In 2009, Southern Louisiana native Melissa Crosswhite decided to show the nation's capital what Cajun cuisine is really about. With eight generations of family recipes in her hand, she set up shop in a historical 18th-century home. Soon enough, the mouthwatering aromas of her spicy étouffée, jambalaya, and gumbo filled the house and out onto the street, where it started drawing crowds from Maryland, Washington DC, and West Virginia. Today, diners enjoy meals prepared from those same trusted family recipes, including blackened chicken, alligator, and fried oyster po' boys. All sandwiches are made with New Orleans' famous Leidenheimer bread, spicy chipotle sauce, and the laments of a poor, poor boy. Guests enjoy their meals on a quaint patio or amid the historic home's Mardi Gras masks, crimson walls, and vintage touches. Chef Crosswhite's dessert skills can put a sweet cap on any creole feast with pecan pie and authentic Café Du Monde beignets.
When the first Eggspectation eatery opened in Montreal in 1993, the concept was simple: upscale brunch with a focus on decadent egg and crepe dishes. The founding concept has been tweaked only slightly since then, with a menu that today includes more than 160 breakfast, lunch, and dinner items. Breakfast remains the menu’s biggest draw, with a dozen egg benedicts and savory crepes, 16 omelets and fruity pancakes, plus french toast and waffles. At lunch and dinner, chefs stack plates with fine-dining-style entrees, such as half-pound USDA-choice beef burgers and steak and seafood entrees, such as maple-glazed rib eye or lump crab cakes. Whether at a location in Canada, the US, or India, patrons can slide behind a table amid rustic stone and brick walls flanked by jubilant circus-theme decor, such as colorful murals and paparazzi snapshots of Humpty Dumpty.
From foodies to celebrities to trend watchers, the buzz around Pinkberry has been sweeping the world. Excitement was high from the very beginning, when in 2005 Pinkberry opened its first store in West Hollywood, California. The demand for the swirls of yogurt was so great that Pinkberry was dubbed "the taste that launched 1,000 parking tickets" by the Los Angeles Times. Undeterred by parking regulations, people were drawn in by their cravings for the yogurt, the abundance of toppings, the bright and energetic store design, and the kind smiles of the staff. With more than 220 locations in 18 countries, Pinkberry is now one of the most-talked-about premium frozen yogurts in the world.
Starting with a base of nonfat, hormone-free milk and nonfat yogurt, Pinkberry's artisans incorporate live, active cultures into the mix to create a healthy, refreshing treat. The original yogurt is always available, but staffers also swirl seasonal flavors throughout the year, such as strawberry, cookies 'n' cream, and cherry. The selection of fresh fruit also rotates with the seasons and is cut daily in each store. Other toppings, such as honey-almond granola, dark-chocolate crisps, swirl pearls, and italian caramel, allow customers to create an inspired flavor combination every visit.
When creating their inventive, American-style dishes, the chefs at Ironwood Tavern work with nearby growers and livestock producers to ensure only the freshest seasonal ingredients land in the kitchen's wood-fired grill. Beyond the artfully-presented meals, Ironwood Tavern prides itself on repeat diners. Staffers continuously work to create a friendly atmosphere where families feel right at home, even offering to realistically roll their eyes when parents say something totally lame.
Local food and good old-fashioned friendliness only make up two parts of Ironwood Tavern's three-pronged equation, though—the other component is unmistakably beer. Ironwood makes their passion for the hoppy beverage, local and otherwise, immediately apparent at the bar, which features 24 taps that pour a regularly rotating selection of craft beer. The tavern's dedication to great brews doesn't just stop at the draft handles, however—an on-staff craft beer expert actually works with the executive chef to help create dishes that thoroughly complement the bar's selection. Good beer is such a priority that sometimes, the development of a dish begins with the beer selection and goes "backwards" from there.
Kraze Burger was founded in 1989, distinguishing itself with its made-from-scratch approach to its burgers. Thirteen years later, visitors still won't find perfectly uniform patties hauled out from freezers, flavorless greens, or fries grown in test tubes. Instead they'll fill their bellies with hand-cut potatoes, made-to-order Angus beef burgers, and salads and sides culled from seasonal, locally sourced produce. Among their wide range of eclectic burgers is the Hawaiian burger, which is topped with a chargrilled pineapple, and their plain-and-simple cheeseburger.