It was 1926 at the Kaufman County fair. A large crowd gathered around a small stand, where Adelaida Cuellar stood passing homemade tamales and chili into outstretched hands. The high demand for her recipes continued after the fair grounds were emptied, and soon after, Adelaida opened a small caf?, Mama?s Kitchen, with the help of her 12 children. In 1940, five of her sons moved the eatery to another location in Dallas, re-christening it El Chico, which means, ?the five sons that opened their mother?s restaurant in a new place?. More locations soon followed, with close to one hundred now in operation. And, just like Adelaida, the El Chico team spent some time passing out their specialties from a stand when they fed a crew of local volunteers on an episode of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
At El Chico, Adelaida?s recipes still appear on the menu, from the spicy enchiladas with chili con carne sauce to the mexican apple pie with mexican brandy butter sauce and cinnamon ice cream. El Chico also has its own signature line of dishes called Top Shelf, which includes fajitas and quesadillas.
Colorado Grill's chefs bustle within a renovated century-old movie theater, serving up sizzling Southwestern plates made from scratch. Diners scoop up starting bites of white-cheese blanco dip with chip trowels, presumably in search of the long-buried white-gold loot of dairy conquistadors. The Pueblo Platter then corners tongues with a triple threat of Mexican eats, including a cheese and onion enchilada, a beef burrito, and a crispy beef taco. Poblano-pepper and onion squires help the carne asada's grilled steak into a cloak of monterrey jack cheese before toasty tortillas armor the ensemble, and the grilled devils shrimp, sautéed in chipotle butter and flanked by morsels of bacon, challenges Southwest veggies to a fiddling contest for their souls.
Encased in cinematic trappings, Hollywood Pizza boasts a bevy of themed pizza pies and classic American eats, all within a cozy, kid-friendly environment. Peruse the menu's stomach-sating options before settling on handheld edibles such as jalapeño poppers ($6.49) or the french dip sub, a bunned serving of roast beef smothered with cheese and accompanied by a juicy pool of au jus ($6.99). Those with dough-based desires can opt for Hollywood Pizza's specialty pies, including the Godfather, a twice-baked, cheesy concoction teaming with a loyal legion of pepperoni, canadian bacon, sausage, and veggies ($13.99–$21.99). Choose your own adventure without inconvenient earthquakes and malignant wizards with customizable pies ($7.99–$11.99), or answer your sweet tooth’s incessant smoke signals with a chocolate-chip pizza ($5.99–$7.99). Regular beverages ($1–$3) or those of the adult variety ($2.50–$7) keep thirsty throats well hydrated while hungry eyes catch the latest movies on nearby TVs or gaze at autographed photos of stars that ask for a bite of your pizza when your family’s not looking.
The hotdog hotshots at Hot Diggity Dog! pile a slew of flavorful toppings on savory franks, crafting a customizable carryout menu of artful, unconventional hotdog creations. Lunching duos can gnaw upon a specialty dog combo including a signature frankfurter creation, chips, and a soda. Guests can confer with staff or their spirit guides to select toppings or can choose from a gallery of preset masterpieces such as the Big Tex, a steaming dog slathered in bacon, cheddar cheese, barbecue sauce, coleslaw, and a pickle. The West Virginian arrives bearing a load of chili and coleslaw, and the Famous N.C. sports sprinklings of shredded barbecue chicken, cheddar cheese, and an onion ring. Situated in front of the historic Willoughby House and near the spot where Chester A. Arthur's muttonchops challenged Grover Cleveland's mustache to a duel, Hot Diggity Dog! tends to midday cravings from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
At The Steakhouse, experienced chefs from Brazil roast a menu of more than 12 meats over open flames, serve imported cheeses, and bake fresh bread daily with flour from Brazil. Servers appear tableside wielding cuts of top sirloin, bacon-wrapped chicken breast, or smoked sausages impaled on swords and then shaved into plate-sized portions or busts of Teddy Roosevelt. Duos accompany a helping of garlic steak with fresh mozzarella or savor the house specialty picanha with black beans from the side bar’s selection of 20 salads and meal accompaniments. To cap off the dinner, diners relish the popular roasted pineapple, sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, and dreams grown in Candy Land.
Rich Hicks and Todd Istre are the masterminds behind many a national food concept?from Rich's southwestern taco at Tin Star to Todd's spicy seafood dishes at Boudreaux's Cajun Kitchen. When the duo joined forces to create Mooyah, however, they cleared the tortillas and crawdads from their mind in order to focus on formulating a quintessential American burger.
Today, within scores of Mooyah locations throughout the nation, chefs bustle behind counters, grilling up burgers in accordance to Todd and Rich's formula. Cooks pile lean-beef, turkey, and veggie patties onto white or wheat buns before loading on cheeses and toppings of bacon, fried onion, and avocado. Meanwhile, freshly cut potatoes simmer in fryers, and blenders whirl with ice-cream shakes. Out in the dining room, tabletops and booths sit atop checkered floors beneath walls of chalkboards, where customers can write messages or draw portraits of what they wished they looked like, could they only grow a beard.