In 1982, Jeanne and Mark Samii could barely squeeze their old-fashioned cheesecakes into a 300-square-foot bakery. These days, they need a 25,000-square-foot factory to craft a sprawling menu of cheesecakes, tortes, and pies. More than 30 varieties of cheesecake—including key lime, amaretto almond, and fudge marble—pair sweetness with smooth textures, like a saxophone that emanates unsolicited compliments. Available with two or three stories of batter-based bricks, layer cakes showcase gourmet ingredients such as mascarpone cheese and dark-chocolate ganache. The bakery also peddles creamy, sugar-free cheesecakes, towering wedding cakes, and snack-size treats such as cookies and brownies.
Papa John's has been popping out perfectly personalized pies 'round the clock for the past 25 years, fleshing out its lineup of specialty pizzas and sides on a munificent menu. Traditionalists of Italian fare can indulge in the spicy Italian ($11.99/small), loaded with pepperoni, a double helping of Italian sausage, and unlimited invisible meats. More progressive pie enthusiasts may select the Hawaiian barbecue chicken, topped with pineapple, white-meat chicken, hickory-smoked bacon, and grilled onions ($11.99/small) or splurge on the works, a top-heavy combination of pepperoni, ham, spicy Italian sausage, and a cornucopia of fresh veggies ($11.99/small).
Located inside the Travelodge hotel complex near Corpus Christi Airport, Tacolodge Grill and Bar satiates the hunger of travelers and locals alike with a dual menu of bar and grill fare alongside Tex-Mex tacos, tostadas, and fajitas. Preceding dinner, guests feast on appetizers of chicken wings, chips and salsa, and piled-high nachos. Plates disappear under generous helpings of chicken-fried steak and gravy and flame-licked boneless pork chops, a feat often mistaken for the handiwork of a hungry magician. Tex-Mex entrees include platters of carne guisada and fajitas made with beef or chicken, both flanked by rice, beans, and tortillas.