Encanto Mexican Grill's owners, Elia Rosetta and Manuel Torres, draw inspiration from their Italian and Mexican backgrounds to infuse tacos, enchiladas, and Mexican steaks with subtle European accents. Though the menu throws its share of curveballs (think grilled fajitas with tofu, or a piñata filled with guacamole), it largely stays true to the culinary traditions of Mexico. One of the restaurant's most popular dishes, for example, is a slow-cooked chicken guisado in a roasted poblano pepper. On Sundays, chefs treat early risers to brunches of salsa-smothered eggs and fluffy omelets. In warmer months, diners head out to the patio to sip wine and listen to live music.
Dotting the Texan landscape with pizzerias like so many pepperonis in a hopeful meat-lover's garden, Goomba's ‘za joints bake up New York–style pies with ingredients from Costanzo's Bakery and Sorrento cheese. Dough made daily from scratch lays the groundwork for such classic toppings as italian sausage, mushrooms, artichokes, sweet or hot peppers, and anchovies. Pasta specialties such as cheese manicotti and baked ziti swim—like an eccentric millionaire—in a house-made tomato sauce infused with fresh basil and extra-virgin olive oil, and a selection of calzones, salads, hot subs lends rest to the pizza weary. Daily lunch specials quell midday tummy rumbles from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and most locations offer both dine-in and carry-out fare.
The first IHOP—the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin—opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the International House of Pancakes. Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.
Gill's Ranch House Bar & Grill will never be accused of being pretentious. For starters, its large wooden facade looks like an old-fashion saloon, its executive chef is named Doc Holliday, and its adjoining open-air bar is fittingly called the "Lucky G Corral". As you might imagine, most of the food comes from the grill, including slow-cooked brisket, sausage, ribs, and burgers, though there's also Tex Mex food such as nachos and quesadillas.
With her slate of deli sandwiches, Angela Toler aims to please even the choosiest palate. As the owner and proprietor of The Picky Deli, she oversees a host of tasks, from baking the turkey and ham to cooking and slicing the deli’s meats. Using fresh ingredients, Toler’s staff stacks each sandwich made to order, from classic Reubens to turkey clubs. The deli is open Monday through Friday, and on Fridays, diners can stop by for chicken-sausage gumbo.