To get a sense of The Greene Turtle's commitment to the neighborhood, one need only sit at the bar and look up. Dozens of mugs hang above the counter, emblazoned with the pub's logo and a unique number—each one belongs to a recurring patron. The Mug Club awards its members with draft-beer discounts and other specials, but more importantly, it allows loyal patrons to feel as though they own small slices of the venue without tattooing their names on the bartender's arm. This sense of shared familiarity is what fuels the entire franchise, which refrains from calling its locations "restaurants" in favor of friendlier terms: gathering places, communities, havens.
Many of the locations contribute more than mugs to their districts. Staff members who participate in the annual Tips for Tots program donate the entirety of one day's tips to a nearby Toys for Tots initiative, and Tuesday Funds for Friends events benefit local organizations. These efforts have been chronicled by press sources such as Food and Drink magazine, with features that liken The Greene Turtles' philanthropic generosity to the generous portions of comfort food that leave the kitchens.
From cheeseburger sliders and flatbread pizzas to handmade lump-crab cakes, the offerings on the menu embrace barroom traditions along with ingenuity. The steak and chicken entrees arrive with classic sides of green beans and yukon gold mashed potatoes, whereas the eastern shore mac ‘n’ cheese updates a comfort staple with chopped bacon, lump crab, scallions, and Old Bay seasoning. Diners can enjoy their meals by the glow of private flat-screen TVs—there's one in every booth—or beneath one of many larger televisions broadcasting sports games throughout the venue.
Spice Rack Chocolates' co-creators Paul and Mary Schellhammer left long-standing careers in order to make their shared culinary interests a full-time occupation. Before Spice Rack Chocolates fully evolved as a business, Mary worked as a personal chef. She developed an intimate knowledge of herbs and spices along the way, and started to invent unusual pairings of chocolate and herbs, which she left as after-dinner treats at the parties she catered. Her intrigued clientele began to come back to her shop, wailing like zombies for more chocolate, and the business became a cacao-centric endeavor.
In 2008, just two years after making Spice Rack Chocolates' confections publicly available, the Schellhammers' artisanal chocolates won the state's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services's "Best New Food Product"—an award which they clinched again in 2010. Today, the Schellhammers create 29 flavors of Belgian chocolate infused with herbs, spices, coffee, and peppers, and can hand-paint color accents or tiny limericks onto the candies using color-infused cocoa butter. The spot also creates confections that have been certified vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
Housed in a building that dates back to 1805, Sammy T's whips up vegetarian and vegan entrees within the same walls that once contained an auction house and a post office. Cooks combine all of their specialties to create the Camper’s Special, a bean and grain burger wrap that packs green pepper, mushrooms, melted cheese, and lemon tahini dressing inside a grilled flour tortilla. Diners can also enjoy tempeh stir-fries and black bean cakes as they admire nearby artwork or attempt to pull chewy strips of wood from the parquet ceiling. Strict carnivores can also chomp their way through Sammy’s menu by dining on salmon BLTs, burgers, and pulled pork made from a spicy family recipe. A sprawling self-serve frozen yogurt bar cools palates with 10 rotating flavors and 40 toppings.
On a warm August day in 1938, a father and son unveiled the first sample of what was to become Dairy Queen, selling 1,600 samples on the first day, a feat as unheard of as a dragon that breathes ice. Its ensuing prolific expansion was fueled by its frozen treats, which propelled the dessert shop from 100 stores in 1947 to 1,446 in 1950. Today, their dessert recipes remain largely unchanged, and Dairy Queen has added hearty grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and fried chicken to its menu. Dairy Queen's enormous dessert menu boasts treats ranging from soft-serve cones and blizzards filled with cookies to takeaway ice-cream sandwiches and cakes.
Fresh and tasty Mexican fare free of preservatives, MSG, and mummy crumbs fills the menu at Pancho Villa. Start with a small serving of guacamole and chips ($3) or an avocado caesar salad ($6.25) to jar rusty stomach gears into action. Hang a fang on the super vegetarian burrito, a tightly wrapped torpedo of rice, beans, cheese, guacamole, sour cream, lettuce, tomato, and salsa ($6.25), or dine on chile-verde chicken ($9.35), steak and prawn quesadillas with cheese and salsa ($10.50), or pollo asado ($9.95). For dessert, fluff out your cheeks with flan ($3.75) or a churro ($1.50).
Salad Creations chops and tosses more than 20 fresh salads drizzled with a choice of 23 dressings. Instead of licking a pulley or nibbling an inclined plane, guests sprinkle blue cheese, candied pecans, and bacon bits over the wedge salad ($5.99/junior size; $6.99/full size), exactly replicating the savory rains that fell on Ancient Greece. Waves of spinach and feta envelop wild Alaskan salmon ($7.99/junior size; $8.99/full size), and grilled derby chicken cobbs ($7.99/junior size; $8.99/full size) race toward mouths in frilly hats of hard-boiled eggs. Diners can also design their own salads, adorning leaves of romaine or spring mix with more than 40 toss-ins, including sweet mandarin oranges, salty sunflower seeds, spicy jalapeños, or crunchy moon rocks ($7.49 for base plus $2.50 for meat toss-ins). Salad Creations also appeals to your sandwich side in six hearty paninis, including a chicken italiano with fresh basil and mozzarella ($6.99). Each salad can also be rolled into a wrap or folded into an origami giraffe.