When you order guacamole at Las Margaritas, you aren’t just asking for the avocado-based chip dip; you’re asking for a spectacle. That’s because the staff brings the entire guacamole-making production to your table, mashing together the ingredients in front of you and delivering the tasty concoction as freshly as if the kitchen had an avocado tree growing in the sink. This dedication to fresh, authentic Mexican cuisine sums up Las Margaritas, where chefs make salsas by hand daily and churn out favorites such as chimichangas, tacos, enchiladas, and burritos.
The menu also includes more innovative dishes, such as pork-and-pineapple-filled tacos and the camarones tocineta—cheese-stuffed shrimp that are wrapped in bacon and topped with a pork rind whittled into a bow. A chilly margarita quells any spicy main course and incorporates only natural ingredients to flavor its pomegranate, peach, mango, and pineapple varieties.
Bambu embraces traditional recipes and dining practices to create an authentic Vietnamese dining experience. Their pho soup packs noodles into a beef or chicken stock made on site and simmered for 12 hours to fully coax out flavors and create a dish named Best Hangover Remedy by the editors of 417 Magazine. The menu showcases rich house specialties, including Bun Bo Hue, a soup from the old imperial capital of Central Vietnam with a spicy broth made from long-simmered beef bones. Most items come with a plate of fiery chilis, fresh herbs, and lime to season dishes instead of boring salt- and peppershakers or somber personal chefs. The courteous wait staff caters to every diner's needs, providing gluten-free menus to those with dietary restrictions and bibs to protect from soup splatters.
Once a ramshackle ice-cream store with a loyal Akron following, today Zack's Fire and Ice serves barbecue along with its cones with help from new owner and former pastor Randy Stewart and his wife, Kathy. The Stewarts have lived in the Southwest and up and down the East Coast, so rather than adhere strictly to any one regional barbecue style, they synthesize their favorite elements from a number of traditions to create an eatery with the welcoming spirit of a backyard cookout. The kitchen slow smokes brisket, ribs, pork, and turkey breast and slathers them with sauces such as honey and apple bourbon. Frozen treats such as sorbet and frozen yogurt stay chilly at the ice-cream counter alongside hard-packed ice cream in flavors such as pumpkin pecan, oatmeal cookie, and Superman, designed to freeze enemies’ brains faster than a speeding bullet.
The iconic comic-strip character and namesake of Dagwood’s Sandwich Shoppes peeps out from the first “o” in the deli’s logo, embracing not his wife, Blondie, but the signature Dagwood sandwich. With its four meats and pair of cheeses, the delicious (if slightly intimidating) sandwich represents the more than 20 signature subs and clubs that grace Dagwood’s menu. Meats ranging from premium roast beef to tender pork loin share slices of bread with cheeses, crisp pickles, and all the condiments one might expect of an old-fashioned deli. Those too young to appreciate the shop’s Sunday-paper references will at least enjoy kids’ meals such as the classic grilled-cheese sandwich. Aside from their in-store selections, the deli caters events with colorful trays of meats and sack lunches served by a curiously cartoonish wait staff.
Head baker Lisa Cothran crafts frosting-topped confections and custom pies and cakes from scratch using top-secret recipes garnered during a lifelong love of baking. Inside the pale-blue shop, silver serving trays set off the colorful frosting of signature cupcakes. The shop always supplies a core menu of client favorites alongside a rotating selection of unique flavor combinations, seasonal varieties, and preemie cakes needing special attention. Lisa intersperses her selection of classic and miniature cupcakes with cookies and a listing of cakes and pies she can craft upon request. The shop also connects with clients by hosting a variety of events, allowing patrons to get their hands sugary while decorating cupcakes or convincing gingerbread men of the fashionableness of frosted cravats.
The chefs at Houlihan's refuse to follow the trend of restaurants using premade dishes and preservative-laden foods. Instead, they elevate their cooking to a higher standard, handcrafting each meal from scratch with local produce in open kitchens that overlook modern, welcoming dining rooms. The dishes fuse familiar comfort fare (think down-home pot roast and bacon-studded mac 'n' cheese) with adventuresome flavors, from goat cheese and asparagus poppers to a spicy burger lavished with fritos. The spacious bar's mixologists concoct a slew of long island iced teas, specialty cocktails, and martinis that chase bites or stand on their own merit. Flights of three mini martinis allow the comparing and contrasting of a trio of flavors or refresh each of the mouths of a single guest’s head.