The story of Sperry’s Restaurant began in Jacksonville, Florida, with famed restaurateur and hotelier Burton W. Sperry, whose reputation for fine food and sterling service made him the toast of the South in the late 1800s. Fast-forward to 1974, when Sperry’s descendants—eager to uphold their great-great-grandfather’s commitment to dining excellence—started their own restaurant to honor his memory. Since opening its doors more than three decades ago, Sperry's Restaurant has expanded to two locations and developed a loyal following thanks to its continued dedication to cooking palate-pleasing steaks and seafood entrees and bending over backwards for its guests. The aroma of crab legs and bacon-wrapped filet mignon converge to form a culinary siren song for diners sitting at tables made from the hatch covers of World War II Liberty ships.
Tokyo Japanese Steak House is a feast for the eyes, nose, and ears as well as the mouth. In addition to "laser lights in the lobby" and "sushi in martini glasses," as noted by Nashville Scene, hibachi chefs stand by your table and make theater out of food preparation, tossing around teriyaki meats and tofu dishes and making puppet shows with chopsticks.
There’s also a wide selection of sushi here. Try the signature Tennessee roll, which incorporates spicy tuna topped with fish, eel sauce, and tempura flakes. Also worth a try: the barbecue eel over sushi rice.
The owners and chefs at Santa Fe Cattle rely on old family recipes that demand steaks are aged and cut in-house, rolls are baked fresh each day, and signature sauces are mixed onsite. These touches transform the menu’s casual, regional eats into dishes worthy of John Wayne’s personal dressing-room buffet. Steaks, fajitas, and sliders are plated next to housemade sides of cole slaw, Santa Fe taters, and of course, a bucket of peanuts—which guests shuck directly onto the floor. The peanut shells add character to each one of the restaurant’s 20 locations, which evoke old-west saloons with touches such as brick walls draped in horse saddles and weathered wooden floors.
Eleven varieties of meat, from flank steak and pork ribs to tender leg of lamb, sail off skewers at Bombasha Brazilian Steakhouse, recently dubbed by Urbanspoon as one of America’s most popular high-end restaurants. Speedy tableside service, courtesy of Brazilian gauchos, keeps plates piled high with each succulent slice of meat, which diners can pair with side dishes such as fried bananas and yucca. Fresh greens and smoked salmon from the salad bar prologue feasts, and homemade Brazilian desserts close the evening beside signature caipirinhas conjured from sugar-cane liquor, sugar, and zesty lime.
At Nick's Ristorante, Nick and Sherry Mikus emulate northern Italian recipes inspired by more than four decades of international traveling. In the kitchen, Chef Gerald works from a menu featuring dishes such as the Angel Hair Pasta Nicky, with shrimp, pasta, and thyme sautéed in a white-wine sauce with oregano and tomatoes. Certified Angus beef in cuts ranging from 12 to 20 ounces—voted Best Steak in North Alabama by the Alabama Cattlemen's Association—arrive with wedge salads and garlic mashed potatoes.
To allow guests to fully enjoy the flavors in these hearty Italian entrees, Nick's Ristorante's decor features oodles of elegance. Glass pendant lamps hang above the dining room from wrought-iron columns, where they cast a soft glow over the crisp black tablecloths that double as capes for hungry Batmen. Wines from around the world complement each meal, and patrons can slip into Nick's Ristorante's lounge to sample cigars from Perdomo, Victor Sinclair, and other producers.
Pauli's serves up a gourmet dinner menu of wood-fire grilled steaks, chops, seafood, and game in a romantic setting. Fresh seafood offerings are sourced from the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and include such satisfying options as blue-fin tuna, pan seared and sprinkled with a mustard-seed vinaigrette ($31.25). Soothe stressed-out stress meters with the comforting powers of Pauli's shrimp and grits in an andouille cream sauce ($18), or absent-mindedly twirl durac pork-rib chops in a horseradish-mustard sauce, nestled next to grilled asparagus and mac 'n' cheese ($34.50). The 8-ounce wood-fired prime Angus-beef sirloin appeases growling infernos ($21), and the Alaskan halibut is potato-crusted and sauteed in lemon butter sauce ($33.50), sure to bring the tongue buds alive.