On street corners from Texas to North Carolina, Johnny Brusco's Pizza serves up piping-hot slices of New York, and that's not whistling Dixie. It's not even kazooing Yankee. The franchise boasts a lineage that stretches back to 1965, when pie-smith Johnny Pace opened up his pizzeria just outside of Syracuse. Though the menu stays true to Johnny's classic style, today's crust-tossers aren't afraid to switch things up in modern style. Gluten-watchers can dig into a flour-free variant of the crust, and their specialties include such daring choices as a cream cheese pizza, a Philly-esque steak and cheese, and a zesty gourmet pie with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, and artichokes. Outside of the round stuff, diners might select a summery strawberry-pecan salad, a classic plate of bruschetta with pesto, mozzarella, and marinara sauce, and a finger-licking dessert of cinna-knots.
The meaty aromas of slow-smoked ribs and tender beef waft from Smokey’s kitchens, where piles of barbecued proteins simmer over seasoned hickory and sweet cherry. With no gas lines needed to fuel the wood-fire grills, the restaurant’s pipes are reserved for pumping spicy sauces onto full slabs of spare ribs ($17.50) and signature barbecue sandwiches topped with slaw and carolina mustard ($3.49–$6.19) along with other menu dishes. Reel in a savory slice of The Big Muddy with the catfish dinner ($7.99), a generous portion served with Texas toast, a salad, and a choice of two sides such as baked beans and honey-apple cornbread. A host of hearty breakfast options awaits early morning patrons, headlined by the Legendary Stack ($6.49), a savory skyscraper of hash browns, meat, and eggs on an architecturally dubious foundation of biscuit or toast.
Planet Sub sidesteps the flavorless land mines of days-old bread, opting for filling-packed subs and sandwiched meaty delights. The menu may differ slightly between the two locations, but omnipresent signature subs cross state lines to sate hungering masses, such as the bacon-bolstered mega roast beef ($4.69/$7.29 ) and the Planet BBQ, a saucy concoction stacked with ham, turkey, and roast beef ($3.99/$6.99 ). Vegetarian options abound, so meat abstainers can try the spicy cheese sub ($4.49/$6.99 ) or the pesto bello ($4.99/$7.19), which is loaded with portobello mushrooms, red peppers, and a tomato-garlic pesto as smooth and suave as an Italian R&B crooner.
Currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, Popeyes remains the flavorful lovechild of Cajun and Creole cooking, serving up a wide-ranging menu. Connoisseurs of crispiness can stick with Popeyes’ famous New Orleans–style fried chicken meals ($4.49–$6.89) surrounded with savory sides ($1.59–$3.79) such as warm flaky biscuits, red beans and rice, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, Cajun rice, and more. Otherwise, slather some livers and gizzards ($2.99–$5.49) onto a biscuit and eat it, temporarily imbuing you with the chicken’s mighty strength and ability to smell time. Avian-averse appetites can feast instead on a shrimp po’ boy combo ($6.19) with a pecan pie ($1.49) or Mississippi mud pie ($1.99) for dessert. And to keep your famished family from impeaching you and electing a new parent, quell multi-person appetites with bona fide family meals ($10.49–$30.99).
My Big Fat Greek Restaurant's spirited staff slings authentic Greek fare into diners' maws from a wide-ranging menu. Diners prime bellies with shareable eats such as the flaming saganaki, which, like aging heavy-metal stars’ concerts, captivate audiences with flames and fancy cheese. Entrees such as the award-winning gyro corral rotisserie beef and lamb into a taste-bud-taming pita bed, and the vegetarian eggplant-laden mousaka arrives at tables with an entourage of potatoes and ground beef slathered in a creamy béchamel sauce. After dinner, traditional baklava or double-fudge chocolate serves to negotiate the release of hostages from sweets-demanding molars.
Bolillo's skilled appetite-wranglers draw upon a cast of freshly prepared, never-fried ingredients to craft a menu of flavorful productions. Patrons are invited to draft the blueprint for a made-to-order torta, laden with a choice of carnitas, chorizo, or other meats ($5.95–$6.45). Entrees, such as tacos ($1.85), can be bedecked with one of 14 herbivore-friendly toppings, and various quesadillas are available to film a mouthwatering UFO hoax ($5.45–$5.95). Succulent burrito bombers round out food armories ($5.45–$5.95), dropping delicious payloads on unsuspecting appetites and clearing the way for crispy-cookie troops ($1.25). Bolillo's welcoming green digs serve as an ideal venue for the playful cuisine and evoke the sensation of jumpstarting a guacamole-powered flying machine.