When Jim Knudson bit into his first taco during dinner at a friend's house in 1949, he knew he had tasted something special. He added the item—which many diners were pronouncing "tay-co"—to the menu at his restaurant in Grass Valley, California. Determined to introduce the food to as many people as possible, Jim and his wife, Margaret, converted a 16-foot trailer into a kitchen on wheels. They adopted the nickname Jim had earned from one of his longtime customers and drove up to Lake Tahoe, where Jimboy's Tacos found its first permanent home.
Locals, tourists, and even members of the Rat Pack flocked to the tiny taco stand for the uniquely seasoned, parmesan-dusted ground-beef taco, the anchor of a growing menu. The family eventually relocated to Roseville, California, where they set up a small taco stand and began branching out to other locations in and around Sacramento.
Today, Jim Knudson’s daughter Karen, the current president of the company, carries on the legacy of taco obsession at more than 40 locations in northern California and Nevada. Guests who arrive early for breakfast might glimpse the cooks slowly simmering beans, mashing avocados into guacamole, and preparing their signature ground beef with trans-fat-free oil. In addition to classic corn-tortilla tacos, the menu holds the mega-size flour-tortilla El Gordo, golden-fried taquitos, and even a taco burger that fuses Mexican and American culinary traditions.
Visitors wrap empty hands and hungry mouths around Togo’s freshly crafted selections that stock a menu of sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Since 1971, Togo’s has been pairing meats, veggies, and cheeses with freshly baked artisan bread to create such handheld meals as The Clubhouse, with apple-wood-smoked bacon, turkey, and cheddar cheese, and Uncle Tony’s Italian, which cloaks salami, capicola, and ham in parmesan bread ($5.99 each).
Cheesesteak historians trace the sandwich's ancestry back to Pat Oliveri, a Philadelphian who combined sliced beef and onions over a Italian roll; once someone made the ingenious decision to add cheese, the classic combination was born. Today, Cheese Steak Restaurant's sandwich-smiths continue that noble tradition with more than 30 cheesesteak varieties.
Take your pick of either the classic, a chicken version, or a hoagie-style cheesesteak (topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise), and you have the option to pile it with grilled onions, hot cherry peppers, or sweet bell peppers. Other varieties feature added ingredients such as roasted cloves or garlic, mushrooms, or teriyaki sauce. There's also a veggie-only option, and diners can order twister fries, steak fries, fried mushrooms, and zucchini sticks to as a side dish or in case they need edible confetti for a chef's birthday party.
GrubCrawl USA’s cuisine connoisseurs lead customers on carefully plotted culinary journeys marked by free appetizers, discounted drinks, and fellowship with other foodies. For the Harry Potter IMAX movie crawl, revelers meet at 5:30 p.m. at Tequila Museo Mayahuel, a tequila museum and restaurant, the first of four stops at various area eateries. Each destination features complimentary appetizers preselected from their menu and discounted drinks with which to wash down their wares. The evening culminates at the Esquire IMAX Theatre, whose eight-story-high screens entrance spellbound viewers as they witness Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the finale to the blockbuster film franchise. The screens, which are the size of half a football field, boast a curve that encompasses vision to the periphery, filling sightlines more dramatically than reading glasses doodled with a Sharpie.
The foodery boasts a creative menu of reinvented comfort fare, served on weekdays to famished urbanites. Start with an order of the shrimp po' boy sliders ($8.75) or opt for a crab Louise salad ($13.50), served with hardboiled egg, avocado, and tomatoes. Entrees include more than 10 tasty hand-held meals (served with bottomless fries), such as the swiss-blanketed prime-rib dip ($12.50) and the herbivore-friendly black-bean burger ($9.50). Plated portions of updated classics promise to please even the most discerning diner; reward a hard-working copyeditor for reaching her daily quota of sentence-scrubbing by treating her to an order of Kelsey's chicken carbonara pasta ($12.50), loaded with tender green peas and bacon, or indulge carnivorous cravings with the steak tacos ($11.75) with corn salsa and cilantro rice.
Spicy food is a great way to separate the men from the boys, the women from the girls, and the girls from the boys if they get too rowdy at coed canoe camp. Thai Fusion lets customers specify their dishes as mild, medium, hot, or Thai hot, for optimal sinus-clearing fulfillment. The menu at this family-owned-and-operated neighborhood hot spot features fresh, authentic Thai ingredients, and ably blocks light from your eyes when it's especially sunny. Start with an order of fresh spring rolls ($5.95) or savory satay chicken ($6.95), or practice your pronunciation of classic Thai salads to have them promptly appear before you in the hands of a friendly staff member ($7.45–$12.95). House specialties ($10.95–$15.95) feature such sweet and spicy fare as Nam Tok, a medium-rare beef marinated in Thai herbs and served in Thai hot and sour barbecue sauce ($10.95), and shrimp spiced and sweetened with chili jam, mango, bell peppers, onions, and cashews ($15.95). The restaurant's traditional and creative varieties of fried rice ($8.95–$12.95), stir fries ($8.95–$12.95), curries ($8.95–$12.95), and noodle dishes ($9.95–$12.95) round out the menu with options for carboholics and vegetarians alike.