Amid cheery avocado-green walls illuminated by wrought-iron chandeliers, cooks at Off the Vine awaken gourmet appetites with innovative breakfast items and savory bistro fare. Greet the morning with a firm handshake and a hearty frittata, which merges sautéed spinach and caramelized onion with feta and fresh eggs to create a flavorful open-faced omelet. Belgian waffles wear a variety of toppings, simply adorned with sweet butter, fresh fruit, and syrup, or dressed to the nines in brown sugar, toasted walnuts, and a swirl of whipped cream. Thanks to the repeal of the omelet lobby's strict breakfast-only legislation, brunchers have the freedom to eschew morning fare for more lunch-centric spreads from the restaurant's array of small plates, salads, and sandwiches. No matter the entree selection, the waitstaff keeps bubbly mimosas filled ad infinitum.
With the pay-as-you-can system, Cafe 180 patrons can pay what they can reasonably afford for any combination of plates, including berry salad, pulled-pork barbecue pizza, meatball sandwiches, or shrimp gumbo, and $8 is the average price paid for a meal. Alternatively, patrons can choose to pay a bit more to pay it forward for those who pay less, or pay by giving one hour of service such as washing windows, wrapping silverware, or filling soup-to-go bags. Cafe 180 relies on additional funding from donations to cover the cost of meals for all those who cannot afford to pay the full amount.
At Felt, the satisfying clack of billiard balls rings out, conjuring the spirit of Minnesota Fats as players take aim during games held at one of 23 tables. Whether practicing trick shots at a 7-foot Valley pool table, settling bets at a full-size 9-foot table from Gold Crown or Diamond, or pretending to understand how the British think at the lone snooker table, players fuel their competitive spirit with food and drink from the hall’s bar and kitchen. Half-pound deep-fried chimichangas and all-day breakfast spreads complement draft beers drawn from one of 10 taps or cocktails mixed using spirits from well-stocked racks of liquor. As players munch or sip, they also feed their minds with the highlights that flicker forth from the bar’s flat-screen TVs.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs grill every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Angus beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. The chefs then sandwich each slab in an artisan bun and turn it into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market. This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the chefs do, from blending handspun Häagen-Dazs shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded to 160 restaurants in five years, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.