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.
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.
In Spanish, “parrilla” means “grill,” an apt name for the Latin American–inspired eatery, which specializes in Mexican, Central American, and South American cuisine served “a la parrilla.” Grilled steak, gulf shrimp, and marinated pork shoulder flavor La Parrilla’s specialty tacos, quesadillas, and taquitos, but the restaurant doesn’t limit itself to omnivore-only fare. In fact, it has earned praise from many local and rabbit-run publications for its vegetarian options, such as the veggie empanadas, portobello quesadilla, and chili relleno stuffed with onions, cheese, and cilantro. Bartenders craft tropical cocktails including lime, strawberry, and peach margaritas from a selection of more than 10 tequilas, including a made-in-house chili-infused tequila.
At two locations, The Other Place’s staff fires up ovens to bake pizzas, italian subs, and sandwiches to a golden brown—the color of Pharaoh’s mask after he eats a chocolate bar. Atop hand-made pizza crusts made from a 40-year-old recipe, the kitchen team layers toppings such as italian sausage, salami, and sun-dried tomatoes, lubricated by tomato, alfredo, and barbecue sauce. Submarine-shaped bread holds italian meats, veggies, and toppings. In both eateries’ dining areas, more than 50 TVs stream sports games. The Other Place also often entertains guests with karaoke—America’s most underappreciated sport, and the one with the least funding in most school districts.
Zonkers enchants youngsters and guardians alike with its gargantuan indoor amusement park and arcade. Rides abound, including the Python Pit roller coaster and the Banana Squadron—a fleet of small, controllable planes in the shape of bananas, just like Pan Am’s aircraft in the 1970s. The bustling activity center makes a fun destination for field trips and birthday parties.