Founded by ice-cream enthusiasts Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone Creamery has grown to more than 1,400 locations across North America. Each day, the shop's scoopers mix up fresh batches of ice cream and sorbet, which are served by the scoop, piled high in sundaes, and blended into shakes. After customers choose their desired flavor, staffers toss the chilly sustenance upon a slab of frozen granite and fold in a smorgasbord of candy and nuts to achieve the ideal ice-cream-to-add-in ratio. Customers can dream up their own creations or opt for a signature masterpiece, sampling one of more than 11.5 million possible flavor combinations, which still await a brave conqueror to unlock them all. To accommodate sweets cravings at celebrations, staff members also dish out pre-made treats, such as ice-cream cakes and baked goods.
Just as Thomas Edison stumbled through useless prototypes of light bulbs and movie cameras before perfecting the phonograph, the alchemists at Qdoba Mexican Grill took 47 attempts before landing on the franchise's signature blend of three cheeses, known simply as queso. That attention to detail still pervades every aspect of the menu, as employees spend hours each day chopping, dicing, and simmering the fresh ingredients that find their way into burritos, taco salads, and grilled quesadillas. Beyond the marinated bites of chicken, beef, and pork and hand-crafted tortillas, cooks protect their ripe, fragile avocados from harm by smashing them into batches of fluffy guacamole.
Following family recipes passed down for three generations, the chefs at Jalapeno’s Bar & Grill assemble meaty fajita platters and original chicken, vegetarian, and seafood dishes simmered in homemade sauces. Using only fresh ingredients and certified Angus beef, chefs create meals that feed many of the senses, especially diners’ hungry, hungry eyes. Daily happy hours from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. encourage patrons to sample the bar’s vast selection of premium tequilas blended into their margaritas, as well as well liquors, wines, and bottled and draft beers.
A self-described destination for things fresh, fun, and healthy, Burrito Banditos prepares a straightforward menu of Mexican cuisine. That menu catalogs giant burritos, carne asada, and chili verde burritos wrapped up in giant flour tortillas, as well as tiny tacos encased in a crispy corn shell. Burrito Bandito's kitchen also serves up tostada bowls, steak quesadillas, and piles of cheesy nachos.
Though the family-owned eatery traces its roots back nearly 60 years, its signature attraction spans a comparatively brief 30 minutes. The 18 Wheeler Challenge pits customers against the shop’s 2-pound bacon cheeseburger, half a pound of fries, and a large milkshake—they get half an hour to make it vanish. So far, only two have emerged from the challenge victorious—and one was a T-Rex—but either way participants walk away with a t-shirt. Though the pantheon of victors in the challenge is limited, countless patrons have successfully enjoyed the 18 Wheeler's menu siblings.
Since the Mudd family purchased Wheeler’s Handout, not much has changed. Their signature housemade burgers cost a bit more than $0.30 now, but the recipes and family’s commitment to service has been carried on with the work of Kathi, a member of the third generation who leads the staff. She and her team cook the family recipes for gourmet burgers and hot dogs, handmaking corn dogs, chili cheese fries, and milkshakes, malts, and floats.
The chefs at La Belle Vie fuse gourmet European cuisine with northwest flair. Dinner begins with a sampling of hors d'oeuvres such as heirloom-tomato-encrusted bruschetta ($7), or an assortment of gourmet cheeses ($11) served alongside a baguette and a list of ransom demands to send to the moon. Entree selections include slow-cooked, smoky bison ribs ($24), slathered in bourbon-barbecue sauce with accompaniments of vegetables, fingerling potatoes, couscous, or fettuccini. Culinary artistes toss the chicken picatta ($16) in fettuccini with tomatoes, capers, and white-wine sauce, while they roast the moroccan chicken tagine ($21) in seasonings such as saffron, ginger, nutmeg, honey, and almonds. Although not included in the price of this Groupon, diners can glean wine-pairing suggestions from the menu, the serving staff, or from sentient napkins.