The dining room at El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant is a kaleidoscope of colors, its vibrant orange and red walls a fitting backdrop for its multicolored margaritas and flavorful Mexican dishes. Sizzling dishes crackle as they emerge from the kitchen, with strokes of red and green salsas sweeping across burritos, tacos, fajitas, and an abundance of traditional meat, seafood, and vegetable specialties. Thirty combo meals group complementary offerings—such as a grouping of chili relleno, enchilada, and chalupa—that fight for throat space with towering margaritas and mugs of beer. Leafy vines dangle from arched doorways, and art pieces speckle the walls, from ornamental suns to impressionist pieces made entirely from hot sauces of different colors.
When it comes to tasting the flavors of the South, there isn’t a more appropriate spot than one that features the welcoming, easy slope of a barn's roof. In addition to authentic digs, Tony's Barn offers slow-smoked barbecue and refreshing sweet tea, all enjoyed at casual wooden tables. Dig into smoked St. Louis style ribs or breaded and fried catfish before sampling barn brownies or sawdust pies—an amalgam of chocolate chips, coconut, walnut, and sliced bananas.
The Dragon Pub preps the edibles found in traditional English drinking and eating establishments, plus its own house specialties and health- and animal-friendly options. Thirsty diners munch on bangers and mash—thick sausages steamed in Guinness beer served with hearty mashed potatoes submerged in red-onion gravy ($7.95)—which couples well with a pint of Guinness ($4) or Woodchuck draft cider ($3.50). Fiery Dragon's Breath wings heat up taste buds in broods of six ($4.50) or 12 ($7.50), with buffalo, bourbon barbecue, and Cajun-style options. Herbivorous beasts may mash molars against the portobello and organic baby-spinach quesadilla ($7.95) or the portobello burger topped with baby spinach, tomato, provolone cheese, and pesto mayonnaise ($7.95). A variety of bottled domestic, craft, and import beers and local hard liquors usher solids down gullets.
Equal parts sports fanatics and wings enthusiasts, Wildcat Wings owners Gordon and Emerie Duke create a culinary environment that mirrors the vibrancy of a live sporting event. The idea for Wildcat Wings came to them while rooting on Kentucky versus UCONN in the 2011 NCAA basketball Final Four game. Sensing that wings were the missing ingredient to celebrating the game properly, they quickly discovered the area was lacking an eatery to meet that need. The next thing they knew, both Gordon and Emerie were in their own restaurant slinging more than 20 sauces to slather golden-fried wings in everything from a bourbon glaze and mango habanero to honey mustard and peanut butter and jelly. They also pour frosty brews such as Kentucky Ale with which patrons can wash down feasts of wings and chicken tenders. To keep Gordon and Emerie’s inspiration ever-present, the venue’s TVs air all UK games, as well as broadcasting other sports, including baseball, football, and full-contact Connect Four.
Connected by an asphalt web of highways, state roads, and thoroughfares, blocky yellow signs gleam nonstop, casting a dandelion glow from the words “Waffle House.” The booths at the eateries fill 24 hours each day with the aromas of sizzling pork chops, Jimmy Dean sausage, and endless mugs of coffee. Line cooks brown shredded potatoes on a grill as waiters shout back in a language all their own for hash browns “smothered,” “covered,” or “topped”—served with onions, cheese, or chili, respectively. Angus burgers and steak melts share space on the rippling-hot surface at all times of day, allowing tired drivers to stop for food when they are on a long journey or just listening to an 11-hour drum solo on the radio. The first Waffle House switched on its lights in 1955, and some menu items still bear the names of Waffle House staff of the past, including Bert's chili from Dallas and Alice's iced tea.