It’s no surprise that a submarine sandwich can get a teenage boy motivated. But for friends Tony Conza, Peter DeCarlo, and Angelo Baldassare, fresh sandwiches sated not just their growing appetites, but their entrepreneurial dreams. After failed business attempts selling pots and pans door to door and trading stocks on Wall Street, the three heard of a bustling shop in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, where sandwiches piled with freshly sliced deli meats and crisp vegetables had locals lining up out the door. With a similar business model in mind, the three opened their own shop in 1964, naming it Blimpie to evoke the blimp-like shape they planned for their overstuffed sandwiches.
Now a national chain, Blimpie stays true to the founders' original dream as staffers continue to stack sandwiches with freshly sliced meats, veggies, and dressings. Turkey, smoked pastrami, top-round roast beef, and crisp bacon crown freshly baked rolls or soft tortillas. Each of Blimpie’s stores brims with Americana-themed décor, paying homage to the company’s founders, their slice of the American dream, and the submarine sandwich that is emblazoned on every five-dollar bill.
Le Peep's focus on breakfast and lunch stems from a decision made more than 40 years ago, when Buddy and Rhoda Waldman opened The Village Pantry in Aspen, Colorado, and?not wanting to miss a half day of skiing?would close the kitchen each day before noon. The duo would continue to tinker with their concept, stare at it through a novelty-sized microscope, and change its name before it eventually migrated to Texas.
Nowadays, the kitchen staff perpetuates the breakfast-crafting tradition by offering omelets, eggs benedict, skillets, and build-your-own pancake options that use ingredients such as walnuts, bacon, pineapple, and chocolate chips. Traditional dishes are augmented with unique twists, such as the Gooey Buns, english muffins broiled with brown sugar, cinnamon, and almonds and served with a signature side of Mom's Sassy Apples. During midday hours, a variety of salads, burgers, and sandwiches parades out of the kitchen accompanied by smoothies, juices, or Mother Parkers coffee. Le Peep's catering service delivers breakfast and lunch fare to homes, events, or filibustered neighborhood-watch meetings.
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.
Don’t let the cafeteria-style serving trays at Fadi's Mediterranean Grill fool you—the food on top of them “tastes gourmet,” assures the Houston Press. Fadi’s sweeping serving line of tabbouleh, hummus, and broiled lamb shank that’s “fall-off-the-bone tender” earned the paper’s award for Best Middle Eastern Restaurant in 2009 in addition to a slew of other accolades from across the state of Texas. Though guests may fill their trays with tender beef shawarma and chicken kebabs, vegetarian pitas stuffed with hot falafel and couscous salad are stars in their own right, according to Whitney Filloon of the Dallas Observer, who describes her herbivorous and omnivorous meals there as “pure gastronomical joy.” Aside from the gourmet cuisine, the eatery avoids traditional cafeteria stereotypes of sterile color schemes and abstract spork sculptures with vivid displays of Mediterranean artwork illuminated by ornate purple and red chandeliers.
When it gave Kenny’s Burger Joint an annual Best Of Dallas nod, the Dallas Observer raved, “this is America on a plate.” And the praise is apt. Kenny's ciabatta buns are pulled from the oven daily at nearby La Spiga bakery. The cheeses hail from Vermont and Wisconsin. Cooks get their bacon from Fort Worth; their California lettuce, sweet red onions, and jumbo tomatoes from FreshPoint. And their meat? They hand-form these half-pound slabs of beef themselves and cook them on their very own hickory-wood-burning grill. Indeed, these burgers—“thick, meaty, with a trace of smoke”—incorporate the best and freshest America has to offer. Seven types of fries complement the menu—gravy fries, Tex-Mex fries, funnel fries—as well as adult shakes such as the Easy Rider, a rich, creamy blend of Maker's Mark, caramel, and vanilla ice cream.
The staff at The Dive Bar & Grill work hard to cultivate a versatile, laid-back atmosphere, accommodating large parties of revelers and small, relaxed groups of friends. With a friendly, unrushed attitude, servers present the eatery’s duo of flexible menus—one for the bar and another for the restaurant. At the bar, diners pair beer and wine with chorizo-seasoned potato croquettes, seafood-stuffed quesadillas, and strawberry-studded salads served in portions designed for sharing with friends and gregarious diners at the next table. Meanwhile, The Dive Bar & Grill’s restaurant menu plays to a variety of tastes with a crispy pan-fried beet slider, glazed and grilled cuts of mahi mahi, and seafood pasta perfumed with precious saffron.