To get a sense of The Greene Turtle's commitment to the neighborhood, one need only sit at the bar and look up. Dozens of mugs hang above the counter, emblazoned with the pub's logo and a unique number—each one belongs to a recurring patron. The Mug Club awards its members with draft-beer discounts and other specials, but more importantly, it allows loyal patrons to feel as though they own small slices of the venue without tattooing their names on the bartender's arm. This sense of shared familiarity is what fuels the entire franchise, which refrains from calling its locations "restaurants" in favor of friendlier terms: gathering places, communities, havens.
Many of the locations contribute more than mugs to their districts. Staff members who participate in the annual Tips for Tots program donate the entirety of one day's tips to a nearby Toys for Tots initiative, and Tuesday Funds for Friends events benefit local organizations. These efforts have been chronicled by press sources such as Food and Drink magazine, with features that liken The Greene Turtles' philanthropic generosity to the generous portions of comfort food that leave the kitchens.
From cheeseburger sliders and flatbread pizzas to handmade lump-crab cakes, the offerings on the menu embrace barroom traditions along with ingenuity. The steak and chicken entrees arrive with classic sides of green beans and yukon gold mashed potatoes, whereas the eastern shore mac ‘n’ cheese updates a comfort staple with chopped bacon, lump crab, scallions, and Old Bay seasoning. Diners can enjoy their meals by the glow of private flat-screen TVs—there's one in every booth—or beneath one of many larger televisions broadcasting sports games throughout the venue.
In the kitchens of Brasas Rotisserie & Grill, El Salvador native Claudia Rivas brings culinary touches learned across Puerto Rico, Argentina, and Peru to her preparation of saffron-infused paella and chilean sea bass. The grill's slate of Latin-American dishes "couldn't be more different from the chicken fingers and burgers served at all the places around it," according to a 2012 review in the Washington Post Express_. Reviewer Kristen Page-Kirby singled out the ceviche, as well as the "wine-infused, chewy steak-and-potatoes dish called solomillo al jerez." Elsewhere on the menu, meaty combination plates recall Brazilian-style churrascaria, setting Angus steak and barbecue ribs alongside lobster tails, mussels, and andouille sausage.
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.
Even though Portuguese explorers couldn't pronounce the Swahili name for the African bird's eye chili—pili-pili—the sailors fully embraced its flavor shortly after landing in the region known today as Mozambique. Intrigued by the small, fiery pepper, they combined it with aromatic doses of herbs, garlic, and lemon to create the first peri-peri sauce. That sauce eventually became a wildly popular marinade for poultry, and the tasty concoction made its way to South Africa over the next several centuries. There, in 1987, two friends decided to honor this culinary legacy by founding the first Nando's Peri-Peri restaurant. The eatery continued to remain true to its South African roots, even while expanding to encompass locations in 24 countries across four continents.
Beginning with fresh chickens that never see the inside of a kitchen freezer, the chefs furtively marinate the birds in a secret peri-peri sauce for 24 hours before grilling them over an open flame. Diners dictate the heat level of their order, requesting that the grilled chicken arrive relatively mild or that wings be slathered with even more incendiary spices. The succulent chicken can be plated with hearty side dishes—such as Portuguese-style rice with herbs and peppers or peas with mint—or served in the form of a sandwich, wrap, or pita. To complement the menus' African flavors, Nando's worldwide locations collectively feature more than 4,000 pieces of African artwork.
Flame-kiss the fresh-ingredientful menu and your fellow diners with a hot, saucy starter of the vegetable spring rolls (with Thai chili sauce, $9), and then dive into the meat of the menu with a full order of steamed pei mussels ($18). A trip to a grill is lacking without a skewer of meaty meat pieces, so have a combo skewer platter with impaled and roasted steak, shrimp, chicken, and vegetables ($28). Celebrate the waterfront views with an order of jumbo lump-crab cakes ($32) and a side of lobster macaroni ($10). All entrees come with a choice of two sauces, which range in intensity from sleepy baby to Al Pacino plays the Devil, including apricot tarragon, sweet Thai chili, blackberry demi, red-pepper aioli, green tomatillo, chipotle-mango chutney, and abominable snowman.