center, topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel ($6.49)—and flan ($3.29).
All the steaks served at Western Sizzlin are first flame-kissed—cooked with flames licking both sides of the steak at once. As general manager Elgin Hamner states on the restaurant's website, this method preserves the flavors and juices of each slab, including the top-sirloin, rib-eye, filet-mignon, and T-bone steaks that populate the menu. Besides steaks, chefs prepare chicken breasts six different ways, including broiled or drizzled with teriyaki sauce, and they skim shrimp and salmon across the grill’s surface to the rhythm of "Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)." Diners can also tear into a cheeseburger or a philly steak sandwich underneath the antlered chandeliers that dangle from the ceiling.
With a reputation that includes titles such as the "Pie Guy" and "The Man Who Made 100 Different Pies in One Night," it's no great surprise that Chris Monroe—a dedicated pie lover and enthusiast—runs Hunka Pie. Open since 2007, the restaurant is dedicated to small-batch and handcrafted pies that boast flaky, hand-rolled crusts and are made without the preservatives found in big-batch bakeries. Equipped with the childhood pie memories and experience of growing up with three generations of pie makers, Chris claims the "largest selection of handcrafted pie in Arkansas." And judging from his list, he may be right. Interesting flavors such as chocolate hazelnut baklava and peach with rum glaze pop out alongside classic combinations such as southern pecan and key lime.
But though Chris and Hunka Pie specialize in pie, they also bring their A-game to breakfast, lunch, and dinner food, as well. They tout classic and creative burgers made with a third-pound of ground beef, some seasoned with secret spices, and others with more exotic flavors. The bombay burger adds garam masala to the mix, and the turkey burger's patty is seasoned with herbs. And though the restaurant was once relegated to a small drive-in counter, the restaurant's new digs invite patrons to sit and relax in the classic chrome and red of a former diner.
When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop—then called Pete's Subway—proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway boasts more than 34,000 locations around the world—almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Salads free crisp veggies from bread's overprotective embrace, and crunchy baked chips or apple slices accompany entrees to tables. Subway’s website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutritional information and fastest mile time online.