While living on Molokai, Bobby and Diane Nakihei couldn’t throw a stone without hitting a plate-lunch special. The classic Hawaiian dish—two scoops of rice, one scoop of macaroni salad, and an entree—is served at practically every fast-food restaurant and food wagon across the island. When the couple moved from Hawaii to the Pacific Northwest, they began to long for the once-ubiquitous island cuisine. So Bobby traded the stuffy shirt and tie of a bookkeeping career for the patterned, button-down shirts of his homeland and opened Bobby's Hawaiian Style Restaurant, drawing transplanted islanders and locals alike to his plate-lunch specials, which often come wrapped in taro leaves and seaweed.
His cuisine earned the restaurant a spot on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and praise from Scott Gorman of the Herald, who extols it as “prepared and presented with a good deal of authenticity and style.” Revered dishes include Kahlua pig, which Chef Bobby cures with hawaiian sea salt, covers in banana leaves, and roasts for eight hours. The meticulous preparation extends to the rest of the menu, which spotlights the leaf-steamed pork of laulau and the sushi-esque spam musubi. In addition to the cuisine, owners Bobby and Diane showcase Hawaiian culture by offering hula lessons, presenting live Hawaiian music and recycling diners' lawn clippings into grass skirts.
Sassafras, sarsaparilla, and vanilla: above all, these are the flavors celebrated by The Root Beer Store, which is chock-full of root beers from around the country. Owner Corey Anderson grew up making root beer with his dad, generating his admiration for root-beer culture. Anderson was featured on King 5 for his passion for the soft drink, which manifests in his selection of more than 100 types from craft root-beer makers. From Hawaii to Maine to Australia, the creativity of each brewer shines in the collection, which customers browse with visions of ice cubes and ice cream to accompany them. The staff is on hand to help home brewers make their own soda with root-beer kits, extracts from different brewers, and the lyrics to the chant sung to the root-beer lord before starting each batch.
Not much has changed since Lovie Yancey opened the first Fatburger in 1952. Since then, the chain has expanded, but the food has stayed the same: 100% USDA lean beef burgers grilled to order and hand-scooped ice-cream shakes. Each restaurant stays true to Yancey's vision, even down to retro-influenced digs with jukeboxes blasting old school favorites designed to make listeners flash enthusiastic thumbs-up signs. Inside the kitchen, cooks stack burgers from 2.5-ounce burgers to 24-ounce triple burgers on toasted regular or gluten-free buns as fresh onions crisp inside fryers filled with cholesterol-free oil. Diners can also enjoy Fatburger’s signature chili made with a secret blend of herbs and spices or milkshakes topped with dollops of whipped cream that resemble fluffy, white clouds shaped like marshmallows.
Named for the Spanish word for warrior, Casa Guerrero Mexican Restaurant battles hunger pangs with a menu of traditional south-of-the-border fare. Classic beef dishes such as carne asada and tampiqueña team juicy skirt steak with flavorful accouterments of fresh guacamole and pico de gallo, and chicken stalks appetites in a host of disguises including tacos, fajitas, and powdered wigs. The eatery's culinary crew also charbroils prawns and whole red snapper, accenting the seafood's sweetness with zesty, pepper-infused sauces. To quench thirsts, bartenders serve up fruity red sangria and concoct 16-ounce margaritas from just-squeezed lime juice.
Serving fresh and speedy pizza across America since 1959, Little Caesars has grown into a huge, international carryout phenomenon. Pizzas featuring fresh dough are made to order in large ($8.99 for up to three toppings) and large deep dish ($9.99), mimicking the spectrum of sizes seen on nature's pizza trees. Toppings range from classic pepperoni and sausage to canadian bacon and pineapple. Return as the conquering hero of your family and save your twins the trouble of hunting down bipedal mastodons by picking up one of Little Caesars HOT-N-READY pies ($5.55). The large-sized HOT-N-READY pizzas are available in pepperoni or cheese, and can be picked up any time without the need to order ahead. Fans of three-dimensional eats can try the Italian cheese bread ($4.99) or chicken wings ($5.99 for 8).
Hailing from an Italian clan that expressed adoration via edibles, Bellacelli Cupcakery's head baker whips together fresh local eggs, fruits, and dairy products to create desserts that land on doorsteps in recyclable packaging. Lollicakes emulate the makeup of their cupcake cousins, flaunting bite-size morsels speared on a stick to facilitate jabbing competitors at community bake sales. Peanut-butter filling bursts from the heart of Ted dark-chocolate lollicakes, topped with semisweet chocolate buttercream. Emilia confections mimic citrusy summer sips by marrying strawberry buttercream with lemon cake and candy, and white-russian fixings spike the adult-oriented Thad lollicakes, which are perfect for celebrating 21st birthdays or throwing at the ghosts of prohibition enforcers.