When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, the location was cozy and quaint, but diners had only three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. However, as the restaurant grew in popularity, so did its menu selection and atmosphere. The restaurant first expanded four years later under the leadership of a Melting Pot waiter and enterprising college student named Mark Johnston, who teamed up with his brothers Mike and Bob to open a new outpost in Tallahassee. This location grew in reputation to pave the way for future franchise expansion. Today, the company—now owned by the trio of siblings—reigns as the premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants linked by underground tunnels. The restaurant's menu has also ballooned, and patrons can now expect six varieties of hot dipping cheese paired with salads, meats, and molten chocolate.
On a given night, groups of foodies gather around tables to nosh on signature four-course meals, from cheese-fondue appetizers and various salads to steaks and seafood cooked in a choice of healthy broth or oil. Birthday revelers and couples can share decadent evenings at private tables, capping off meals with chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.
With three food trucks and a brick-and-mortar locale, CurryUpNow dishes up the street fare of India with creatively presented, colorful dishes. The restaurant menu comprises traditional street fare and creative takes on classics. Chefs turn the fillings of the deconstructed samosa—a popular original dish—inside out before topping it with garbanzo-bean curry and chutney-tamarind sauce to be scooped up by four mini samosas. They craft fusion dishes, folding chicken tikka masala made with 100 percent organic white chicken into burritos, and piling two- and three-item thali platters with curried eats. The menu's offerings include vegan options, and most can be made with a choice of chicken, ground halal beef or vegetarian options: paneer—a traditional farmers' cheese—and aloo, or potatoes. The entire repertoire is medium spiced, and brave-tongued people can request it spicy, or kick it up all the way to Desi hot, which infuses dishes with ghost peppers, habanero, and volcano tears.
Drawing inspiration and flavors from Chinese cuisine, Uncle Chen Restaurant's chefs dedicate themselves to crafting a menu accessible to virtually any palate or diet. Crispy duck, shredded pork, and tender beef highlight a fair portion of the menu, but the pages also include more than 28 vegetarian-friendly entrees with tofu, vegetables, or housemade rice noodles in the same selection of aromatic sauces. Many of the meals incorporate onion, ginger, or mushrooms for their distinctive and savory flavors, but the chefs can also forge entrees with fiery doses of chili peppers.
The dining room embraces a calm, understated atmosphere with its neutral tones and framed pieces of parchment with Chinese characters. Wall stencils of budding tree branches add a naturalistic touch to the serene ambiance, and a handful of verdant plants provides the restaurant with a hyper-local supply of homemade oxygen.
Dinner can be a hectic affair, and some families find that getting a filling, nutritious meal onto the table every night is sometimes exhausting. Knowing that dining out every night can quickly break the budget, entrepreneur Jay Cornwall decided to bridge the gap between takeout and at-home meals with a menu of freshly prepared pasta, ravioli, sauce, and entrees that can be fashioned into a full meal in less than 10 minutes. Every day, his chefs create a selection of 24 pastas, 15 sauces, and a signature entree, as well as mac 'n' cheese and lasagna. Chefs also curate a range of sides, bread, and wine, and even offer pairing advice on complementary flavors.
Mancora Cebicheria is the joint effort from a pair of restaurateurs eager to show to the world the colorful dishes and diverse flavors of Peruvian cuisine. Head chefs Marcelo and Michael cure morsels of seafood with a marinade called "leche de tigre"⎯a blend of pepper sauce, zesty lime juice, and sea salt along with a written warning against ever attempting to actually milk a tiger. Grilled steaks share plate space with sides of fried bananas, roasted garlic, and pasta covered in basil pesto. Along with fresh seafood, corn finds its way into dishes throughout the menu, whether garnishing ceviche plates with huge kernels of choclo or in glasses of purple corn chicha morada juice.
Tuttimelon—a name derived from an Italian portmanteau referring to combining fruits—cloaks a variety of nonfat frozen yogurts with fistfuls of fresh berries, kiwi, and mango. Swirl architects dispense cool towers of eight gluten-free frozen yogurts in flavors such as peach and sugar-free chocolate. To protect themselves from spoons and vengeful arctic explorers, yogurts don cloaks of toppings including graham-cracker crumbs and rainbow sprinkles. Tuttimelon's icy concoctions contain eight times the National Yogurt Association's requirements for live and active cultures, which aid in boosting immune systems and joint health.