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 caf?'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.
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.
Speed is one of the most important ingredients at Khyber Indian. The cooks here pride themselves on a quick turnaround, which is made possible due to their rejection of all things fancy. Disposable plates and silverware cut down on cleanup, and the dining room has no unnecessary decor, just a few casual tables. That way lamb curry, chicken tikka masala, and vegetable samosas can arrive shortly after customers walk up to the counter and place their orders. It also frees up time for the kitchen staff to try out inventive takes on the classics?such as samosas stuffed with pumpkin?and focus on every aspect of the meal. The selection of sweets is headlined by mango lassi drinks and carrot halwa (a garnished milk pudding), which makes the perfect dessert or appetizer for the rebellious at heart.
As inviting as they are, the low, blue-tinted glow of the overhead bulbs and the rhythmic tunes emanating from live DJs and drummers probably won’t be the first things you notice when walking into Obsession Hookah Lounge. Your senses will most likely home in on the mingling of premium and exotic smoke wafting through the air, conveying the sweet aromas of Caribbean coconut- or lychee-scented tobacco. Like Carmen Miranda's wardrobe, hookahs can be enhanced with undertones of fresh fruit, including orange, pineapple, and grapefruit. Guests relax at the black-and-white lounge as late as 4 a.m. on Saturdays, playing pool and using complimentary WiFi to work on mobile devices.