High-backed leather banquettes break up the smoked-salmon red expanse of Sushi Fugu's walls, which are gently illuminated by slender hanging lamps. Artwork peppers the walls, the abstract crimson swirls serving as a pleasant distraction from a meal, unlike an airplane copilot with uptight ideas about when it is appropriate to make a hoagie. Sleek wooden tables serve as a minimalist stage, where the food shines; platters showcase colorful sushi rolls and thin slices of super-white tuna and eel. Meanwhile, hot pan-Asian dishes emerge from the kitchen, where thai spices mingle with kebabs, thick udon noodles simmer in flavorful broths, and soy sauce dapples dumplings.
Village Grill slings hearty plates of Tex-Mex, Italian, and American recipes in a large, contemporary dining space. Recipes inspired by Cozumel and Monterey envelop enchiladas, quesadillas, and chicken breasts in cornhusks, adobo sauce, and pico de gallo. Center-cut pork chops and thick-cut steaks sizzle in skillets with merlot, white wine, and Jack Daniel's sauces before waiters ferry plates to cozy café tables amid red, green, and yellow walls dappled with murals and black-and-white photography. Village Grill also caters celebrations with platters of layered fruit or stacks of ribs, and memorable items such as watermelons carved with snappy phrases or annotated translations of War and Peace.
Grill masters at Chasin' Tail BBQ slow-smoke meats kneaded with special seasonings and slathered with a homemade sauce, and they regularly enter their tender treats in barbecue competitions. Diners can gerrymander plates after electing two meats from a trio of candidates that includes slow-cooked pulled pork, beef, or chicken—all drizzled with savory barbecue sauce and body guarded by a hunk of bread. Pairs of sides—with options such as mac 'n' cheese or barbecue baked beans—evoke the down-home comforts of swinging on a back porch and whittling a second back porch out of cornbread. For dessert, peach cobbler or pecan pie shoot down gullets in sweet streaks reminiscent of sugared stars.
Some quick Texas facts: the state bird is the mockingbird; the state motto is "friendship;" and the state cupcake is berry pecan. Lisa Britten didn't think that her baked goods had governing potential until 2010, when her signature flavor was sworn in as the official cupcake of Texas after winning a statewide contest. The famed cupcake didn't receive any bodyguards, however. On the contrary—anyone can eat it if they time their trip to Sugar Queen Cupcakes just right.
Berry pecan is one of several rotating favorites on the shop's menu. Others include snickerdoodle, coconut cream, and even pancakes and bacon. Thankfully, though, mainstays such as cream cheese lime and chocolate chocolate chip are available every day. Lisa can also stack her cupcakes in tiers for special events. Her creative themes might delight the eye with cheery sunflowers or add a rustic charm to pumpkin-spice cupcakes by arranging them atop a slice of tree trunk.
The smell of chocolate-chip cookies baking in the oven has a tendency to unleash waves of childhood memories, especially when those cookies are iconic Nestlé Toll House creations. At Nestlé Toll House Café by Chip, passionate bakers coax out these memories by using Nestlé products to create decadent desserts that taste just as satisfying as they did years ago.
When they aren't preparing rustic Italian eats, the chefs at This Side of Rome are busy tossing each New York–style pizza crust by hand. Their baskets of fried calamari and stuffed mushrooms pave the way for subs stuffed with ham, salami, and provolone. Inside the 60-seat dining room, guests gobble up slices of tiramisu while sipping on BYOB drinks. They can also nosh at home by opting for take-out or luring delivery drivers with a trail of parmesan cheese. Thursday through Saturday, guests can also enjoy southern comfort chef specials.