At Ace's Gourmet Paninis, culinary-school grad Chef Van presides over an unlikely marriage between the Italian-born panini and the flavors of Southern comfort fare. He presses only quality ingredients into his sandwiches, including three signature paninis loaded with chicken, beef brisket, or pulled pork slathered in house barbecue sauce. His menu also flaunts a separate breakfast section that highlights paninis and burritos stuffed with more eggs and meats than a vending machine for bodybuilders. His renditions of childhood favorites, such as peanut butter and jelly, even please pintsize palates. Patrons can settle in to surf free WiFi in the eatery or grab a takeout container to feast at home.:
In 1941, Travis Dickey decided his barbecue was too good not to share, and he lit the fire in his inaugural pit to craft brisket and ham for hungry folks. Over the years, his menu grew and his sons took over and expanded the operation, but those first recipes remained, sauce and all.
The chefs at the Rowlett location still hickory smoke each tender piece of meat behind a brick serving counter, which clatters beneath plates of polish sausage and glasses of iced tea. Black-and-white photos bedeck walls of corrugated metal siding and hardwood walls, and powder-blue checkered tablecloths re-create the feeling of dining in a rustic farmhouse without all the hours spent trying to figure out what a cornucopia is for.
Classic sandwiches and freshly grilled patties are your best bets at Big Star Burgers. The kitchen creates its namesake burger with a sizzling one-third pound beef patty, which can be doubled for a heartier meal or a lighter hand-weight at the gym. From there, chefs give each burger "the works," which consists of a smear of mayo, pickles, lettuce, tomato, and onions.
From this classic burger recipe, they build a roster of other grilled favorites, such as the bacon cheeseburger and patty melt, with slices of cheese, scoops of chili, strips of bacon, and crispy shoestring onions. No matter the burger, it'll pair well with ice cream treats such as creamy milkshakes and bubbly floats.
While growing up in Reggio di Calabria, Italy, Paolo Siciliano acquired a passion for traditional southern Italian food from his mother, Maria, who cooked for his family every day. After moving to the United States, Siciliano pursued his dreams of serving fresh pastas baked with mozzarella cheeses, opening his first restaurant in 1981.
The restaurant has always been a family business, with all nine of the Siciliano children working at the restaurant at points in its history. Today, Paolo's son Brian serves as a chef, adding his own twist to the family recipes as his crew bakes pans of the restaurant's complimentary buttery garlic rolls alongside their housemade lasagna. After spending 21 years under the same roof, baking manicotti and preparing fresh dough, Paolo and his wife Fran decided to upgrade to a new location, where Roman-style columns flank booths, and vivid paintings depict gondoliers reaching out through the frame to grab diners' plates of tiramisu.
At Genghis Grill, cooks stir-fry more than 70 fresh ingredients to make healthy, flavorful bowls loaded with proteins and vegetables. Diners can mix and match ingredients to create customized feasts, or choose signature dishes such as the Thai Chicken bowl with chicken, veggies, and udon noodles in red curry peanut sauce. Nutrition-focused heart-healthy bowls, developed with the help of a dietitian, feature flavor combinations such as Sichuan-style bamboo beef or ginger-citrus shrimp.
Housed inside a one-time Taco Bell, Taco Zone has the framework to supply Tex-Mex fare for those on the go via a drive-thru window or their colorful, quick-service dining room. Breakfast burritos filled with bacon, eggs, cheese, potatoes, and sausage fuel bodies so they won't come to a standstill while jogging down highways on the way to work. Tacos, burritos, and genre-crossing taco burgers populate a $0.99 value menu, and the Frito burrito works teeth with a spicy crunch of ground beef, refried beans, red sauce, and corn chips.