At Juan & Maria's Empanada Stop, a bell chimes regularly throughout the day, ringing along with the festive Latin music in the background. Its sound does not indicate the time, however—it greets every 50th customer to the empanada hot spot and rewards him or her with $5 worth of complimentary Spanish cuisine. When Chilean couple Juan and Maria Contreras opened their stand in 2000, they rarely had the opportunity to use the bell, as they were serving between 10 and 20 empanadas on any given Saturday. Today they dish out a minimum of 1,000 empanadas each day, vying to beat their current record of 1,504 empanadas sold in eight hours.
Their popularity stems in part from a commitment to traditional, healthy cooking methods. Each of their empanadas is handmade and stuffed with one of 12 types of filling, including 90% lean beef and pork as well as vegetarian options. The deep fryers are filled with light salad oil, and none of the menu items include chemicals or preservatives. Juan and Maria extend the same homemade treatment to their fruit juices, which can be frozen and sold as "Juan-sicles," and their four hot sauces: green gold, red gold, spanish mayo and spanish ketchup.
Attitude accounts for a second element of the pair's success. Their mix of hospitality and cultural pride draws diners to the turquoise shop, where Juan exuberantly lists the specials to newcomers. They have hosted the Juan & Maria's International Spanish Festival for the past four years, showcasing customs from 20 Spanish-speaking countries alongside their empanadas.
Lovin’ Cup’s owners had a dream of creating a place that celebrates life’s pleasures and offers the unique and personal experience each of their customers seeks. And to achieve that dream, it took the combined efforts of all five owners to truly fill Lovin' Cup to the brim, each one specializing in a different area of the culinary arts or entertainment. The crew started with a simple, delicious menu of familiar eats made right, such as Angus beef burgers, gourmet pizzas, and hearty sandwiches. They paired these, with an array of craft beers on tap – plus more than 50 varieties in bottles – and a carefully curated list of international wines.
To entertain the brain's higher functions, they host game nights every Monday, open mic performances every Tuesday, and live music of every genre on Thursdays. Performances rotate between jazz, alt-country, indie, and rock groups as often as they change out their drafts on tap and, presumably, their socks. And finally, the owners paid similarly close attention to the artistic décor of their space, from the polished wood of their wine racks and tables to the mutable collection of art that peppers the walls.
A portmanteau of “mozzarella” and “pepperoni” gave Marvin Mozzeroni’s its playful name, but the origins of the restaurant itself are rooted in New York. The pizzeria was founded by two Rochester natives in 2004 as Starving Marvin's Pizza before they changed the name in 2007 when they turned their single eatery into a franchise. To this day native New Yorkers own and operate the five locations found throughout the state, including their two new locations in Henrietta and Greece.
The emphasis here is on their numerous specialty pizzas, baked in a brick oven and made fresh daily with hand-tossed dough. They come with a thick or thin crust and homemade red or white sauce, and can be ordered whole or by the slice. The menu also features other Italian food, including calzones and chicken parmigiana, as well as a mix of American-style classics such as hoagies, cheeseburgers, wings with homemade sauce and bleu cheese, and hot dogs. Those with food allergies can opt for gluten-free pizza.
Riley Greider is the mind, hands, and sweet teeth behind Sugar Mountain Bake Shoppe, a gourmet bakery specializing in cupcakes. More than 128 flavors rotate across the shop’s menu in groups of 13 to 20 each day, baked daily in small batches from fresh ingredients.
With such an enormous repertoire of recipes, the cupcake case has room for classics such as carrot cake alongside fancier flavors such as cinnamon french toast and cherry crème brûlée—not to mention the decidedly outlandish, such as loaded baked potato and Game Day Chili. While retaining a home-baked look, many of the cakelets wear elaborate toppers of sprinkles, frosting swirls, or fruit. All this creativity won the shop the title of Best Cupcakes in City Newspaper’s 2011 Readers’ Choice poll.
Without a month or so of vacation, it'd be almost impossible to sample authentic noodle dishes from four different countries. However, aja noodle co. can help you accomplish this feat over the course of a single lunch hour. Its pan-Asian menu incorporates regional dishes from Japan, China, Vietnam, and Thailand.
Though the food has its roots in tradition, it's all fully customizable. Guests choose which protein—including veggies, tofu, chicken, beef, or shrimp—they want mixed in with their pad thai or rice bowls. They can also swap out one type of noodles for another, perhaps exchanging lo mein for soba or rice noodles for shoelaces they brought from home. Sauces infused with spicy black beans or sweet coconut milk give the bowls a flavorful base, and vegetarian and vegan options are available for folks with dietary restrictions.
Perkins began as a single humble Ohio pancake house in 1958. More than 50 years––and 440 national locations––later, each Perkins restaurant stays true to its roots by keeping those signature buttermilk pancakes the focal point of a 90-plus-item menu. Cooks layer the popular flapjacks in stacks of two, three, or even five and make the fluffy towers all the more tempting with toppings such as glazed strawberries, whipped cream, or flavored syrups. Breakfast favorites—including hearty omelets and country benedicts—are served all day, meaning kids and adults can order short stacks to accompany their jumbo-shrimp or steak dinner, instead of smuggling them in under a stovepipe hat. Unlike most other chain restaurants, Perkins also features in-store bakeries that churn out the shop's real fruit and cream pies, muffins, and chocolate-chip cookies.