At Easley Smokehouse, open flames lend a smoky flavor to beef brisket, pork shoulders, and other cuts of meat. The restaurant's cooks also fry fillets of grouper and catfish as one of its daily specials, rounding out plates with collard greens, fried okra, and other sides. After the main course, dishes of cake or fruit cobbler sweeten diners' palates.
In 1964, brothers Leroy and Forrest Raffel banded together to come up with a new restaurant concept. Arby's took off almost immediately on the coattails of its hallmark roast-beef sandwich and the founders’ idea of providing customers with fast, quality food. Over the company's 48-year franchise history, its foundational pièce de résistance of thinly sliced, juicy beef has been served in a many permutations, and continues to be popular today, served at more than 3,500 stores in North America. Today’s menu still ignites appetites with traditional beef sandwiches, plus hot and seasoned curly fries, fresh-chopped salads, and desserts good for richly capping off meals or bribing any bridge trolls on the way home.
The culinary captain at Milano’s grew up in a kitchen filled with the saucy aromas of traditional Italian fare prepared by his mother and the seasoned zest of Greek dishes grilled up by his father. With that history ensconced, he continued the tradition by marrying both cuisines in a restaurant sporting a hearty menu, casual Mediterranean ambiance, and a justice of the peace certified in marrying cuisines. Offering the best of both worlds, the chef plates everything from grilled rib eye steaks and salmon to Italian casserole, pizza, Greek salads, and oven-baked subs.
As they enter under the hanging wood sign bearing a carving of grapes and shuffle past the gray stone and golden stucco façade, patrons at Kozani Restaurant & Bar find themselves transported to the warm kitchens and rolling vineyards of the Mediterranean. Aromas from spices imported from Italy, Greece, Israel, and Lebanon waft through the dining room, signaling the arrival of Mediterranean dishes, including recipes from head chef Tim Robinson's favored region of Emilia Romagna. While he focuses on Northern Italian dishes, the chef also consistently snares an eclectic blend of local ingredients, such as produce and seafood, and crafts gluten-free versions of every dish on the menu. He often appears on the floor to meet clientele, roaming the dining room to chat with diners and make sure their forks have the proper number of prongs. To compliment his dishes, the serving staff often pairs meals with more than 80 wines hailing from Europe, South and North America, and Australia.
Bucky’s BBQ owner Wayne Preston honed his craft at a young age, spending boyhood afternoons in his father’s meat-packing plant and Wednesday nights preparing suppers for his local church. Word about Wayne’s saucy ribs and pulled pork spread shortly after he founded his own roadside barbecue stand, forcing him—like the barbecue-sauce barons of years past—to expand his operations to new frontiers. Today, each of Bucky’s four locations fashions heaping plates of never-frozen Boston butt, tender chicken, and St. Louis–style ribs in the traditional country style: hand-rubbed with secret seasonings and slow-cooked over a smoky fire of hickory chips. Five house-made sauces garnish slices of juicy meat served alongside traditional sides of baked beans, coleslaw, and sweet potatoes. When they aren’t dishing out meals in the restaurant, Bucky’s tireless staff serves parties, formal events, weddings, and flash mobs as large as 1,500 people with fully catered barbecue feasts.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop’s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M’s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.