American Roadside CEO Rich LaVecchia is the happiest when he's biting into a Roadside burger––mainly because his children, at ages 8 and 13, helped perfect the recipe. Each tender patty is constructed of Sterling Silver premium grain-fed beef, aged for a minimum of 21 days to maximize tenderness. But the eco-conscious burgers are only the beginning of Roadside's green pledge. To complement exposed brick and nostalgic advertising signs, Roadside outfits each restaurant with sustainable bamboo floors, recycled countertops and chairs, and picnic tables whittled from the driftwood of naturally floating picnic tables. The walls are also decorated with reclaimed barn siding and the names of diners who have successfully completed the eatery's famous quadruple Roadstar cheeseburger challenge.
Below hanging lights like scoops of vanilla ice cream, diners slurp up creamy milk shakes, such as Oreo and cremesicle, and two-hand signature burgers with slaw or chili, and a portion of those profits are donated to charities, such as the American Red Cross. After finishing off a hot Philly cheese steak, patrons can add a boost to their evening with a glass of wine or beer, or add a boost to everyone's evening by drinking the biodiesel fuel crafted from Roadside's recycled fry oil.
Wild Ginger’s crew draws upon culinary traditions from Japan, Thailand, and China as the chefs slice burdock root, shiitake mushrooms, and lemongrass. In the bustling kitchen, they decorate colorful eats with tobiko and curlicues of honey-infused wasabi. Steam trickles from bowls of noodles and tempura-battered lobster. Servers whisk the newly minted dishes out to the yellow, orange, and green dining room, delivering them to tables of guests and cartoon silverware seeking a night away from the demands of constant singing.
Traditional Japanese sliding doors sit next to recessed lighting that glows with the neon hue of a thumping nightclub. This juxtaposition of ancient heritage and fresh innovation extends to the steak house's menu, which features surprising takes on the maki sushi roll staple. The Passion roll, for instance, kisses its white tuna with a searing flame before pairing it with juicy mango for a sweet and savory juxtaposition. The evocatively named Hot Girl Roll, on the other hand, bundles together different types of seafood, with crab and salmon complementing each other's marine flavors. Those sitting at the hibachi grill can enjoy the traditional acrobatic show, with dextrous chefs cooking up steak, chicken, and shrimp, then flipping finished morsels through the air and into diners' mouths and the air ducts as special treats for the AC repairman.
At S & A Bagel & Deli, no fewer than 15 bagel variations are available each day. They're displayed behind glass, like a favorite pair of baby shoes or a beloved crossing-guard belt, and rest in paper-lined silver-toned bins, with flavors such as plain, everything twist, and cinnamon raisin. These bagels can be slathered with cream cheese for breakfast or stacked with deli meats and cheeses for a delicious lunch.
Part sports bar, part fine-dining restaurant, Rockwell’s Bar and Grill offers a full bar and first-class menu of classic American cuisine. Start an appetizer of buffalo wings ($7.95) in mild, medium, hot, or barbecue, to prime a meal pump, and move ravenously onward to one of Rockwell’s mainstays, such as the big-sizzle fajitas with chicken, steak, or shrimp ($14.95–$16.95), or the hot alaskan, pan-seared salmon served between risotto cake and tomato-artichoke ragout stew ($18.95). Steak lovers will savor the spice-rubbed 14-ounce Texas flat iron beside bacon-cheddar mashed potatoes ($19.95), and Rockwell’s Burger Challenge puts burger bellies to the test with six 8-ounce patties topped with a choice of cheese and a 30-minute time limit ($29.95). Defeat all that meat and it’s free; run out of time with remaining bovine and head home with a hefty to-go box.