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.
When you walk into Pinnacle Sports Grill, there’s a good chance your eyes will jump right to the giant video cube looming above a central brick-island bar. It’s a standout in this flat-screen-filled temple of football, baseball, and basketball, a statement that sports should be taken just as seriously as food. Like the athletes onscreen, the gastropub’s menu covers a lot of ground—pork tenderloin sandwiches, brick-oven pizzas, guacamole-bacon burgers, ale-battered fish ‘n’ chips, Kobe meatloaf, and New York–style cheesecake. If you’re brave enough to try Wild Bill’s hot wings—the hottest available—be sure to have one of Pinnacle’s many craft beers or cocktails within easy reach. As guests make pilgrimages to Pinnacle, they rack up points on the restaurant's MVP frequent-diner card, with every dollar spent on food and drink getting them closer to free meals and a chance to learn the secret Pinnacle Sports Grill handshake.
Muse Bistro and Wine Bar dazzles diners and sates stomachs with a rotating menu of artfully designed and presented entrees built from seasonal ingredients and market-fresh fish. Lasso stampeding appetites with starters such as calamari fritti dredged in crispy panko crumbs and sidled up next to a lemon-basil aioli. Though entrees change weekly, like a fickle gorilla's opinions on foreign affairs, offerings include dishes such as top sirloin garbed in a sherried mushroom ragout and joined by a sidecar of vegetables and whipped potatoes. Gastronomic gurus tickle market-fresh fish en papillote with basting brushes coated in sun-dried-tomato-basil butter before nestling the piscatorial provender atop a bed of flavor-enhancing aromatics.
The hamburger helmsmen at Fuddruckers compile a menu of handcrafted burgers from 100% American beef and homemade buns. Carnivorous connoisseurs choose a burger made from one-third of a pound ($4.50) to a full pound ($8.75) of free-range beef. Seduce experimental taste buds or the ghost of William Cody with a buffalo burger ($9.75), ostrich burger ($9.75), or veggie burger ($5.95). Once grilled and set on a freshly baked bun, the patty buckles under your selections from the market-fresh produce bar, replete with the usual burger accouterments as well as warm cheese sauce, gold-flecked pickles, and guacamole ($0.99). Those who prefer to leave the gustatory designing to the professionals can order a specialty burger ($1.50 extra) such as the bacon- and mushroom-bestrewn Works burger or a Bacon & Bleu burger, sprinkled with blue cheese, layered with bacon, and roughed up with sucker punches.
When Pamela McKenna moved to Idaho after living in Chicago for more than two decades, she immediately began to pine for the Windy City foods she'd grown to love. There wasn't a deep-dish pizza or an italian beef sandwich to be found. But then, as luck would have it, she met Ron Laskowski, a Sicilian Italian whose father spent roughly 40 years operating italian beef stands, according to the Idaho Press-Tribune. Laskowski shared his family recipes with McKenna, and Bono's Beef was born.
In addition to slow-cooked italian beef sandwiches served with giardiniera or sweet peppers, Bono's serves up Chicago favorites such as Vienna Beef hot dogs with natural casings and deep-dish pizzas with cornmeal crusts. In order to create authentic flavors, McKenna sources the majority of her meats and breads from Chicago, she told the Idaho Press-Tribune. Sports fans have an additional reason to visit: a Chicago sports-themed "man cave" inside the eatery.
The aroma of freshly baked bread fills Souper Salad, and a rotating buffet nourishes diners with wholesome fare such as handcrafted soups and an expansive salad bar. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free labels guide eaters of every ilk as they peruse deli favorites, including Tuna Skroodle pasta salad brimming with rotini noodles. Salads are created with more than 30 toppings, from zucchini to hot-and-spicy peanuts. Ladles fill bowls with different varieties of soup every day, including broccoli-cheese soup seasoned with white pepper. After dinner or before it even begins, a dessert buffet sates sweet cravings with gingerbread rolls, and oreo crumbles, caramel, and other toppings to cap soft-serve ice cream.