Founded nearly 25 years ago by homemade-ice-cream aficionado Bruce Reed, Bruster's Real Ice Cream has blossomed into a business with locations across America and the Caribbean, with friendly staff scooping up freshly made ice cream at each parlor. Guests pick from more than 140 flavors of ice cream and frozen yogurt, with a rotating selection of 24 cold, creamy desserts?such as chocolate cherry chunk, thin mint, and black raspberry. Diners savor their frozen desserts in waffle-cone, sundae, and shake form, or ring in birthdays with custom-made ice-cream cakes and oreo pies.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine?s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop?s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.
When Schlotzsky's first opened in Austin back 1971, the owner offered just one sandwich. Known as The Original, the stack offered lean smoked ham, genoa and cotto salamis, three kinds of cheese, and a layer of marinated black olives, all atop a hot sourdough bun. That?s all it took to get Schlotzsky?s off the ground and send it on its way to become a global franchise, today featuring locations in 35 states and four countries. Of course, today?s menu holds many, many more flavor combinations?Angus roast beef and cheese, chicken and pesto, and a smoked-turkey reuben, to name a few?along with salads and pizzas. The latter aren't as much of a divergence from Schlotzky's lunch-friendly template as it might sound: at eight inches across, they're still easy to grab on the go, and the crust is made with sourdough just like the signature sandwich bread and the walls of the head baker's home.
It's clear from The Seafood Bistro's name that the chefs specialize in foods from the ocean. It's the casual eatery's sheer range of seafood, though, that is its biggest draw. Served in simple paper baskets, the custom-prepared meals include fried oysters and claws, battered and baked fish, and shrimp po'boys drizzled with spicy remoulade. Eclectic Southern sides such as cheese-smothered fries and cups of seafood gumbo make for a colorful addition to each meal and hot weapons to throw at any pirates trying to steal the last bite.
Young Barn Pub & Oyster Bar respectfully contests the notion that the coasts have a monopoly on oysters. They put a southwestern spin on theirs, prepping them Texas-style?baked and covered in cajun seasonings, cheese, bacon, and jalapenos. There are also Wild Bill's oysters, named for the famous gunslinger's ability to hit an oyster from 20 yards away on the shoreline. These up the seafood ante with toppings of shrimp, scallops, and crabmeat, plus bacon and mozzarella.
Purists can still get their hands on oysters Rockefeller or oysters on the half-shell, of course. And aside from shellfish, Young Barn's menu features po'boys, ribeye steaks, shrimp platters, and even pizza and pasta.
The name says it all?Tipico de Mexico serves up traditional Mexican cuisine in an inviting dining room and out on a breezy patio. Diners devour cheese-drowned nachos Puerto Vallarta from the broiler, juicy carne asada dinners, and combination plates hoisting three Mexican eats, such as a tostada, a tamale, and a chile relleno. To wash away any hot spices lingering in their mouths, guests can sip a frosty housemade margarita or wipe their tongues vigorously with a napkin.