Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified 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. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun 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 from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, 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.
At L'Allegria, founders Saverio and Giovanni Allocca seek to transport diners to an al fresco Mediterranean courtyard with their authentic cuisine and decor that evokes a breezy villa. The menu brims with classic italian pastas and succulent veal dishes, made with hormone-free meats. Extensive wine lists complement entrees with dozens of varietals from Italy and California.
Patrons sit upon floral-patterned chairs in the high-ceilinged dining room, amid beige walls and exposed brick. At times, a pianist's melodies reverberate throughout the eatery, relaxing diners and reminding the walls' paintings of a simpler time when they were young, impressionable canvases.
You’ve got to love a restaurant that doesn’t try to be all things to all people, that takes a stand, picks just a few things, and cooks them really, really well. That, in a nutshell, is what Stony’s does for burgers and hot dogs—and boy is South Orange all the better for it.
The Nine Thai kitchen abounds with fresh ingredients—ripe juicy mangos cuddling up next to fresh garlic and bright red chili peppers. Skilled chefs fold this eclectic produce, as well as seafood and strips of pork, chicken, and beef, into curries, rice dishes, and Thai specialties. Their pad thai, for example, showers thin noodles with peanuts, sprouts, scallions, and eggs to create an authentic, homestyle rendition of the classic dish that doesn’t rely on a portal connected to a grandmother’s kitchen in Thailand. As the chefs bustle about the kitchen, diners chat at one of the intimate dining room’s 15 tabletops, sipping thai iced teas and fresh mango juice.
The dough wizards at Papa John's Pizza hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 3,500 restaurants within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.
Customers take control at IYO Yogurt, where IYO stands for "It's Your Own," according to a feature in the Alternative Press, meaning that it's up to the customer to choose their yogurt and top it with as many candies, nuts, and fruits as they want. To this end, visitors select any combination of 24 yogurt flavors to fill their cups, plus more than 100 toppings options, which all satisfy sweet teeth more than filling a cup with 100 teaspoons of sugar.