Inspired by the artists living around him in Laguna Beach, Sid Fanarof sought to do something creative in the kitchen. The result was zpizza, which now has locations across the globe, each filled with bustling chefs experimenting with ingredients traditionally associated with Indian, Californian, and Mexican cuisine. Pizzas use organic vegetables and skim-milk mozzarella, and their organic wheat flour bakes over an open flame to a crisp finish. “If you don’t hear the crunch, it’s not a zpizza,” Fanarof says of the crusts on his website. Chefs first slather the crusts with sweet basil pesto, roasted-garlic sauce, or organic tomato sauce. Their hands flutter across, sprinkling on fistfuls of toppings such as MSG-free pepperoni, additive-free sausage, three types of mushrooms, roasted eggplant, and pine nuts. Vegan cheese and gluten-free crusts allow everyone to enjoy the pizzas except for those trying to hide the fact that they superglued their mouths closed.
Kadai Indian Kitchen’s menu reflects the range of northern Indian dishes, including aromatic curries and grilled kabobs. Discs of naan and skewers of chicken and lamb rest inside the clay tandoor oven and roast over a smoldering pile of coals and NASA’s rejected paper-airplane designs. Lentils, chickpeas, and fresh cheese stew alongside sauces brimming with ginger and cumin, all of which go into vegetarian entrees prepared with separate sets of pots and utensils. The chefs also tailor the amount of spice they add to every order.
When the Elite Café opened in downtown Waco nearly a century ago, the owners committed themselves to combining classic American fare with technological innovation. It was the first restaurant in town to use refrigeration as well as air conditioning. But the food was the primary draw, attracting even the attention of a young Elvis Presley when he was stationed at Fort Hood. While a lot has changed since the days when the King was a regular, the restaurant still sticks to the classic American recipes that have made it a Waco staple for decades.
Specialties include juicy burgers, fried tenderloin sandwiches, and build-your-own breakfast omelets served all day long. The chefs’ secret-recipe barbecue sauce—made with Dr. Pepper—is splashed across everything from ribs to wings. Burgers, meanwhile, arrive topped with chili, cheese, and Shiner Bock onion rings.
At Nopalitos Cantina & Grill, chefs prepare authentic Mexican eats, specializing in seafood. They whip up dishes such as fish tacos, crab chimichangas, and crab chile relleno—a Poblano pepper stuffed with crabmeat and cheese and topped with verde sauce. To augment the authenticity, the interior of the restaurant is designed to look like an outdoor Mexican plaza, with old-fashioned street lamps and brick-lined windows.
Start your tour of Texican's massive menu by slinging your jaw around spinach, mushroom, and onion quesadillas ($7.99) or clearing your taste buds of impurities with spicy cream-cheese-stuffed jalapenos ($5.49). The plentiful options let you supplicate at the altar of a traditional dish such as cabrito—a platter of tender goat roasted with mysterious spices and topped with tomato and bell pepper ($14.99)—or head straight for the grill with a 10 oz. rib-eye steak tampiqueña ($14.99). To enter the mythical realm of "New Mexico," head northwest of south of the border for some Santa Fe enchiladas in smoky red chile ($9.49), or fly straight up into space instead with a deadly delicious chile relleno plump with chicken, beef, shrimp, or cheese and legally drowned in red tomatillo sauce ($8.99).