Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs grill every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Angus beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. The chefs then sandwich each slab in an artisan bun and turn it into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market. This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the chefs do, from blending handspun Häagen-Dazs shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded to 160 restaurants in five years, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
On average, it takes one year to invent a sandwich that meets the standards of Jason's Deli—countless combinations of breads and filling won't ever leave the test kitchen. Those that do follow a strict set of rules: no artificial trans fat, no high-fructose corn syrup, and flavors that come from freshness rather than additives. The results can be bitten into at hundreds of locations across America. At each, difficult choices abound between reubens and spicy-ranchero chicken wraps, or between a turkey club and a New Orleans-inspired muffaletta, spread with a family-recipe olive mix. Even those who don't want a sandwich still have to make tough decisions when they approach the salad bar brimming with organic fixings.
Despite the difficulties of selection, Jason's Deli prioritizes convenience. Its stores have organized a list of gluten-sensitive selections as well as healthy kids' meals, which come with sides of organic carrots or apples as opposed to other restaurants' deep-fried lard balls. The company also advocates for emotional health as fervently as it does nutrition—its Leadership Institute hosts workshops for employees on topics ranging from conflict resolution to finances to ethics.
Pizza enthusiasts have long been divided by a contentious debate: thick or thin crust? Rather than miss out on either kind of crust by picking sides, the cooks at WhichWay Pizza knead a crust that falls somewhere in between. These pizza bases are pleasantly chewy, but still thin enough to be picked up and eaten without a fork and knife, unlike famous styles such as the Chicago deep-dish crust or the Atlantis fish-crust. On top of a WhichWay Pizza crust might rest one of 10 specialty pie combinations, including the jalapeño and buffalo chicken Firecracker and the playfully named Kids, topped only with the pizzeria’s seven-cheese blend. Crusts can also be customized with combinations diners select from the pizzeria’s six sauces and 18 ingredients such as Ranchapeno sauce and pepperoncini. For dessert, the versatile crusts might transform into apple-streusel- or cherry-flavored treats, which, like regular pizzas, emerge from the oven piping hot in fewer than four minutes, roughly the same time it takes tomatoes and sausages to melt into a meat sauce.
Since not all of us have the luxury of eating our way around the globe, places like International Appetite Bistro have made it their primary goal to bring all the most interesting cuisines of the world under one roof. In addition to their invisible catering services, Chef Paula prepares a daily menu of eclectic edibles, such as international tapas and warm, fudgy brownies drizzled with fresh whipped cream and chocolate sauce. And of course, what is great food without a good glass of wine to wash it all down? The bistro's extensive wine list offers a comprehensive selection of interesting vinos, served straight from the barrel by the glass or in a carafe, or drawn from the cellar in bottles.
Under the supervision of an experienced chef at Woody?s Tavern, crackling logs not only give pizza dough a crispy crunch, but also create complex, smoky flavors. Chefs top pizzas with specialty combinations, such as the California Dream's basil pesto and artichoke hearts or the Pep Pep Pepperoni's roasted poblanos and jalape?os, and use gluten-free crusts and big, round carrots for those with dietary restrictions. Customers can enjoy the slices by the pie or sample a variety at the shop?s featured all-you-can-eat salad, soup, and pizza bar. These dishes and their hearty half-pound burgers pair well with the 16 drafts on tap, award-winning wine, margaritas, and other cocktails from the bar.
At Señor Camaron, chefs season fresh fish fillets and tender steaks with poblano peppers, tamarind, and cilantro. The menu's Mexican seafood tastes mirror the eatery's beachy decor—patrons sit in palm and leather seats under wall-mounted sharks, colorful flags, and lifeguards who enthusiastically blow their whistle every time someone cleans their plate.