With her Easy-Bake Oven, Charlita Varner created her first sweet treat at age 8. Though her equipment has been upgraded since, her childhood passion for baking has never waned. Drawing on skills she learned from her mother, a self-taught baker, Charlita blends eggs, sugar, and butter into customizable cakes whose designs have ranged from chessboards to sombreros.
Her visual flair doesn't sacrifice taste—Buttersweet Bakery's flavors include vanilla, lemon coconut, and key lime, whose recipe Bon Appetit featured on its website. The magazine isn't the only media outlet to stand up and take note of Charlita's work. Her cakes have also basked in the spotlight on TLC's A Wedding Story and delighted guests at the BET Awards.
Deliteful Events may have the word "lite" in its name, but its menus have plenty of opportunity for indulgence. Bakers decorate and layer cakes for occasions ranging from kids' birthdays to weddings, each with a huge number of flavor, filling, and icing options. Those range from the homey—applesauce cake and cream-cheese frosting, for instance—to intriguing gourmet blends such as white-chocolate banana cake. Served in a cozy cafe and at catered events, the savory side of the menu holds juicy sandwiches, classic salads, and comfort cuisine such as meatloaf.
After praising J.R. Crickets' chicken wings, karaoke shindigs, and live music, Metromix went on to declare the late-night-dining destination a place where "[m]odern chic and good times meet." J.R. Crickets' culinary crew lightly fries or grills seafood, slathers baby back ribs in sauce, and carefully calibrates wings to three levels of spiciness. Diners can opt to take feasts to-go or kick back in the eatery, where TVs and live DJs forge an atmosphere as high-spirited as a haunted mountaintop.
Thai Heaven enraptures palates with a plentiful menu of authentic dishes served in a stylish, exotic setting. Color-coordinate outfits with traditional specialties such as green curry—a spicy concoction of bell peppers, green beans, basil leaves, and bamboo strips—and mild yellow curry, with potatoes and onions ($7.74+ lunch, $10.50+ dinner). The drunken noodle entree—rice noodles fried and stirred with jalapeños, onions, bell peppers, and sweet basil—weaves enticingly around the room before stumbling headfirst into diners’ mouths ($7.74+ lunch, $10.50+ dinner). Thai Heaven's Virginia Avenue location complements cooked fare with a wide-ranging sushi menu, allowing mouths to house fishy inhabitants such as the Super Crunch, tempura topped with smoked salmon and eel sauce ($8.50), the spicy tuna roll ($8.50), or pieces of nigiri and sashimi ($3.95–$6).
Hambones BBQ heeds the call of grumbling bellies with a menu of tender pork, turkey, chicken, and ribs slathered in savory sauce. Satisfy carnivorous cravings by ordering one of the plates⎯a selection of meat kept company by your choice of two side items, such as fried okra, baked beans, or brunswick stew ($7–$10.25). Tender eats can also arrive in the form of sandwiches ($1.75–$3.74) accompanied by homemade, freshly cut french fries ($1.49) that will inspire tone-deaf taste buds to serenade incisors with John Fogerty lyrics. Patrons can nosh on more finger-friendly fare such as the ribs splashed in the homemade special rib sauce ($12.50 for a half rack) or smoked chicken wings dressed in ranch or blue cheese ($7 for 10 pieces). Then wash down flavor-packed meals by slurping an iced tea ($1.65), a beverage from the full bar, or by sticking your head into a nearby waterfall.
The Ultimate Bar & Grill’s chefs break free from the shackles of pub-grub conventions with a revamped menu of bar starters and full-grown entrees. Platter pamperers steep 24 wings in a sauna of spices, such as lemon pepper and sweet chili ($17.99), before massaging rémoulade and marinara into fried green tomatoes ($6.99). Cloak Vienna beef dogs in an ensemble of Chicago-style duds, including mustard, relish, veggies, celery salt, and Prohibition-era fedoras ($6.99). Twinkle-toed clusters of snow crab legs quickstep through Cajun seasonings ($19.99), and chicken ($13.99), steak ($14.99), or shrimp ($15.99) cascade across the teriyaki stir-fry's mound of peppers, onions, and garlic. Taste buds plunge into the drink menu's wines, suds, and creative cocktails, such as the vodka-laced Electric Lemonade.