Earthy aromas from fresh-brewed beverages greet guests at the door of Le Peep, hinting at the espresso-based creations that await inside?Colombian house coffee, specialty blends, or the flavor of the day. Beyond coffee, the staff also sweetens cups with fruit smoothies. These handcrafted drinks accompany a menu of breakfast and lunch fare dominated by omelets and sandwiches. Whipped eggs arrive studded with fresh veggies or chorizo sausage, and half-pound burgers come layered with Cajun bacon, weighing down tables so that they don't have to be anchored in place by linens made of iron.
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.
Evoking the enjoyable meltiness of a cool scoop of gelato on a hot day, Paciugo Gelato takes its name from the Italian word for messy concoction, rousing palates with unique gelato flavors crafted with Old-World tastes. Founder Cristiana Ginatta’s family recipes come to life as staffers fuse fresh fruits and all-natural ingredients into decadent milk-, water-, or soy-based gelato and sorbet. The sweet scoops boast 70% less fat than regular ice cream or soft-serve obtained from chilly Alaskan cows. Patrons can test-drive the shop’s diversely flavored bounty before committing to a flavor such as carrot cake, butter pecan, or tiramisu in its less solid form. Guests can score flavors without added sugar—including strawberry milk—to trick their sweet teeth into happiness. Paciugo also carries a host of coffee drinks ranging from Paciugo Miscela, a bold Vienna roast, to Gran Crú, a light roast from Kenya.
Ray Lamar hasn't spent decades perfecting his donuts. In fact, his namesake shops still use the same recipes that Ray developed in 1933—at the age of 17—when he got his first job working a donut fryer. World War II and a postwar career as a stockbroker interrupted Ray's donut-making pursuits, although he returned to his roots in 1960 when he founded the first LaMar's Donuts.
The shop went on to become a Kansas City icon, with crowds arriving well before 6 a.m. to line up outside the doors and taunt the roosters for sleeping in. Ray and his wife, Shannon, eventually decided to expand their business into a regional empire, and LaMar's Donuts currently boasts 27 franchised stores spread across six states.
Even with all of this growth, decades-old traditions still dictate how things are done. The workers prepare more than 75 different kinds of donuts, hand-making fresh batches of perennial favorites as well as recent inventions each and every morning. In addition to the original glazed creation that dates back to 1933, the menus can feature a variety of cake donuts with flavors such as red velvet, apple spice, and maple.
Since donuts and coffee go together as naturally as paper shredders and subpar report cards, the stores also prepare cappuccinos, mochas, and other coffee drinks. These are all made with handpicked beans that slowly roast inside Italian brick ovens.
Even if the savory flavors and vibrant colors of Mediterranean cuisine weren't enough to entice eaters, its health benefits might very well suffice. At The Basha, dishes highlight the nutrient-rich foods found along Mediterranean shores, including extra virgin olive oil, nuts, legumes, and fish. Rice, hummus, and green salad?a healthy appetizer in itself?comes with each dinner plate, from grilled salmon and shrimp to kefta kabobs. Like any restaurant that prioritizes variety, The Basha also presents options for those who don't eat meat or paper menus. Veggie plates come with stuffed grape leaves, falafel, baba ganouj, and pita.
Jim Sheridan's custard shop is packed with old-fashioned nostalgia. And it's not just the decor ? Sheridan's desire to create and sell custard sparked from his own childhood memories of adventuring to upstate New York to get his hands on the frozen treat. Now at Sheridan's Frozen Custard, Jim not only opts to incorporate creamy chocolate and vanilla flavors topped with everything from mangoes to graham crackers to a variety candies, but he views the real cherry on top as top-grade customer service. Caramel pretzel crunch concretes, fresh-baked strawberry shortcake Sundays, and cookie dough pies further satisfy sweet tooths. For those who prefer a straw to a spoon, the shop's shakes, malts, and smoothies are there for the sipping.
After years of perfecting those frozen treats Jim set out to conquer the world of burgers. To do so, he pulled from the same old-fashioned recipe book that inspired his sweet treats. The Olathe location's new food menu is filled with American favorites, from grilled-to-order steakburgers to hand-cut fries dusted with a kiss of salt. No matter the order, each meal is made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, including grass-fed beef. Visitors can settle down at tables to enjoy their burgers and sandwiches or grab them to go at the convenient drive-thru.