For Alison, cooking up delicious, welcoming meals is second nature. In her 35 years in the restaurant business, she's gathered traditional and modern culinary influences into a menu of New Southern comfort cuisine that features good old-fashioned meatloaf and mashed potatoes, buttermilk fried chicken, liver and onions, and her popular crab cakes. There's an abundance of seafood dishes—Alison prepares fish tacos, cedar plank salmon, and lobster mac 'n' cheese, to name a few. She even offers a pecan-crusted fillet of North Georgia mountain trout, served with a creamy mango sauce. The restaurant's meatier offerings include beef fillets and oven roasted pork tenderloin with a peach bourbon chutney. Bourbon tastings at the full-service bar are popular among Alison’s Restaurant and Bourbon Bar's regulars. On warm days, she opens the fenced-in patio to let customers enjoy the sunshine.
Marco's Pizza founder Pasquale "Pat" Gianmarco began helping out at his family’s pizzeria when he was just a boy. The eatery provided a taste of home to the Gianmarco clan, who moved to the United States from Italy when Pat was 9 years old. Together with his father, young Pat learned the secrets to creating exceptional pizza sauce: three different types of vine-ripened tomatoes and spices that can only be imported from Italy or the moon.
The perfected sauce recipe continues to guide Pat’s kitchen operations, although these days he has considerably more help. Marco's Pizza has 350 locations in more than half the states as well as in the Bahamas, each store tossing fresh pizza dough daily before sprinkling on a trio of fresh, never-frozen cheeses.
Humanitarian and spiritual leader Supreme Master Ching Hai is the mastermind responsible for Loving Hut, a vegan restaurant chain awarded VegNews' Favorite Restaurant Worldwide in 2010. Each Loving Hut location's menu and philosophy is rooted in the idea that a plant-based diet is healthier and more sustainable for the planet. The restaurants span 13 countries including Taiwan and New Zealand, and each offers a 100% plant-based menu of gourmet vegan cuisine. Traditional meat dishes are replicated with tofu, soy proteins, and fresh vegetables. The menus are customized to reflect local cuisine and include chef’s specials that recreate regional dishes, which diners eat as the staff plays the country’s anthem enthusiastically on the tambourine.
Once a title carried by the top government officials in British India, the term "viceroy" connotes a regal finery and splendor. The word serves well for The Viceroy Royal Indian Dining, where the aroma of roasting spice, the warmth of clay tandoori ovens, and the taste of curry are all intended to make a luxurious impression. Like a bespoke suit of beef jerky, each meal bursts at the seams with flavor. Chefs pepper garlic naan, lamb kebab, and tikka masala with freshly ground herbs and spices, ranging in potency from mild to traditionally spicy. The restaurant's decor makes for an elegant backdrop, sporting high ceilings ringed with bright saffron hues and crystal chandeliers, and walls covered in colorful paintings of Indian wildlife and marble palaces.
The bold flavors of Cuba take center stage at Palomilla's Grill House. The chefs specialize in traditional Cuban recipes, from plates of crispy fried plantains to tender pork roasted in a blend of tropical juices, mojo sauce, and garlic. They incorporate a wide range of ingredients to craft whole fried red snapper to creamy flan made with a hint of coconut. Although they stick to more traditional recipes for dishes, the staff find room to experiment more behind the bar and their in-home chemistry labs. Bartenders mix together six styles of mojitos using the restaurant's signature homemade mojito mix and a variety of Caribbean rums. These drinks help give guests the courage necessary to hit the dance floor during live music showcases on the weekend.
The Derby Sports Grille Pub's crew of cuisine crafters delivers a capacious menu of pub favorites and beverages. An appetizing arrangement of cheese sticks bathes in a marinara concoction ($6.50), and battered buffalo shrimp inhabit oceans of mild, medium, or hot sauce ($6.95). The deft cooks stack up the Derby Melt, an 8-ounce burger cushioned by marble-rye bread and melted swiss cheese ($8.95), and diners can dollop mounds of barbecue-infused pulled pork and coleslaw on waiting buns ($7.95). Order a mealtime multiplicity of wings engulfed in sauces both classic and inventive, such as teriyaki, lemon-pepper, or sweet and sour⎯all served bone in or out ($6.99 for 6, $7.99 for 10, $13.99 for 20). Any of these meals can be enjoyed with a mug of beer, a glass of wine, or a derby hat filled with cognac.