The first time Dan Pool bit into the freshly baked bread of a Gandolfo's New York Delicatessen sandwich, he loved it. In fact, he loved it so much that he bought the small New York City eatery and immediately began expanding it into a string of shops across the country. Today, these locations stay true to Gandolfo's original spirit with a menu of Big Apple classics, including Reuben sandwiches, Nathan's Famous all-beef hot dogs, and the dense, chewy bagels New Yorkers traditionally lob at passing cabs. The staff also stacks chicken-breast sandwiches on hero rolls and assembles nine different types of roast-beef sandwiches.
The doors to Loft 610 swung open for the first time this past May, inviting curious guests to explore an interior of dimly lit urban panache and a menu of inventive American favorites. The focused lunch list is elegant yet unpretentious, like a queen on a unicycle. Commence to feed with refreshing starters such as the watermelon-and-feta salad with mint and lemon ($8). The brie-and-grape baguette sandwich with rosemary mayo offers PB&J purists a baby step to sophistication ($9), while finely crafted entrees such as penne with salmon, fresh peas, white wine cream sauce, and fresh parsley appease tongues that naturally grip in the shape of a cylinder ($13). The dinner marquee swaps hickory barbecue bites ($10–$15) for appetizers such as grilled squid with arugula, chorizo, and slow-baked cherry tomatoes ($8) and entrees fit for full-fledged foodies such as the pistachio-crusted rack of lamb, served with barley risotto, spinach, tomatoes, pecorino, and salsa verde ($36).
At Baja Fresh, spice-yearning patrons can swing by to sample comforting casual fare without the hassle of building a catapult powerful enough to reach Mexico. Grab a burrito or taco served inside the stuffed blanket of a tortilla, or get a bowlful of delectable insides with the shell-less version—or a combination of both. The meats that make up each meal are never frozen and are all natural and hormone free. Optional ingredients to lay the groundwork for handheld feasts include fire-grilled or charbroiled chicken and steak, slow-roasted pork carnitas, beans and cheese, and specialty seafood options; a vegetarian-friendly version includes peppers, chilies, and onions layered with freshly simmered beans, cheese, and pico de gallo.
Cajun and Tex-Mex | Housemade Southern Sides | Onsite Art Gallery | Weekend Brunch
When to Go: Come by any day but Monday, when the restaurant is closed. Also, don't show up expecting dinner on Sunday, when the restaurant only serves brunch.
Praise: When Guy Fieri visited Dixie Quick's for his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, he said their Texas Chile Pepper Steak was ''one of the best pepper steaks [he’s] ever had.''
The Vibe: Like the rotating menu, much of Dixie Quick’s decor changes by the day, including the giant chalkboard that lists that day's food. The colorful chalk script also covers the host's station in ever-changing designs. As for enduring elements, exposed brick and plaster walls surround the dining room, and large black-and-white photographs hang on display, lending the space a modern, arty vibe.
Who's Cooking: Owner Rene Orduna's food is a reflection of his life. While growing up, Chef Orduna learned the ins and outs of the kitchen by working at his family's Mexican restaurant. Once he was old enough, he set off to travel the world. What he brought back home—and ultimately to Dixie Quick's—was a blend of flavors inspired by Southern, Cajun, and Tex-Mex cuisines.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before or After: See the photography, paintings, and other works of nonedible art at The RNG Gallery (1915 Leavenworth Street), which shares its address—and entrance—with Dixie Quick's.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Get your homestyle fix at Duncan's Cafe (501 S. Main Street), which serves up a slew of breakfast and lunch favorites, including hash browns and pan-fried chicken.
Growing up in a region of Morocco known for its spice blends, Moussa Drissi first started cooking (with the help of his mother and sisters) at age 11. By 16, he was working with a restaurateur uncle, heading into nearby forests to gather fresh thyme, mint, and sage. He mastered both Moroccan and Northern Italian cuisine before coming to the United States in 1999, where he honed his restaurant chops and worked in catering with Oprah's former personal chef, Art Smith.
Drissi wants to introduce his guests to the hallmarks of Mediterranean cuisine: the saffron, cumin, and ginger, and the savory dishes spiked with apricots, dates, figs, and raisins. Everything's made from scratch in the kitchen, starting with the base components, such as preserved lemons, aged balsamic vinegar, and argan oil. Influences from around the Mediterranean combine with moroccan flavors; the kitchen slow cooks lamb, beef, and veggie tagines in clay pots, slice Black Angus steak thin for gyro platters, and grill salmon fillets with fresh herbs and crushed peppers. There's also a selection of wraps and paninis, including a Moroccan-style cheeseburger with marinated ground beef and a gyro pita wrap that yells "opa!" when you pick it up.
Cuisine Type: Modern American
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Number of Tables: 11?25
Parking: Parking lot
Most popular offering: Date Night prix fixe menu
Alcohol: Full bar
Delivery/Takeout Available: Takeout only
Outdoor Seating: Yes
Upscale ingredients such as American Kobe flat-iron steaks and Plum Creek Farms chicken fuel the feasts at Dolce. Add to those locally sourced produce, and you get the sort of seasonal dishes that have contributed to the restaurant being lauded on OpenTable, including receiving Diners' Choice honors for its contemporary American cuisine and romantic atmosphere. The artfully plated dishes on the date-night menu include margarita mussels, American Kobe ragu with house taglietelle, and yuzu-ginger cheesecake.