Ethel Reds Chop House is named for a red-haired woman hallowed in family legend and yarns: the indomitable Ethel. Her ninety-some years of life were apparently filled with daring adventures, from jumping off waterfalls to riding a bull. The Chop House still serves her famed chili, and massive cuts of steak and chops challenge patrons. The eatery brims with bone-in ribeye and pork ribs like a ballad written by a hungry cowboy, and bacon celebrates an affinity for beef by embracing cuts of filet mignon and piling on top of cheeseburgers.
Diners bond over live country music, chicken wings, and copious use of napkins in the Western-style dining room, which is decorated by saddles, horseshoes, and other riding accessories. On balmy days, visitors toting drinks from the full bar wander to the patio garden to take in the fresh air.
In 1996, around the time his daughter Destiny was born, David Hunt began scouring Oregon, Washington, and California's wine regions for a place his dream vineyard could call home. He and his family settled on a 550-acre site in Paso Robles, which they christened Destiny's Vineyard, and opened Hunt Cellars winery.
And now, the small operation churns out barrel-aged pours that have won numerous awards and are available at prestigious restaurants, such as Ruth?s Chris Steakhouse and Morton's. What is particularly impressive about Hunt's success is that he's legally blind and must rely on his sense of taste and smell to figure out exactly how to blend his flavors together, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Inside his colonial-style tasting room, which features a 1,200-foot veranda, he pairs his beloved wines with his other love in life?music. Visitors here can enjoy a glass of wine while listening to Hunt tickling the ivories on the tasting room's white baby grand piano, which he plays during winemakers' dinners. Forbes even dubbed him the "Diddy of Winemakers" because like the music mogul, David blends his music with his alcohol brand, and loves changing his name.
At Tenth Street Basque Cafe, diners always receive the full attention of chef Dallas Holt. The Spanish-Basque-style café does not maintain a regular menu and only seats guests at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 6 p.m. on Sundays for a prix fixe dinner prepared by the chef. Chef Dallas typically winds palates up with tapas such as stuffed mushrooms or albacore fish cakes before regaling senses with a main course such as stone-oven-cooked whole salmon or his specialty, the chicken and sausage paella.
Upon first glance, Le Roi French Bakery looks a bit like a castle. Roses and metal curlicues line the space, where bakers flit in and out of a pair of saloon doors. Named for the French word for king, this bakeshop’s confections are enchanting and majestic, like a towering mountain of Magic 8 balls. At the counter, a brightly lit case brims with classic European treats such as éclairs, napoleons, tarts, and parfaits. The scent of espresso wafts by as staffers froth fresh milk for lattes and cappuccinos. Like a fairy tale about princes and princesses, these details inspire daydreams as patrons leaf through albums stuffed with hundreds of custom-cake ideas, including tiered wedding cakes adorned with fondant flowers and round delights flanked with fruits, frostings, or ladyfingers.
In 1985, a little drive-in burger joint called Rally's was born in Louisville, Kentucky. A year later, a similar drive-in burger joint called Checkers opened in Mobile, Alabama. After nearly a decade of competition between the more than 200 Rally's and Checkers franchises, the two merged in 1999. There are now more than 800 Rally's and Checkers double-drive-thru burger spots across the country.
At each location, patrons cruise through the drive-thru lanes or head to the walk-up window to request made-to-order burgers, creamy milkshakes, and, of course, Checkers and Rally's well-seasoned fries. In 2012, Checkers and Rally's CEO said that they sell more than 300,000 fry orders per day, which doesn't even include the 100,000 sent to Paul Bunyan's house.
The chefs at Fratello’s Bistro, who’ve been practicing for more than a decade, cook comforting Italian food from fresh ingredients that are grown locally in the Valley. Starters of mussels marinara or stuffed mushrooms jump out from a menu of pastas, pizzas, and meatier entrees. The chefs prepare chicken, calamari, veal, and shrimp as entrees characterized by different vivid sauces. Spicy red fra diablo sauce brings zest to bell peppers, red wine adds complex depth to marsala sauce with mushrooms, and white-wine lemon-butter sauce graces plates with a lighter, delicate touch akin to a flower petal falling onto a marshmallow. Glasses of local wine and imported Chianti accent each meal.