Drawing inspiration from the more traditional Mexican cuisine and its European influences, the chefs at La Catrina Mexican Cantina create specialties that pair exotic meat choices under a layer of fine European cheeses. They fill tacos with marinated pork tossed with chunks of pineapple, shredded chicken in a drizzle of queso, or fish fillets fried in a Pacifico beer batter. Outside of street food classics, they also stuff chilies with marinated rice and beans and toss linguini in a light almond cream sauce and queso fresco.
The Straw Hat's congenial owners, Charlene and Randa, curate a multihued microcosm of women's machine-washable threads. Tribal sleeveless T-shirts ($49) ward off heat and pesky cufflink salesmen by eschewing arm coverings entirely. Slip into the relaxed embrace of Not Your Daughter's capris in black, yellow, or white ($79), or caper through the shop's leg-liberating bouquet of dresses. A cornucopia of jewelry and duds by Brighton, Spanx, Pure Handknit, and a variety of other brands orbits around a lounge perched atop an ornate oriental rug. Personalized service allows patrons to opt for independent shopping jaunts or stylish support as trustworthy as Audrey Hepburn's rebounding game.
The first Golden Rule Bar-B-Q and Grill?a roadside joint frequented by locals and travelers alike?served its first heaping plate of lovingly smoked barbecue in 1891. The restaurant has since adapted with the times, acquiring a car-repair garage, neon signs, and a hovercar dock, in addition to nearly a dozen saucy outposts across Alabama and Mississippi. Now the various locations serve slow-cooked, hickory-smoked meats served with a variety of secret-recipe sauces and sides such as collards or mac 'n' cheese. Guests can also forgo the sauce and order surf 'n' turf dishes such as a hand-cut charbroiled steak or a creole grilled fresh catfish fillet.
Trio's chefs celebrate the flavors of Italy and American with a menu of familiar comfort food. Shredded mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, and veggies are topped onto homemade pizza crusts. Homestyle meals include country-fried chicken and beef tips. Even the sides are decidedly Southern, with black eyed peas, fried green tomatoes, and macaroni and cheese. The laid-back eatery entertains guests with live music, and invites guests to try out their vocal range during karaoke events. On select nights, the Trio?s staff hosts a trivia tournament that rewards winners with prizes and enough confidence to finally enter the 5th grade spelling bee.