Connected by an asphalt web of highways, state roads, and thoroughfares, blocky yellow signs gleam nonstop, casting a dandelion glow from the words “Waffle House.” The booths at the eateries fill 24 hours each day with the aromas of sizzling pork chops, Jimmy Dean sausage, and endless mugs of coffee. Line cooks brown shredded potatoes on a grill as waiters shout back in a language all their own for hash browns “smothered,” “covered,” or “topped”—served with onions, cheese, or chili, respectively. Angus burgers and steak melts share space on the rippling-hot surface at all times of day, allowing tired drivers to stop for food when they are on a long journey or just listening to an 11-hour drum solo on the radio. The first Waffle House switched on its lights in 1955, and some menu items still bear the names of Waffle House staff of the past, including Bert's chili from Dallas and Alice's iced tea.
Knotty wooden walls and checkered floors set an inviting scene inside of Buffalo Joe's Burger & Wing Joint, a New Richmond eatery that opened in the autumn of 2012. In the restaurant’s kitchen, cooks shape ground beef into burger patties or miniature busts of George Washington before sizzling them on the grill and piling on toppings such as fried eggs or sriracha-laced sesame-ginger slaw. They also toss chicken wings with an array of sauces, including garlic inferno, caramel barbecue, and hot buffalo, to name a few.
In the morning, diners can stop by for omelets, biscuits 'n' gravy, and other breakfast classics. Owners Joel, Bev, and Annette are avid football fans, so they regularly broadcast games for visitors to watch while dining.
Cici’s Pizza fills bellies with a sprawling buffet filled with more than 28 varieties of pizza, as well as pastas, salads, and dessert. Their eclectic offerings include Cheeseburger pizza with crumbled beef, crisp dill pickle slices, and mac ‘n’ cheese sauce; Hog Fest pizza with bacon, italian sausage, ham, and pepperoni; and Zesty Veggie pizza with seasoned parmesan-ranch sauce. Pizza pies rest on a made-from-scratch crust, which cooks lovingly adorn with a variety of sauces, including homemade marinara. After filling plates with all-you-can-eat portions, eaters can settle into an environment more family friendly than an animated movie that shows viewers how to clean a house. The eatery’s carry-out menu allows on-the-go diners to top their pizzas with pineapple, onions, jalapeños, and more.
The culinary team at Bite Restaurant bases its menu of gourmet American dishes around quality ingredients. To do this, Bite works with local farmers to source their fresh products and support the community. Vegetables, herbs, and fruits from the eatery’s own garden combine with seasonal cheeses and nuts to heighten the flavors cuban pork with corn-black bean salsa. Housemade salad dressings and sauces, including the sriracha mayo and basil vinaigrette, add zest to turkey burgers, and fresh salads.
Rincon Mexicano's resident tortilla technicians channel family recipes to bolster a menu of authentic Mexican dishes. Tune-up appetites with a prelude of house salsa or salsa verde before unlocking clenched jaws with the proper password⎯MichaelJordan&Baseball⎯to imbibe the burrito mexicano, which snuggles pork and vegetables in a flour-tortilla sleeping bag blanketed with cheese sauce. Chefs employ the aid of tender chicken breast smothered in house-made mole sauce to construct mole poblano, while seafood tacos unite shrimp and tilapia, affording diners the privilege of sampling seafaring flavors without the hassle of stealing a mermaid's lunchbox. Diners can enjoy their meals tucked cozily into dark-stained high-backed booths surrounding the original artwork that adorns the golden stucco walls.
The culinary wizards at Koto Japanese Steakhouse start with quality ingredients and transfigure them into authentic dishes, many of which can be prepared teppanyaki-style on an iron plate directly at the dining table. Wrap chopsticks around one of the restaurant's signature sushi rolls, such as the Koto spider roll, deep-fried soft shell crab cuddling with cucumber and cream cheese and topped with avocado and masago ($9). Seafood Udon prepared with shrimp, scallop, fish cake, and vegetables displays its shape-shifting prowess by being served as a soup, a stir fry, or a briny toupee ($13); entrees such as the chicken and shrimp tempura ($15) silence boisterous stomachs before they holler out insults at nearby dignitaries. Diners can also quench wasabi-fueled thirsts by accepting a fire-extinguishing offer from the full service bar, which overflows with cocktails, martinis, and sake drinks.
The Tan brothers grew up in the restaurant industry, as their father was a renowned chef of China. At Rong Tan's, this trio of siblings brings its family traditions to the states with a menu honed overseas. Diners can savor sichuan-spiced lobster stewed with veggies or order the Empress chicken, lightly fried and served on a throne of pure gold. Rice and noodle dishes, house specialties—including the orange-flavored beef—and vegetable options round out a menu with dozens of entrees.