The most difficult decision to be made at Giovannis Pizza is where to begin the meal. The buffet table includes not only pizza and pasta, but also a baked-potato bar, garlic bread, and a 30-item salad bar with housemade ranch and blue- cheese dressings. At any point in the meal, sweet cravings can find satisfaction in bowls of ice cream or squares of brownies. Diners who like to taunt hungry birds can take their plates to tables outside.
Jerry's Restaurant opened in 1961, and since then it's served family-style meals, which incorporate some of the 15+ vegetables the kitchen uses. The team cooks breakfast, lunch, dinner, and whatever meal humans think up next. Their food ranges from cheesy spaghetti and lemon-pepper chicken entrees to potato skin and onion ring entrees. Jerry's serves the popular J-Boy sandwich—a double-decker cheeseburger with a special sauce—and even a hot fudge cake.
Executive chef Joshua Winslow taps farm-fresh ingredients and nearly two decades of culinary experience to craft a menu of traditional and newfangled takes on Southern favorites. At the twang of the dinner banjo, cornbread croutons bob in bowls of rich Bluegrass Country ham and heirloom bean soup, inviting hearty appetites to pull up a cozy green chair and drop fang-anchor in eats ($5). Sustainable seafood selections such as the Bigg Blue mussels starter, steamed in Lexington-brewed Kentucky Ale, swim toward tables through a casually upscale dining room, past murals of majestic horses speeding through greenery to get to the salon before the perm counter closes ($8). Hailing from more solid ground, the 10-ounce char-grilled pork chop cozies up to whipped sweet potatoes and bourbon-apple chutney ($20), while sandwiches such as the smoked beef brisket allow for a more multisensory dining experience ($10). Triangle Grille's main room seats up to 180, but the restaurant also offers a more intimate dining experience with its private room, which seats 30 to 50.
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.
Zaxby's defines comfort with a single word: chicken. However, that one word is hardly limiting. The casual restaurant—which can be found in 15 states—transforms poultry into salads, sandwiches, wings, chicken fingers, and more. Their most popular item remains the chicken finger plate, which comes with crinkle fries, Texas toast, cole slaw, and Zaxby's own signature sauce.
Sauce is the second pillar of Zaxby's cooking philosophy. Their cooks make nine different varieties for dipping, drizzling, and coating crispy eats. These sauces go from mild buffalo all the way up to "insane," which pushes the mouth's central air-conditioner to its limits. Other options break from buffalo into teriyaki and BBQ territory, incorporating a touch of hickory flavor. And for dessert, there's always chocolate syrup, poured liberally over signature milkshakes such as the chocolate cookie.