For more than 40 years, Robert C. Mathwig has owned Family Pancake House and defended his sanctuary for the fluffy breakfast staple against the ravages of time, stringently maintaining the same wholesome business practices that set the cozy eatery apart from the competition on its very first day. The kitchens still make most of the menu from scratch, sourcing as many ingredients as possible from local suppliers to ensure that each order arrives to its table at the peak of freshness. The whole menu of breakfast treats and savory later-day meals is available all day long, with fluffy pancakes, crepes, and omelets sharing space at diners’ tables with grilled cheeses and breaded pork chops.
Family Pancake House takes its friendly moniker to its logical conclusion by acting as a supportive family for the community that has kept the eatery's doors open for nearly half a century. The company routinely sponsors youth sports teams, and employees often volunteer their leftover flour supply to sweaty-palmed gymnasts.
Not much has changed since Lovie Yancey opened the first Fatburger in 1952. Since then, the chain has expanded, but the food has stayed the same: 100% USDA lean beef burgers grilled to order and hand-scooped ice-cream shakes. Each restaurant stays true to Yancey's vision, even down to retro-influenced digs with jukeboxes blasting old school favorites designed to make listeners flash enthusiastic thumbs-up signs. Inside the kitchen, cooks stack burgers from 2.5-ounce burgers to 24-ounce triple burgers on toasted regular or gluten-free buns as fresh onions crisp inside fryers filled with cholesterol-free oil. Diners can also enjoy Fatburger’s signature chili made with a secret blend of herbs and spices or milkshakes topped with dollops of whipped cream that resemble fluffy, white clouds shaped like marshmallows.
Pallino serves up a menu of fresh, made-to-order Italian specialties in a casual setting inspired by family gatherings and leisurely bocce games. Antipasti such as roasted garlic and cheese flatbread ($5.95) prep palates for main dishes and help patrons evade amorous vampire kisses. Featuring braised beef and pork with Chianti-spiked tomato sauce and a whisper of cream, mama's meat sauce with rigatoni ($8.95) banishes any doubt about how mama used to get her little noodles to sleep through the night. Pizzas round out the menu with combinations including prosciutto and roasted fig ($6.95/$12.49) and Italian sausage and mushroom ($6.95/$12.49), and paninis ($4.75 for a half; $6.95 for a whole) come with a choice of warm chips or carrot sticks, which are less warm, but make up for it with their svelte figures and pretty faces. Decadent gelato is maneuvered into an array of desserts—it's squeezed between two cookies in gelato sliders ($5.95), topped with espresso and whipped cream in an affogato ($3.50), and bobbing in a soda float, flavored with a choice of syrup ($4.95). Most importantly, the friendly staff and quick service will allow you to make the most of a hearty dinner enjoyed in the clean dining room or as a speedy carryout order.
Launch a subcontinental flavor jaunt with a look at the menu and an order of kheema samosas, savory pastries filled with spiced ground lamb ($7). Mehfil's garlic naan flatbread ($3.50) pairs perfectly with paneer sagwala, a happy, herbivore-friendly marriage of Indian cottage cheese and savory spinach curry ($13). The Northern veggie dish of aloo gobi gives potatoes and cauliflower a relaxing soak in Indian spices ($12), and chicken tikka lavishes tender slices of chicken with a spiced yogurt marinade before treating them to a tanning session in the tandoor oven ($14). Tongues of steel can take the flaming-mouth challenge, attempting to cross a rainbow of peppers and finish an entire order of phall curry to enter Phallhalla. Hotter than vindaloo, phall is a British-Indian curry dish so spicy that it's wanted for arson in no fewer than 23 countries—kill it all and get a free beer (with proof of age) and your photo on the commemorative wall of triumph. Or take a more sensible approach to thirst quenching by spending some time tippling at the bar.