Against walls of pure white and an ornate carpet laced with swirling embroidered flora, statuettes of horses rear up over steaming trays, hinting at unbridled fistfuls of spices. From the kitchen emerge golden knots of samosas alongside korma dishes and halal meats, and Punjabi and Mughlai influences gleam through in some concoctions. When the buffet is in action, more than 60 items fill the gleaming banquet table, which billows hot steam that foretells of fresh-from-the-oven tandoori dishes and goat biryani. A chandelier illuminates the perimeter of Shahnawaz Palace's banquet space, which staff configures for a variety of events, whether it is the large head table for a joyful wedding or the heaps of folding chairs for a wedding between professional wrestlers.
The sunset-orange hue of turmeric. The complex nutty scent of cumin. The slow-burning warmth of ground chili on one’s tongue. Spices touch all of the senses, and the precious seasonings play an important role in the kitchen at Shezan. Inside, clay ovens cradle chicken kebabs with ginger, paneer cubes marinated with herbs, and meat infused with the flavors of papaya. Waiters carry lamb, shrimp, and vegetarian dishes to the dining room, where forks clatter against plates with the cheery jangling of the robot arrival lounge at an airport. On weekends, a brunch buffet arrays 60 distinct desserts, biryani dishes, and tandoori options in the eatery, which the Home News Tribune called a “home away from home” for Pakistani diners.
The rustic interior of Mexican Post sets the tone for the restaurant's menu and hourly Battle of the Alamo reenactments. Starters ($4.75–$7.45) include savory engine revvers such as classic quesadillas, bean dip, or the camarones Acapulco (five shrimp stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon, deep-fried, and served with chipotle sauce). Fulfill your destiny with a larger plate, such as the deluxe burrito mesquite topped with special sauce, grilled veggies, cheese, peppers, and onions ($12.45) or an order of fan-favorite flautas ($10.25). Mix and match tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, and more across various combos ($8.95–$10.95). Accompany and lubricate your meal with a margarita featuring a potent dash from one of the 107 different tequila varieties, or sample a straight shot as anesthetic for an authentic Civil War–style operation.
Friends Tanya DeSilva and Mala Rajapakse found they shared such a passion for cooking the savory flavors of their familiar Sri Lankan cuisine that they developed it into a business. Once the inspiration from Chefs Suranga Pradeep Kumanra and Vincent Dias was added, both Sigiri locations in New York and New Jersey bloomed. Each one showcases traditional dishes from the owners’ homeland woven with culinary elements from India, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Malaysia—all countries with a colonial history on the island nation. As the restaurants have taken off, they’ve helped instill in their communities the same love for the spicy, belly-warming food that originally brought Tanya and Mala together. The result of all those efforts is a diverse menu that incorporates traditional rice dishes, spicy curries, and specialties such as banana leaves stuffed with chicken, egg, and plantains. But perhaps the most popular dish at Sigiri is the kotthu roti, in which doughy pancakes and vegetables are stir-fried together. At the New York location, diners climb up a steel staircase to a “narrow dining room painted in red and yellow ochre tones and decorated with straw basket lamp covers and ceramic candle holders,” as described by NYC.com. In that intimate space, they also sip Sri Lankan fruit cordials in flavors such as passion fruit, mango, or ginger and finish their meals with desserts of caramel flan.
Tucked away in the kitchen of each Paris Baguette, bakers trained in French techniques craft buttery, flaky croissants and tart crusts, and their success at this has earned attention from the likes of the New York Times. In addition to pastries and sweets such as mocha rice balls, the bakers knead bread for their namesake baguettes and yeasty creations that hold an Asian twist, such as red-bean-paste-filled donuts. The experts also create fondant-cloaked cakes that venture beyond classic flavors into green tea, cappuccino, and sweet potato, delighting partygoers bored of the same laminated sheet cake that makes its appearance at each year’s birthday celebration.
To wash down these treats, patrons sip cups of java or more exotic drinks such as wheatgrass and black-sesame lattes, persimmon smoothies, and bubble tea. At lunchtime, many locations layer sandwiches, filling hungry stomachs with croque monsieurs and baguettes stuffed with chicken and pesto.
Edison, N.J.'s newest hammery slices up a classic recipe. Inside the savory-scented digs of HoneyBaked Ham, spools of hardwood-smoked, spiral-sliced ham entice carnivorous palates. Here, chefs uphold the same traditions that Harry J. Hoenselaar created more than 40 years ago. Back then, he chose individual hams, cured them in his secret marinade, and smoked them over hardwood chips before offsetting the earthy flavor with a crisp, sweet glaze. To this day, the staff still makes the signature bone-in hams one at a time and glazes them in the shop. In addition to the eponymous victuals, the ham denizens turn their braising prowess on similarly delightful platter toppers, including turkey, barbecued pork, and 2-pound beef roasts smothered in gravy.
The hammery's kitchens also whip up classic side dishes and desserts, such as the sweet-potato soufflé. For less formal feasting, party trays and packed lunch boxes fuel business meetings, backyard grad parties, and lengthy end-zone celebrations.