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.
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.
Before she opened Lo-Cal Cafe, Chef Robin honed her skills at a French culinary school. But she actually began learning about cooking as a child, watching as her mother fashioned fresh, simple ingredients into elaborate feasts. Now, she draws on both branches of experience to prepare healthy gourmet entrees, all of which contain 500 calories or less. Options range from protein-rich banana pancakes to veggie bowls with a choice of whole-wheat penne, brown rice, couscous, or quinoa, and a variety of proteins. Stop into the café or order prepared meals from Robin's weekly meal plan service.
In 1999, Jimbo Sinovic opened the first Big Daddy's on the Landing and Soulard in the historic Soulard district, less than a half-mile from the iconic Anheuser-Busch Brewery. The eatery's drink specials and tasty pub staples—served for lunch, dinner, and late-night owl watching—established the bar as a neighborhood favorite and inspired its owner to declare it "The Best Bar in the Whole Wide World."
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.
Purple and gold have long been the colors of royalty. At Taj Indian Cuisine, they serve as a mere backdrop to vibrant, aromatic dishes composed of fresh vegetables, meats, and spices. Crispy samosa shells crack open to reveal spicy ground meet or potatoes and peas, while prawns simmer amidst Indian spices inside a clay oven heated by state-of-the art coals. Lamb pieces mingle in spices and basmati rice with a curd mixture to compose flavorful biryani, and fresh, Indian cheese simmers on plates of saag paneer. Indian beers and mango lassi cool palates down after spicy bites.