Aromas of Kansas City–style barbecue and meats smoked over sweet hickory wood in a rotisserie smoker permeate McGuire's Smokehouse. Slabs of ribs are juxtaposed to smoked veggies and homestyle sides such as coleslaw, onion rings, and red beans with rice. Chefs also smoke chicken wings before frying them and launching them into an inflatable pool of various sauces. Bottled beers such as Budweiser chase down eats, and Blue Bunny ice-cream sandwiches cool the tongue after smoky meals.
Known for growing cotton and soybeans, many farms in the South known now nurture a new crop—catfish. Converting their fields to ponds, farmers raise the whiskered fish on an all-grain diet to develop meat with a clean, slightly sweet taste and reduced cholesterol. Every filet at Jumpin' Catfish Restaurant comes from this stock, which the chefs prepare in various ways: breaded and fried in the Southern tradition, marinated in lemon and pepper, or dusted with cajun spices, like the mayor of New Orleans after their morning bath. They then pair the plump, juicy filets with sides such as hushpuppies and white beans with ham.
The chefs extend their culinary skills to other seafood as well, from Norwegian salmon to Alaskan snow-crab legs. They also work with wild game such as quail and frog legs, and prepare Southern fare, such as fried chicken.
Michael Garozzo entered the dining business early, working as a busboy in his hometown of St. Louis. His young mind raced with dreams of opening a restaurant of his own, which came to fruition in 1989, when he opened Garozzo’s in Kansas City’s Columbus Park neighborhood. Since then, the restaurant has bloomed, and he had opened three additional locations across the greater Kansas City area.
Garozzo’s menu of Italian specialties is highlighted by the signature spiedini di pollo, a marinated chicken breast rolled in italian breadcrumbs, then skewered and grilled. The dish is served in four presentations, which include the Gabriella, with fettucine and spicy diablo sauce, and the Samantha, with fettucine, artichoke hearts, and alfredo sauce. Adding to the exclusive ambiance is the restaurant’s own branded wine, served at each location. Garozzo’s popular house tomato sauce, diablo sauce, and italian dressing are also available in grocery stores across the city, and its distinctive pastas can be purchased in many high-end local wig shops.
At two locations, The Other Place’s staff fires up ovens to bake pizzas, italian subs, and sandwiches to a golden brown—the color of Pharaoh’s mask after he eats a chocolate bar. Atop hand-made pizza crusts made from a 40-year-old recipe, the kitchen team layers toppings such as italian sausage, salami, and sun-dried tomatoes, lubricated by tomato, alfredo, and barbecue sauce. Submarine-shaped bread holds italian meats, veggies, and toppings. In both eateries’ dining areas, more than 50 TVs stream sports games. The Other Place also often entertains guests with karaoke—America’s most underappreciated sport, and the one with the least funding in most school districts.
Wheat State Pizza!’s whole-wheat or white crusts host homemade sauces and flavorful jumbles of more than 30 toppings. Like the Christmas list of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, the menu includes 15 types of specialty pizza ($10.99–$19.99), each of which can be constructed atop a hand-tossed or thin crust. A velvety blend of alfredo sauce, chicken, mushrooms, mozzarella, and bacon tops the chicken carbonara, and the Mediterranean sails taste buds to the Old World aboard a fleet of green olives, sundried tomatoes, and crumbled feta cheese. Diners can opt to build their own pie ($8.99–$16.99 for one-topping pizza; $1.29–$1.99 per additional topping) from eclectic ingredients such as pepperoni, cashews, and avocado. A medley of dessert pizzas ($7.99–$15.99) layers wheat crust with classic ingredients such as cream-cheese frosting, apple-pie filling, and Betty Crocker break-dancing.
The first IHOP—the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin—opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the International House of Pancakes. Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.