The Bagel Factory's hand-rolled circlets serve as immaculate foundations for hearty constructions of Boar's Head meats, fresh veggies, and a variety of cream cheeses. Kettle-cooked showstoppers populate the bagelry’s Herculean menu, with a menagerie of exotic bread breeds, including cinnamon raisin, egg, pumpernickel, everything, and infinite nothingness ($0.85/bagel). The selection of specialty sandwiches, available on a bagel, roll, or panini, includes South of the Border, a mariachi mosh pit of pepper turkey, pepper jack cheese, and veggies ($6.99). Or opt for grilled sandwiches available on a bagel or roll, such as the buffalo chicken's miraculous union of spicy dressing, blue cheese, and fiery poultry ($7.99).
Beneath lemongrass-hued walls reverberating with the strains of relaxed music, Roti Road House Cafe’s chefs bring Caribbean influences to a wide range of dishes. As they buzz through the kitchen, florets of steam sprout in the air, hinting at simmering oxtail, duck, and lobster. In the dining room, roti wraps cradle the stewed meats alongside an array of vegetarian options and jerk chicken wings. Juicers hum cheerily like a forgetful choir, blending fresh ginger, pineapple, mango, and kale, and patrons check emails on complimentary-use computers.
When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop—then called Pete's Subway—proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway restaurants number over 34,000 around the world—almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Salads free crisp veggies from bread's overprotective embrace, and crunchy baked chips or apple slices accompany entrees to tables. Subway's website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutrition information and fastest mile time online.
Chef Steve Thomas at The Kountry Style learned how to prepare the traditional dishes of his native Jamaica from the best teacher he knew: his mother. Tapping into the methods and recipes that had been perfected and passed down in his family for generations, he honed his skills in his mother’s restaurant, where he learned how to create the perfect blend of spices to marinate jerk chicken and the best way to create the complex curries in which to stew tender goat meat. In Kountry Style’s kitchen, Chef Steve cooks these traditional dishes for guests hoping to get a true taste of the Caribbean or those who are missing the fresh seafood of their own home. In addition to the food, the decor helps transport minds to the shores of Jamaica, with walls portraying colorful and historic island scenes that often inspire daydreaming and spontaneous plane ticket purchases.
Downs District: Jamaican Jerk Grill, named for the area of Jamaica from which the owner's family emigrated, fills the space formerly inhabited by Perci's Jerk Hut with the savory aromas of tropical cuisine. Cooks stew oxtail, roast fish over tinfoil, and prepare jerk chicken that a New York Magazine writer called "succulent with a slightly crispy exterior.” Bright-red chairs, natural-wood accents, and modern, whimsical illustrations of goats and fish lend the restaurant a cheerful vibe.
For the chefs at Nu Urban Cafe, quality is their number-one concern. To that end, they try to refrain from cooking with frozen or canned veggies, preferring to import seasonal and fresh produce whenever possible. Their sauces, marinades, and dressings are made from scratch, using high-quality ingredients. When fashioning one of the café's handmade desserts, chefs mix in real butter, quality vanilla and chocolate, and real eggs, known to be more flavorful and less metallic than ones laid by robotic chickens. This devotion to detail lends a crisp, fresh flavor to servings of glazed baby back ribs, thyme-seasoned red snapper, and apple-smothered pork chops.