Step inside Alhambra's modern dining room to relax amid comfortable tangerine and chocolate furnishings and feast on fresh Moorish- and Spanish-inspired dishes illuminated by cool cerulean glow. Executive chef James Canter bills the restaurant's menu of tongue-ticklers "New Mediterranean" and "cuisine with a conscience," as dishes are prepared using fresh ingredients from local and organic farms. Warm up your palate with hot small plates like the crispy avocado ($7) or crispy calamari with preserved lemon aioli, cherry peppers, and crispy parsley ($8), or extinguish swallowed firecrackers with a cold platter of Persian tuna tar-tar ($12). If you fill up on appetizers before embarking on a house specialty, like the Moroccan chicken tagine ($24), top off your taste buds with airy and fruity flavors in Alhambra's hookah lounge.
Texadelphia takes the cheesesteak and makes it the way only Texas can—overflowing with hearty meats and served with a side of tortilla chips and salsa. These 100% Angus beef sandwiches come slathered in a variety of toppings, including grilled onions, jalapeños, and cherry peppers, and rest on artisan-baked bread. Try a Founder's Favorite cheesesteak with mozzarella and mushrooms or turn to poultry with The Left Coast, which comes topped with chicken, grilled onions, and guacamole. Items of non-Philly origin also dot the menu, including a grilled-chicken sandwich, smoked turkey and guacamole salad, and a bacon-cheddar burger served with hickory sauce.
The cooks at Dickey's Barbecue Pit have been serving slow-smoked, USDA-inspected meats slathered in sauce concocted from the Dickey family recipe since the first shop opened in Dallas in 1941. The menu is populated with sandwiches piled high with barbecue-drenched Texas-style chopped beef brisket, southern pulled pork, spicy cheddar sausage, and turkey breast ($3.50–$7). Fingers dress themselves to paint white T-shirts after handling plates mounded with barbecue-smothered ribs, which are accompanied by a choice of two sides such as creamy coleslaw, waffle-iron fries, or mac 'n' cheese ($11). The Giant Stuffed Baker cushions a family of meat, cheese, and toppings on a baked-potato sofa more fluffy than Mother's Day card poetry ($5.50–$7).
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.