Joe Helbing captained Howlett's tavern for 13 years before deciding to explore a new career path, only to discover he missed the clink of beer glasses and the chatter of happy guests. Having reaffirmed his passion for the restaurant biz, Joe reopened his restaurant, where he continues to serve the original Howlett's memorable menu of steak-house favorites.
Deep in the kitchen, chefs grill a variety of hand-cut steaks, ribs, and fresh seafood dishes. To craft their signature crab cakes, they season fresh lump crab with a savory rémoulade. Come lunchtime, they turn their attention to making thick paninis and hearty burgers and shaking their fists at the relentless midday sun. Guests linger over last sips of cocktails and final bites of housemade pecan pie at tables that speckle the spacious dining room.
At Don Pepe Mexican Restaurant, an expansive menu of fajitas, burritos, and steaks illustrates the breadth and depth of the Mexican culinary tradition. Nachos in 10 varieties greet diners with juicy morsels of chicken or beef and a crunch that could wake a jet-lagged Rip Van Winkle. Enchiladas team up with tacos or tamales to form hearty combos, or go solo to showcase classic Mexican ingredients such as poblano peppers and green tomatillos. Quesadillas can be stuffed with vegetarian-friendly fillings, such as mushrooms, or meaty delights, such as house-made chorizo. To round out meals, xangos come with a dusting of cinnamon sugar that impresses sweet teeth as much as a coating of edible diamonds.
A family-owned restaurant for more than 29 years, Klara’s Kitchun was named after the family’s matriarch, Clara Whitt, whose signature recipes inspired a menu of hearty, homestyle dishes. Cozy booths help customers relax and relish the scent of okra, pot roast, and homemade rolls and cornbread. Entrees pair with 20 sides, such as candied yams and fried apples, and homemade coconut cream pie and cherry cobbler beguile sweet teeth. Cooks can also dole out hearty lunch boxes or catered fare for weddings, special events, and Abraham Lincoln look-alike conventions.
Soprano’s Italian Bistro’s menu brims with pizzas, pastas, and other traditional Italian favorites. Homemade ciabatta bread cradles savory stuffings in grilled panini sandwiches such as The Boss, a spicy trio of capicollo, fresh mozzarella, and sliced tomato ($5.95), or The Mobster, a succulent syndicate of roast beef, provolone, and mayo served with a side of fries and a succinct strategy for a super-secret museum heist ($5.95). Pasta entrees provide picky patrons a choice of spaghetti, penne, bow tie, or rotini dressed to order in marinara ($7.95) or meat sauce ($8.95), and are also available baked ($1 extra). Fans of ready-to-wear meals can opt instead for sophisticated servings of house specialties such as eggplant rollatini parmigiana topped with ricotta and mozzarella ($10.95) or penne Soprano graced with sausage, spinach, a heavenly singing voice, and a garlicky butter sauce ($8.95). Rounding out square-meal offerings, pizzas (starting at $14.50 for a 12"x18" cheese) can be customized with a choice of toppings including meatballs, fresh garlic, banana peppers, and pepperoni ($1–$2 each) and arrive at tables "Sicilian style," which bears a striking resemblance to deep dish but looks better in a fedora.
At Sideline Cafe, the staff works to treat every patron like family—but they don’t want that to scare anyone off. More importantly, the crew draws on nearly two decades in business to forge a diverse menu of homestyle dishes beneath large-screen televisions and a fully stocked bar. Amid wood paneling and sports memorabilia, crispy fried hush puppies and fried okra hint at quick spells in bubbling oil, and steaks and burgers let tables flaunt their strength. While two-handing a burger or juicy sandwich, diners can create new brain wrinkles at weekly trivia nights or channel the emotions of a small-town girl living in a lonely world during weekend karaoke.
Piano keys float through the air on a mural on the wall of Chez Vin Wine Lounge, a Chester wine bar with subdued lighting and a relaxed ambience. Jazz melodies drift through the air as bartenders fill glasses with beer and local wines. As patrons chat with friends or engage in staring contests with strangers, chefs flavor blue crab claws with Old Bay seasoning, wrap scallops with bacon, and prepare other tapas.