Rich Hicks and Todd Istre are the masterminds behind many a national food concept?from Rich's southwestern taco at Tin Star to Todd's spicy seafood dishes at Boudreaux's Cajun Kitchen. When the duo joined forces to create Mooyah, however, they cleared the tortillas and crawdads from their mind in order to focus on formulating a quintessential American burger.
Today, within scores of Mooyah locations throughout the nation, chefs bustle behind counters, grilling up burgers in accordance to Todd and Rich's formula. Cooks pile beef, turkey, and veggie patties onto white or wheat buns before loading on cheeses and toppings of bacon, fried onion, and avocado. Meanwhile, freshly cut potatoes simmer in fryers, and blenders whirl with ice-cream shakes. Out in the dining room, tabletops and booths sit atop checkered floors beneath walls of chalkboards, where customers can write messages or draw portraits of what they wished they looked like, could they only grow a beard.
When childhood friends Ronald Liu, Jessica Chiep, and Thomas Wang decided to veer off the traditional corporate path, they set out to open their own cafe. Combining their American upbringing with Asian culture heritage, they wanted to create a unique and Asian-American fusion concept to put the power of culinary creation into the hands of their guests. The result was The H.A. Cafe, a casual dining spot where guests can choose everything from fresh fish and veggies to sauces and starches to create their own sushi rolls, dons, or okonomiyakis?a Japanese version of American pizza. The menu relies on plenty of startling ingredients; wakame seaweed, greens, and cucumbers flavor many of the dishes, from the tuna sashimi salad dressed in wasabi ranch, to the grilled chicken teriyaki bowl. At the bubble tea and smoothie bar, baristas trained in mixology hand-craft fresh brewed tea infused with fruit juices and a large variety of boba.
At Pizzeria DaVinci, the signature house pizza—aptly named the Da Vinci—is a vegetarian one, piled with spinach, sun-dried tomato, and feta. However, there's plenty of meat options on the pizzeria's menu, too. There are 16 thin-crust pizzas to choose from, each baked on a hot stone and topped with delicacies from baked potato fixings to clams and bacon.