When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, the location was cozy and quaint, but diners had only three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. However, as the restaurant grew in popularity, so did its menu selection and atmosphere. The restaurant first expanded four years later under the leadership of a Melting Pot waiter and enterprising college student named Mark Johnston, who teamed up with his brothers Mike and Bob to open a new outpost in Tallahassee. This location grew in reputation to pave the way for future franchise expansion. Today, the company?now owned by the trio of siblings?reigns as the premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants linked by underground tunnels. The restaurant's menu has also ballooned, and patrons can now expect six varieties of hot dipping cheese paired with salads, meats, and molten chocolate.
On a given night, groups of foodies gather around tables to nosh on signature four-course meals, from cheese-fondue appetizers and various salads to steaks and seafood cooked in a choice of healthy broth or oil. Birthday revelers and couples can share decadent evenings at private tables, capping off meals with chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.
Put on your wandering pants and cavort through the storefront entrance at Bingham and 14th to enter a realm of nomadic mouth meanderings and mobile delights. Start out with some sea-salt-roasted pumpkin seeds ($4) and a vegetarian Ajvar plate (roasted red pepper and eggplant blended with garlic, crushed red pepper, Hungarian paprika, olive oil, and lemon, and served with crostini and olive-feta garnish; $7). Blow your sufficiently whet whistle to signal the start of the main course with options such as the gypsy chicken (chicken breast sautéed in olive oil and braised in three-pepper and tomato sauce with Hungarian paprika over polenta, $17), or Sicilian-inspired creamy lemon-sauce pasta with tuna (imported Italian tuna, lemon-caper sauce, and linguine; $10–$15). Liberate with a liberal libation from the wine list, which changes based on whims and seasons, so ask your server for the most up-to-date incarnation.
The smoothie engineers at Jamba Juice soak torrid tongues with delicious nutrient-rich concoctions from an extensive menu void of artificial preservatives or trans fats. Each large smoothie (a $7.06 value after tax) packs a vitamin wallop that helps people to lead healthy lives and gives them enough energy for all of life’s challenges, from getting through the workday to jumping safely from a cellular tower into a nearby kiddie pool. Take tongues for a whirl with the Strawberry Surf Rider, a smoothie made with strawberries, peaches, Jamba lemonade, and lime sherbet, or pump your palate with a Peach Pleasure smoothie concocted from peach, banana, and orange flavors. Fruit-and-veggie blends, such as the Apple 'n Greens or the Orange Carrot Karma, fuse the salubrious benefits of both types of soil-sprouters in a frozen treat that's more enjoyable than devouring a still-life painting.
Bruegger's bagels are created using fresh, wholesome ingredients and then kettle-boiled in the New York tradition, resulting in chewy centers with crisp outer crusts. Awaken your taste buds with a savory combination such as the rosemary olive oil bagel smothered with onion and chive cream cheese ($2.39). Or, prove yourself to be a sweetie by adopting a family of 13 bagels and washing them up and behind the ears in the two tubs of garden-veggie cream cheese in the Big Bagel Bundle ($13.99). Bruegger's deli menu is flanked by an array of breakfast sandwiches and lunch fare. Bury thoughts of the snarky snooze button with the breakfast bagel bearing an egg, melted cheese, and a choice of bacon, sausage, or ham ($3.99), or wrap your mitts around the Leonardo da Veggie lunchtime sandwich and bite into tomatoes, roasted red peppers, red onions, and muenster cheese on an asiago Softwich ($5.49).
Voted Best Downtown Lunch Spot by the readers of Pittsburgh magazine in 2009 and 2010, Franktuary prepares its eats using an army of fresh, organic ingredients, as well as locally sourced beef. Load a bun with one of three dogs: the veggie (a vegan tofu frank), the standard (an all-beef, natural-casing frank), or the locavore (an all-beef, organic, grass-fed frank). Chomp down on an au naturel naked frank ($2.75+), or add your own toppings.
The Ibiza menu showcases more tapas options—over 45—than the total number of US presidents. To keep their food as fresh as the most recent Internet content, the staff uses seasonal ingredients. Their elegant South American and European cuisine isn't the only fresh thing available to guests—fresh air can be imbibed on the outdoor patio, where candlelit tables present a romantic setting or extra work for off-duty firefighters holding a glass of water. Two stories of windows permit peeks at the interior, which conjures a Mediterranean ambience with pastel paintings of sailboats. Elegant stone walls backdrop large-leafed green plants, and a well-stocked bar quenches thirsts.