In 1997, friends Dena Tripp and Debra Shwetz set out to create a luscious, melt-in-your-mouth bundt cake. What began as an endeavor in their own home kitchens soon blossomed into a bustling business with bakeries in 21 states. Rich cocoa browns and soft pastels lend a nostalgic feel to each bakery, where every day ovens warm up cake batter made from fresh eggs, real butter, and cream cheese. Flavors such as chocolate chocolate chip, red velvet, and white-chocolate raspberry are favorite staples, and a new seasonal flavor makes a guest appearance each month. Cakes come in several sizes, from the standard 8- or 10-inch bundt to the single-serving bundtlet and the bite-size bundtini, all crowned with signature cream cheese frosting.
Hofbrau Steaks hogties hearty appetites in a classic steakhouse milieu. The brawny menu muscles up high-quality meats including the Hill Country rib eye ($19.99–$23.99), which is cooked in lemon butter and seasoned with the restaurant's secret seasonings, dubbed "Magic Dust". The hand-breaded chicken fried steak ($9.99 lunch, $10.99–$14.99 dinner) comes topped with country gravy and the emotional baggage of growing up as two meats. In pig in a tater, pulled pork hides from hungry eaters in a potato cave ($7.99), and bacon-wrapped Texas shrimp wraps itself up into a jalapeno-and-smoked-bacon cocoon ($12.99–¬¬$18.99, dinner only). Midday eats—such as the Hofbrau Hamburger steak, topped with brown gravy and grilled onions ($9.99, lunch only)—sate workday cravings.
The Veranda's owners cultivate an intimate ambience punctuated with both upscale dishes influenced by American and European flavors and live musical entertainment. The extensive menu puts a unique spin on fine-dining starters, such as roast duck with mango chutney ($10) and seafood cheesecake, a savory shellfish filling embraced by a pretzel crust and parmesan-horseradish cream sauce ($10). Electrify appetites with an ancho-marinated tilapia accompanied by cilantro cream ($18) or satisfy succulence cravings with seafood-stuffed quail that, like an apple on the clearance shelf, is semi-boneless ($23). The lunch menu, available Wednesday through Friday (reservation required), features a Herculean selection of paninis (starting at $10.95) and salads.
RC’s Pizza satisfies patrons with a palate-pleasing menu of sumptuous New York–style pizza, pasta, subs, and salads. The restaurant's staple, an 18-inch NY Giant pizza ($13.50 plus $1.75 for each topping) treats tongue buds to a taste of the Big Apple without the hassle of licking Times Square. All disk-shaped digestibles are forged from the kitchen's fresh-made pizza dough, such as the pepperoni- and italian-sausage-laden Sluggo pie ($18.75 for 18") or the white pie ($17 for 18"), which substitutes RC's house-made sauce with a blissful blend of ricotta, mozzarella, and soft mood lighting. RC's lasagna ($8.95) and jumbo meat or cheese ravioli ($8.95) hoist the banner for pillowy pastas, and the meaty, 8-inch Italiano sub silences gossiping bellies with genoa salami, provolone cheese, and a side of chips ($7.50). Greens lovers may graze upon a spicy antipasto, greek, caesar, or chef salad ($5.79 for a full order) drizzled with one of RC's four house-made dressings and Mother Nature's happy tears.
Behind the curtain at V Bistro Noodle & Grill, the Vo and Huynh families join forces to bring the time-honored tastes of Vietnam to the Lone Star state. A big part of the collaboration revolves around creating the perfect pho—a staple of Vietnamese cuisine for more than a century, and a dish the families have been tweaking for three generations. Traditional recipes, seasonings, and cooking methods have been passed from one generation to the next, like a family crest or a great, great grandparent’s lucky powdered wig.
V Bistro’s diners reap the benefits of that relay when they dive into one of the restaurant’s pho dishes, which range from strictly veggies to a meat lover’s medley of steak, brisket, tripe, and tendon. Diners can also excavate rice plates loaded with pork, chicken, beef, or shrimp, and wash it all down with homemade lemonade or Thai iced tea.
Papa Murphy's Take 'n' Bake Pizza was born out of the owner's frustration with bad pizza from chains, which often tasted as if every ingredient was canned or frozen. Deciding to change the industry, Papa Murphy's tosses every ingredient, all of which are never frozen, onto the crust in front of the customer's eyes and sends them home to bake in a home oven. This dedication to fresh flavor earned Papa Murphy's the top spot on Zagat's National Chain survey.
Visitors can create their own take on the pizza pie or chomp into one of their signature pizzas, which range from meat-filled stuffed crust to calorie-conscious lite varieties covered in vegetables. Their appetizers and desserts follow the same pattern. Customers order raw cookie dough or cheesy bread ripe for the baking, resulting in every course being fresh from the oven.