Founded in 1954 by James McLamore and David Edgerton, Burger King rapidly expanded from humble beginnings as a lone burger joint to more than 12,400 locations across 79 countries today, making it the second-largest fast-food-hamburger chain in the world. Its signature burger—the Whopper sandwich—consists of flame-broiled, quarter-pound beef patties crowned with a miniature fedora and a fully customizable array of toppings such as tomatoes, onions, and dill pickles. Focused on continual improvement, the chain recently reinvented the fries that accompany each value meal, outfitting the spud slices with a thicker cut of potato for a fluffier texture on the inside and crispier golden-brown exterior. A spread of decadent desserts including dutch apple pie and Hershey pie keeps sweet teeth from elongating into fangs, and made-to-order breakfast sandwiches clasp eggs, american cheese, and bacon, sausage, or ham between two halves of a flaky croissant to round out the speedy menu.
In an effort to find a healthy alternative to fast food without sacrificing speediness, the creators of Pita Pit began assembling their signature sandwiches for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night snacks. At each location, thin, Lebanese-style pitas encircle lean, grilled meats and fresh veggies, all grilled to order. Sandwich selections span the spectrum from gyro meat and falafel to turkey and prime rib. The staff empowers customers to make healthy choices by displaying nutrition information for each bread, meat, and post-meal toothpick and corralling a selection of healthy sandwiches.
For dessert, Pita Pit serves eight rotating varieties of Dannon YoCream frozen yogurt, which guests can mix and combine into their own flavor combinations. Instead of coming from a powdered mix, kosher-approved YoCream is made from live and active yogurt cultures that can aid in digestion. Nonfat YoCream varieties carry an average of 100 calories per half-cup, while tart and sorbet flavors stand ready to tempt a wide range of palates.
When founders J. Kim Tucci, Joseph A. Fresta, and John P. Ferrara first opened The Pasta House Co. in 1974, they wanted to elevate pasta to an art form. “Some artists sculpt, some paint, and some sketch,” they write on the restaurant’s website. “But, at The Pasta House Co., we create authentic Italian culinary delights.” A few of the locations even have giant, exhibition kitchens so you can watch as pizzas, pastas, and entrees come to life.
Naturally, The Pasta House Co.’s menu revolves around the Italian staple from which it gets its name. There are more than 25 varieties of pasta to choose from, including linguine with chicken livers and the signature lasagna, plus weekday specials such as stuffed manicotti. Meanwhile, the mangia bene menu—which translates to “eat well” in Italian—showcases the more wholesome side of Italian eating, with dishes low in fat and calories that won’t peer pressure you to break curfew.
Wooden shelves bear the weight of wine bottles behind the wraparound bar at Erato Wine Bar and Restaurant. Bartenders climb a wooden ladder to retrieve a 2006 Louis Latour pinot noir or a 2009 PlumpJack merlot, reading the labels in the dim light of hanging lamps. Around them, laughter bounces off the exposed bricks and spring-soled shoes bounce off the dark-wood floors. Yet the boutique selection of wine isn't the only thing that draws guests in. The bar also hosts high-end spirits such as St. Germain and an international selection of beers. The kitchen, meanwhile, complements this array of libations with tapas-style delicacies that change weekly. Cheese plates come with cured meats, nuts, and fresh fruits, and local ingredients enhance delicacies such as caprese salad. Chefs also whip up meal-size portions of pasta and seafood drizzled with truffle oil and sherry reductions.
With its precisely trimmed hedges, red-brick façade, and quartet of shuttered windows, Grace Manor Restaurant looks less like an eatery than a private home. Inside, chef and owner Debra Grace keeps up the pretense, serving hearty helpings of upscale comfort fare such as gravy-soaked buttermilk biscuits and rosemary-sprinkled mac 'n' cheese. Entrees such as porterhouse steaks, asparagus-and-mushroom ravioli, and peppers stuffed with quinoa round out the dinner selection. Not only the menus, but the interior paint and local artwork on the walls change with the seasons as Debra concocts new dishes from locally grown produce, meats, and dairy.
Classic barbecue flavors abound at Randy’s House of Bar-B-Que, where cooks rub pork shoulders and brisket with a special seasoning blend before sending them into the smoker. They also smoke chicken and racks of ribs, adjusting cooking temperatures to unlock the meat's flavors while retaining natural juices. Sides of slaw and baked beans round out meals, which are served picnic-style, while afterward guests can enjoy desserts such as Who Dat's famous gooey butter cake. Visitors can also enjoy a full bar and live music every Wednesday and Sunday afternoon.