Tapping into the storied tradition of Lebanese baking, Zen Bakeries lets customers sample the fruits of a wood-fired brick oven in the form of artisanal flatbread and pita treats. Patrons can choose from either white or whole wheat for nearly all of the baked morsels. The shop's kitchen wizards mix and knead both varieties daily, ensuring that outdated dough such as yesterday's pita and two-dollar bills have no place in this world. Early risers can stop by for a freshly baked egg-and-cheese pita pie ($3.50) or side with sweet in its epic battle against savory by ordering an eye-opening Nutella-and-banana pita pie ($1.50–$3.50).
Owned and operated by the Stolz family for more than 35 years, Supreme Bakery fills its shelves with a fresh-baked bounty of certified-kosher breads, cookies, pies, and pastries made from scratch each day. Earning accolades from Modern Baking for the store's “high quality products”, bakers handcraft a variety of artisan breads, including baguettes made with all-natural, unbleached, unbromated flour mixed with water, salt, and yeast ($2.40/loaf). Or try a loaf of homemade challah bread ($3.95), which may be enjoyed fresh, fried into french toast, or used to smuggle a pound of raspberry-filled butter cookies ($12.75) across state lines. Customers preparing for a celebration can carry out a 7-inch yellow cake with buttercream frosting ($20.75) or design a custom cake in any size using the online cake builder, and cupcakes featuring beloved Sesame Street characters delight youngsters and keep Big Bird’s headshot in circulation ($2.55).
Local blues musicians and other artists generate a suitably warming and varied aural backdrop on which executive chef Patrick Pierre-Jerome swirls together flavors from New Orleans, Europe, and further afield. Hat City Kitchen's menu fills plates with inventive takes on comfort food such as shrimp and grits, jambalaya, bread pudding, and baby back ribs. The ribs don a combination of plum sauce, hoisin sauce, ketchup, and cocoa, which the New York Times says "sounds like a mouthful and, happily, is."
In front of a blocky quilted curtain, a rotating roster of live performers strums guitars and charms snakes back into drum kits beneath the exposed ductwork that runs above the cabaret-style seating. Hands Inc., a local nonprofit, presides over the eatery and works with a variety of artists to raise funds for projects designed to improve the Valley area.
Planet Wings was born in 1994, when Franco and Paula Fidanza, unsatisfied with the current state of fast food delivery, decided to up the ante by combining quick, accessible cuisine and the rising popularity of fried chicken wings. Now, the duo's signature wings and hearty dishes are available at locations spanning five states. Diners can savor 24 wing sauces such as hot, medium, Cajun, butter garlic, and bourbon barbecue, or opt for non-wing options such as burgers, salads, or sandwiches.
The rich scent of real hickory, apple, cherry, and oak wood drifts from low smoldering fires, infusing the racks of meat above with flavor in a Southern Pride smoker. Drawing inspiration from all over the south, SuzyQue’s BBQ & Bar’s cooks apply spicy dry rubs to every ounce of meat before slow-smoking them, then diners can either enjoy it au-natural or slather plates with one of their signature sauces. Their sauces are inspired by recipes from Texas, North Carolina, and St. Louis and built upon a Vinegar, Tomato, or Molasses base. They also whip up an Orange Habanero sauce full of peppery spice.
The resulting mountains of melt-off-the-bone ribs, smoked wings, sausage, and brisket come to table alongside fine dining entrees, including rib-eye steak, fried chicken, and grilled salmon. Eight on-tap and 18 bottled beers lodge at the full bar, along with glasses of craft cocktails and wine, preparing palates for dessert and punctuating the sound of live bands, comedians, and poker games.
At Slate Restaurant, a bar the size of stretch limo radiates red light and glass facets hang like icicles from a glowing blue chandelier. This delicate balance between hot and cool is central not only to the atmosphere, but also to the cuisine—in the kitchen, chefs enhance herb-crusted fish and roasted meats with sweet-and-spicy flourishes including slices of roasted pineapple and splashes of spicy chili sauce.
After 10 p.m. on the weekends, however, attention shifts away from the delicate balance to focus on live DJs spinning pulsating dance beats, a panel of flickering flat-screen TVs, and strobe lights streaking across the dance floor. Bartenders mix inventive drinks such as sake bombs and green tea martinis until 2 a.m. on weekends.