Peppercorn Cafe is nothing if not cozy. At a wrap-around bar made of unpolished granite and waxed cherry wood, bartenders pour draft beer or cocktails as guests converse and watch football. Just around the corner from the lounge, diners gather around tables draped in white linen that brightens under torrents of natural light by day and softens under the wall sconces by night.
The homey family restaurant is the joint venture of two Long Islanders, and the menu reflects it. Executive Chef Dave Moritz sticks to the founders' North Atlantic roots with a menu filled with unconventional takes on New York seafood favorites. Pot pies, for example, come stuffed with lobster, and the crab cakes are served on cranberry scallion couscous—a break from the traditional method of serving them inside a grizzled sea captain's pipe. Little Neck clams mingle with chorizo on the appetizer menu, creating a segue into the turf portion of the menu, which includes braised beef short ribs and New York strip steak with crumbled gorgonzola.
"Treat folks special." That was the mantra of Country Kitchen's founder, Bill Johnson, a mere teenager with an eighth-grade education when he moved to Cincinnati in the 1930s. But by the end of that decade, both Bill and his aspirations had done a great deal of growing up. With some experience flipping burgers beneath his belt, Bill and a friend opened their own restaurant?Country Kitchen. It was the first time Bill could put his treat-folks-special philosophy into practice as he pleased.
Today, Country Kitchen no longer sells burgers for a nickel apiece. But Bill Johnson's legacy still lives on in friendly customer service at each of the restaurant's locations?they now span the country. And Bill's preference for simple, homestyle grub is still apparent in the menu: pancakes for breakfast, burgers and sandwiches for lunch (or supper), and country-fried steak or roast turkey for dinner.
Avocados Restaurant is known for its generous portions. Each heaping burrito is piled high with rice, beans, cheese, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole, as well as a choice of filling such as roasted pork or grilled shrimp. Diners can also opt for fajitas, quesadillas, tacos, and wraps.
Adorned in their signature denim shorts, black tank tops, and Timberland boots, the Canz-a-Citi Girlz greet each Canz-a-citi Roadhouse guest. In between handfuls from endless bowls of complementary popcorn, diners can munch on wings slathered in scorching “Dirty Canz” hot sauce, burgers with one, two, or three 5.2-ounce bacon-topped patties, and fried Twinkies or Oreos. More than 200 kinds of canned beer, 20 drafts, and colossal cocktails such as sangria or jungle-juice fishbowls wash down each bite until 4 a.m., seven days a week.
Wood hues, brick walls, and a metal roof create the roadhouse atmosphere, as does decor such as license plates covering the ceiling, a beer-can-lined bar, and old hubcaps patrons can use to reflect light while tanning in the parking lot. Up to 60 TVs also broadcast UFC bouts and accompany visitors during weekly karaoke in each restaurant.
Curry Kebob House expands beyond the bounds of its name with a diverse menu of beef, chicken, and lamb dishes, all made with halal meats. Helmed by chef Sameer Ahmad, the kitchen team slow-cooks shredded beef and lentils for a dish called haleem, dappled with blackened onions and lemon, as well as whips up plates of creamy and tangy chicken tikka masala. Delicately spiced Pakistani specialties include karahi gosht—goat cooked in a thick tomato sauce with chilies—and chicken karahi, which is cooked in an iron wok with ginger and spices.
The Indo-Pak restaurant is modeled after the casual eateries in India and Pakistan, with red tablecloths draped over petite tables and traditional artwork adorning the exposed-brick and wood walls. Strings of twinkling lights dangle at the entrance, signaling to diners that they’ve found the right place and confirming that fireflies are very cooperative after being fed kebabs.