The light goes on in 12 Bagels’ kitchen early each morning, and it’s not because the ovens can’t sleep. The staff shuffles into the kitchen well before the first customers arrive, making fresh bagels in flavors that range from sweet chocolate chip and cinnamon sugar to savory cheddar cheese, egg, and sun-dried tomato. The menu also includes flavored cream cheeses, bagel sandwiches, and freshly brewed coffee.
Before arriving at house specialties like the Chicken Bene Bene ($13.99) and sautéed salmon ($16.99), Cafe Bene Bene's menu artfully appetizeseduces with starters such as a platter of sautéed calamari with black olives and capers ($8.99) or steamed mussels with garlic and shallots ($9.99). The Junior's Favorite pizza's weighty blend of mozzarella, ricotta, pesto, and tomatoes (large, $14.99) will satisfy the hulking but sensitive club bouncer in your life, while the rigatoni Contadina's cornucopia of chicken, mushrooms, asparagus, and a light cream sauce ($10.49) will cruelly taunt your little wooden boy's lack of taste buds. Lovers of orbish foods, however, can dive face-first into the eggplant parmigiana's ample bosom ($11.49).
The entire menu at Kenny's Café is served all day, leaving breakfast classics and lunch staples at diners' constant disposal. Stick a fork fashioned out of a hanger into biscuits and sausage gravy ($5.75) or the three-egg Western omelet, with peppers, ham, and cheese ($6.59) to satisfy morning food cravings. From the lunch list, the hickory bacon burger ($7.99) arrives blanketed in cheddar cheese and barbecue sauce, and Kenny's wedge salad ($6.99) pelts a ranch-dressing fairway with bacon and blue-cheese golf balls. Kenny's Café sports optional patio seating, live music on Wednesday and Friday nights, and a palpable absence of sweaty ghosts.
Pera means "welcome" in Turkish, and it's an apt name for Pera Turkish Kitchen—which welcomes in diners with the smell of grilled lamb coated with Eastern Mediterranean spices. The signature hand-ground lamb dish is just one of many authentic Turkish and contemporary entrees, as is the salmon kadayif, a salmon fillet crusted with shredded wheat that was featured on Thrillist. While diners feast, their eyes take in the contemporary artwork from Turkish artists decorating the crimson walls.
Who would think that a cup full of snow could instigate memories of vacations in the tropics? At Bahama Buck's, the staff accomplishes this tricky feat by scooping piles of shaved ice and soaking them in syrup to create a sweet, tropical treats. This syrup comes in more than 100 flavors, including sugar-free iterations. At each location, color-changing spoons are also dipped into chunks of fresh fruit topped with chocolate or caramel, which complement coffee drinks made with Kona-sourced beans.
When Norma’s Cafe opened in 1956, it was the kind of homey breakfast spot where the food was as comforting as the waitresses were welcoming—they greeted their customers by name. One of those customers was Ed Murph, who later purchased Norma’s with the goal of keeping the down-home tradition alive. And according to the Dallas Observer, he succeeded. The paper voted Norma’s The Best Home Style Restaurant in 2010, claiming that “the recipes taste as though they haven’t much changed.” It’s those recipes that have made generations of diners—and even food critics—eager to wake up in the morning. Pillowy biscuits blanketed in gravy, chicken fried steaks, and omelets made with farm-fresh eggs are partially responsible for the countless amounts of press and awards Norma’s has earned. But credit the atmosphere for a good portion of the popularity. Norma’s continues to evoke feelings of a friendlier, simpler time, when the pies were made from scratch, the waitresses knew your name, and the jukeboxes didn’t heckle you for your poor music choices.