It's been more than a half-century since the first Char-Grill opened its doors on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, but not much has changed at this beloved local chain. Whether in the original cinderblock building or one of the 10 locations that have been added since, people still approach the counter to jot down orders, pass them through the window, and then look on as cooks grill half- and quarter-pound steak patties over charcoal flames.
In addition to the signature smoky-flavored burgers, Char-Grill also fires up grilled chicken, chili dogs, and pulled-pork sandwiches. Milkshakes and fries add to the eatery's classic feel, helping land it on USA Today's list of 51 Great Burgers and reminding guests of simpler times when hamburgers were used as currency.
Established in 2000, Ken's Korny Corn Maze presents an autumn playground where families converge every year for full days of exercise, learning, and fun. As the centerpiece of the property, the 6-acre corn maze snakes visitors through 2.5 miles of trails that take months to design and construct. Burrowed into the stalks are rest areas that provide trekkers with benches and water coolers, and checkpoints track how long groups spend in the maze so they aren't slowed by having to drag cumbersome grandfather clocks behind them. Hasty escapes from the maze's twisting paths leave plenty of time to check out other family-friendly attractions, including an 8,000-square-foot rope maze, a mini-golf course, and hayrides.
From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery uses twin spatulas to blend custom servings of ice cream and creative mix-ins to fit customers’ exact specifications. Founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone began under the hot Arizona sun, eventually spreading its frosty fingers to encompass more than 1,400 locations worldwide. Despite the size of the company, each location’s staff keeps up the handcrafted quality, making ice cream onsite every day and using those signature spatulas to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
The chefs at 5th Avenue Grill man a grill that sizzles happily beneath quarter-pound patties of Angus beef. Guests quiet hunger pains that roar as loudly as a juvenile windstorm's rock band as they tear into made-to-order treasures nestled between warm buns. As eager fingers plunge salty fries into sweet ketchup pools, guests sip bubbly sodas to wash down savory bites and fuel talk of founding a fantasy sesame-seed league. Chatter floats through the dining room from around the restaurant's gleaming tables.
Domino's recently reformulated its pizza recipe, which puts the buyer in command of a plentitude of pie-personalizing possibilities. Test the sturdiness of a hand-tossed thin crust with mounds of hearty marinara, ham, chicken, green peppers, black olives, and spinach, or fill a deep-dish foundation with alfredo sauce, bacon, onions, jalapeños, fresh mushrooms, and banana peppers. While delicious design options stretch into infinity like a taffy pull in a black hole, the eatery's specialty pizzas make choosing more manageable. Peruse pies like the MeatZZa Feast, which is piled high with pepperoni, ham, italian sausage, beef, and extra mozzarella, and the Pacific Veggie, a flashy West Coast–concoction of roasted red peppers, spinach, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, black olives, feta, mozzarella, and provolone.
Hibachi dining has become popular across the world, but Fuji Steakhouse's staff members attempt to replicate a Japanese dining experience more thoroughly. They have their guests sit on the floor beneath bamboo screens in private tatami rooms, where waiters deliver tempura, teriyaki, and udon dishes. In the main dining room, the restaurant's Asian prints and wooden-latticework panels pay homage to Japan’s culture, and flames dance on oversized hibachi tables as chefs toss shrimp and steak onto guests’ plates. Another team of chefs mans the sushi bar, like a guitarist manning the stage or a drummer manning an oil drum. There, they enfold ingredients such as caviar and lightly spiced crawfish into 19 specialty rolls.