Here's the thing about Famous Dave: he wasn't always famous. Dave Anderson inherited his passion for barbecue from his father, a humble construction worker who knew where to find the best barbecue on Chicago's street corners. In 1994, Dave opened his first barbecue shack in Hayward, Wisconsin, and before long, the shack was attracting 5,000 customers weekly?a momentous feat considering Hayward had a population of 1,800. Dave's lifelong pursuit of barbecue perfection had certainly paid off. It gave him a new life's work to be proud of. And, of course, a new first name to put on his passport.
With locations now spread across the U.S., Canada, and even Puerto Rico, Famous Dave's has become a revelation for barbecue fans. It has earned more than 700 awards, including first-place honors for its ribs, wings, and sauces. Most of these awards have Famous Dave's cooking process to thank. For every batch, pitmasters hand-rub high-quality cuts and cook them for hours at a time in live-wood smokers, taking care to not disturb the dragons napping between the logs. For Famous Dave's renowned ribs, the process has an extra step after the smoker, as each rack gets tossed on a grill to caramelize the sauces before serving.
Growing up in the Depression era often meant becoming an entrepreneur and doing whatever you could to make money. That was the case for Truett Cathy, who began selling soft drinks and magazines as a child growing up during the late '20s and early '30s. After a stint with the U.S. Army, he used all of his money to open a restaurant, the Dwarf Grill (later named the Dwarf House), in the south Atlanta suburb of Hapeville in 1946.
It was here that he began experimenting with chicken sandwiches, and in the '60s, he developed his original chicken sandwich recipe and opened the first Chick-fil-A. Today, the eatery has more than 1,700 locations in 38 states and D.C.
In addition to satisfying hunger with the original chicken sandwich created all those years ago, Chick-fil-A now fills bellies with spicy chicken sandwiches, crispy chicken nuggets, and waffle fries that are as golden as the voice of a plucky redheaded orphan. The meals pair with traditional southern drinks of refreshing lemonade and sweetened iced tea, as well as creamy milkshakes.
Outback Steakhouse is the home of the Bloomin’ Onion and has built a strong reputation serving top-notch signature steaks. Their menu is diverse including sirloin, ribeye, baby back ribs, grilled shrimp, lobster and favorites like grilled chicken-on-the-barbie. The well-known Australian-themed restaurant chain has locations all over the U.S. including Alaska and Hawaii. One of their better known desserts is called Chocolate Thunder from Down Under: a decadent pecan brownie with Blue Bell ice cream and chocolate syrup on top. Outback is part of Bloomin’ Brands Inc. which includes other fine restaurants like Carrabba’s Italian, Bonefish Grill and Roy’s. Founded in 1988, they are headquartered in Tampa, Florida. Head to Outback for a taste of Australia in Oxnard!
Baker extraordinaire Missy ? of Missy's Cupcake Creations ? loves making and sharing delicious cupcakes, so much so that she earned the popular vote for best cupcake from the Ventura County Reporter's Best Of Food & Drink contest. Her intimate, sweet-smelling shop features row after row of gourmet mini-cakes, some stuffed with fudge and titled chocolate thunder, some flavored like maple syrup and sprinkled with bacon. She also serves some simple savory eats such as hot dogs and hamburgers, for those who wish to stop by for meal before sinking teeth into one of her guaranteed-moist cupcakes, which come in regular and mini sizes.
In 1967, L&L Hawaiian Barbecue began as a small drive-thru diner in Honolulu. Over the next several decades, the eatery expanded to more than 175 franchise locations across its home state and the continental United States. Though they have maintained their original base of operations and continue to draw on its local inspirations, L&L's owners take pride in introducing new communities to their take on traditional island comfort fare. Dishes such as fried chicken katsu, shredded kalua pork, and blends of mixed Hawaiian-style barbecue draw from Asian and American culinary influences, and ice-cold drinks pay homage to the frozen strait that first brought explores from Hawaii to the mainland.