Stephen and Cheryl Kraus, the bakers, teachers, and husband-and-wife duo behind Upcountry Provisions, know that the best food begins with the best ingredients. Drawing upon their education at the French Culinary Institute, they start their crusty breads and flaky croissants with organic, locally sourced ingredients, including fresh eggs and milk freshly squeezed from local milk plants. Beyond pastries, they also bake breads that serve as the basis for sandwiches stacked with tender peppered chicken, crisp fried onions, and homemade chutneys, for example. The Krauses also lead two-hour cooking classes for curious chefs of all experience levels, teaching them to craft croissants, breads, cookies, and scratch-made soups.
Bucky's Bar-B-Q owner Wayne Preston honed his craft at a young age, spending boyhood afternoons in his father's meatpacking plant and Wednesday nights preparing suppers for his local church. Word about Wayne's saucy ribs and pulled pork spread shortly after he founded his own roadside barbecue stand, forcing him?like the barbecue-sauce barons of years past?to expand his operations to new frontiers. Today, each of Bucky's four locations fashions heaping plates of never-frozen Boston butt, tender chicken, and St. Louis?style ribs in the traditional country style: hand-rubbed with secret seasonings and slow-cooked over a smoky fire of hickory chips. Three housemade sauces garnish slices of juicy meat served alongside traditional sides of baked beans, coleslaw, and sweet potatoes. When they aren't dishing out meals in the restaurant, Bucky's tireless staff serves parties, formal events, weddings, and flash mobs as large as 1,500 people with fully catered barbecue feasts.
Wayne shares his more than 15 years of barbecuing expertise with aspiring grill masters during in-depth classes offered at his Roper Mountain and Donaldson Center locations. Students not only learn the art behind sauces and rub but also get to eat their class materials.
Established in 2009, Mojo’s Famous Burgers mingles classic American eats with rockabilly music and décor inspired by tattoo art at two locations. The menu harkens to '50s diner fare with hand-cut onion rings, old-fashioned milk shakes, and build-your-own burgers with two patty sizes. A selection of specialty burgers crowns premium aged beef with toppings inspired by regional flavors—Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Philly, or Hawaiian style—and the chef’s favorite natural disaster. The eatery’s wall of fame commemorates diners who chowed through a food challenge featuring quadruple cheeseburgers or loaded foot-long hot dogs.
The multitalented chefs at Sakura Japanese Steakhouse emphasize quality ingredients and artful presentation in each and every dish. The traditional Japanese dining room features a central hibachi grill that sears vegetables, steak, and seafood in an inferno of sizzling oils and bright yellow flames. Sakura’s more coolheaded sushi chefs swirl hand and specialty rolls—crafted from shrimp tempura, softshell crab, and salmon—behind chilled cases of fresh fish. Indecisive diners can request omakase meals, assortments of seasonal dishes handpicked by the chef to showcase culinary skill and an ability to match meals to wallpaper swatches.
Owner Lazaro Montoto maintains a healthy diet, and doesn't believe in sacrificing flavor to do so. That's why he opened Tropical Grille as an alternative to the nation’s preponderance of greasy fast-food dives. Natural light pours from wall-length windows onto his steaming grill, where the smell of sizzling chicken and steamed veggies mingle with the aromatic release of Lazaro's flavor-packed spice rubs. He puts those blends to good use; in addition to spicing up the grill, they also infuse his signature pork, which marinates for 12 hours before taking a trip to the slow-roaster for inclusion in thick sandwiches and hearty wraps.
The Cazbah serves up traditional American and Asian-inspired small plates along with a carefully curated list of wines. Housed in a former feed-and-seed store, it features a chic industrial design with tin ceilings, exposed brick walls, and a rooftop bar that allows guests to enjoy dinner with a view. The Cazbah furnishes those dinners with a menu of between 30 and 35 rotating tapas, including grilled seafood, veggie dips, and comfort-food staples. The wine list is equally varied, making it easy to find pairings for all types of cuisine.