Windy Hill Orchard & Cider Mill pays a deep resemblance to the kind of farm one might have visited during a fall field trip, with trees laden with ripening apples ready to be plucked. But, take a turn in the orchard and you'll encounter the piney scent of something else entirely: towering Cascade hop plants. The fresh juice that flows from the apple presses ferments for six months, emerging as mildly bubbly hard cider or accidental alcoholic applesauce. Concoctions infused with strawberries, peaches, and fragrant spices spill from bottles and taps, pairing with sugar-dusted cider donuts.
In 1964, brothers Leroy and Forrest Raffel banded together to come up with a new restaurant concept. Arby's took off almost immediately on the coattails of its hallmark roast-beef sandwich and the founders’ idea of providing customers with fast, quality food. Over the company's 48-year franchise history, its foundational pièce de résistance of thinly sliced, juicy beef has been served in a many permutations, and continues to be popular today, served at more than 3,500 stores in North America. Today’s menu still ignites appetites with traditional beef sandwiches, plus hot and seasoned curly fries, fresh-chopped salads, and desserts good for richly capping off meals or bribing any bridge trolls on the way home.
This sunlit, primarily New York–inspired eatery is infused with southern hospitality, serving up fresh, savory cuisine ideal for casual lunchers and geographically torn taste buds. Soups rotate daily, starting the week with broccoli and cheese and concluding with Friday's creamy potato ($2.98 for a small, $3.95 for a large). Gold-rushing appetites can hop aboard the California panini, a bread wagon packed full of turkey, spinach, cheddar cheese, and avocado ($4.25 for a half, $6.50 for a whole), and New York–deli purists can pledge allegiance to a Reuben, a trusted committee of corn-beef, sauerkraut, swiss-cheese, and thousand-island-dressing dreams standing firmly on a foundation of pumpernickel ($6.75). Add a side salad, such as the verdant garden salad ($2.95) or the sweet spring salad ($3.95), to grant green Jell-O a natural friend on your personal food pyramid.
The chefs use their two spatulas with breathtaking ease—their every move honed by countless hours spent over a flat-top grill. Chopped veggies and pieces of steak, chicken, and seafood brown over the sizzling grill as the chefs prepare meals to order. The bite-size morsels are doused in soy or teriyaki sauce and sent out into the dining room of Sake Express as curlicues of heat dance above the plates. Relaxing in bright-blue booths, guests can feast on chicken or steak while challenging their reflection to a staring contest in the eatery’s oversized mirrors, flanked by panels of red-and-black latticework on the walls.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop’s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M’s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
Two decades removed from the opening of their first restaurant, the native Thai owners of Thai House continue to season meats, curries, and seafood with tropical Asian spices and embellish their three locations with hand-whittled teakwood silhouettes. Half-roasted duck and grilled shrimp swim in rice and noodles before catching cool, creamy waves of thai iced tea. Curries cascade over mounds of jasmine or brown rice imported from Thailand, and flotillas of Japanese sushi and sashimi cast their anchors alongside the spicy array of Thai fare. Mesmerizing notes of Thai music pervade the dining room, scoring dinner conversations and sword duels between chopsticks.