From the bustling streets of Times Square to the equally vivacious streets of Hong Kong, people walk around with smiles after enjoying the japanese barbecue cuisine at Gyu-Kaku. The restaurant has more than 700 locations worldwide, each rooted in the belief that some of the strongest bonds between friends are forged at the dinner table. Groups dine on a huge variety of Japanese dishes, from popular meat and veggie dishes such as Harami Skirt Steak, Kalbi Short Rib, and Bacon-wrapped Asparagus - to unique Japanese-American appetizers such as the Spicy Tuna Volcano, Wasabi Crunchy Shrimp, and Ahi Tuna Poke. The real excitement takes place around individual grills, however, where diners can barbecue their own slabs of filet mignon, ahi tuna, or chicken with chili mayo until they are ideally tender or encircled by on-duty firemen.
There are more than 70,000 songs on the karaoke machine at Michael's Bar & Grill, so it goes without saying that the restaurant embraces variety. A glance at the menu cements this fact: Cajun specialties share page space with pub appetizers, burgers, and an Italian addendum, full of hand-tossed pizzas and pasta dishes. It's an eclectic list with diverse ingredients—alligator and crawfish among them—but each option is served until midnight every day.
True Louisiana culinary classics include etouffee, blackened catfish, and jambalaya, as well as sweet, sugar-topped beignets. Southern influence is seen in the sandwich selection as well, where tuna melts can be had alongside po' boys. Luckily, nightly entertainment gives guests an excuse to sample the distinctive eats while filling their eyes and ears—there's stand-up comedy on Tuesdays, trivia on Wednesdays, and karaoke on most other nights. The staff also makes a point to broadcast pro football games on their big-screen TVs, rather than just yelling the score every five minutes.
Saddle Ranch Chop House allows diners to put together a feast from a menu loaded with steaks and salads, then rock and ride with the restaurant's "rock meets Western" theme. Chow on a sizzling steak, such as the charbroiled, marble-cut rib eye ($24.99), or chomp into the pineapple teriyaki burger, served with a wasabi cream sauce ($11.99). To wash down a full order of barbecue baby back ribs ($21.99), take part in the Texas Tea Party, a stiff concoction of vodka, gin, rum, tequila, sweet-and-sour mix, and Coke. Saddle Ranch Chop House's seasoned chefs also cook breakfast and brunchy grub, such as cinnamon swirl Texas toast ($9.99) and buttermilk pancakes topped with fresh fruit ($8.99), until 3 p.m.
The meat connoisseurs at Libra Brazilian Steakhouse know showmanship is one of the primary draws of churrascaria-style dining. In this spirit, the chefs cook succulent hunks of meat on giant skewers over an open flame. And once it’s ready, their servers distribute the tender, freshly flamed meat throughout the dining area, pausing tableside to carve off slices directly onto plates.
Presentation aside, Libra Brazilian Steakhouse backs up its bravado with quality meats. The chefs use only 100% Black Angus beef and refuse to accept any meat containing hormones or antibiotics. Additionally, the culinary artists cook more than 30 hot, made-from-scratch sides as well as housemade desserts. And to top it off, the steak-house staff curates and recommends numerous international wines.
In 1947, owners Mel Weiss and Harold Dobbs assembled a staff of 14 carhops to serve passing motorists at the first Mel's Drive-In. For the next two decades, customers partial to automobile dining flocked to the chain’s 11 California locations, eager to wash down grass-fed half-pound burgers with thick milk shakes. As fast-food outlets outpaced the drive-in's once-speedy service, its popularity declined, and it was eventually scheduled for demolition. The building got a temporary reprieve, however, when filmmaker George Lucas decided to use the drive-in's original location on Lombard Street as the colorful backdrop for his film American Graffiti. As bulldozers destroyed the last remnants of the historic drive-in, American Graffiti opened in theaters.
A decade later, though, Mel's son Steven reopened Mel's Drive-In in an attempt to carry on his father's dream. Steven restored the drive-in's multiple locations to mirror their original motif by stocking each with midcentury must-haves such as illuminated marquees, jukeboxes, and Elvis-themed WiFi passwords. The drive-in’s menu, meanwhile, balances period-appropriate fare, such as hot dogs and burgers, with healthy options, such as the Haven’s Famous vegetarian sandwich, two slices of nine-grain bread topped with avocado, sprouts, and tomatoes.
The Hummus Bar & Grill channels the flavors and spirit of Tel Aviv with authentic offerings of steaming, hot pitas and succulent grill-kissed skewers served in a relaxed, easygoing atmosphere. Diners can request a side of hot pita baked on location to scoop up israeli salad, which, like a lion tamer's living will, is made fresh every day. High-quality meats, including gourmet offerings such as chicken schnitzel and foie gras, are lovingly speared onto grilled skewers, and vegetarians can enjoy fire-kissed portobello mushrooms. A robust kosher menu includes homestyle dishes such as chicken-thigh steak and a special of the day. Guests can top off their meals with a turkish coffee and watch as the sun goes down and the dining room quickly fills with carefree ambiance as fellow diners clink glasses of Italian or Israeli wines against beers imported from Belgium, Holland, and England.