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.
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.
There is no rush at Kiks Café. The cozy, bistro-style tables and complimentary WiFi encourage passersby to stop, sit for a while, and enjoy a mocha made with organic coffee beans and Ghirardelli chocolate. To complement these drinks, the cooks deftly assemble sandwiches atop pieces of french, wheat, or sourdough bread, covering the slices with everything from black forest ham to pureed kalamata olives. The casual menu also includes salads with bits of grilled chicken, feta cheese, or croutons scattered amid leaves of romaine lettuce.
Since opening in 2003, Ristorante Due Rose has combined the open, family-style ambiance of an American diner with hearty, pan-regional Italian cuisine. Old World techniques endure in the kitchen, and the chefs lend a homespun charm to their meals by baking their own bread and by making fresh pasta and gnocchi in house. Medallions of filet mignon, seafood stew brimming with prawns and clams, and pizzas topped with prosciutto demonstrate the range of the menu, which overflows with iconic dishes from virtually every corner of Italy.
Taupe-hued half walls run throughout the generous dining room, dividing the space into small areas that cater to both couples and large families. Amid the white linens and the neutral-toned walls, a handful of décor accents add splashes of color, too. A burgundy awning sits above shelves of wine, evoking old-country trattorias, and verdant potted plants tower above the half walls, evoking the thick jungles of Tuscany.