At Salento Restaurant, his second BYOB venture, chef Davide Faenza draws on his roots in the region of Puglia, on the heel of the Italian boot, to fill a menu of authentic Italian fare. Home to “some of the finest raw ingredients in Italy,” according to a 2007 Philadelphia Weekly review, Puglia is known for its fresh seafood and simple pasta dishes. At Salento, servers carry in homemade gnocchi, sautéed fish filets, and other entrees that do justice to this tradition. After popping the last golden raisin from a balsamic-glazed chicken breast, guests can admire the dining room's glowing chandeliers, blue velvet curtains, and enormous mirror reflecting hungry pizza-delivery boys peeking in the front windows.
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.
The Copper Pot?s name is inspired, in part, by the great American metaphor of the melting pot in that its menu represents a hodgepodge of classic American dishes such as meatloaf and chicken-fried steak. Some of these recipes have been tweaked and reinvented such as the baked mac 'n' cheese with shrimp and the fish 'n' chips with panko beer batter. Inside the restaurant, staffers attempt to cultivate a neighborhoody vibe, getting to know their clients instead of just yelling "Norm" as people walk in the door.
1950s ephemera decorate Gunther Toody's eight Colorado locations, lending an extra boost of Americana to plates of classic diner food such as burgers and meatloaf. The menu even draws its inspiration from American pop culture of yore, with Elvis fries, burgers named for Howdy Doody, and Big Bopper breakfasts served on platters of chantilly lace. Classic ice-cream treats including shakes, malteds, and black cows help lead each meal to a suitably sweet conclusion.
Street-style tacos and quesadillas. Earthy tamales. Gorditas overflowing with fixings. These are just a few of the many dishes at Jalapenos, an unassuming eatery that cooks up made-to-order authentic Mexican cuisine daily. Jalapenos’ diners can savor their delectable entrees inside the restaurant or pull into the drive-thru on their way home or to a Bring Your Own Burrito party.
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.