Overlooking downtown San Antonio, the Tower of the Americas stretches 750 feet into the sky and delights visitors with 360-degree views of the city. Situated at the top of the tower, Chart House Restaurant satiates diners with fish specialties and signature hot-lava cake while slowly revolving to reveal aerial perspectives and close-ups of low-flying superheroes. Meanwhile, the Flags Over Texas observation deck educates hungry minds with a series of murals detailing the history of the six flags that have flown over the state's buildings throughout its existence. Moving seats simulate the sensation of flight in the 4-D Skies Over Texas ride, where images enhanced by 3-D glasses leap out at viewers, showing Texas wildlife and festivals in full-dimensional glory.
Dotting the Texan landscape with pizzerias like so many pepperonis in a hopeful meat-lover's garden, Goomba's ‘za joints bake up New York–style pies with ingredients from Costanzo's Bakery and Sorrento cheese. Dough made daily from scratch lays the groundwork for such classic toppings as italian sausage, mushrooms, artichokes, sweet or hot peppers, and anchovies. Pasta specialties such as cheese manicotti and baked ziti swim—like an eccentric millionaire—in a house-made tomato sauce infused with fresh basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and a selection of calzones, salads, hot subs lends rest to the pizza weary. Daily lunch specials quell midday tummy rumbles from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and most locations offer both dine-in and carry-out fare.
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.
Encanto Mexican Grill's owners, Elia Rosetta and Manuel Torres, draw inspiration from their Italian and Mexican backgrounds to infuse tacos, enchiladas, and Mexican steaks with subtle European accents. Though the menu throws its share of curveballs (think grilled fajitas with tofu, or a piñata filled with guacamole), it largely stays true to the culinary traditions of Mexico. One of the restaurant's most popular dishes, for example, is a slow-cooked chicken guisado in a roasted poblano pepper. On Sundays, chefs treat early risers to brunches of salsa-smothered eggs and fluffy omelets. In warmer months, diners head out to the patio to sip wine and listen to live music.
Touting the Best Burgers in the Full-Service Chains category according to the 2010 Zagat Fast-Food Survey, Red Robin features gourmet burgers stacked high with manifold fixings. The chain started in the 1940s under the name Sam's Tavern, where its proprietor Sam could be heard singing "When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along)." He loved that old tune so much that he changed his tavern's name to Sam's Red Robin. Today, Red Robin still serves up the same gourmet burgers that put it on the culinary map in 1973—such as the Royal Red Robin burger topped with a fried egg—but the menu also includes more than 15 fire-grilled burgers, hearty mac 'n' cheese with riblets, zesty mexican grilled chicken, and towers of crispy onion rings.
Red Robin's aptly named 'Green Team' ensures that the chain implements green initiatives. All of Red Robin's produce is pesticide-free, and all of its eggs come from suppliers that do not use battery cages. The company is also dedicated to using recycled and recyclable packing and shipping materials sourced from suppliers certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and high-fived by Mother Nature.