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.
In 170 feet of water, running from the east coast of Fort Pierce, Florida, to the Carolinas, lies a reef populated by game fish, dubbed 27 Fathoms by local fishermen. Chefs in the kitchens of 27 Fathoms, named for the reef, cook locally caught wild fish and seafood such as the pan-roasted diver scallops with smoked gouda and crushed macadamia nuts. For the culinary prowess they display in doing so, they have earned a 2012 Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. Their sushi menu includes signature rolls such as the ultimate maine lobster—a tempura whole lobster with smoked bacon, avocado, and baked seafood volcano sauce. In addition to seafood, the staff pan roasts venison tenderloin and blackens elk steak by hiding it in a darkroom. They also add their own spin to chicken and waffles with sweet-potato-infused waffles, brussels sprouts, and peppercorn mélange syrup.
Gentle breezes ripple through the palm leaves on the outdoor patio, where glasses of fine wines and craft beers clink along with the sounds of nature. Friday and Saturday nights feature late hours and live entertainment for diners seated indoors at the high-topped wood tables.
In addition to bringing people together to unwind over drinks, World of Beer - Port Orange strives to enlighten every guest with knowledge about what they're drinking. Every bartender at World of Beer is a graduate of rigorous Beer School, where the curriculum details the inner workings of IPAs, barley wines, stouts, and other forms of brewing. Only upon graduation—or if their father builds a new wing—are staffers deemed fit to occupy the space between the shellacked bar the exposed brick wall behind it.
Dozens of taps jut out from the wall, waiting to spill draft craft beers at the flick of a wrist. Kegs hail from distant lands such as Germany, England, and Belgium as well as all across the United States, and the sudsy selections are ever changing. Walls of coolers hold six shelves of bottled beers that cater to those with pen pals on distant islands, and red and white wines are also offered on the premises.
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.