Overlooking downtown San Antonio, the Tower of the Americas stretches 750 feet into the sky and delights visitors with 360-degree views of the city. Situated at the top of the tower, Chart House Restaurant satiates diners with fish specialties and signature hot-lava cake while slowly revolving to reveal aerial perspectives and close-ups of low-flying superheroes. Meanwhile, the Flags Over Texas observation deck educates hungry minds with a series of murals detailing the history of the six flags that have flown over the state's buildings throughout its existence. Moving seats simulate the sensation of flight in the 4-D Skies Over Texas ride, where images enhanced by 3-D glasses leap out at viewers, showing Texas wildlife and festivals in full-dimensional glory.
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.
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.
At Tazas Coffee, diners sink fangs into fresh paninis, crisp salads, and 11 varieties of 3-ounce gourmet cookies. Chefs press warm paninis that envelop pesto chicken or sweet italian sausage, which gets its sweetness from being pollinated by Tuscan bees. Tazas crafts all salad dressings from scratch, such as the orange marmalade vinaigrette and the caesar salad with fresh lemon and garlic. Cookies punctuate café repose with an array of flavor choices such as peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, and white chocolate lemon coconut. Patrons can enjoy meals on the wrap-around patio’s umbrella-topped café tables or indoors beside the fireplace.
Hearthstone BakeryCafe covers half of a hobbit's daily meals with an extensive menu of morning, midday, and midevening eats. Hungry humanoids who use their Groupon on breakfast will receive a free small coffee (normally $1.39), so start the ante meridiem with an energy surge of pastries ($1.79 or $1.99) or a wrap, panini, or bagel sandwich ($3.99 each) stuffed with spinach artichoke spread, bacon, and egg. Likewise, evening eaters will be treated to a complimentary dessert anytime after 5 p.m. Lunchtime office escapees, meanwhile, can indulge in the grown-up grilled cheese ($3.99)—a melty mass of American cheese, bacon, and tomatoes held together by two crispy pieces of wheat or white bread—and wax nostalgic for the days of Red Rover and recess before getting back to another tedious day testing playground equipment. Otherwise, test out Hearthstone's best-selling turkey artichoke panini ($6.99)—whose nude tender artichoke hearts pose gracefully atop a chaise lounge of turkey breast draped in a spinach-artichoke spread, fresh tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese—or the cranberry balsamic salad's ($5.89 for a full portion) garden of artichokes, shaved onion, tomatoes, candied pecans, and dried cranberries lightly dewed with a creamy balsamic dressing.