With 45 locations, the aromas of hot soup and freshly baked bread greet customers across the nation as they approach Souper Salad's overflowing display of crisp salad greens and freshly prepared hot selections. Menus for the buffet change daily, but can include albóndigas soup, Tuna Skroodle pasta salad, A-MAIZE-ing cornbread, and other dishes. Dine-in guests are free to fill their bowls with their favorite soups and chilis, build their own salads from a plethora of crispy greens and tangy dressings, and see how much soft-serve ice cream they can pile atop a single cone. Patrons can also make a visit to the taco bar or flatbread pizza zone, and gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options are available.
Modeled on England's famed watering holes, Baker St. Pub & Grill greets visitors with a softly lit atmosphere, age-darkened wood, and ceilings adorned with anglophilic knickknacks. Classic Britannic drinks such as Guinness and Strongbow Cider flow from the bar's taps, joined by New Belgium, Fat Tire, and other American craft brews. Guests can pair their brew with something from the pub menu, featuring Welsh rarebit sandwiches, bangers and mash, and shepherd's pie. Fish and chips come in classic form, or potato crusted. Those looking to sink their teeth into homegrown specialties can order a juicy sirloin burger or spicy chicken wings.
Executive Chef Eric DiStefano draws culinary inspiration from Santa Fe, a city known for its love of Mexican food and its liberal use of red and green chile. His inventive tacos, enchiladas, and fajitas serenade palates with piquant spices and uncommon meats, such as monkfish, wild boar, and veal. The innovative chef also takes a Tex-Mex approach to American favorites, infusing burgers with hatch green chiles and showering meatloaf in spicy chorizo gravy. DiStefano’s housemade salsa charmed reporters of SideDish with its alluring blend of tomatillos and creamy avocado slices.
In Ocho’s dining hall, guests awaiting their meals recline on sleek red chairs as they nibble on warm tortilla chips. Above their heads, fellow diners chat in the upstairs lounge, where warm lights illuminate rows of cushy leather couches and deep-red walls speckled with modern artwork. Mixologists stationed behind the bar blend more than 50 different types of tequila into a variety of imaginative drinks, including a tequila and green-chile-powder concoction that was praised by reporters of Thrillist. Out on the balcony, visitors lounge on soft patio furniture beneath the open sky or an automatic retractable roof, which shields plates from rainy days and hungry weather balloons. A magic 8 ball at every patio table also helps diners answer questions like "Should I order another taco?"
The tradition of Sonny Bryan’s award-winning barbecue started more than a century ago on February 13, a date that would become circled on the calendar again and again throughout Bryan’s Barbecue history. February 13, 1910, marked the opening of Elias Bryan’s Oak Cliff restaurant, Bryan's Barbecue. Exactly 20 years later to the day, his eldest son, William “Red” Jennings Bryan, launched his own restaurant. When February 13 rolled around again 28 years later, Elias’ grandson, William "Sonny" Jennings Bryan Jr., and his wife, Joanne, opened another restaurant, the first Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse.
Although a different Dallas family now manages multiple locations of the restaurant chain in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the legendary barbecue lives on. Sonny Bryan's original barbecue sauce spices up its savory pulled meats and ribs, which have been devoured by famous entertainers, sports legends, and A-list celebrities alike. Sonny's seasoned chefs also cater heaps of smoked brisket and jalapeño sausage to parties and events.
Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse has been on the culinary radar since 1989, snapping up awards and publicity from Food Network, the Travel Channel’s Man V. Food Nation and 101 Tastiest Places to Chowdown, and Emeril Lagasse’s The Originals with Emeril. The modest joints have also earned some highbrow epicurean chops through a 2006 Zagat rating and a 2000 James Beard Foundation award for Culinary Excellence and Achievement.
Brackets, a hybrid sports bar and game emporium, serves jumbo wings and frosted beverages to patrons engaged in table games or busy watching one of Brackets' many high-definition sport-portals. Chefs batter menu items, such as onion rings ($4), with charm and breading and employ an authentic Neapolitan style to create the sopressata sausage pizza ($14). Though this Groupon can't be used on gaming, patrons can smack around airy spheres on two ping-pong tables ($10/hour for games), more substantial spheres on the pool table, or virtual spheres in Wii tennis.
If you’re hoping to snag a table at Neighborhood Services during prime dinner hours, it’d be wise to make a reservation. The long but narrow, dimly lit dining room keeps its cozy booths and buzzing bar packed with a loyal Park Cities crowd that returns night after night for straightforward, delicious New American fare. Shareable starters like tender fried asparagus with lemon-dill dipping sauce or meatballs with “voodoo” sauce and blue cheese make fitting precursors to generously-portioned entrées like steak frites, a $19 dry-aged burger and crispy veal schnitzel with black pepper spaetzle. Cleverly-named cocktails like the Beauty School Drop Out and a well-edited list of wine and craft beer keep the barstools full.