Inside the homey neighborhood gathering place, physical competitions such as football light up TV screens as barkeeps pour on-tap domestic, international, and craft favorites. In the kitchen, multitasking chefs sauté shrimp, slow-smoke barbecue St. Louis ribs, and grill bratwursts and new york strips. The upscale grill fare mixes with comfort food classics, such as meatloaf in mushroom gravy, five-cheese paninis, and juicy burgers crowned with premium toppings. Some nights, guests perform their own renditions of classic tunes during karaoke.
For more than 30 years, the team at Woody’s Bar B Q has been perfecting its methods for slow-roasted meats to cook melt-in-your-mouth ribs, brisket, and other specialty barbecue recipes. From the signature full rack of baby back ribs—slow cooked in Woody’s secret marinade recipe—to tender, slow-smoked north carolina pork, savory meats take center stage at the casual, family-friendly eateries. Woody’s Bar B Q was initially founded in Jacksonville, Florida, and now can be found in several states—like Ben Franklin’s progeny.
Mary and Shelly Withers let more than two decades of cooking together shine through in the kitchen, which fills with the crackling of hot oil and the slower contralto bubbling of stews and gravy as the two work in concert. Flanked by berry-colored walls, diners take seats at raw-wood tables and benches to dig into soul-food favorites such as baked mac 'n' cheese, fried catfish nuggets, and jerk chicken. Caterers laden with trays bound for weddings and other events rush past diners slowly working through cups of coffee and Mary's red velvet cake, which lets feasts end gradually, unlike picnics in wind tunnels.
Muscle Maker Grill grew out of a small smoothie shop, where owner Rod Silva prepared health-conscious alternatives to fast food. The restaurant has since expanded with a menu tailored to accommodate diners with vegetarian, carb-free, and gluten-free diets. The crew prides themselves in creating healthy versions of popular foods, and continues to serve the shop’s original protein shakes with favorites such as chocolate peanut butter and strawberry banana. Additionally, Muscle Maker Grill displays the calorie count for each dish on the menu.
Fat Jack's BBQ’s proprietor Glenn Gross has always been passionate about barbecue. Starting at the age of 11, Glenn manned the grill at family cookouts, fine-tuning his technique and flavors over the years. He eventually brushed aside career paths in dentistry and music to claim his favorite job title⎯pitmaster.
In order to develop the combination of meats, rubs, and sauces that Fat Jack’s uses to this day, in the early ’90s, Glenn traveled to the nation's barbecue meccas—Texas, the Carolinas, Kansas City, and Memphis. He learned how to create dishes such as Carolina pulled pork, St. Louis–style ribs, and Texas beef brisket. Now, his rich blends of spice rubs and notes of smoke have won him more than 200 national and local awards and various bear hugs.