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.
Damascus Grill's culinary maestros conduct a flavorful symphony of authentic Middle Eastern dishes composed from family recipes and fresh ingredients. Dining duos can peruse the lengthy menu of made-from-scratch delicacies before putting hands or retired snow shovels to work with an appetizer of hummus mutabbal infused with garlic and olive oil, or fried stuffed kibbi packed with ground meat and nuts. Skewers of marinated scallops, shrimp, and salmon morsels politely mingle in the seafood combo, and tender slices of lamb assist rice in filling a pita pocket to its 50-gallon capacity. Vegetarians can sink their unnecessarily sharp incisors into moussaka, a flavorful blend of eggplant, green peppers, and onions baked and served with an entourage of rice and hummus.
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.
Shedding its former Fatburger brand, Epic Grill hosts a revamped menu that includes a new lineup of never-frozen burgers, sandwiches, and sides. Weighing in at 3 ounces, The Little E burger ($3.50) fills smaller appetites but struggles to follow in the belly-stretching footsteps of its 6-ounce brother, The E burger ($4.99)—both of which can be topped with add-ons including chili ($0.79) and grilled mushrooms ($0.69). Cooks slow-cook the pulled-pork sandwich's Carolina-style pork ($5.25), which comes smothered in a smoky barbecue sauce. Patrons can also orally explore nonbunned eats with Epic Burger's salads ($6.95–$7.95) or wrap their jowls around the popular honey-hawaiian sliders (4 for $5.95), great for sharing with friends or imitating how yetis would eat The E burger.
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.