Passage to India paves the way to a banquet of tandoori chicken, boneless lamb curries, and fluffy loaves of buttery naan. A talented chef with two decades of culinary experience takes diners across the Indian subcontinent, from the hummus-capped mountains of Kashmir to the curry-splashed shores of Mumbai. After nothing remains of their goat biryani, save memories of basmati rice, guests can turn to comfort with a bowl of homemade mango ice cream or ras malai—cheese balls in a sweet cream sauce.
After enjoying a pint of craft beer at Hopjacks Filling Station, there’s a good chance you’ll find a cold one in their refrigerator, ready to be taken home. This hybrid retail store, beer garden, and café has 33 handpicked taps and hundreds of specialty beers and wines from around the world. Servers fill glasses and growlers with favorites from Pensacola Bay Brewery and limited seasonal and obscure beers alongside plates of casually upscale pub fare. Seated at tall chairs, patrons enjoy bites of charcuterie plates and toasty sandwiches, from genoa salami to roasted duck, at long, glossy tables in the center of the room. Diners can also wander outside to eat, drink, and set off post-meal bottle rockets on the patio.
Beneath walls the color of warm ghee, the clarified butter used in Indian cuisine, street vendor–style carts brim with thick curries. Taste of India's waiters emerge from the kitchen, their arms stacked with plates of lamb with house-toasted spices, rice dishes, and chicken and prawns steeped in the sweltering heat of a tandoor. After scooping up the last chickpea with a piece of warm naan, guests relax under the sparkles of gold ornaments hanging from above. They click glasses of wine or imported Kingfisher and Taj Mahal beers in a toast to celebrate getting promoted or successfully assembling a team to prank-call a casino.
My Favorite Things resembles a turn-of-the-century general store more than a modern restaurant. Behind a well-used wooden counter, glass jars of whole coffee beans rest against the wall, and recycled coffee bean bags cover cabinet spaces. Aged glass cases display crafts and decorations forged from wood and ceramic materials, instead of plastic or metal husks shed by growing computers. Most importantly, when it comes to the cooking, breakfast dishes exemplify the kitchen's commitment to traditional styles. Eggs fresh from the pan appear on plates beside crispy bacon and juicy sausage. Omelets arrive at tables packed with slices of ham and chopped veggies, and belgian waffles come sprinkled with classic toppings such as pecans and chocolate chips.
Cajun Specialty Meats crafts an array of piquant delights from third-generation family recipes. Seasoned pork stuffed into andouille sausages ($5.50 each) lends authentic Cajun flavor to gumbo, jambalaya, and rice. A selection of meats stuffed with other meats picks up where nature's creativity left off with complex protein ecosystems. Feast on a pork chop ($20) or a 10-pound turducken ($55), each filled with Cajun sausage. Meatless options include a selection of heat-and-eat entrees such as a sweet-potato-and-praline casserole ($8.99) that serves 8–10 people. Customers should call ahead to place Mardi Gras orders.
Originally built in 1955 as a full-service grocery, City Grocery has evolved into a gourmet deli and wine shop that indulges appetites with a menu of fresh deli fare, homemade soups, and signature sandwiches piled high with Boar's Head meats and cheeses. Like a mountain lion in a hardware store, the 12th Ave melt commands attention, arriving at tables topped with thinly sliced round of beef, havarti cheese, and horseradish sauce ($5.25 for a half; $7.99 for a whole), and the Boss Hog corrals troublemaking taste buds into a cell of french bread with an enticing entrapment of pulled pork and cheddar cheese ($5.25 for a half; $8.99 for a whole). City Grocery also crafts homemade soups such as Crawfish Julie ($5.99 for a cup; $8.88 for a bowl) and salads such as the chicken salad, which nestles homemade chicken salad on a bed of greens with pillows of tomatoes and a choice of dressing ($6.99). City Grocery facilitates on-site feasting with a roomy dining area equipped with colorfully clothed tables, but diners on the go can opt for carryout to keep themselves from getting hungry in the car or while arguing with a fire hydrant.
When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, diners had just three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. The restaurant first expanded four years later, when an enterprising waiter at the initial location opened up a new outpost in Tallahassee. Today, the company—now owned by that original waiter, Mark Johnston, and his brothers Mike and Bob—reigns as the premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants. The restaurant's menu has also expanded, and patrons can now expect six varieties of hot dipping cheese paired with salads, entrees, and molten chocolate.
On a given night, groups of viscous-dip-loving foodies gather around tables to nosh on cheese-fondue appetizers and various salads while cooking steaks and seafood in a choice of healthy broth or oil. Birthday revelers and romance seekers cap decadent evenings sharing the chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.