Mary and Shelly Withers let more than two decades of cooking together shine through in the kitchen, which fills with the crackling of hot oil and the slower contralto bubbling of stews and gravy as the two work in concert. Flanked by berry-colored walls, diners take seats at raw-wood tables and benches to dig into soul-food favorites such as baked mac 'n' cheese, fried catfish nuggets, and jerk chicken. Caterers laden with trays bound for weddings and other events rush past diners slowly working through cups of coffee and Mary's red velvet cake, which lets feasts end gradually, unlike picnics in wind tunnels.
The pub-fare prodigies at Rolf's Restaurant appease neighborhood noshers with occasional live music, a seasonal outdoor patio, and a hearty menu. Pork tenderloin ($16.95) stuffed with fresh basil, roasted red peppers, and mozzarella leaves room for whipped potatoes and a drizzle of balsamic-vinegar reduction. The chef's burger ($10.95) showcases a compound-butter-infused patty, fried shallots, roasted tomatoes, and garlic mayo, and the potato-horseradish salmon ($16.95) disguises itself under an edible crust like it was taught to do in CIA training. Along with American eats, an authentic German menu sports wienerschnitzel ($21.95) and a bratwurst sandwich ($8.95) paired with potato salad. Rolf's opens its doors on Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. for brunch, and an international beer and wine menu whets whistles, leaving them warmed up for swing shifts directing traffic.
Christopher and Melanie Romano’s kids have long loved the music, iPads loaded with games, and fun flavors of Let’s Yo! When they’d frequent their neighborhood outpost, they felt assured they were feeding their kids a healthier alternative to ice cream. "Even in the winter, my kids wanted to go," Christopher says. "They would have gone every day if I'd have let them."
When the couple decided they wanted to quit the corporate world and open a business, Let’s Yo! seemed like a natural fit. They soon opened up shop, where customers self-serve 18 all-natural, organic flavors brimming with live active cultures. The flavors rotate regularly, with varieties such as sea-salt-caramel pretzel, red velvet cupcake, and California tart. Next, guests pile on premium toppings such as Andes mints, mixed nuts, and Kashi cereal—as well as about 10 different types of syrups, including Reese's peanut-butter topping and mango syrup. The staff members get fresh-fruit deliveries daily, which they chop up or splice via laser vision.
Along with iPads loaded with the latest apps, Christopher outfitted the shop with a flat-screen TV and free WiFi. He chats regularly with the customers who swing by for a cup or stop in after the gym for a yogurt protein shake. And he says it's definitely a change of pace from his Wall Street job. "The hardest choice you have to make is what topping you want," he says.
As the major riverine port of a nation that's home to more than a billion people, Calcutta hardly lacks for culture. The city's cuisine—a multicultural mishmash of Indian, British, Jewish, Chinese, and other culinary traditions—is but one example of its stunning diversity. A Calcutta Affair's menu captures this diversity in dishes such as the fish fry and the Calcutta Chow, the latter a mixture of noodles, veggies, and meat that's reminiscent of stir-fry.
Despite the competing influences, Indian traditions still hold the greatest weight in the Calcuttan kitchen. This explains why many of A Calcutta Affair's dishes are prepared with Bengali flavors such as five-spice (a mixture of cumin, fennel, fenugreek, kalonji, and mustard seed) and freshly ground mustard paste. The tandoori dishes are billed as the restaurant's specialties, and one taste of the chicken marinated in sour cream and spices will tell you why. An exotic selection of beverages includes mango lassi and litchi juice with rosewater, though guests can also bring their own beers, wines, and nonalcoholic bathtub gin.
As seasonal brews flow from taps behind Flanagan’s Restaurant & Pub’s wood-paneled bar, the waitstaff flits past the dining room’s framed artwork and hanging plants to deliver platefuls of Irish and American comfort classics to tables. In this congenial setting, buffalo wings, littleneck steamers, and crocks of french onion soup pave the way for 8-ounce burgers and fresh seafood.
Unlike when you're visiting a museum of what professional wrestlers ate in the 1990s, it's easy to find a healthy meal at Roscoe's Wrap It Up. Here, cooks stuff ingredients such as Boar's Head turkey and grilled vegetables into soft tortillas and sizzle stir-fries to serve with brown rice. Their veggie wrap bursts with grilled zucchini and tomatoes, roasted peppers, and balsamic vinegar, and a london-broil wrap with mozzarella cheese and A1 sauce is delivered to you on the wrong side of the table. Sips of a frappuccino shake grant a chocolate protein boost, whereas sips of an apple-pie shake provide an inventive vanilla protein boost.