From its humble beginnings as a single orange-juice stand in Los Angeles, Orange Julius has blossomed into a worldwide purveyor of refreshing blended smoothies and fresh fruit drinks. Slurp a large smoothie (a $5.73 value each) in one of more than a dozen flavors, such as pomegranate and berries, a blend of low-fat frozen yogurt and three ruby-hued fruits, or tropical tango, a mix of pineapple, banana, orange sherbet, and tropical fruit juice. Light smoothies each contain 250 or fewer calories, acquiring their sweetness from fresh fruits, a light sprinkling of Splenda, and afternoons spent reading Nancy Drew mysteries. Or hold the ice and sip a namesake large Julius fruit drink (a $4.44 value each) available in the shop’s famous signature orange or 1 of 13 other frothy flavors, perfect for quenching thirst after a long day of stamp licking.
Connected by an asphalt web of highways, state roads, and thoroughfares, blocky yellow signs gleam nonstop, casting a dandelion glow from the words “Waffle House.” The booths at the eateries fill 24 hours each day with the aromas of sizzling pork chops, Jimmy Dean sausage, and endless mugs of coffee. Line cooks brown shredded potatoes on a grill as waiters shout back in a language all their own for hash browns “smothered,” “covered,” or “topped”—served with onions, cheese, or chili, respectively. Angus burgers and steak melts share space on the rippling-hot surface at all times of day, allowing tired drivers to stop for food when they are on a long journey or just listening to an 11-hour drum solo on the radio. The first Waffle House switched on its lights in 1955, and some menu items still bear the names of Waffle House staff of the past, including Bert's chili from Dallas and Alice's iced tea.
At Kobe Japanese Steakhouse, patrons can enjoy entertaining teppanyaki-style dining in front of a limber habachi artist or opt for more intimate seating in the dining room. The teppanyaki experience invites bold guests to take seats at a square bar and watch Kobe's centrally located master chefs juggle flames, knives, vegetables, seafood, meats, and appetites as they whip up meals before diners' growling stomachs and flickering eyes. The Iron Plate Grill menu tantalizes tongues with fried oysters ($5.95), soft shell crab ($7.95), pan fried dumplings ($3.95), and more. If you choose to snuggle up in the dining room, temp your tonsils with filet mignon ($17.95), lobster and steak ($23.95), or beef teriyaki ($14.95). Sushi, noodles, fried rice, salads, and hot and cold appetizers round out the edible roster. Everything on the menu can be enjoyed with a premium Japanese sake or a Kobe sake cocktail, like the Sea Splash, made with blue curacao, triple sec, and pineapple juice ($5.50), ideal for easing lingering tidal stresses.
Peruse the drink menu to part firmly sealed eyelids with a double espresso ($1.80 for a double), a Caramellato made with caramel, espresso, and milk ($3.80 for a tall), or a Kamikaze, which is a caffeinated combination of espresso and coffee ($2.05 for a short). Sippers can also treat taste buds to scrumptious cinnamon-spiced chai lattes ($3.20+ for a short) and cool tongues with real-fruit smoothies ($3.65 for a tall). Scarf down cinnamon rolls ($2.25), scones ($2), and breakfast sandwiches ($2.75) to procure the nutrients needed to wrestle the rooster that woke you.
When the Perry and Burke families joined forces to open Sweet n Swirly, they shared a vision of promoting a healthier alternative to ice cream. Neither family could have predicted, however, how quickly that vision would catch on.
Today, visitors stream into a trio of cheery, welcoming locations in Kentucky and Indiana, eagerly sidling up to self-serve stations that protrude from walls painted in vibrant pinks and purples. These stations pump out 10 creamy flavors at any given time, including no-sugar-added options and nondairy sorbets.
The ever-changing lineup of flavors runs the gamut from refreshing to decadent. On one side of the spectrum are tart, summery variations such as blueberry, ginger lemonade, and non-dairy sorbet, whereas choices inspired by more traditional desserts include peanut butter and root-beer float. A candy wall proffers toppings such as jellybeans and chocolate sunflower seeds.
As diners look on, the skilled sauce-slingers at Luigi's Pizzeria launch traditional, thin-crust Italian pizzas off of wooden paddles and into the fiery depths of a glistening metallic oven. Homemade marinara swirls around golden pies or slices, and the tomatoey elixir also sloshes around in jars that are available for customers to purchase or use to trap butterfly-shaped meatballs. Sidecars of marinara accompany calzone-style pizza rolls crafted from fresh dough and fillings, and forks twirl through pastas swathed in vegetarian sauce or meaty bolognese. Exposed bricks, black-and-white photographs, and colorful paintings enliven the dining room at Luigi's Pizzeria, and guests are welcome to retreat to the outdoor patio.