Ever since Sam Wolfinbarger opened up his downstairs bar in the early '40s, Sam's Cellar has been a favorite watering hole among happy hour crowds, strangers passing through, and neighborhood regulars alike. Guests sip frosty draft glasses and bottles of beer as they dine on wood-fired pizzas, oven-baked penne pastas, and light chicken wraps.
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.
Amid a 7,000 square-foot eatery adorned in wicker accents, the chefs at Chutnys draw inspiration from both North and South India, which yields a lengthy menu of dishes that differ in terms of spiciness and use of the color puce. All the meat used in curry and barbecue meals are prepared according to halal traditions, while the restaurant’s vegetarian dishes are rich in spinach, cheese, and spices—making them no less flavorful than their meaty counterparts. Chutnys invites larger events into their banquet hall, where they present aromatic feasts for groups as small at 10 and as large as 250.
Village Pottery Café invites would-be Chagalls of ceramics to lavish paint upon the stoneware of their choice while noshing upon a variety of homemade snacks. With no studio fees, Village Pottery Café allows painters to bask in artistic freedom as they customize mugs ($7.50+), plates ($10–$15), platters ($22+), the Statue of Liberty's understudy, and more objets d'art. After staff members slather them with a protective glaze, pottery luxuriates in the extreme warmth of the kiln, and emerges lacquered and ready to be taken home. Village Pottery Café also provides special crockery options for children ($2–$10). Café refreshments include locally roasted coffee; soups such as chicken enchilada, loaded baked potato, and pasta e fagioli ($4.99); quiches ($5.49); and other savory and sweet morsels.
Three crusts are the foundation of the experience at Mr. Bigg’s Pizza. St. Louis–style thin crust can support pies such as the mexican with its seasoned beef, diced green pepper, and a specially blended sauce. Thick crust can burden the load of the Bigg’s meat pizza and all its sausage, hamburger, pepperoni, and bacon toppings. And the kicker, hand-tossed New York–style pizza, might sport the toppings of the veggie pizza—mushrooms, onions, green peppers, black olives, and tomatoes.
Though the pizza roster forms the central pillar of the menu, it’s not alone. Pasta dishes, such as baked mostaccioli and lasagna, complement non-Italian food, including a chicken bacon ranch sandwich. And drinks contrast the pizza selection, too. From draft and bottled beer to wine and specialty cocktails, the libation list has thirsty throats covered.
If guests would rather not stare at one of the big-screen TVs that adorn a wall in each dining room, they can eat their pasta and sip their wine on the patio where picnic tables and a fish-populated fountain surround cobblestone walkways.
The scent of freshly baked biscuits, peppery gravy, and fried potatoes waft out of Republic Cafe’s kitchen 24 hours a day. Like the red, white, and blue of the French flag, the diner's housemade breakfasts pay homage to Americana, especially the country-fried skillet—a mound of hashbrowns topped with sautéed peppers and onions, cubes of country-fried steak, two eggs, and country gravy. Comfort-food classics populate the lunch menu as well, which stars BLTs, chicken-fried chicken, and open-faced beef sandwiches floating in a pool of savory, brown gravy.