Rough wood walls and exposed brick-and mortar accents frame wood-topped tables at Sante Fe Cattle Company, lending it the look of an Old West ranch or corner saloon. Behind walls covered with western movie posters and cowboy portraits, the kitchen staff cuts steaks by hand, commands yeast rolls to rise, and builds sauces from scratch instead of melting them from freeze-dried blocks. The kitchen follows precise family recipes to grace tabletops with a menu of southern-style favorites, such as hickory-smoked ribs, chicken-fried steak, and fried catfish fillets. Live music fills the room on certain nights, and mist fans on the outdoor patio cool people off after a long day on the range or singing about spending the days on one.
It's hard to imagine a restaurant that epitomizes the great American diner better than Huddle House. Since 1964, the restaurant?which has locations scattered prominently throughout the southern states?has warmed bellies with burgers, hearty breakfasts, and heaping helpings of friendly hospitality, available 24-hours a day. Even the moniker is All-American: founder John Sparks came up with the name after a football huddle, hoping it would inspire his customers to gather round a table and swap stories over a warm meal.
Over the years, Huddle House's menu has expanded and adapted to changing tastes, but its focus has remained the same: old-fashioned, American comfort food. No matter what time it is, guests can order up biscuits smothered in gravy and cheese or dig into the shop's signature waffles, whipped up using a secret recipe and waffle irons that can't read. Afternoon eats include chopped steak burgers served with regular or sweet potato fries and sandwiches with a southern twist, like a Philly cheese steak stuffed between slices of thick-cut Texas toast.
A homegrown success story with a slew of awards and nearly 40 years of history, Popeyes has introduced its menu of Louisiana eats to taste seekers around the globe. Rather than downloading low-quality, unsatisfying meals through the Internet, packs can pick up Popeyes’ family-style meals, pairing eight pieces of Cajun fried chicken with four buttermilk biscuits and a side of award-winning rice and beans ($16.99). A po boy stuffed with crunchy shrimp ($3.49) makes a splash in lunchboxes, and chicken nuggets ($2.49 for six pieces) surf into mouths on waves of refreshing sweet tea ($2.99/gal.).