Offering diners a varying selection of Southern classics and 14 protein-and fruit-packed smoothies, the chefs at Scales Café whip up healthy snacks and filling dishes anchored around farm-raised catfish. A dusting of seasoned cornmeal prepares their signature catfish fillets to swim laps in the deep fryer before emerging triumphantly with either a crispy golden coat or a gold medal. Cajun or ranch spice blends can flavor the fresh fish, or diners can forgo the crispy crust in favor of a grilled or skillet-blackened fillet. Although house-made hush puppies, french fries, and coleslaw accompany most entrees to the table, eight other side options, including velvety mac 'n' cheese and sweet-potato fries, can smother hunger like a mother who cleans her son’s dorm room. Straws plumb the creamy depths of Scales Café's smoothies, which are made from fresh fruits, crushed fruit concentrates, and protein boosts. Each sippable meal is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but steers clear of fat, lactose, and artificial flavors.
People wage wars at America’s Incredible Pizza Company—against other drivers on the go-kart track, golfers on the glow-in-the-dark mini-golf course, and the limits of their own stomachs at the buffet. The funporium’s buffet—featuring more than 100 items—centers on pizza, including original, thin, and deep-pan crust (gluten-free upon request) crowned with more than 30 toppings. Verdant greens and freshly made dressings await visitors at the popular salad bar, and the baked-potato station comes with every necessity for side-dish construction, from cheese to the bacon bits from which bacon is built. A variety of sauces enliven the buffet’s fettuccine and spaghetti noodles, and homestyle eats on offer include hot dogs and frito pie.
In the indoor adventure park, meanwhile, gamers zip around a track in two varieties of go-karts—the stock-car speed and the slower Busch speed—as announcers report each turn. Visitors also can instigate harmless car crashes in the bumper-car area or spend five frames toppling pins during mini bowling.
El Porton Mexican Restaurant has sated cravings for fresh, healthy ingredients for more than two decades, serving up authentic Mexican lunches and dinners that complement the bar’s array of 85 tequilas. Amid golden walls that evoke a warm afternoon in a tropical cantina, guests kick-start stomachs by watching chefs craft lime-infused guacamole tableside. From the kitchen, beef and shrimp fajitas sizzle, wafting aromas of onion and bell pepper that transform into cartoon hands to lure in noses. Warm days open El Porton's patio, where sunshine heightens the flavors of make-your-own combo platters spread with chile rellenos, tostadas, and burritos, as well as USDA steaks aged a minimum of 21 days. Tequila shots arrive in flights or individually, and customizable margaritas in flavors such as mango and classic lime pour forth from salt-rimmed glasses to accentuate entrees and fuel conversations about Mexico's hidden agave rivers.
Smoothie King's blended-brew tycoon, Steve Kuhnau, reigns over more than 600 locations, mixing up a menu of nutritious sips since the 1960s. A waist-conscious trio of papaya, bananas, and strawberries casts a slender shadow as it leaps into the Caribbean Way, a drink that can be further slenderized by removing its turbinado sweetener or by enrolling it in boot camp ($4.49/20 oz.; $6.49/32 oz.; $7.99/44 oz.). Customers can slurp on the Angel Food's heavenly swirl of low-fat banana, strawberry, and vanilla flavors, contained within a frosty fusion that's less than 400 calories. The coffee smoothie mocha revivifies sluggish souls with a velvety java elixir that packs an energizing punch powerful enough to transform any sleepyhead into a fast-talking auctioneer. Meanwhile, whey and egg whites team up in the Gladiator, a low-carb, high-protein meal replacement designed to beef up physiques with a choice of two fruits.
Though it resembles a relaxing bistro, Polish U Pretty Nail Cafe serves up manicures instead of meals. Its team of technicians decorates hands and feet with imaginatively named mani-pedi services, including the No Yard Work This Week manicure—a moisturizing treatment that employs lemon and lime ingredients. The techs paint with polishes from OPI, CND, and Essie, welcoming guests to recline indoors or on the second-story patio. They'll gussy up extremities with nail art and skin-soothing sugar scrubs, wax away unwanted hair, or host beautification events for groups of friends, bridal parties, or self-conscious biker gangs.
Roasted and brewed in-house, Republic Coffee’s global-savvy coffee drinks roll out a steamy rug for sandwiches stacked with smoked meats and soups made from scratch daily. Leafy greens and veggies burst from salads drizzled with just the right amount of dressing, and crostini dive into creamy baths of garlic hummus. The cozy coffeehouse’s doors open as the sun rises to greet diners with fluffy eggs, breakfast sandwiches, and malted belgian waffles. Sleek black chairs and leather booths scattered throughout the interior keep night owls comfy until closing time at midnight, when the overcaffeinated crowd works off excess steam by bouncing against exposed-brick walls.