Cubana Restaurant owner and head chef Mariolis Mora draws on the culinary skills she cultivated in Santiago de Cuba to craft a menu of traditional Cuban cuisine. She grills shredded beef and tosses it with garlic and lime juice to forge her ever-popular vaca frita, and she presses roasted pork, spanish chorizo, and serrano ham between hot bread to build classic cuban sandwiches. For dessert, a cup of cuban espresso offsets the sweetness of housemade flan or bread pudding.
Lauded by the Courier-Journal as a “beach paradise,” Cubana Restaurant’s interior complements the authentic island cuisine. Palm trees pop against vibrant orange and turquoise walls, and the sound of Cuban music inspires impassioned air-bongo solos.
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.
The cheery yellow walls of The Floral Grind Coffeehouse instantly perk up entering clientele, giving patrons the early morning boost they need as baristas top off cups of steaming coffee and aromatic teas. Sharing space with its flower-shop alter ego, the café features a walk-up counter for guests to leisurely peruse the menu as well as a drive-through window that speedily delivers drinks to customers super-glued to their driver’s seat. Behind the counter, baristas combine energizing shots of espresso with syrups available in a variety of classic and sugar-free flavors to fashion a full menu of lattes, cappuccinos, and frozen coffee drinks that match the current season. An assortment of muffins, loaded oatmeal, and biscotti accompany the café beverages, giving guests something to nibble on as they utilize the shop’s free WiFi.
Inside Fuji’s modern, lounge-like dining space, dimly lit by drop lighting, hibachi chefs flip shrimp and slabs of new york strip steak on the grill. Meanwhile, sushi chefs chop, blend, and roll ingredients into 65 varieties of colorful rolls, many oven baked, partially or fully tempura fried, or draped in spicy and sticky sauces. Bartenders pour international wines, beers, top-shelf spirits, and a wide range of sakes to complement each dish. As diners toast to a romantic dinner date with someone special or a successful business lunch with an entrepreneurial sock puppet, servers bustle between tables, ferrying traditional and contemporary Japanese dishes such as broiled mussels, spicy gyoza pot stickers, sukiyaki steaks, and deep-fried, katsu-style pork and chicken.
Armed with baked goods from local bakeries and fresh, locally farmed produce, SuperChef Darnell Ferguson sets out to "make breakfast and lunch fun." Once served only at funerals, breakfast has become a lively and appetizing event with novel dishes such as Darnell's red-velvet pancakes. A graduate of Sullivan University, one of the country's top culinary institutes, Darnell was a chef for the 2008 U.S. Olympic team and has broken eggs in the service of a former president.
Cafe Aroma's eclectic menu dabbles in flavors from around the globe. Chefs scatter mexican chorizo sausage across nachos, and add garlic shrimp to their signature linguine. An array of freshly baked sandwiches pair with pickles, much in the way sandals pair with socks, and salad smiths slice up fresh romaine lettuce and top it with the customer's choice of gourmet ingredients.