Mazzio's Italian Eatery's staff rolls out a buffet for lunch and dinner populated with tasty Italian cuisine that they also serve à la carte. The restaurant's staff has been perfecting its culinary modus operandi for more than 50 years, long enough to evolve the pizza selection to include three levels of thickness. Chefs bake standard, deep-dish, and thin crusts—available in gluten-free form—and load each with toppings such as caramelized onions and giant pepperoni. The kitchen makes pasta plates to order, some baked in the oven, such as lasagna, and some tossed in sauce, such as the mainstay spaghetti and meatballs. The signature calzone radiates the ambrosial scent of pizza dough stuffed with meat and cheese, and it's meant to be shared, unlike a pogo stick.
More than 50 years go, Mike Ilitch was poised for major-league glory. An up-and-coming shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, his baseball finesse was blossoming when an injury derailed his sports career. But although the wound stunted his athletic aspirations, it steered him toward a new path, and on May 8, 1959, he and his wife opened the first Little Caesars location, a then-unheard-of carry-out-only joint. The career shift and novel technique eventually proved triumphant. Today, the pizzeria's iconic, toga-clad mascot adorns storefronts on five continents. In each shop, staffers forge the signature Hot-N-Ready pizza, a freshly baked pizza designed for instant pickup, and warm, garlicky Crazy bread. With a storied half century under their belt, Mike Ilitch and his family strive to give back, supporting local organizations and creating their own charitable programs.
With its full bar and hearty menu of Irish fare and other pub-centric edibles, The Irish Frog keeps tongue buds happily jigging along in an upbeat environment teeming with the sounds of weekly live music. Wet whistles with an import or craft beer such as a Smithwick's ($4) or a draught Guinness ($5) before sampling heaping plates of "flaming yawn" ($22), a filet mignon rubbed with Cajun spices and wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon. The classic reuben, accessorized by a side of steakhouse fries ($9), sates grumbling hunger tubs any time of day, and the sour-cream-capped potato pancakes of the Irish Boxty's ($6) will keep bellies warm during impromptu glacial ages.
Chick-fil-A's chicken sandwiches became an instant classic one fateful day in 1967, when an anonymous Georgia chicken wandered into a hot, buttered bun and made history. Forty-some-odd years later, or 267 million chicken years, Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit sandwiches are still made the same way, with boneless cuts of breast meat hand-breaded by mystic chicken ascetics, bronzed in 100% refined peanut oil, and kept warm in buttermilk biscuit earmuffs. Like gambling on horse racing, the chicken biscuit is so dangerously delicious that you'll devour two without thinking twice, but unlike gambling, Chick-fil-A's sandwiches never contain dice, poker chips, or knee-breaking goons in track suits.
Family-owned and operated through four generations, the Big Apple Inn continues to sate cravings for southern cooking with its signature pig-ear and smoked-sausage sandwiches highlighted in the Southern Foodways Alliance–produced documentary film Smokes and Ears. Owner Gene “Geno” Lee attracts epicures from all corners of the state to sample his moist and tender pig ears—thin slices of pressure-cooked pork smothered with mustard, slaw, and house-made hot sauce and served on slider buns. A bouquet of meaty aromas rises from the restaurant’s Red Rose smoked-sausage sandwiches, which cure the culinary blues with a grilled flavor unique to Mississippi.Open for more than 70 years, The Big Apple Inn once served as a home base of sorts for famous civil rights leader Medgar Evers. The restaurant maintains a laid-back, unassuming décor on humble Farish Street, with wood-paneled walls and a cozy dining room where repeat customers swap self-penned odes to pig ears as they pluck guitars with greasy fingers.
Winner of a 2011 OpenTable Diners' Choice Award, Sophia’s charms the most sophisticated palates with a gourmet menu of Southern-leaning dishes crafted from recipes and ingredients native to rural locales around the United States. Chef Gary Hawkins fills out the lunch menu with inventive starters such as sautéed Louisiana crab cakes ($10.95) and classic sandwiches such as the Gulf-oyster po’ boy with spicy remoulade ($9.50). Mouths watering for the textures of beef can stem the tide with braised short ribs served over grits or a tiny system of levees and dams ($14.95). For dinner, sautéed frog legs with smoked-tomato emulsion and fried asparagus ($12) or smoked Yazoo County catfish with asian noodles and pickled shiitake mushrooms ($10) enliven worldly appetites, while the Tanglewood Farms roast chicken with potato-asparagus hash beckons taste buds back to familiar turf amidst a chaotic world divided by trans-fat railroads ($23). Chewers can conclude their epicurean adventures with a slice of a Belgian milk-chocolate walnut tart with butterscotch-caramel sauce ($7).