After ten hours of slow-cooking, the barbecue ribs at Joe’s American Bar & Grill land on tables tender and ready to fall of the bone. Served with fresh-made coleslaw, these ribs are the centerpiece of a menu overflowing with upscale comfort food. Chefs cut potatoes by hand to accompany bacon cheeseburgers topped with aged cheddar and bread-and-butter pickles made in-house rather than flown in by a talking stork. Grilled pizzas are made fresh to order and never frozen, and hefty sandwiches and hand-cut steaks stack plates with sustenance. On the weekends, brunch dishes come out of hibernation to sate guests with made-to-order omelets and specialties such as eggs benedict and prime-rib hash. Diners enjoy the fresh air on the outdoor patio or cluster around the bar to keep track of sports scores or find out who really got married on Days of Our Lives.
Jody Maroni, founder of Jody Maroni's Sausage Kingdom, started linking gourmet sausages in 1979 and now rules over a royal court of meat artisans who assemble more than 20 all-natural varieties. Many of the homemade recipes renounce nitrates and MSG and instead fill the natural pork casings with meat that is naturally low in sodium and fat. Chicken-mole sausages blend chocolate, cumin, and chilies, and the louisiana hot links steep in duck stock and smolder with Boudin-style spices. Like Iowa's delightful airspace, the meaty morsels have drawn bicoastal praise—Splash! Los Angeles argues that they "might just top the Dodger Dog," and Time Out New York thanks the eatery for bringing "rays of sunshine to the food wasteland of Times Square."
Touch of Soul’s chefs translate homestyle Southern recipes into platters of comforting standbys. Land-dwelling favorites such as fried chicken and poboys mingle with Gulf staples such as red snapper, sole, and oysters that arrive tableside decked in delicate grill marks or donning healthy coats of fresh-fried batter. From Tuesday through Sunday, the kitchen also preps nightly dinner specials such as marinated steak smothered in beef gravy, or turkey wings seasoned and slow cooked to perfection. These dinners come flanked by three authentic Dixie side dishes, including red beans and rice, fresh yams, or corn bread baked into the shape of Jimmy Carter’s silhouette.
The cooks at Lanesplitter bake up a menu of New York–style pizzas and pocket-like calzones, and bartenders at the three pub locations pour a large selection of microbrews. An army of nearly 30 meaty, veggie, and vegan toppings stands ready to occupy thin neapolitan or thick sicilian crusts in combinations such as the herbivore's spinach, mushrooms, onions, and olives ($23.50 for a 19-inch) or the garbage pie's heaping mélange of spiced meats and crisper-drawer items ($27.50 for a 19-inch). The bar's taps have recently flowed with Racer 5 by Bear Republic, E.J. Phair's doppelbock, and hand-pumped Bombay by Boat IPA from Moonlight Brewing Company. Some locations host art openings, where diners and drinkers may admire photography, paintings, or mosaics made entirely of anchovies.
The diverse menu at Wally's serves a variety of Mediterranean meals with a focus on fast, friendly service. Start off by sampling sweet and savory crêpes containing walnuts, sugar, and lemon ($4) and eggs, ham, and cheese ($7). Greek breakfast options include the Fati—yogurt, garbanzo beans, and lamb snuggling inside a crispy pita bear hug ($8). For lunch, the greek salad ($8) and a French pesto, turkey, and cheese galette ($7) combine influences with the grace of a trained Olympian chasing a chocolate éclair. Gear up gastro baskets at dinnertime, when falafel ($4) and baba gannouj ($7) tease appetites with whispers of all-expenses-paid vacations. Entree kebabs such as the lamb or shrimp come à la carte ($10) or on a platter ($21), and Turkish coffee ($3) and baklava ($3) place a dunce cap on the night.
E-22's menu spans the toe and heel of boot-shaped fare with savory specimens of Southern Italian cooking. Launch your meal with a light opener such as the insalata Ustica, with Sicilian tuna, blood oranges, caper berries, and red onions in an aged balsamic dressing ($9), or break down the gates of appetite with a hot, pressed battering ram of powerful panini, such as the specialita di Guiseppe (slow-roasted pork shoulder braised with rosemary, garlic, grilled onion, and red-wine-roast jus, $8). Pair a hot Illy cappuccino ($3) with a classic individual pizza, such as the margherita (tomato, oregano, fresh basil, mozzarella di bufala, and extra-virgin olive oil, $7), or quaff an imported barley brew such as Italian Birra Moretti or La Rossa ($4.50 each) alongside a dinner entree of salsicce (Italian fennel sausage, roasted red pepper, grilled onions, and roasted tomatoes with a side salad, lemon-garlic spinach, and roasted eggplant caponata crostini, $11.99). Make sure to ask your server about the current drink specials and for the latest oenophiliac updates from the wine bar.