In the kitchen at Amigo Mexican Restaurant, it all goes back to the tortilla. After wrapping itself tightly around marinated and sautéed beef, chicken, or shrimp, the humble breadstuff reconfigures itself into myriad dishes from a menu of both traditional and inventive Mexican cuisine. Large tortillas bursting with beans and veggies welcome dollops of sour cream and cheese, whereas their smaller counterparts submerge themselves in enchilada sauce or embrace the buddy system as part of more than 30 combo platters. House specialties do occasionally veer away from the famous flatbread; the Guakimaki burger combines Angus steak with a healthy spoonful of the kitchen’s signature made-from-scratch guacamole. That same guac also enhances the flavor of traditional platters of golden chimichangas and flame-kissed fajitas. In addition to listing out prospective feasts, the menu also denotes low-carb options, which helps diners keep track of their nutritional intake while still eating like royalty.
The chefs at Fuji Japanese Steak & Sushi dazzle diners with virtuosic hibachi cooking that takes place on tableside teppanyaki grills. As guests watch, flames lap at filet mignon, salmon, and calamari before the bounty gravitates toward outstretched plates. Dozens of specialty rolls also grace palates, from the Under Control roll stocked with spicy tuna and shrimp tempura to the Ocean roll of shredded lobster and spicy mayo surrounded by snow crab and eel sauce. Wood paneling adorns one wall in the dining room and another is composed of interlocking rectangles of colorful patterns. Guests can also unwind beneath the bar's cylindrical overhead light fixtures, where they cheer for and shout stock tips at the millionaire athletes displayed on an HDTV.
True to the name Backyard Grille, a bulk of the work chefs Teddy Miller and Tommy Barnhart do is in the backyard. It's where they smoke all their meat, from bone-in certified Angus rib eyes to the pulled pork that smothers loaded baked potatoes. Inside their microwave-free kitchen, Teddy and Tommy prepare all their sauces and dressings from scratch, as well as the housemade biscuits that dominate their breakfast menu.
Backyard Grille is likewise divided between outdoor and indoor attractions for its diners. Outside, patrons can lounge beneath lighted umbrella tables, recline on a porch swing, or groove on the backyard dance floor. Full of flat-screen TVs broadcasting the latest games, the sports-themed indoor dining room switches gears during intimate candle-lit dinners. On Friday and Saturday, live music later in the evenings swaps dinnertime romance for rocking until 2 a.m.
Above all else, Hixson Pike Diner embraces the southern hospitality that originally inspired its owner to leave Hawaii and make Chattanooga his home. The menu of down-home classics features breakfast items served throughout the day, allowing patrons to enjoy buttermilk pancakes or southern fried chicken and waffles regardless of what soap opera is on TV. Although the cooks mainly re-create staples such as burgers and country-fried steak with gravy, some of the dinner items draw inspiration from Hawaii, including grilled fish glazed in homemade pineapple-barbecue sauce and the sweet-and-savory Aloha Burger garnished with a grilled pineapple slice.
Nino Piccolo grew through adolescence in Sicily, where he acquired the culinary prowess to craft pizzas and pastas from centuries worth of classic Sicilian recipes. At Nino's Italian Restaurant, his dishes remain true to that cultural and familial tradition, stressing the importance of authenticity by drawing on ingredients imported from Italy and specialty cheeses imported from the moon. The salsiccia entree exemplifies Old-World tastes with fresh-ground italian sausage slow-cooked in tomato-basil sauce squeezed from fresh, vine-ripened fruit, and the Nonna entree, nicknamed "Grandma's pasta," edges out hunger with rigatoni under eaves of sweet, roasted peppers, pancetta, and capers. A façade of windowpanes allows natural light to fall upon red-and-white-checked tablecloths and a painting of a sunrise tinged with teal and yellow. Tabletop lamps illuminate plates and add dramatic flair to ghost stories indoors, whereas Mother Nature brightens an outdoor patio humming with ceiling fans.