Though using all-natural and locally grown ingredients is becoming popular in today’s restaurants, Straw Hat Pizza has been dedicated to these forward-thinking practices since serving its first pie on July 10, 1959. For more than 50 years, Straw Hat Pizza has followed some very down-to-earth guidelines: tomatoes are handpicked and hand-sorted from its own fields, cheeses are free from fillers, and all produce originates from within 150 miles of the store. Of course, this is pizza, so the local focus is accented by Old-World practices. For example, the Idaho wheat is grown in volcanic soil at least 4,500 feet above sea level, according to Italian pizza and pasta tradition.
Straw Hat’s pizzas, like the best blind dates, arrive dressed in a diverse selection of veggie and meat toppings⎯such as lemon-pepper chicken, chorizo, and bell peppers⎯but pies aren’t its only signature item. In the 1970s, Straw hat introduced the Hot Hat, a stromboli-style sandwich stuffed with melted cheese and ham, meatballs, or pepperoni. Additionally, the cooks whip up an eclectic choice of sides, including onion-battered green beans and garlic-parmesan bread sticks.
For more than 30 years, the waitstaff at Sukie's Country Kitchen has been asked one question more than any other: "Can I get your country gravy on that?" The answer, of course, has always been yes. The popular gravy has been a mainstay at diner since it opened, with chefs continuing to make it fresh every day and drizzling it atop their biscuits and gravy, country-fried steak, and any other dish by request.
Even without that signature sauce, Sukie's breakfast and lunch dishes stand out on their own merits. That especially goes for the chicken-topped waffle with maple syrup and the eggs with a side of grits. Perhaps most importantly, the chefs keep breakfast going all day, just like Captain Crunch does even on his days off.
Owner Harpreet “Happy” Singh—also known as “The Beer Baron”—oversees the thirsty work at Bottles as well as the Livermore Saloon and Perry’s Liquor and Craft Beer, in a quest to educate patrons about high-quality craft brews and amass a wealth of honorary titles and nicknames. Happy’s extensive knowledge, coupled with beer manager Diego Toscano’s diverse palate, ensures Bottles’ shelves are stocked with a plethora of rare and artisanal beverages, and any request for favored drinks are diligently ordered. Session ales from Shmaltz mingle peacefully with bourbon-barrel-aged stouts from North Coast Brewing Co. or tasty concoctions from Dogfish Head and The Bruery. Wines from Layer Cake and Paradise Ridge complement meals and soirees with fruity, complex flavor, and a stash of potent tequilas, such as Don Julio Real, or smoky scotches from Balvenie and Johnnie Walker enliven parties.
Upon opening a steaming box from Mama's Kitchen, pizza fiends may marvel at the improbable architecture of their pie: dough made fresh each day becomes a paper-thin crust that nevertheless manages to support two cheeses and hearty doses of meatballs, barbecue chicken, or roasted garlic. Fresh-bake sourdough bread clasps sandwiches stuffed with sweet italian sausage, balsamic-dappled grilled vegetables, or smoked salmon, while patrons trying to construct a classic multicourse Italian meal or set a World's Biggest Snack record via takeout can dip into a handful of salads, soups, pastas, and desserts.
Thai food is a traditionally spicy cuisine, and the chefs at Heng Heng Heng! Thai Noodles want all of their customers to realize that before ordering. On the menu, nine of the nearly two dozen entrees come marked with two or three tiny peppers, denoting that the dish either packs a lot of heat or hates being left out. The boat noodles, for example, stew with beef, flank steak, and spinach inside a housemade spicy chili sauce, and the innocent-sounding chicken with basil teems with extra-hot chili peppers. Diners looking for a subtler flavor have a fair share of options as well, from pad see ew to prawn fried rice.
Mississippi Catfish's chefs fill baskets with fried morsels of catfish raised in captivity and grain-fed at Simmons Farm in Yazoo City, Mississippi. Other Delta delicacies, such as river prawns and fried-chicken mistaken for river prawns by sleepy fishermen, keep the morsels company along with sides of hush puppies. On Friday and Saturday, barbecue from the grill makes a saucy addition to the menu's usual selections.