When the original Philly Soft Pretzel Factory location had a line out the door, its founders knew they had a hit on their hands. That was in 1998; today, over 100 franchise locations serve their special-recipe soft pretzels. Each chewy treat is hand twisted, baked fresh, and served hot from the oven into the customer's waiting hands, or mouth if they're really hungry. Pretzels can be topped with traditional salt, or spiced up with garlic or sesame seeds, while a selection of dipping sauces ranging from cheddar cheese to sweet chocolate provide layers of dunking flavor. And for those who prefer their baked goods meaty, dough-wrapped dogs and cheesesteak-filled pretzels are available.
During his seven years in the Air Force, Shawn Moyer’s travels around the globe introduced him to numerous regional cuisines. He drew on his knowledge of different cultures while training at the York Career Institute, where he worked with many European- and French-trained chefs before being hired as Nikos’ executive chef. He’s been there ever since, concocting seasonal menus of modern American cuisine such as certified Angus beef burgers and his winter specialty snowflake au jus.
Along with his culinary crew, Executive Chef Shawn makes nearly every dish from scratch, using local ingredients such as poultry from neighboring Mennonite and Amish farms. His dishes are served in a sumptuous dining room with exposed brick walls, hardwood floors, and opulent flower arrangements. After dinner, visitors can light up a stogie on the patio of the Silver Star Cigar Lounge or watch flat-screen TVs at the bar.
In the evening, Kugo Steakhouse & Sushi Bar's chefs fire up their hibachi grills and begin to slice chicken and juggle seafood with panache, as nearby sushi chefs wrap fresh ingredients into tasty rolls. Noontime diners can opt for teriyaki lunchboxes or specials that include two or three sushi rolls.
The black-leather sofas and armchairs, end tables topped with small lamps, and bright-crimson walls with floating shelves collectively make Fumo Bar and Hookah Lounge feel more like an inviting living room than a traditional bar. Within this setting, groups of friends are encouraged to relax in their seats as they savor the experience of sharing a hookah. The lounge offers more than 50 shisha flavors?including everything from coconut and mint to mango and Cuban mojito?and patrons can even choose to mix two flavors and create their own blends. As the aromatic smoke lazily drifts toward the ceiling, the staff caters to groups' needs by offering drinks from the bar or snacks from a menu that includes hummus and crackers, 2-ounce cheeseburger sliders, and other small, shareable plates. The sounds of casual conversation give way to music on select evenings as the lounge hosts karaoke nights as well as live DJ performances.
More than 200 varieties of domestic and imported cheeses, salamis, and kielbasas vie for shelf space at International Delicatessen. The gourmet grocery store and deli's friendly staff assists customers as they navigate aisles lined with Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, German, Jewish, and Romanian specialty foodstuffs, as well as Boar’s Head deli fare. Like Ebenezer Scrooge on opposite day, the charitable staff encourages shoppers to sample bites before committing to buying. During the week, the kitchen staff whips up entrees, side salads, and desserts for ready-made meals. And in addition to their sought-after meats and cheeses, International Delicatessen stocks candies and gum, ice cream, fresh produce, and coffee.
The ingredients used in Chinese, Japanese, and Thai cuisine are vastly different, as are the methods of preparation. At Zhuang's Garden, they come together in surprising ways. Eight crackling hibachi-grill tables and a sushi bar represent Japan, and Chinese décor and the aromas of lo mein hint at the traditions of that nation. Glasses of wine clink together above plates of Thai food at the BYOB eatery, where the dishes include curry that is the brilliant yellow of turmeric or a banana salesman’s business card.