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.
Though the entrees at The Dixie Cafe make the biggest splash across its menu marquee, they're threatened with gastronomical upstaging by the southern-style eatery's 19 sides and scratch-made gravies. The chicken-fried steak, for example, is a tender, hand-breaded fillet that fully blossoms with flavor only after chefs smother it with cream gravy and cheddar cheese. And the Cajun grilled catfish's down-home taste isn't fully developed until it is paired up with bites of turnip greens, fried okra, or a homemade roll. The classic platter meals take advantage of this by pairing an entree with two sides, rolls, and jalapeño cornbread and can be ordered "light" for a portion that's smaller than the regular size and easier to toss in the air and catch in your mouth.
San Francisco Bread Co. supplies customers with two things: a menu of comforting café fare, and a place to study, work, or write emails with wireless Internet access. Visitors may find themselves breathing deeply to relish the scent of brewing gourmet coffees intermingling with the aroma of freshly baked breads stacked in deli sandwiches and paninis. Every morning, fresh pastries, such as apple turnovers, danishes, or muffin tops, complement breakfast sandwiches borne on bagels or croissants. Slices of dessert from The Cheesecake Factory satisfy dairy cravings.
It's not just cars that get refueled at Road Runner's convenience stores and gas stations. Road Runner's in-house Rudy's Grill serves juicy hamburgers, ice-cold drinks, and desserts that sate the hunger of humans and anthropomorphic cars alike. The shops can be found all across Texas and Arkansas. After guests fill their bellies and gas tanks, they can take their car through the high-tech car wash for a sparkling new shine.
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.
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.