Light pours in through Happy Thai's full-wall windows, casting a natural glow on polished wood tables and walls painted orange and avocado-green. Amid these warm accents, diners sample warm papaya chicken, fried duck, and prawn in spicy curry. But how spicy is spicy? To make ordering easy, the menu offers a spice rubric, ranging from one star for mild, to five stars for extremely hot. To help wash down the the heat, opt for a Guinness or Sapporo brew, or one of nine varieties of bubble tea such as honeydew, strawberry, and coconut.
Although roughly 1,000 different entrees can be sampled at Chang's Mongolian Grill, diners won't need to peruse a menu as thick as a phone book. Instead, you get to peruse the all-you-can-eat food bar and fill a bowl with your choice of meats, vegetables, and noodles. A helpful chart recommends tried-and-true combinations, but guests are free to experiment, mixing and matching sauces as they see fit.
For the final step, the chefs take each bowl and pour its contents onto a large, circular grill in the center of the open kitchen. They shuffle and slide each order around the magma-heated grill until every last morsel is evenly seared, then sweep everything onto a waiting plate. All you'll need to do is take it back to your table and enjoy the freshly grilled meal. Additional sides of soup, rice, or crepes are also available.
At the bar at Flights Pub, spirits and glasses cluster beneath a brick arch behind bartenders who pull frothy brews from a line of taps. The kitchen team prepares jalapeño poppers and fried chicken gizzards, which can keep fingers busy during televised sports games. For heartier meals, the staff serves bacon mac 'n' cheese, prime-rib sandwiches with a side of au jus, and burgers topped with pepper jack cheese. If staffers take a break from serving burgers and whiskey, they might look up and see the checkered ceiling, which, with a bit of Velcro and some stilts, is really just a chessboard. Flights Pub also offers billiards and darts, as well as live music, which blasts into the bar on Friday and Saturday nights.
While living on Molokai, Bobby and Diane Nakihei couldn’t throw a stone without hitting a plate-lunch special. The classic Hawaiian dish—two scoops of rice, one scoop of macaroni salad, and an entree—is served at practically every fast-food restaurant and food wagon across the island. When the couple moved from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest, they began to long for the once-ubiquitous island cuisine. So Bobby traded the stuffy shirt and tie of a bookkeeping career for the patterned, button-down shirts of his homeland and opened Bobby's Hawaiian Style Restaurant, drawing transplanted islanders and locals alike to his plate-lunch specials, which often come wrapped in taro leaves and seaweed.
His cuisine earned the restaurant a spot on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and praise from Scott Gorman of the Herald, who extols it as “prepared and presented with a good deal of authenticity and style.” Revered dishes include Kahlua pig, which Chef Bobby cures with hawaiian sea salt, covers in banana leaves, and roasts for eight hours. The meticulous preparation extends to the rest of the menu, which spotlights the leaf-steamed pork of laulau and the sushi-esque spam musubi. In addition to the cuisine, owners Bobby and Diane showcase Hawaiian culture by offering hula lessons, presenting live Hawaiian music and recycling diners' lawn clippings into grass skirts.
When Andrés Cárdenas Guitrón emigrated to the United States from Mexico, he landed his first job as a dishwasher. He worked his way up the ranks to a food preparer, a cook’s assistant, and a chef before finally opening up his own restaurant. At Mazatlan, he dishes out family recipes that include grilled chimichangas, crab enchiladas, and steak picado christened in a Spanish sauce.
Serving fresh and speedy pizza across America since 1959, Little Caesars has grown into a huge, international carryout phenomenon. Pizzas featuring fresh dough are made to order in large ($8.99 for up to three toppings) and large deep dish ($9.99), mimicking the spectrum of sizes seen on nature's pizza trees. Toppings range from classic pepperoni and sausage to canadian bacon and pineapple. Return as the conquering hero of your family and save your twins the trouble of hunting down bipedal mastodons by picking up one of Little Caesars HOT-N-READY pies ($5.55). The large-sized HOT-N-READY pizzas are available in pepperoni or cheese, and can be picked up any time without the need to order ahead. Fans of three-dimensional eats can try the Italian cheese bread ($4.99) or chicken wings ($5.99 for 8).