The despair in Marlon Brando's cry of "Stellaaaa" is lost as the nine big-screen TVs are drowned out by the sights and sounds of confetti cannons, airborne toilet-paper streamers, and rainfalls of bubbles. During afternoon and dinner service, Ballyhoo Restaurant & Bar is tamer, dishing up a menu of classic American fare, including six burgers, more than 10 kinds of sandwiches and wraps, and six pizzas. At night, however, Ballyhoo is a haven for tomfoolery and shenanigans of all kinds.
Framed posters of classic Hollywood A-listers—including Elvis, Brando, and Hepburn—cover the dining-room walls at this movie-theater-themed eatery. Here the staff encourages patrons to indulge in the fun instead of silencing raucous laughter and insisting diners behave themselves or risk finding an alka seltzer under their pillow from the bar fairy. From behind a marble countertop, bartenders dole out a range of boozy beverages while well-loved movies flicker across nine flat-screen TVs. Diners can pick reasonable meals off the menu, or set themselves up for The Challenge—a dinner plate packing four 8-ounce burgers layered in four types of cheese as well as half a pound of bacon and two onion rings. To win half off their final bill (not valid with this Groupon), challengers are allotted 20 minutes to gobble the whole dish while sticking their tongues out at the food gods.
At It’s a Better Burger, staff focus on one thing: how to make the tastiest creations ever to fill slices of bread. Their entire menu can be broken into three distinct sandwich categories, featuring their gourmet burgers, chicken sandwiches, and specialty sandwiches, all of which showcase their love of this gastronomic genre. Burgers come in three sizes or with two patties, and can be topped with everything from barbeque sauce, pulled pork, and haystack onions to garlic mushrooms and sweet peppers. Their chicken sandwiches transfer the flavors of the burgers to a grilled or crispy chicken breast, while the rest of the menu is dedicated to classics such as the BLT and unique versions such as the chipotle salmon burger. They offer a select menu of diner fare with their burgers, pairing dishes with fresh fries, fried corn on the cob, hand-dipped milkshakes, and their famous cheesecake.
Founded in 1954 by James McLamore and David Edgerton, Burger King rapidly expanded from humble beginnings as a lone burger joint to more than 12,400 locations across 79 countries today, making it the second-largest fast-food-hamburger chain in the world. Its signature burger?the Whopper sandwich?consists of flame-broiled, quarter-pound beef patties crowned with a miniature fedora and a fully customizable array of toppings such as tomatoes, onions, and dill pickles. Focused on continual improvement, the chain recently reinvented the fries that accompany each value meal, outfitting the spud slices with a thicker cut of potato for a fluffier texture on the inside and crispier golden-brown exterior. A spread of decadent desserts including dutch apple pie and Hershey pie keeps sweet teeth from elongating into fangs, and made-to-order breakfast sandwiches clasp eggs, american cheese, and bacon, sausage, or ham between two halves of a flaky croissant to round out the speedy menu.
The smell of sizzling Mexican dishes drifts through Chimi's Fresh-Mex's stucco walls, where 15 types of meat, seafood, and vegetarian chimichangas partner with rice and beans. Servers pour 21 premium tequilas into flavored margaritas, and pop bottle caps off of domestic and imported Mexican beers. Vibrant murals surround the bar and dining area's booths and tables, and an Old World fountain doles out water and relationship advice.
When founders J. Kim Tucci, Joseph A. Fresta, and John P. Ferrara first opened The Pasta House Co. in 1974, they wanted to elevate pasta to an art form. “Some artists sculpt, some paint, and some sketch,” they write on the restaurant’s website. “But, at The Pasta House Co., we create authentic Italian culinary delights.” A few of the locations even have giant, exhibition kitchens so you can watch as pizzas, pastas, and entrees come to life.
Naturally, The Pasta House Co.’s menu revolves around the Italian staple from which it gets its name. There are more than 25 varieties of pasta to choose from, including linguine with chicken livers and the signature lasagna, plus weekday specials such as stuffed manicotti. Meanwhile, the mangia bene menu—which translates to “eat well” in Italian—showcases the more wholesome side of Italian eating, with dishes low in fat and calories that won’t peer pressure you to break curfew.
There's an inherent coziness to Bemo's, which formerly thrived as Sherlock's Cottleville. Now under new management, the exposed brick walls, dark wood accents, and a stone fireplace still give the dining room its signature warmth. Even the menu feels homey, with a mix of burgers, appetizers, and entrees. Behind the bar, a built-in wine rack showcases the restaurant's worldly selection of vinos and a message in a bottle waiting to be sent to sea. On Thursday nights, the restaurant's bar hosts live music.