One might feel compelled to recite the Pledge of Allegiance upon entering All American Cafe, whose exposed brick walls are strewn with stars to represent the United States. Of those 50 states, the café’s menu draws most heavily on the proud state of Texas. Sunlight filters in through large windows to illuminate fuchsia tablecloths lined with fried and grilled fish fillets, pork chops, and aged Angus steaks served alongside fried okra and mashed potatoes. After two-handing a juicy half-pound burger, diners can question servers about the all-day breakfast offerings or ask for a napkin made from an authentic piece of the Declaration of Independence.
New York–style, thin-crust pizzas topped with meatballs, anchovies, and green olives roll out whole or by the slice at New York Pizza & Deli. Though its name is a nod both to New York City’s finest and the legal right of the city's prisoners to one phone call and a slice of pizza, NYPD goes beyond pies. Its slate of classic subs comes stuffed with havarti cheese, thinly sliced beef, and spicy capicola from Boar’s Head. Big Apple memorabilia dots the walls of the casual eatery, where a Lady Liberty mural watches over patrons as they down salami-stuffed calzones or creamy new york cheesecake.
Bayou Twist’s chefs celebrate the spicy melody of Cajun food while remixing it a dash, like culinary DJs, by integrating it with Laotian cuisine. Several of their dishes are firmly planted in Cajun tradition, such as shrimp boils and baskets of fried catfish, while others, such as larb beef, use fish sauce, lime juice, and fresh herbs to evoke traditions born halfway around the world in Laos. In plates of barbecue shrimp, homemade lao sausages over sticky rice, and in the sauce that covers crawfish tacos, the two cuisines meld harmoniously, unlike peanut butter and a carburetor.
Cousin’s Bar-B-Q’s sauce-soaked menu teems with classic dishes made with chopped and smoked meats, plus a medley of hearty sides. Carnivorous concoctions including pulled pork ($7.99) and chopped beef brisket ($8.99) join sides such as sweet ranch beans and carrot-raisin salad, giving jaws a workout while toning tongues’ six-pack abs. Sandwiches stack one protein ($4.89) or two ($5.99), and a cavalcade of smoked meats including boneless chicken breast ($10.99/lb.) offers unadorned taste that far surpasses an all-dough pizza or an ice sandwich. Cousin’s Alliance Town Center location, known as Cousin’s Urban BBQ, boasts additional sandwiches and eclectic entrees, such as the Texican tacos plate, a border-blurring pile of chipotle-mango salsa, coleslaw, and cilantro atop brisket, pulled pork, or chicken ($7.99 for 2, $8.99 for 3).
When Popeyes first opened in a New Orleans suburb in 1972, it wasn't exactly an instant hit. Known back then as Chicken on the Run, it experienced several months of lackluster sales. Not ready to give up, founder Alvin Copeland Sr. changed his recipe from traditional southern fried chicken to the native spicy New Orleans?style chicken. He then gave his eatery a similarly spicy new moniker: Popeyes, named after "Popeye" Doyle, the hardboiled detective in the hit movie The French Connection.
A little more than a decade later, the popular chain had opened its 500th restaurant, expanded to Canada, and added its fluffy buttermilk biscuits to the menu. It also introduced the country to crawfish, which?much like draping beads over everything from trees to the local alligator population?had been beloved by Louisianans for decades.
Nowadays, patrons can dig into the Louisiana favorites that made Popeyes famous, including breaded seafood, po' boys, and sides like mashed potatoes and red beans and rice. Of course, the main event is still spicy or mild chicken that marinates for 12 hours before being hand-battered, hand-breaded, and fried.
IHOP's first pancake was flipped in Toluca Village, California, in 1958. More than 1,500 locations later, IHOP's kitchens still grill their signature pancakes next to a surfeit of omelettes, stuffed french toast, and other inventive breakfast creations. Though syrup is IHOP's condiment of choice, diners can squirt ketchup onto an assortment of meaty burgers or french fries that share plate space with country-fried steaks and french-onion pot roasts made with USDA-choice beef.