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.
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.
There's no one way to create the perfect hot dog, at least not at Fletch's. Sure, their cooks start with the basic Chicago-style toppings—mustard, relish, onions, tomatoes, pickle, sport peppers, and celery salt—but that's only the foundation. From there, they can add a dollop of chili, sprinkle on cheese, or twist the hot dog like a balloon animal. They top beef, turkey, chicken, or veggie burger patties with your choice of condiments, and, upon customer request, they make cream puffs for dessert. Fletch's menu includes meals for dine-in, delivery, or catering.
Eat an endless parade of succulent meats, salads, sides, and hot dishes at Espetus Churrascaria. With today's Groupon, $20 gets you $40 toward a prix fixe rodizio-style dinner (can't be used toward drinks or dessert) that ensures hunger's defeat at the hands of knife-wielding, meat-serving gauchos. The rodizio dinner costs $49.95, so you'll still need another $9.95 in addition to your $40 Groupon, but that's still 40% off some of the best meats in town.
Executive chef, co-owner, and San Mateo native Alicia Petrakis helms Astaria's seasonally focused kitchen, which specializes in turning out high-concept comfort food. Focusing on local ingredients from sustainable sources, the eclectic dinner menu begins with appetite-swelling starters such as crispy polenta fries ($10) and Humberto's inferno ($9), which features a slab of fried gruyere set ablaze tableside as a chilling warning to would-be dairy rebels. Carnivores can feast on meaty marvels such as the buttermilk-marinated fried chicken ($18) or the bone-in pork chop with honey balsamic glaze paired with red-pepper-infused mashers, broccoli spears, and pepperonata ($23). Vegivores might opt for the Napoleon, which conquers appetites using grilled and roasted veggies crowned with provolone cheese ($15). A convention-flouting roster of pizzas includes chicken carbonara pizza rosa ($14), while the dessert menu takes taste buds on a flavor field trip with sugary chaperones such as the strawberry pavlova, which deposits vanilla pastry cream, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream atop crunchy meringue ($7).
Although Crystal Springs is small by grocery-store standards, the flat white storefront, set with a royal-blue arched entranceway and windows, appears somehow palatial, beckoning passersby into its den of delicious delectables. A wide selection of local and organic produce is available for plucking. Navel oranges start from the bellybutton at $0.49 per pound, and small Fuji apples start at $1.09 per pound. Keep it savory with russet potatoes ($0.49 per pound), or move on to not-so-naturally occurring breads and cheeses. A variety of fine cheeses and olives are ready and waiting for munching from the hand. The olive bar starts at $3.99, Bulgarian feta cheese begins at $4.79 per pound, and Turkish goat cheese starts at $7.99 per pound. Fresh-baked bread is delivered every morning, with warm, steaming loaves beginning at $3.29.