Rich Hicks and Todd Istre are the masterminds behind many a national food concept?from Rich's southwestern taco at Tin Star to Todd's spicy seafood dishes at Boudreaux's Cajun Kitchen. When the duo joined forces to create Mooyah, however, they cleared the tortillas and crawdads from their mind in order to focus on formulating a quintessential American burger.
Today, within scores of Mooyah locations throughout the nation, chefs bustle behind counters, grilling up burgers in accordance to Todd and Rich's formula. Cooks pile beef, turkey, and veggie patties onto white or wheat buns before loading on cheeses and toppings of bacon, fried onion, and avocado. Meanwhile, freshly cut potatoes simmer in fryers, and blenders whirl with ice-cream shakes. Out in the dining room, tabletops and booths sit atop checkered floors beneath walls of chalkboards, where customers can write messages or draw portraits of what they wished they looked like, could they only grow a beard.
When childhood friends Ronald Liu, Jessica Chiep, and Thomas Wang decided to veer off the traditional corporate path, they set out to open their own cafe. Combining their American upbringing with Asian culture heritage, they wanted to create a unique and Asian-American fusion concept to put the power of culinary creation into the hands of their guests. The result was The H.A. Cafe, a casual dining spot where guests can choose everything from fresh fish and veggies to sauces and starches to create their own sushi rolls, dons, or okonomiyakis?a Japanese version of American pizza. The menu relies on plenty of startling ingredients; wakame seaweed, greens, and cucumbers flavor many of the dishes, from the tuna sashimi salad dressed in wasabi ranch, to the grilled chicken teriyaki bowl. At the bubble tea and smoothie bar, baristas trained in mixology hand-craft fresh brewed tea infused with fruit juices and a large variety of boba.
Housed in a transformed 1880’s paper mill, The Adams Mill bears the name of international paper extraordinaire Peter Adams. Today, the multilevel red-brick building is a spacious restaurant, pub, and banquet facility, inviting guests to dine on appetizers such as baked brie, crab cakes, or fried calamari amid those exposed-brick walls. Diners can move on to light entree salads—such as waldorf or cobb—or sample fish and chips, burgers, buffalo-chicken wraps, or other upscale pub classics. Other entrees include teriyaki chicken, 12-ounce new york sirloins, or baked shrimp stuffed with a meta filling of shrimp, scallop, and crabmeat. The restaurant also offers gluten-free selections such as steamed salmon and pan-seared chicken, as well as vegetarian options such as vegetable risotto and zucchini parmesan. And if you’re at Adams Mill during a big game, feel free to grab a seat at the bar, where there are several flat-screen TVs.
BurgerFi's founder envisioned a timeless, casual American eatery, evoking the feel of a 1950s diner while adhering to the best modern food preparation practices. BurgerFi's unique menu and furnishings emerged from that equation. Cooks form each burger patty from all-natural, free-range beef, raised without chemicals or hormones. They also grill up similarly conscientious specialties, such as their Kobe beef hot dogs or the brisket burger, featuring 28-day dry-aged ground brisket beneath a combination of swiss and blue cheeses. They serve these creations alongside craft beers and wines.
The decor owes just as much to the owner's penchant for sustainable practices as the food. At each location, dining rooms features chairs made from recycled Coke bottles, recycled wood tables, and large fans that move plenty of air while consuming less electricity, putting less efficient fans out of a job.
Although it may have fallen out of Top 40 rotation in the 70 years since it was sung by a burger-shop owner’s barbershop quartet, the song “When the Red, Red Robin (Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin' Along)” lives on in the legacy of a Seattle-based burger joint. The Red Robin franchise has spread its wings far and wide, now serving locations throughout North America with sustainably grown, environmentally conscious burgers and sides that marry classic American flavors with savory twists such as onion straws or bruschetta. Most of the shop’s fire-grilled burgers, chicken sandwiches, and entrees come with a side of bottomless steak fries, allowing patrons to soak up the juicy Whiskey River barbecue sauce, melted blue cheese, and edible fedoras that top the menu’s varied eats. The staff are happy to help patrons pair their sandwiches with one of the full bar’s microbrews or specialty mixed drinks, keeping glasses filled while athletic superstars battle it out on the eatery's big-screen TVs.
During the sweltering summer of 1984, former Philadelphia firefighter Bob Tumolo decided to open the first Rita's Water Ice, naming it after his wife. The specially formulated treat fueled Rita's growth, expanding the family-run business to more than 500 franchised locations nationwide. Despite the incredible expansion, each Rita's stays true to the company's origins by mixing their Italian ice according to Bob's original recipe. Their most famous dessert, the Gelati, features layers of his signature Italian ice between two giant dollops of custard, combining flavors such as mango with vanilla or introducing recently emigrated Swedish fish to vanilla or chocolate. Rita's also promotes community awareness with regular fundraisers for organizations such as Relay for Life.