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.
Landry's, Inc. operates more than 40 restaurant brands with only two main goals: good food and good memories. Thankfully, each of their venues has a signature element that's hard to forget, whether the Oceanaire's fresh seafood?flown in daily?or Rainforest Cafe's animatronic wildlife that's almost as realistic as the Amazon's wind-up monkeys. Steak and seafood spots feature prominently on the list of Landry's locations, including Morton's The Steakhouse, Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse, and McCormick & Schmick's Seafood & Steaks. But there are standouts in other genres, too, such as the Italian trattoria known as Grotto.
The skilled baristas and coffee enthusiasts at Finest Grind Coffee House believe there's never a need to compromise to get your coffee fix. They take coffee seriously here, putting every roast through no less than three tastings before ever buying beans. Espresso shots are made-to-order for the perfect balance and taste?and made by baristas trained in-house to ensure the drinks are the best possible. To pair with all this caffeine, the menu is packed with breakfast sandwiches, pastries, hot paninis, and salads. There are also plenty of sweet treats, including banana bread, butter cake, and brownies made with Ghirardelli chocolate.