It's hard to imagine a restaurant that epitomizes the great American diner better than Huddle House. Since 1964, the restaurant?which has locations scattered prominently throughout the southern states?has warmed bellies with burgers, hearty breakfasts, and heaping helpings of friendly hospitality, available 24-hours a day. Even the moniker is All-American: founder John Sparks came up with the name after a football huddle, hoping it would inspire his customers to gather round a table and swap stories over a warm meal.
Over the years, Huddle House's menu has expanded and adapted to changing tastes, but its focus has remained the same: old-fashioned, American comfort food. No matter what time it is, guests can order up biscuits smothered in gravy and cheese or dig into the shop's signature waffles, whipped up using a secret recipe and waffle irons that can't read. Afternoon eats include chopped steak burgers served with regular or sweet potato fries and sandwiches with a southern twist, like a Philly cheese steak stuffed between slices of thick-cut Texas toast.
At Gattitown, a vast buffet quells the hungers caused by romping through up to 10,000 square feet of violence-free arcade games, bumper cars, and mini bowling. Before meals, kids scurry between more than 150 exciting games, including virtual-reality racing and tax-filing simulations. In the bumper-car arena, wee ones determine driving dominance by crashing and cruising around a spacious floor. Players then hone their underhand tosses with mini bowling and skee-ball, shooting for tickets to spend on doodads, gadgets, and teddy-bear ransoms inside the Gatti goods store.
More than 50 years go, Mike Ilitch was poised for major-league glory. An up-and-coming shortstop for the Detroit Tigers, his baseball finesse was blossoming when an injury derailed his sports career. But although the wound stunted his athletic aspirations, it steered him toward a new path, and on May 8, 1959, he and his wife opened the first Little Caesars location, a then-unheard-of carry-out-only joint. The career shift and novel technique eventually proved triumphant. Today, the pizzeria's iconic, toga-clad mascot adorns storefronts on five continents. In each shop, staffers forge the signature Hot-N-Ready pizza, a freshly baked pizza designed for instant pickup, and warm, garlicky Crazy bread. With a storied half century under their belt, Mike Ilitch and his family strive to give back, supporting local organizations and creating their own charitable programs.
The chefs at Heart & Soul Diner aim to soothe their customers' souls with a creative menu of Cajun dishes and American staples. Crab cakes and fried green tomatoes share menu pages with burgers, steaks, pork chops, pastas, and seafood specialties, such as the lemon basil mahi mahi with roasted peppers and a lemon basil sauce. The crawfish po' boy showcases the flavors of the south, and the sesame-ginger salmon is the best way to taste the Atlantic without hitchhiking on the backs of willing whales.
Despite their clean, colorful appearance, making donuts is tedious work. The cook has to deep-fry them in oil, careful not to turn them over or take them out too early, in hopes they'll darken to a perfect golden brown. And that's to say nothing of fillings, frosting, and toppings. But the staff at Planet Donut is up to the challenge, stocking old-school glass cases with their round treats. They whip up a range of flavors, from blueberry-studded to classic glaze.
Mr. Yi Express dishes up Chinese-food favorites in a convenient fast-casual environment. Cooks fry egg rolls that crunch when they're bitten into or used as drumsticks, and they pile plates with spicy orange chicken or shrimp fu yung. There are also vegetarian options, including gourmet veggie or tofu stir-fries.