Fresh milk, fruit purées, and healthy probiotics swim about in the swirls of yogurt that pump from The Great Yogurt Factory’s row of self-serve machines. As soon as guests peel their eyes away from the towering canisters of fruit, nuts, and candy bits—which range from chocolate bars to cheesecake bites—they can choose their preferred flavors from an extensive list of low-fat, nonfat, or sugarless yogurts and sorbets. Among the dozens of rotating flavors, triple chocolate and Italian-style tart join eclectic creations such as eggnog, watermelon sorbet, and peanut butter made the old-fashioned way—with freshly churned peanuts. Yogurt isn’t just a quick snack at the whimsical shop’s two locations, which also host children’s birthday parties and fundraisers.
Amidst burnished gold walls and soft lighting, Thai Bistro & Sushi's chefs use a palette of ginger, Thai basil, lemongrass, and chilies, painting a bouquet of aromas across the restaurant. Thin or wide rice noodles twine around chicken or shrimp in various sauces, and bamboo shoots and bell peppers float in coconut-milk curries, all perfumed with the range of spices. The spiciness of each dish can be adjusted to suit a palate sensitive to heat or a need to pretend to be crying at a third-grade production of Of Mice and Men. Inside the dining room, pieces of modern art, suspended statues, and images of Buddha punctuate the walls.
Hailing from humble beginnings in a renovated Mississippian gas station, McAlister's Deli has revolutionized the concept of fast food with healthy fare recognized by Parents in 2009. Premium ingredients, such as Black Angus roast beef and black forest ham, pile upon stuffed potatoes or artisan bread, sating hungers and silencing stomachs before they recite bank-account numbers. As patrons wait for servers to deliver meals, they sip signature sweet tea, swirled together onsite daily from pure cane sugar and a rainforest-certified black-tea blend as dictated by a closely guarded recipe.
Chef Geroy Rachel honed his skills at L'École culinaire in Memphis before opening Royal Flavors, a food truck specializing in smoky barbecued meats. Inside the mobile kitchen, he wraps bacon around chicken legs, flavors pork riblets with a dry rub, and smokes beef burgers to serve on butter buns with provolone cheese and pickles. Smoked cabbage salad or turnip greens with smoked pork round out meals, and slices of caramel cake or strawberry shortcake provide a sweet finish. Diners can take their food to go or eat beside the food truck, where picnic chairs surround a flat screen television.
El Porton Mexican Restaurant has sated cravings for fresh, healthy ingredients for more than two decades, serving up authentic Mexican lunches and dinners that complement the bar’s array of 85 tequilas. Amid golden walls that evoke a warm afternoon in a tropical cantina, guests kick-start stomachs by watching chefs craft lime-infused guacamole tableside. From the kitchen, beef and shrimp fajitas sizzle, wafting aromas of onion and bell pepper that transform into cartoon hands to lure in noses. Warm days open El Porton's patio, where sunshine heightens the flavors of make-your-own combo platters spread with chile rellenos, tostadas, and burritos, as well as USDA steaks aged a minimum of 21 days. Tequila shots arrive in flights or individually, and customizable margaritas in flavors such as mango and classic lime pour forth from salt-rimmed glasses to accentuate entrees and fuel conversations about Mexico's hidden agave rivers.
Mexican cuisine’s signature spices help create the first spark on a blind date or the spicy excitement of a night out with friends. Cozy up to someone as intense as cumin-coated chiles within the courtyard-like interior of Abuelo’s, where column-flanked archways divide seating sections into intimate nooks, with private booths tucked away in the glow of wall sconces. Lean back and twirl an imaginary conquistador 'stache while perusing the battle plans, which bear a suspicious resemblance to the menu. A wide variety of enchiladas ($8.99–$10.99) and fajitas ($9.99–$14.99) are available for savory grasping. Properly begin your delicious journey with a mountain of layered dip ($6.49), a stratified feast of chile con queso, roasted chiles, guacamole, refried beans, seasoned ground beef, sour cream, and diced tomatoes. To balance the indulgent dip with a fresh, light lunch that doesn’t skimp on taste-bud stimulation, try the tilapia Veracruz ($9.49), sautéed with shrimp, scallops, tomatoes, roasted poblanos, and olives. Dessert will cleanse spice-saturated palates with traditional sweets such as flan ($4.99) and margarita pie with tequila sauce ($5.49).