Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Certified Angus Beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market.
This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded from one restaurant in 2007 to 220 today, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Let's Make Wine helps vino aficionados brew and bottle their dream blend of wine during a four-week course, available in the evening or on Saturdays by appointment. The foray into brewing begins by selecting one of the many wine kits to serve as a base, adding in ingredients and softly whispered compliments to customize the fermenting concoction to a palate's demands. Grape gastronomes pop in once a week to check on their burgeoning brew, spending a combined total of two to three hours overseeing their tailored creation with the help of head winemaker Cheryl Lisi. Once fully fermented, wines slink inside corked cages, with customized labels spelling out the vintage or the appropriate type of cereal to pour it in. The 30 bottles of resulting wine, each 750 milliliters, make for pleasant gifts or decorative cellar-stuffing.
Barbecue is about balance, about finding the right suspension of smoky and sweet flavors even if it requires hours of labor and patience. At Slick Pig BBQ, chefs achieve flavor harmony by slow cooking and saucing up meats—which range from classic ribs to honey-barbecue wings—and then plate them with requisite sides such as corn bread, turnip greens, and mac ‘n’ cheese. They also tantalize visitors with an array of Southern staples, frying up catfish, baking chess pie, and sweetening tea by telling it how special it is.
Pad Thai Cafe's menu of popular Asian plates and authentic Thai cuisine crafted with fresh, delectable ingredients heeds the call of grumbling bellies with delectable dishes. Rice noodles, peanuts, sprouts, scallions, egg, and garlic tango in the pad thai dish, and chili, garlic, jalapeño, basil, egg, and scallion congregate for a savory conference in the spicy basil Thai-fried rice ($8.50–$16 depending on choice of protein). Order an appetizer, such as the crab rangoon ($5 for six pieces), house fresh spring rolls ($4.50 for two), or fried spring rolls ($3 for two), and nibble on tasty bites instead of chewed-up pen caps. Stop by the café to sate a midday craving or eschew afternoon soap-opera viewings to enjoy a lunch special such as the kung pao chicken, a spicy mélange of chili, nuts, baby corn, and chicken ($5.95).
Crafting notably delectable frozen treats in small batches, Marble Slab Creamery uses high-quality ingredients and makes all of its treats and waffle cones on-site to percolate palates with super-premium ice cream. Just like tax forms, chef-inspired concoctions are prepared on frozen marble slabs to ensure optimal freshness and easy customization. Customize ice cream creations by choosing one of Marble Slab's original ice-cream flavors, which include cheesecake, birthday cake, banana, butter pecan, and double dark chocolate (flavors vary by location). Then, one of the expert mixers will gently incorporate your choice of candy, nuts, fruit, or enthusiasm into the ice cream before placing the freshly kneaded delight into a cup or freshly baked waffle cone.