Black Walnut Cafe exemplifies the word eclectic. At five locations sprinkled around the Houston area, the contemporary American restaurant offers diners more than 100 freshly prepared, cooked-to-order dishes. The menu covers every meal of the day, starting with philly-cheesesteak omelets and brioche french toast for breakfast. Later in the day, visitors can choose from a range of dishes that include asian barbecue salmon, lobster tacos, and Black Walnut's signature pot roast—complete with brown gravy, house potatoes, and roasted veggies. The café satisfies sweet teeth as well, with housemade gelato and a rotating selection of baked goods.
Hula Mamas swathes guests in complimentary shell lei and outfit empty hands with non-alcoholic tropical fruit drinks in preparation for the Hawaiian dinner and show, which enlightens audiences about the South Pacific with rousing island entertainment and a brimming buffet. Polynesian delectables from mahi-mahi and pulled pork to sweet pineapple nut cake line the copious spread (the restaurant is BYOB pending a liquor license). Later, lights in Hula Mamas’ tiki hut will dim to highlight the flames of fire knife twirlers during the hour-long Polynesian Revue, which also features burly male warriors and shimmying hula girls. Audience participation is encouraged, so wear your loudest Hawaiian shirt and most recently mown grass skirt to join in.
Within the kitchens at Chefs 2b, culinarily-curious kids learn to use their own hands to whip up delicious repasts and then pick up and taste the flambéed fruits of their labor beneath the watchful eyes of certified chefs. Variety abounds in the 1.5-hour-long cooking classes, where cheflets may bone up on cuisine from other countries, learn basic techniques, or reflect on the importance of keeping the lid on the blender. Classes are equal parts art and science, and kids learn how, like scouting for boy bands, a combination of disparate ingredients can come together to create something wholesome and harmonious.
At the heart of every dish on Candelari's menu—including its signature thin- ($17–$22), thick- ($18–$23), and deep-dish-style ($19–$24) pizzas—are the famous Italian-sausage recipes of Alberto Candelari, all of which are made with choice meat, natural spices, and hints of liqueur. The T-Rex's spread of pepperoni, ground sirloin, useless forearms, Canadian bacon, and Candelari’s andouille and original Italian sausages lets you sample all of the finest meat-fruits of Candelari Sausage Company founders Greg Wheeler and “King of Sausages” Michael May (Alberto’s grandson). Build up to its bounty beforehand with a plate of sausage misto ($7), which features grilled Italian, turkey-jalapeño, and chicken-apple sausages piled atop provolone polenta. Diners that look suspiciously like flocks of seagulls inside a trench coat can find out what a grilled salmon ($14) tastes like when complemented by gulf shrimp, lemon-caper butter sauce, and veggies. Otherwise, avoid all the menu botheration and opt for the daily lunch buffet ($9–$9.50), which includes unlimited pizza, pasta, salad, and a drink.
In 1984, Becks Prime was hardly more than a double drive-thru and a mission: to serve fresh, made-to-order burgers that upped the ante on traditional fast food. The restaurant has grown to 13 locations since then, and fewer customers are wearing "Vote Mondale" buttons, but not much else has changed. Cooks still prepare the food using never-frozen Angus Beef burgers, Boar's Head hot dogs, and marinated chicken breasts, all grilled to order over mesquite wood coals. Thick-cut fries and milkshakes round out the menu of American classics. The restaurant's passion for fast, high-quality burgers has caught the attention of the press in a big way?Becks Prime has been lauded by Zagat, Thrillist, and The Daily Meal.