When a restaurant makes eight different kinds of French toast, you know they take breakfast seriously. Such is the case at Brunch Café, a local, family-run chain that serves up breakfast and lunch every day. Pancakes share the menu with European crepes and egg and sausage breakfast sliders—which put a daytime spin on a late night snack. Lunch fare includes paninis, wraps, and burgers, along with classic cobb and chopped salads. Mimosas and bloody marys are perfect for sipping alongside these meals or for toasting the invention of the waffle iron.
Soft light floats in through the shoji-style windows at Bangkok Thai & Sushi, where the menu lists a diversity of Thai curry and noodle dishes such as garlic pepper chicken or roast duck in Thai chili sauce. Sushi chefs prepare rainbow rolls, which wrap the traditional California roll in red tuna, salmon, and avocado, as well as black dragon rolls, which contain spicy salmon, shrimp tempura, and eel.
Using fresh ingredients, chef Mario Arevalo scratch-crafts a menu of Italian-American fare with Spanish and Mediterranean influences. Quickly quiet talkative tummies with a black-olive tapenade, kalamata olives puréed with garlic, fresh herbs, imported cheeses, and extra-virgin olive oil, and served with herb crostini ($3.25). The pasta aglio olio—angel-hair pasta tossed with sautéed garlic, herbs, spicy red-pepper flakes, white wine, and butter—is cooked al dente and doubles as dental floss ($7.50). The herb-breaded Sicilian pork sandwich warms finger docks and bellies with a cloak of marinara sauce and baked cheeses ($8.75), and the pollo vesuvio keeps forks fit with a plated obstacle course featuring a pan-seared chicken-breast mountain, a shallow pool of garlic-and-white-wine sauce, green peas for juggling, and fried potato wedges for balancing on the nose ($11.25).
A new take on the old salad bar, Diced Fresh’s produce cornucopia allows customers to create their own salads from more than 50 fresh toppings and 22 regular, low-fat, and fat-free dressings. Customers outline every detail of their salad on the streamlined order sheets, ticking off a host of fixings, such as feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and chicken, or signifying everything they don’t want with crudely drawn frowny faces. The behind-the-counter staff takes over from there to swiftly assemble the completely customized meal, optionally pairing it with a bowl of lobster bisque or nonfat vegetable chili. Indecisive eaters can simplify the decision-making process by ordering one of 18 predesigned salads, such as turkey cobb or fajita chicken, which can alternatively be turned into a wrap.
The cooks at Reese’s Restaurant have manned the griddle for more than two decades, firing up hearty diner fare for servers to whisk to the eatery’s homey dining room during lunch and dinner. When whipping up designer skillets and omelets, the grill masters pepper customer-picked meats such as seasoned chicken, bratwurst, or corned-beef hash with one of seven cheeses, and gardens of crisp vegetables, including fresh spinach, mushrooms, and jalapeños. Kids can request that their pancakes be poured into the shapes of their favorite characters, whether they are silhouettes of Mickey Mouse’s head or Captain Ahab’s peg leg. For lunch, diners can silence midday tummy quakes with the thin roast beef and au jus of Big Dippers or heaping tossed salads.
Cartoon flames and pitchforks adorn Dante’s vivid red awning, which crowns a cozy, white-bricked edifice. The kitchen team serves the sinfully delicious eats in checkered paper baskets, conjuring an ambiance of Americana better than Hank Aaron obliterating an apple pie with his bat. Casual fare, such as sizzling single or double burgers alongside juicy cylinders of bratwurst and polish sausage, heats up chilled craws. A chicken sandwich, meanwhile, arrives at tables sheathed in panko-encrusted armor.