Floating on the waters of the Ohio?and gently rocking in the wake of passing boats?RiverWatch restaurant transports visitors to the tropics with a little taste of Key West. Helmed by Captain Mike, the floating dining room and bar frequently features live music in the vein of Jimmy Buffet, and Thursday-night karaoke gives diners the chance to cover their favorite beach jam or shout "Land ho!" while pointing to the riverbank. Combined, these musical stylings soundtrack a menu rich in seafood and American standards for the landlubbers. Buckets of bottled beers wash down wings tossed in one of eight signature sauces, blackened mahi mahi sided by thick-cut chips, and Angus-certified burgers.
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.
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.
Marco's Pizza founder Pasquale "Pat" Giammarco began helping out at his family?s pizzeria when he was just a boy. The eatery provided a taste of home to the Giammarco clan, who moved to the United States from Italy when Pat was 9 years old. Together with his father, young Pat learned the secrets to creating exceptional pizza sauce: three types of vine-ripened tomatoes and spices that can only be imported from Italy or the moon.
The perfected sauce recipe continues to guide Pat?s kitchen operations?although, these days he has considerably more help. Marco's Pizza has 425 locations in more than half the states as well as in the Bahamas, each store tossing fresh pizza dough daily before sprinkling on a trio of fresh, never-frozen cheeses.