When John Ritter thinks back to 1948, he can almost taste the frozen treats he churned out during his after-school job at the local ice-cream parlor. Now, after a 35-year career as a film animator, he helps others to enjoy similarly sweet memories at Ritter's Frozen Custard. Here, friendly staffers handcraft each batch of frozen custard, an ultrapremium ice cream as smooth as a jazz record dipped in chocolate. At the counter, guests can sample the flavors of the day, which range from tart blueberry to gooey, crunchy mocha-almond fudge. Scoops of classic vanilla—along with more than 25 toppings—fill specialty creations such as brownie sundaes, hand-dipped malts, and freezer-ready ice-cream sandwiches.
Tim and Melinda Booth founded Booth’s Bowery in 1984 and have been serving classic American food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner ever since. House specialties include half-pound burgers, wings slathered in 1 of 10 homemade sauces, and homestyle dinners featuring meatloaf, liver and onions, or pork chops. For breakfast, golden-brown belgian waffles can be topped with fresh fruit, nuts, and a self-portrait drawn in syrup. Antiques and collectibles line the dining-room walls and include a vintage toy ferris wheel from the 1947 Chicago Toy Fair.
You could say that Panheads Pizzeria owners Eric and Felicia Ross were born to make pizza. The brother and sister team grew up in pizza joints, learning the basics of creating a crispy-crusted pizza from their grandmother, who just happens to be the famed Mabel of Mabel's Pizza.
Today they're building on more than 40 decades of family tradition, while also creating a few legacies of their own: specifically their gourmet pizzas. Each piece of hand-rolled dough is topped with ingredients not usually found in pizzerias, such as chicken, black bean corn salsa, jalapenos, and sour cream, which graces one particular favorite called the Ace of Spades. For an extra punch of flavor, they can also drizzle on one of nine specialty sauces such as tangy balsamic reduction, sweet chili aioli, or rich pesto. Outside of their signature square meals, the duo also serve up Italian favorites including Caesar salads and homemade meatballs in a teriyaki, buffalo barbecue, or classic marinara sauce.
YoBelle Frozen Yogurt spins up its menu of more than 34 frozen flavors from real vanilla beans, chocolate, and fruit purée, producing soft swirls of low-fat, nonfat, and no-sugar-added treats. Tastes such as cheesecake, lemon ice-box pie, and california tart twirl into cups, with all concoctions certified kosher and sorbets at the ready for dairy-free needs. More than 50 varieties of toppings await spooned ascension to glory, including fresh fruit, nuts, and candy pieces. All servings are priced by weight, allowing visitors to choose their preferred portion free from the tyranny of size labels such as "small," "large," and "extra-large thimble."
When The Original First Turn Steakhouse opened in 1984, it was so close to the Daytona Speedway that diners could almost feel the breeze of the checkered flag as it signaled the end of a race. In those days, the Hilliard family’s hand-cut steaks and chicken wings drew professional drivers and racing teams straight from the track. Though the Hilliards have since relocated their restaurant, they have maintained the same racing memorabilia, all-American menu, and regular customers—some of whom helped with the move by stuffing as many rib eyes as they could into the trunks of their stock cars.
If one of those drivers was to take a detour through the kitchen today, he would find chefs grilling USDA Black Angus steaks and coating wings in 12 different flavors of sauce, from mild honey barbecue to the so-called “suicide sauce.” Diners seated on the sprawling 5,000-square-foot deck can order oysters from the raw bar and drinks from the tiki bar, raising their voices to be heard over the live bands that perform five nights a week.
From its humble beginnings in 1959, Little Caesars has stretched its cheesy empire from coast to coast, doling out trademark deep-dish pizzas, sauce-drenched wings, and cheesy bread. In keeping with its history as a forward-looking franchise, Little Caesars has cooked up an iPhone application that highlights popular menu items and shoots out piping-hot pies from the phone's port. The pizza purveyor sends its Love Kitchen, a big-rig pizza kitchen on wheels, across the United States and Canada to fill the bellies of homeless people and disaster victims with its daily kneaded dough and freshly shaved mozzarella.