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.
Stomping Grounds Playland is many things at once. Part play center, coffee bar, and restaurant, its target demographic spans generations, all of whom should find plenty to do within its 2,000-square-foot facility. A play structure delights kids with obstacles and colorful tunnels, and an expanded toddler area keeps the youngest visitors occupied. To fuel this fun, the onsite Brewster's Café serves up kid favorites such as hot dogs and mac and cheese.
However, the café has even more options for adults—not to mention a dining area with free WiFi. Baristas pour cappuccino, organic chai tea, and specialty espresso drinks such as white-chocolate mochas. These caffeinated treats complement an array of signature sandwiches and salads. Stomping Grounds Playland also caters to parents with comprehensive party packages; party planners take care of everything, including food, activities, and all the paperwork required to receive a birthday wish.
A lifetime in the kitchen informs the menus of Mia Bella Trattoria Sugar Land's owner and head chef Youssef Nafaa, a native of Morocco who has been honing his craft in stateside restaurants since 1988. After toiling his way up from busboy in Chicago to culinary consultant in Houston, Youssef opened the first branch of Mia Bella on Main Street in 1998, promising "Italian food with a twist." Today, the bistro has budded into a quartet of fine-dining establishments. In 2011, the Houston Press awarded the restaurant Best Brunch Restaurant for its Mediterranean-fusion take on the popular hybridized meal and its "'bottomless' mimosas and bellinis; exceptional service that puts you in a good mood even mid-hangover; tall windows that stream sunlight into the dining room; and, of course, delicious food."
The original Ragin Cajun joint opened in 1974, treating visitors to hearty po' boys, spicy red beans and rice, and authentic boiled crawfish. Today, visitors make the pilgrimage to one of four area locations, plopping down at tables clad in red-checker cloth to sup on meals of Gulf shrimp and crab, grilled rib eye, and homemade bread pudding. The intense flavors and ocean-fresh cuisine of southwestern Louisiana unfold in a dining room decked with vintage signage, college-sports memorabilia, and buzzing neon. Ragin Cajun also keeps customers in the know with a Craw Club and can customize buffet catering packages for off-site Acadian feasts, filling banquet halls with food, DJs, live zydeco bands, and complimentary gift bags filled with silent Xs.
When one thinks of an ice rink, the next thought is not typically of freshly baked bread, cured meats, and roasted beets with apples and blue cheese. Jambone's Grill Pub might just change that. Adjacent to the rink at the Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center, Jambone's menu of upscale pub food provides welcome respite for ice skaters. Chefs press fresh ground beef or tarragon-turkey burgers stuffed with a choice of cheese between challah buns or surround grilled chicken, salami, and provolone with slices of ciabatta. Jambone's servers pour Wayne Gretzky Estates wine or other libations from the full-service bar on the spacious patio before diners dash back to the rink to watch it not melt.
G3 Great Greek Grill's three owners, who came together over their love of Greek food, opened the first of their five Houston–area eateries to bring traditional Greek dishes to fast, casual diners. Unlike most Greek restaurants, where the eats come out of the kitchen in a set way, G3 offers patrons a choice between building their own gyros, gliders, or pita sandwiches and devouring classic Mediterranean morsels. G3's chefs also make each generously portioned dish quickly to get patrons in and out the door and on with their lives. In addition to slinging custom falafel to dining-in customers, the grill delivers vittles to houses and caters parties and Greek gods' rap battles.