Family-owned Le Star Pizzaria dishes up a menu of regular and thin-crust pizzas alongside traditional pastas and sub sandwiches. Ten specialty pies harbor distinctive combinations of more than a dozen savory toppings and seasonings, and housemade cakes and pies subdue stark, raving sweet teeth in fruit-based straightjackets. The pizza parlor hosts a weekday happy hour and provides discounts for active military and police personnel.
Marco's Pizza founder Pasquale "Pat" Gianmarco began helping out at his family’s pizzeria when he was just a boy. The eatery provided a taste of home to the Gianmarco clan, who moved to the United States from Italy when Pat was 9 years old. Together with his father, young Pat learned the secrets to creating exceptional pizza sauce: three different types of vine-ripened tomatoes and spices that can only be imported from Italy or the moon.
The perfected sauce recipe continues to guide Pat’s kitchen operations, although these days he has considerably more help. His company has franchise locations in more than half the states as well as in the Bahamas, each store tossing fresh pizza dough daily before sprinkling on a trio of fresh, never-frozen cheeses.
Alongside Highway 1 in Baja, California, waves lap up against the white sand beaches as drivers stop to snack on the region’s famous fish tacos. One such beach, the fabled Playa Costa Azul, inspired the chefs and creators behind Blue Coast Burrito. Baja-style fish, spicy LaTinga chicken, carnitas, pulled pork, and fresh veggies complete the burritos, tacos, and taco salads, all of which you can build to order. After grabbing some freshly made pico de gallo, sour cream, and tomatillo salsa, enjoy the mellow coastal vibe induced by surfboards hanging on the wall and a soundtrack of mellow beach tunes from Santana, the Gipsy Kings, and Los Lonely Boys.
Though the entrees at The Dixie Cafe make the biggest splash across its menu marquee, they're threatened with gastronomical upstaging by the southern-style eatery's 19 sides and scratch-made gravies. The chicken-fried steak, for example, is a tender, hand-breaded fillet that fully blossoms with flavor only after chefs smother it with cream gravy and cheddar cheese. And the Cajun grilled catfish's down-home taste isn't fully developed until it is paired up with bites of turnip greens, fried okra, or a homemade roll. The classic platter meals take advantage of this by pairing an entree with two sides, rolls, and jalapeño cornbread and can be ordered "light" for a portion that's smaller than the regular size and easier to toss in the air and catch in your mouth.
With a reputation that includes titles such as the "Pie Guy" and "The Man Who Made 100 Different Pies in One Night," it's no great surprise that Chris Monroe—a dedicated pie lover and enthusiast—runs Hunka Pie. Open since 2007, the restaurant is dedicated to small-batch and handcrafted pies that boast flaky, hand-rolled crusts and are made without the preservatives found in big-batch bakeries. Equipped with the childhood pie memories and experience of growing up with three generations of pie makers, Chris claims the "largest selection of handcrafted pie in Arkansas." And judging from his list, he may be right. Interesting flavors such as chocolate hazelnut baklava and peach with rum glaze pop out alongside classic combinations such as southern pecan and key lime.
But though Chris and Hunka Pie specialize in pie, they also bring their A-game to breakfast, lunch, and dinner food, as well. They tout classic and creative burgers made with a third-pound of ground beef, some seasoned with secret spices, and others with more exotic flavors. The bombay burger adds garam masala to the mix, and the turkey burger's patty is seasoned with herbs. And though the restaurant was once relegated to a small drive-in counter, the restaurant's new digs invite patrons to sit and relax in the classic chrome and red of a former diner.
Armed with just a single, generations-old cookie recipe, Great American Cookies opened its first store in 1977, and the rest is history. Today, the franchise boasts locations in malls across the country and nabbed a coveted spot on Entrepreneur magazine’s 2012 Top 500 Franchises in the baked-goods category. As the shop’s reputation grew, so did its menu as chefs churned out a mouthwatering roster of gourmet-cookie recipes, each created and carefully tested in Atlanta. The tempting options now include snickerdoodle, peanut butter with M&Ms, and chewy pecan supreme, as well as freshly baked fudge and cheesecake brownies, and cookie sandwiches stuffed with frosting. The real show-stoppers, however, are the giant chocolate-chip cookie cakes, which can be customized with sweet, celebratory messages or shopping lists penned in colorful icing.