Falafel Bistro & Wine Bar cajoles the tahini-demanding bellies of vegetarians and omnivores alike with fresh wraps, salads, baguettes, and desserts, as well as a spectrum of Mediterranean specialties. Chef and owner Ilan Cohen slings traditional family meals straight from his native Israel onto the tables of his American bistro haven. Chickpea cheerleaders can form pyramids with one of many hummus-centered dishes, such as the sabih pita sandwich, with roasted eggplant and hard-boiled egg ($8), or the mahi-mahi beet wrap, rolled with sumptuous tiers of garbanzo mash, spinach, and alfalfa ($17).
The chefs at Muscle Maker Grill put a healthy spin on flavorful dishes inspired by Italian, Asian, American, and southwestern cuisines. The chain was founded in 1995 by Rod Silva, a fitness enthusiast who grew weary of fast-food eateries that bogged customers down with unhealthy morsels and toys sculpted from butter. What began as a smoothie stand has expanded into a successful franchise that slings pastas, burgers, salads, and Tex-Mex-style wraps and proudly displays the calorie content and relationship status of each dish on the menu.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Spanish for local gathering place, La Tasca brings diners together with shareable feasts of hot and cold tapas, bubbling pots of saffron-tinged paella, and mouthwatering Iberian wines. The restaurant’s turreted, half-timbered façade hints at Old-World charm, and the décor inside sets a rustic mood with walls and columns peppered with hand-painted tiles and murals depicting bullfights, feasting peasants, and grain futures prices. Leafy garlands dangle from the rafters as guests sup on plates of patatas bravas and grilled lamb, and troubadours serenade throngs of diners and dancers with live Latin music the first Thursday and third Friday of each month. Guests pair plates with glasses of fine Spanish wine, or belly up to the luxurious marble-topped bar for tasty digestifs of jerez, mojitos, or sangria.
After leaving behind their hometown in Greece, brothers Angelo and John Sellis put their entrepreneurial minds together to build a new life in the United States, with their restaurant Palm Court at the heart of their new venture. More than 30 years since greeting their first diners, John and other members of the Sellis family continue watching over the eatery's three dining rooms, learning the names of regular customers and giving them courtesy calls when their favorite specials are back on the menu. The brothers' team of chefs—overseen by Angelo in the kitchen—constructs its long-perfected dishes from foundations of duck, oysters, beef, and seafood as tinkling piano tunes fill the adjacent cocktail lounge, where customers sip signature martinis, wines, or domestic and imported brews.