For more than 25 years, the kitchen of Campino Mercado has basked in the aromas of grilled homemade portuguese sausage, sizzling steaks, fresh fish, and garlic-infused clams. Simple, yet tasteful, Portuguese meals pepper red-and-white-linen-topped tables in the two-story eatery, where soft lighting helps set the mood for romantic dinners or glamour shots of light bulbs.
The cooks at Grille Two 74 maintain a delicate balance between speed and quality. Working quickly, they make all food to order, including half-pound burgers, hearty chili, and grilled chicken sandwiches with homemade chipotle mayo. These eats are served in a sleek, industrial space with exposed brick walls, metal chairs, and track lighting sending out beams in red, blue, and magenta.
When Gerasimo “Jerry” Dimitratos and Dimitrious “Jimmy” Doris took over Famous Midtown Grill in 1998, they got to work giving the place a makeover. They installed the handful of neon signs that now light up the diner and updated the menu with all manner of Greek specialties, including Greek salads, a dozen wraps named for Greek gods, and the local favorite—the gyro. But the two knew where to stop, and the corner diner still retains its mid-century charm, complete with backlit menu boards, a counter that runs the length of the space, and the art deco “Midtown Grill” sign that sprawls along the side of the building.
On any given day, the Grill feeds more than 100 hungry lunch customers. Many of them sidle up to the counter for a trademark plate of gravy covered cheese fries, or the Hot Texas Weiner served with a homemade sauce created by the original owners in 1959. Classic American breakfast dishes are served all day, including 20 varieties of omelets and corned beef and hash, each served with a side of grits, home-fries, or freedom.
Inspired by the traditions of Tuscany, Napoli, and Sicily, the chefs at LaTerrazza prepare a diverse spread of fine Italian dishes. They craft a range of appetizers, pastas, meat-laden entrees, and house specialties such as the crabmeat angela—fresh jumbo lump crabmeat drizzled in blush cream sauce and served over pasta. For lunch, they add 10 different paninis to the mix, which can feature ingredients that range from portobellos to beef tenderloin. All the while, diners, much like nervous jurors about to reveal a verdict, pass around bottles of wine brought from home.
Strip steak, prime rib, or filet mignon--the chefs at A&W Steakhouse have yet to meet a cut of beef they don't like. Wet-aged for 14 days, the pepper-crusted black Angus prime rib oozes flavor, and the pan-roasted filet mignon finds a worthy partner in white truffle fries. Then there's the sauces to choose from: bourdalaise, brandy pepper-cream, or cabernet reduction. Even the beef-averse can delight in such dishes as the herb dijon chicken roasted in a fresh blend of spices, pan-seared Ahi tuna served over black fried rice, and the double-cut pork chop atop a bleu cheese mash with apple relish.
The year was 1991, and University of Florida students Matt Friedman and Adam Scott recognized that their campus had a problem. The boys and their fellow students had only two viable late-night food options: ordering pizza or foraging for edible leaves around campus. Seeking to diversify the menu available to sleepless Gators, the duo set to work in their fraternity house's kitchen, where they perfected their chicken wings and made the first of their now many wing sauces. Their wings were an immediate hit, and two storefronts in Gainesville quickly followed.
Today, Wing Zones have popped up in 24 additional states from coast to coast, and in countries including Columbia, Puerto Rico, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi. At each outpost, the cooks douse chicken wings—as well as tenders, sandwiches, and even burgers—in one of 17 sauces, which range from the mild Tame buffalo sauce to the fiery Nuclear Habanero. Focusing less on the sheer heat-factor, they also slather wings in flavors including Liquid Gold—a honey mustard concoction—cinnamon maple, and garlic parmesan.