At the family-owned La Gondola, cooks prepare house-made sausage, steaming plates of pasta, and fresh seafood. Traces of basil and roasted bell peppers fill the air as chefs saut? shrimp in a lemon, white-wine, and garlic sauce, then add it to plates of unadorned linguine as artfully as an painter glues warm shrimp to a freshly painted landscape. In the dining area, servers deliver filet mignon and prepare caesar salads tableside as patrons sip glasses of wine from an extensive list of chiantis, cabernets, and pinot grigios hailing from Italy, California, and Australia.
At Sip-n-Doodle, colors swirl, spread, and mix over canvases while lively conversations crackle. Artists walk students through step-by-step instructions, helping them fashion their own interpretation onto a painter?s canvas. Participants are encouraged to bring snacks and a beverage of their choice, the better to sip as they daringly work outside the lines. The studio provides all the necessary painting supplies, cups, and bottle openers, as well as blow dryers should works not be completely dry by the end of the night.
Employing a classic, old-school approach to burgers, Chop House Burgers' chefs hand form big, juicy patties that are seared to order on the charbroiler and tucked between buttery buns with an assortment of toppings. Served with classic fixings?lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onions?mesquite-grilled burgers are available in a variety of styles and topped with tasty accoutrements such as house-made steak sauce, chili, and fried jalape?os.
Fat Daddy's 18,000-square-foot interior leaves patrons enough space to comfortably explore the lively sports- and music-centered environment and stick their elbows out while grasping a massive menu of sports-bar fare. Start stomach engines with jalapeño cheese sticks paired with homemade ranch dressing ($5.99) or applewood bacon-wrapped shrimp sidekicked with a zesty remoulade sauce ($6.99). Jam on the culinary accelerator with Frankie's 12-ounce sirloin ($17.95) or a half-pound Texas chili burger crowned with secret recipe Texas chili, jalapeños, and shredded jack and cheddar cheese ($8.49). For a meal coda, confuse a tongue's internal thermometer with a hot-fudge brownie sundae topped with strawberries and cream ($4.95).
Smashburger isn't just the name?it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Behind the counter at Top That Pizza, a colorful collection of more than 30 toppings, 10 cheeses, and 8 sauces awaits each pizza lover’s creativity. They first pick from three crusts, including honey wheat, then choose sauces, such as thai peanut and basil pesto, to adorn their personal-sized pies. Lastly, they select from locally sourced toppings, such as marinated rib eye, polish sausage, and applewood bacon⎯as well as regional cheeses including asiago and gorgonzola⎯before their creation is baked to a golden crisp in just three minutes. Customers can then sit down to enjoy their customized pies at the restaurant or take them home. It’s the concept of combining choice, quality, and speed come to fruition that Top That’s creators envisioned years ago. Today, locations stretch across Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado, and menus make room for baked dishes of chicken alfredo and meatball marinara.