Blue Dot Barbeque doesn’t need to be flashy or showy. One small sign hangs beside the blue-brick building’s front door—no flashing lights, no giant marquee, and absolutely no skywriting. The owner chose the name in honor of his aunt and uncle—Blue and Dorothy Robinson—and this casual, down-home inspiration influences the hole-in-the-wall eatery’s spirit.
Surrounded by nondescript white walls, patrons snag a stool at the counter or grab a seat at one of the diner-style wooden tables. Orders of grill-fresh hamburgers and rib sandwiches emerge from the kitchen tightly wrapped in foil paper, releasing a burst of savory aromas as soon as they’re opened.
Many people argue that Blue Dot's burgers are the best in the area. In fact, a group of nine friends on a quest to find the best burger in Northwest Florida embarked on the NWFL Burger Tour in 2012. After sampling burgers from 14 different local and chain restaurants, the group rated Blue Dot as the best.
At India Palace, blending and calibrating spices becomes an art as the chefs combine ginger, cardamom, and peppers to craft Indian entrees. The culinary experts draw inspiration from all around the subcontinent, paying homage to Goa by simmering shrimp curries and giving a nod to Kashmir with rogan josh’s tender cubes of lamb. They create their own cheese, nestling fresh chunks of it in tomato-based cream sauce or spinach, and take a lesson from Chinese culinary traditions for Manchurian-style cauliflower and marinated chicken spiced with soy and hot-pepper sauces.
After a spicy meal, diners don’t need to resort to eating a snowman alive—they can cool their palates with sips of mango lassi or swallows of indian beer. As they savor their drinks at tables draped in red tablecloths, they glance around at the wood-paneled dining room and framed art illuminated by overhead wheels that dangle six lanterns each.
This culinary emporium's owners, Paras and Tamara Arora, know that palates can be choosy. So in early 2012, the couple opened Beyond India, an Indo-American fusion restaurant that combines traditional recipes from both cultures. Drawing on 20 years of experience cooking traditional Indian cuisine—specifically from North India—Punjabi chef Singh populates tables with pub-style golden appetizers and more exotic starters of delicately fried paneer pakora. The team bakes entrees such as seafood and tandoori lamb in an oven that reaches 900 degrees, almost exactly twice the temperature at which books and firefighting manuals burn. After sopping up a curry dish from the endless lunch buffet, patrons can cool off taste buds with a sweet slice of key-lime pie.
In 1937, Vernon Rudolph founded Krispy Kreme in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with the first location on South Main Street in Old Salem. Seventy-seven years later, his secret doughnut recipe lives on within hundreds of Krispy Kreme locations, serving premium sweet treats across the globe.
The entire doughnut-making process, which customers can view up close and personal at many of Krispy Kreme?s outposts, begins with fresh ingredients and ends with the click of a fluorescent sign bearing the words, "Hot Doughnuts Now." From the original, mold-breaking glazed doughnut to newer doughnut varieties, such as Chocolate Iced with Kreme Filling, Glazed Raspberry Filled, and Glazed Chocolate Cake, each round dainty pairs with piping-hot coffee for a compact snack.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop?s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M?s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
Sunny yellow walls and park benches frame the entryway of CJ’s Kitchen & Grille, giving the cozy eatery the feel of a small, Southern town. Inside, baskets of fried fish and gulf shrimp, and platters of smothered pork chops and country-fried steak keep the Southern ambiance alive. A friendly wait staff shuffles fresh-made breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare from table to table, sating appetites with crab cakes, housemade tartar sauce, and hush puppies. Early-rising taste buds awaken from dreams about licking the surface of the moon to devour eggs paired with hash browns, grits, and andouille sausage, or to dive into homemade french toast made from Gambino's New Orleans' french bread.