Aladdin Mediterranean Grill lubricates belly bearings with scrumptious Mediterranean tastes, all within a casual atmosphere. Anchor incisors to the menu's palate-pleasing offerings, including salads, sandwiches, and entrees. Meal preambles start off light with orders of stuffed kibbe balls ($2.50) and grape leaves ($4.50 for five), and dinner dissertations cover meaty topics such as kafta kebab, with ground sirloin, hummus, Middle Eastern salad, and rice ($13.99), and the Chef's Special, which rests gyro meat on a bed of yellow rice and tucks it in tight with ratatouille and cucumber salad ($13.99). Aladdin also offers desserts, such as baklava and Mamoul dates, to distract sweet teeth from digging elaborate escape routes out of mandible confinement.
Tropical Smoothie's thick beverages are chock-full of fresh fruit, juices, non-fat yogurt, and healthful supplements. Sip from more than 30 custom blends, such as the antioxidant-rich Pomegranate Plunge, a super-fruit synthesis of pomegranate, banana, strawberries, and cranberries ($4.99). Or break in a new crazy straw by asking it to take the Wonderlic test or by sipping a Peanut Butter Cup, a thick and creamy blend of peanut butter, banana, and chocolate ($4.99). Coffee smoothies perk up morning routines with a hybrid of coffee, nonfat yogurt, and cappuccino ($4.99), or replace alarm clocks by hiring a strongman to pour a protein-packed Muscle Blaster on your face at sunrise ($4.99). Customers also have the option of supercharging a smoothie with one of eight supplements, such as soy protein and vitamin C ($0.99 each).
Chef Spiros Nerantzis may seem gruff on the surface, but—as his wife and partner, Jenna, explains—that's only because "his passion and his love all come out in his food." Cooking since he was 15, Chef Spiros bounced around Europe until 2006, when he jumped across the pond to take over the then-24-year-old Olympia Cafe. Today, his kitchen expertly constructs traditional Greek fare, turning out plates of moussaka, gyros, and pastitsio, a Greek-style lasagna topped with béchamel sauce. A classically trained chef, Spiros is especially adept at fresh fish dishes, and concocts all his silky cream sauces from scratch rather than downloading them from the Internet.
If the kitchen is Spiros' domain, the rest of the restaurant is Jenna's. Jenna met Spiros six months into his tenure at Olympia Cafe, and a whirlwind romance saw them married before another six months was over. Friendly and personable, today she welcomes arriving guests into a dining room with white-and-blue-clothed tables and a bleached-brick bar. To further enhance the homey vibe, Jenna and her team adorned the space with authentic Greek trinkets, including painted platters, komboloi beads, and statues of titans arm-wrestling to decide who gets the bigger bedroom.
Made-from-scratch recipes and fresh ingredients have been setting the Original Pancake House apart from its breakfast-spot competition since 1953. That's when its owners established an all-day empire committed to ingredients such as pure hard-wheat unbleached flour and butter made from fresh sweet cream.
Today, Original Pancake House cooks across the country still construct scrambles and omelets from fresh Grade AA eggs. Powdered sugar lines the rims of oven-baked dutch baby pancakes, and granny-smith apples simmer in oven-baked pancakes (two of more than a dozen styles of pancake on the menu). Even the toppings are made in-house, including whipped cream, specialty syrups, and sauces. To complement these flavors, staff fill cups with fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit juices and coffee blended specially to match the Original Pancake House's menu and upholstery. Although each location takes on the local charm of its surrounding city, all of them share in common a homey atmosphere that welcomes families with perks such as color-in place mats and kids' menus.
Name aside, the Original Pancake House isn't just a breakfast spot—in fact, it stays open for at least two meals a day, or six if you follow most doctors' advice to take a small pancake break every few hours. The savory side of the menu holds sandwiches piled with thick-cut meats, caesar salads, and savory crepes stuffed with cheese and veggies.
Brick walls, wooden shutters, and a color scheme as warm and red as the homemade tomato sauce—Buongiorno Pizza & Pasta’s decor really sets the stage for a homey Italian meal. The home-style approach extends well into the kitchen, where chefs craft gourmet pizzas from scratch in both New York and Sicilian styles. They toss and top them to order, strewing them with a medley of guests’ favorite toppings or whipping up one of their inventive signature pies, such as a pizza topped with a penne à la vodka sauce. Wines culled from Italy and California pair well with Mediterranean-inspired entrees such as chicken parmigiana heroes and veal marsala, while also facilitating conversation between a couple on their first date or a poet and his muse.
When Dean Lavallee opened the first Park Avenue BBQ in 1988, he had one lofty mission in mind: to serve the best barbecue ever made. Despite the seemingly impossible nature of his goal, he and his team continue to rise to the challenge, dry-rubbing their meats to smoke and char-grill on-site. They use all-natural, grain-fed, domestic pork for their traditional and Carolina-style barbecue pork—pulled by hand—and only use fresh, never-frozen ribs that are smoked daily over hickory. As diners chow down on hearty homestyle sides, seafood platters, or buffalo wings tossed in one of six sauces, they can admire the dining room's pictures of their city's most prominent people, places, and robot mayors.
Park Avenue BBQ arranges their meats into fun, hearty dishes such as the Dempublican sandwich, which combines smoked pork and beef brisket separated only by cheese and bacon to create a sizeable sandwich that the team has dubbed "porkalicious". They whip up Funnybonz, which look and taste like miniature ribs, using tender, lean pork that's prepared by cooking up regular ribs beneath a shrink ray. In 2008, their dedication to each dish caused Cityvoter's users to name Park Avenue BBQ the best barbecue in town.