A hunk of brisket at VooDoo BBQ & Grill begins its journey suspended over a bed of pecan and oak logs. Coated in a dry rub of local spices, the meat slowly turns on a rotisserie rod for up to 16 hours, its skin crisping while the inside stays a warm pink. The chefs smoke all their beef brisket and pulled pork over logs from Louisiana-based trees to lend them the region's unique smoked flavor, even at the risk of confusing passing botanists. They lightly coat grilled sausages, chicken, and burgers in three signature sauces inspired by the state's Cajun recipes. To complement their menagerie of smoked and grilled meats, they sling a variety of southern sides such as corn pudding, greens, and potato salads. At each of the 13 locations, the aroma of roasting meat fills a space of dark-stained wood and wrought iron; dining rooms awash in a palette of reds, greens, and oranges buzz with the sounds of jazz and blues.
Sarita's Mexican Grill & Cantina owner Rudi Gomez owes his restaurant’s panoply of authentic fajitas, enchiladas, and tacos to his mother’s time-tested catalog of Mexican specialties. The steam rising from bowls of chicken tortilla soup and sizzling shrimp fajitas caught the eye of WAFB Channel 9's Culinary Corner hosts, who recently invited Rudi into their studios to share some of his recipes and tortilla-tossing techniques. When not evoking desert sunsets with their multicolored arrangements of rice, salsas, and crisp tomatoes, Rudi and his fellow chefs stray across the border to cook up local favorites such as hand-patted burgers and po boys. Signature margaritas entrance taste buds in a medley of flavor infusions, and frothy brews douse the lingering fires of hot salsa. Outdoor tables invite warm-weather lounging with free WiFi and bottles of sour cream to lather on in lieu of sunscreen.
Having tossed more than two billion wings in its franchise's history, Wingstop’s chefs have perfected the art of sizzling chicken until its outsides crunch and its insides are tenderized before drizzling wings in one of nine flavors of sauce. Wingstop's menu brims with digit-delectables and succulent sides such as bourbon baked beans ($1.59+), which simmer with rich and hearty flavors. Both boneless and original wings ($6.29 for 10 wings) come flavored with your pick of nine sauces, including hickory smoked barbecue, hawaiian, teriyaki, and atomic, which is spicy enough to finally melt away the icicles stuck on one's mustache. With three kinds of dip ($0.69 each), diners can temper Cajun-sauce-drenched wings with cool ranch dip, or introduce the zesty lemon-pepper sauce to a blue-cheese dip. A combo plate packages two chicken-fillet sandwiches, seasoned hand-cut fries, and a 20-ounce soda for on-the-go eats ($7.69).
The sandwich specialists at Brew-Bacher's assemble a broad menu of home-style meat-cheese-bread blends in family-friendly environs. The basic hamburger sports a modest ensemble of mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato on a fluffy bun pedestal ($5.75). A south-of-the-border-seasoned beef patty underpins sautéed onions, jalapeños, and shredded cheese in the Mexican burger, which also features guacamole adornments and flour-tortilla wrapping paper ($7.25). In the cold-cut TKO sandwich, smoked turkey dons alfalfa-sprout suspenders, a guacamole corsage, and a swiss-cheese cummerbund upon a bed of wheat bread ($5.99). Sea-cuisine cravers can nosh on a po' boy with catfish ($7.99), shrimp ($7.99), or oyster ($9.50)—each battered and fried oceanic offering trolling a sea of mayo, lettuce, and tomato—and carbohydrate conservationists could save the life of an imperiled bun with a salad selection ($4.25–$9.95).
If the wooden tables that stretch across Country Kitchen’s dining room were any less sturdy, they would buckle under the weight of the sizzling platters of Southern fare that chefs trot out for unlimited buffets. Old-time recipes of fried and baked chicken vie for attention alongside a menu of specialties that rotate daily; the weekend’s seafood gumbo and fried catfish give way to succulent barbecued sausages that can spice up any Monday. Southern cuisine is known for its show-stealing sides and desserts, and Country Kitchen delivers in spades on both counts. Fried hush puppies and vegetable dishes refuse to take a backseat to their main-course counterparts, and a dessert bar exudes nostalgia with heaping servings of bread pudding, peach cobbler, and ice cream. Between bites, guests seated under cheerful framed artworks or beside a colorful rooster statue can reminisce about childhoods spent wrestling catfish or plucking ripe morsels of corn bread fresh from the vine.