If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen or remove the oven. Papa Murphy’s did the latter when it opened the doors to its first shop in 1981, ditching the bake-and-deliver method for the take ‘n’ bake method. This technique gives the kitchen staff more time to focus on kneading fresh pizza dough and blanketing it with toppings in plain sight of customers. The flurries of veggies, meats, and cheeses fall onto stuffed, thin-crust, and signature pies that customers can augment with sides of cookies, cheesy bread, or a Cinnamon Wheel—a sweet treat whose recipe of cinnamon spread, crumbled streusel, and a round base can be traced back to early caveman chefs. Though Papa Murphy’s has spread to more than 1,200 locations, the chain holds each of its franchises to the highest-quality standards and was rewarded for its efforts with the Consumers’ Choice award for Best Pizza Chain from Restaurants and Institutions magazine in 2009.
Taco John's swiftly serves an assortment of tangy Mexican fare and bold-flavored innovative snacks. The edible oeuvre includes the eatery's signature super potato olés: black olives, beef, beans, tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, and melted cheese smothering a helping of golden-brown tater nuggets ($4.99). Those who create Venn diagrams to decide between soft or crunchy tortillas can choose the middle ground and get both with the taco bravo ($2.29). Taste another victory for American and Mexican relations with the taco burger, featuring tacos' usual contents nestled between two fresh buns ($1.99). The fajita chicken quesadilla melt ($6.29) awakens groggy taste buds with fire roasted bell peppers and onions.
Servers at kRav'N ferry hearty helpings of American comfort cuisine to wooden tables and padded booths alongside beer, wine, and specialty cocktails. Pluck classic finger foods such as chicken strips ($7) and beer-battered onion rings ($6.50) from the pages of the menu, or let taste buds high-five burgers such as the cheesy Mushroom Swiss ($8.50). Or, outline play diagrams in ranch dressing on buffalo chicken pizzas ($10 for a 10"; $14 for a 14") as Monday Night Football plays on wall-mounted TVs.
The pie slingers at New York Express Pizza populate a mouthwatering menu with large New York–style pizzas and calzones stuffed with fresh specialty ingredients. Taste buds relish pizza by the slice ($2 for one; $3 for two) or swarm full pies such as the Miracle on 34th Street ($16–$20), which floats chicken, bacon, and ham on an alfredo ocean. The My Cousin Vinny ($16–$20), topped with peppers and andouille sausage, excites mouths like an unmanned bowl of candy excites adult trick-or-treaters. Veggie Cali'zones ($6–$10) proffer pads for incisor exercises, and breadsticks ($6 for 12) make the perfect complement to any meal or midmeal staring contest.
Pho Quynh stuffs its lunch and dinner menu with more than 100 examples of authentic Vietnamese vittles, and accommodates them with a casual space large enough to accommodate groups. Mosey in after a particularly intense class on moseying for a starter of cha gio ($3.25), fried egg rolls wrapped lovingly around pork and shrimp inner children. Dates and accidentally conjoined mad scientists, meanwhile, can share the sup do bien ($5.25), a seafood soup for two awash with crab, shrimp, squid, and mussels. At the sound of the dinner hand-bell choir, try the pho dac biet ($7.50)—a specialty pho with a soup consistency decked out with brisket, meatballs, green and white onions, and bean sprouts on the side—or pair a Vietnamese iced coffee with the banh mi bo kho ($8.95), a beef stew served with french bread and chicken salad.