Rated among the top fast-food chains by Zagat in 2010, Papa Murphy's houses crust contractors who assemble each pizza before customers' eyes, then hand them over for firing in a home oven. Fashion a custom pie ($9+ for a large) from a palette of 23 fresh toppings, or test the design acumen and hand aerodynamics of Papa Murphy's in-house tastemakers by going with a discus from the signature, stuffed, or delite menus. The Chicago-style stuffed pizza smuggles layers of pepperoni and italian sausage under the cover of roma tomatoes, onions, and a mozzarella trench coat ($14 for a large; $16 for a family-sized), and the hawaiian in the signature category comes topped with an archipelago of canadian bacon, Dole pineapple, and mozzarella cheese on a beach of tomato sauce ($11 for a large; $13 for a family-sized).
Adelaida Cuellar first sold her authentic Mexican fare to the hungry public at the 1926 Kaufman County Fair, where she manned a chili and tamale stand. In the face of increasing demand, her five sons helped her open the first El Chico restaurant in Dallas in 1940, and the franchise blossomed—much like a seed blossoms into a human. Today, at the almost 100 restaurants scattered throughout the South, chefs prepare hearty portions of traditional fare, including tacos, burritos, and fajitas, as well as tableside guacamole and, of course, tamales. Margaritas, cocktails, wines, and beers help wash down these south-of-the-border feasts.
With 45 locations, the aromas of hot soup and freshly baked bread greet customers across the nation as they approach Souper Salad's overflowing display of crisp salad greens and freshly prepared hot selections. Menus for the buffet change daily, but can include albóndigas soup, Tuna Skroodle pasta salad, A-MAIZE-ing cornbread, and other dishes. Dine-in guests are free to fill their bowls with their favorite soups and chilis, build their own salads from a plethora of crispy greens and tangy dressings, and see how much soft-serve ice cream they can pile atop a single cone. Patrons can also make a visit to the taco bar or flatbread pizza zone, and gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options are available.
Though they're both made from scratch daily, the two house sauces at Notini's are quite different. One is a plain tomato sauce, rich and ready for pouring over meatballs and Italian sausage. The other is a white alfredo sauce, meant to be mixed with fettuccine and meats such as chicken and shrimp. These family recipes define many of the dishes on the menu—a compilation of classic Italian foods that was created as an homage to the original Notini, Antonio.
Originally from Barga, Italy, Antonio Notini worked in the restaurant industry from the time he immigrated in 1909 until his retirement in 1960. Today, his son and grandsons manage Notini's with a deference to family tradition. They prepare po' boy sandwiches, pastas, and specialty pizzas to go with their signature sauces, and they serve up mint-spiced tea both by the glass and the take-home gallon. Weekly specials reward returning visitors with deals such as all-you-can-eat spaghetti on Wednesdays, which is otherwise only available if you hide out in their kitchen until after closing time.
Pietro’s has baked hand-tossed New York–style pizza, calzones, and hot sandwiches in a stone gas oven for more than 30 years, each hand-crafted from secret Sicilian family recipes. Oven-baked steak and cheese sandwiches taunt tasteless rulers with 12 inches of deliciousness ($7.99), and three-cheese spinach calzones turn and fold the doughtables on regular pizzas ($6.49). The eatery employs 100 percent whole milk mozzarella in the construction of each specialty pie, such as the Hawaiian luau pizza, a festive mouth mingler with juicy pineapple and baked ham in a bubbling blanket of mozzarella cheese ($15.99 for a 14”; $19.99 for an 18”). Patrons are also free to itemize pizza by the slice, minimizing leftovers and risk of marinara audits.