From its paradisiacal perch on North Padre Island, Black Sheep Bistro spices up its menu of fresh seafood, steak, and pasta dishes with an array of international flavors, ranging from Mexican to Martian. Rich, flavorful appetizers like Nacho Ordinary Crab ($8)—a savory pile-up of toasted corn tortilla chips and fresh blue crab meat, topped with pepper jack cheese—complements the Bistro's warm, colorful ambiance and gives taste buds a seamless segue way to entrees such as the locally famous Little Joe ($25), a filet smothered in blue cheese and caramelized onions, and the Pescado La Ticla ($15), the catch of the day grilled over mesquite coals and slathered in pico de gallo. Diners with ample post-prandial stomach space can close with a slice of Grandma's Homemade Apple Pie A La Mode ($4.50). Otherwise, savor a glass of Napa Valley wine on the outdoor patio and feel the ocean breeze playfully muss your hair as you indulge in a little people watching, fleeing-people watching, zombie watching, and zombie fleeing.
Soaring white columns crowned by a pediment beckon guests to the door of Fernando's Restaurant?and once they're there, the aroma of char-grilled steaks, Latin seafood, and chicken simmered in wine sauce brings them over the threshold. At cloth-draped tables set with red linen napkins, diners settle into leather seats topping cherry-toned wood chairs.
Servers bustle through several feet of open space in between tables, carting such dishes as the tender steak Fernando, paired with asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes, and the signature paella: yellow saffron rice with a bounty of clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, fish, crawfish, squid, chicken, and chorizo. Fernando himself often takes to the kitchen or waits on his guests alongside the servers.
The bar hosts both early and late-night happy hours, and a dance floor with music?sometimes live, sometimes blasted from a passing car outside?gets guests moving.
Bistro 829's chefs create modern variations of familiar, homestyle staples by incorporating an assortment of regional and international flavors. Corn grits lend a distinctive Southern twist to the sesame-crusted yellowfin tuna entree, and the signature chicken-fried prime rib comes coated with cream gravy with a uniquely Southwestern-style blend of bacon and poblano peppers. Bartenders spend their evenings mixing specialty cocktails and uncorking bottles of wine to complement entrees and make sure they're prepared in case their crush wants to play spin the bottle.
Beyond the eclectically inspired menu, the dining room embraces a more casual elegance with its décor. Crisp cloths cover the tables, animal-print fabrics adorn the seats, and the walls remain blank to accentuate abstract paintings of jazz ensembles that circle the room.
Trios transports diners to another world, not only through their cuisine?which includes Mexican staples such as pork-filled tamales, chimichangas, and chile relleno?but through their atmosphere. Guests first encounter a fish tank where bright yellow tangs dart through the water, then walk past arched doorways and ornate blue columns to one of several distinct dining rooms. Dark wooden furniture adds a noble touch to the wine room, while vintage vases lend a rustic comfort to the small room. Outside on the patio, Christmas lights twinkle, and a multitiered fountain provides a place to bathe after meals.
Over the course of 31 years, the smiling staffers at Express Oil Change & Service Centers have learned that customers just want their oil changed fast. Instead of selling extra parts out of an oversize trench coat, staffers work quickly and efficiently to give cars what they crave; quarts of thick, black oil in the blink of an eye without an appointment. Each procedure lasts approximately 10 minutes, during which mechanics will replace the vehicle's oil and inspect its innards for problems. The process is so quick that customers can even wait inside their own vehicles while it occurs, much like a drive-thru car wash or drive-thru dentist appointment.
Three-sided tables house massive hot griddles at Koby Japanese Steakhouse, where chefs deftly dance with blades and flames to transform food preparation into a show. During dinner, they dice meats, juggle knives, and drum rhythms against the tabletops. They sculpt fried rice into massive hearts before slicing portions off and delivering them to guests’ waiting plates. For the finale, they prepare different proteins—from chicken to lobster—in signature sauces before they disappear in puffs of steam from their freshly cleaned griddles.