Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 list of Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. The shop?s reputation grew, and so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&M?s, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real showstoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
Though Wow Cafe & Wingery has now found a foothold in more than 60 locations throughout the U.S., the chain still offers the same tasty soul food and wings as it did when it was founded by a trio of Louisianan brothers in 2001. The friendly sports pub still broadcasts the day’s games on various televisions, allowing guests to follow multiple sports or Jenga tournaments as they lick one of 17 delectable sauces from their fingers. In addition to these finger-food staples, guests can devour fajitas, burgers resting between slices of texas toast, and classic New Orleans dishes such as gumbo, catfish, and red beans. Spice-covered tongues cool off with signature drinks such as an italian mango bellini or Louisiana's Abita beer.
Worlds End Cafe’s chef Jessie W. Craig combines local ingredients with global culinary traditions to create an eclectic menu of contemporary pub fare. The curry chicken wrap encases yellow and red peppers, chicken tenders, and curry mayonnaise in a flour tortilla ($6.99), while the southwestern salad bears a mélange of black beans, fried tortilla chips, and jalapenos ($6.99). Like a Choose Your Own Adventure tax return, the Catfish Your Way lets diners determine their own happy endings by opting to fry, broil, or sauté a duo of fillets ($8.99). Meanwhile, the all-beef Worlds End hot dog ($4.99) can arrive naked or clothed in diners' choice of dressings. Stationed amid décor paying homage to English pubs and works of literature, visitors can show off their literary knowledge or stage Pride and Prejudice adaptations with an all-condiment cast.
East of Italy serves up a menu of flavorfully fused Cajun and Italian plates, tantalizing taste buds with a unique dining experience. Local noon-time noshers can excavate layers of stacked sandwiches such as the Italian Special, a gravity-challenging product of gastronomy that tops pepperoni, ham, and salami with mozzarella cheese, black olives, and red onions before snuggling them between signature baked bread ($6.95). Dinnertime brings generously portioned plates such as the fettuccine alfredo, with garlicky notes paying tribute to an Italian classic ($10.95), and the lobster ravioli, dressed with a creamy pesto-cilantro sauce to nod toward stateside flavors ($13.95). Slice savorers can sink teeth into an array of nine pizzas ($11.95–$16.95) that includes the meatlovers, topped with pepperoni, italian sausage, ground beef, chicken, and ham, and the pesto chicken, sprinkled with pesto sauce, grilled chicken, and flavorful veggies. Creative types can catalyze their inner cook by building their own pie sans sauce gun or cheese saw using a list of both standard and premium toppings ($6.95+). Today’s Groupon is also good for East of Italy’s happy hour (daily from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.), which features a bevy of $5 martinis, unlike other venues' miserly hours where drinks cost twice as much.
A hunk of brisket at VooDoo BBQ & Grill begins its journey suspended over a bed of pecan and oak logs. Coated in a dry rub of local spices, the meat slowly turns on a rotisserie rod for up to 16 hours, its skin crisping while the inside stays a warm pink. The chefs smoke all their beef brisket and pulled pork over logs from Louisiana-based trees to lend them the region's unique smoked flavor, even at the risk of confusing passing botanists. They lightly coat grilled sausages, chicken, and burgers in three signature sauces inspired by the state's Cajun recipes. To complement their menagerie of smoked and grilled meats, they sling a variety of southern sides such as corn pudding, greens, and potato salads. At each of the 13 locations, the aroma of roasting meat fills a space of dark-stained wood and wrought iron; dining rooms awash in a palette of reds, greens, and oranges buzz with the sounds of jazz and blues.