Chef Jonathan Mah is out to prove that it doesn’t take an army to run a restaurant. Mah, who started working in the food industry before he was old enough to drive a car, runs SideStreet Burgers all by himself as the head chef, dishwasher, waiter, and cashier. He does have a little help, though—his dad, who also runs his own one-man restaurant, is often on hand to give advice.
There are a few simple steps to ordering the perfect SideStreet burger. First, place orders with Mah at the counter and then wait a few minutes while he sizzles up beef or turkey patties and tops them with a cheddar-, mozzarella-, and parmesan-cheese blend, sautéed onions, or a fried egg. Next, head to the toppings bar to dress burgers to the nines with veggies, housemade sauces, and sesame-seed cufflinks. Finally, enjoy your creation—and sides such as garlic potato wedges or cincinnati chili—at a pair of wooden picnic tables inside the dining room.
Aromas of marinated T-bone steaks hitting the grill alongside caramelizing onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes waft from the kitchen of El Amigo toward guests sipping margaritas in the dining room. In the kitchen, cooks prepare their full menu of Mexican dishes including burrito, fajita, and enchilada mainstays alongside inventive house specialties such as pork ribs deep fried to a golden brown and cooked with red hot sauce. As meals progress and patrons continue to take bites of nachos or secret notes, they sip imported or domestic beers, wines, and specialty margaritas in raspberry and peach.
When you bite into the juicy tomatoes and finely tuned sauces that grace the pizza pies and strombolis at Johnny Brusco's New York Style Pizza, you're experiencing a genealogy of flavor that extends back to the recipes of Johnny Pace in his 1965 Manlius, New York, pizza shop. Today the restaurant prides itself on using the finest ingredients and a diligent sauce-stirring wrist to deliver a lot of love (and just a sprinkle of hatred to give it zing) into every savory bite.
The Neighborhood Grill’s kitchen team expertly prepares home-cooked breakfasts and lunches; flipping stacks of pancakes onto plates with city or country ham and carefully attending to hot plate lunches. For breakfast, the cooks transform eggs into fluffy omelets and pile them onto a Poor Man’s Plate that serves them on a split biscuit with gravy, sausage, and cheese. At lunch, slices of texas toast clasp fried bologna, club sandwiches, and patty melts. Other stacked fare includes chicken with honey mustard or spicy sauce and half-pound burgers with barbecue sauce and homemade slaw. The staff takes particular pride in its coffee and tea, so patrons can either perk up with java or be British by imbibing tea—because all British people drink tea at all times, even when they’re drinking coffee.
At K & J Food Express, the aromas of fast food greet guests when they enter. Behind the counter, the fryer sizzles with pieces of chicken and okra, and pots of jambalaya or red beans and rice percolate flavor as they stew. Sandwiches are stuffed with barbecue pork or steak, and a picture of the eatery's jambalaya on the counter spans several feet, which means you can swim in it.
Pho Vietnam Restaurant offers a menu full of authentic Vietnamese cuisine that blends traditional flavors such as earthy basil, sour tamarind, and moderately spicy jalapeño. Open up the appetite with a sautéed quail and garlic-butter combination known as chim cut ($6) and encounter various flavors of pho, Vietnam’s oft-lauded and generously garnished beef and rice-noodle soup ($6.95 regular, $7.95 large, $8.95 extra large). Those who eschew broth can toss back some noodly chow mein or low mein ($12.95–$13.95) and a helping of the battered crispy squid that makes up muc chien don ($14.95). Coat spice-specked throats with a fruity bubble tea ($4), or finish off the night with drinks at a bar guarded by a Buddha statue and a sticky-rice-flinging monkey.