"If you succeed, it will change your lives." Accountant Afram Nimeh uttered those words to his two sons in 1993 after investing the last of his savings into a failing restaurant. Though he passed away the following year, his sons—Joseph and Steven—carried on his legacy, Chicken Dijon Rotisserie & Grill. Today, they have expanded the family franchise to seven locations, where customers gather to sample casual, healthy Mediterranean cuisine without having to build their own private jets. The kitchen staff efficiently assembles gyro and chicken platters flanked by sides such as rice pilaf, mediterranean potato salad, and stuffed grape leaves, as well as sandwiches topped with chicken, sliced gyro meat, or falafel.
Inside the Torrance Marriott, chefs toss together farm-fresh ingredients to create flatbreads, sandwiches, and well-balanced entrees that complement a wine list of more than 40 different vintages. A two-story water feature gives meals a soothing backdrop for thoughtful conversations or raucous celebrations in anticipation for a new quarterly budget report. Outside, flickering flames from the fire pit cast a glow on the zen garden's orange-cushioned lounge chairs beneath the clear Southern California sky.
Featured in LA's The Place, Ocho Taqueria opened recently in the Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance. The cooks grill piquant Mexican specialties and south-of-the-border favorites such as tacos, tamales, and burritos. At tables with vibrant, colorful bench seating, diners can enjoy house specialties such as carne asada marinated in adobo sauce or sautéed shrimp served over mexican rice. Bartenders squeeze fresh juices by hand into cocktails and margaritas made with a large selection of tequilas, some made by artisanal distilleries and others made by overachieving agave plants that distill themselves. And to reflect the authenticity of the food, the classic decor includes lively Mexican photographs and figurines lining burnt-red walls.
When The Melting Pot originally opened in 1975 just outside Orlando, diners had just three options: swiss-cheese fondue, beef fondue, or chocolate fondue. The restaurant first expanded four years later, when an enterprising waiter at the initial location opened up a new outpost in Tallahassee. Today, the company—now owned by that original waiter, Mark Johnston, and his brothers Mike and Bob—reigns as the premier fondue, wine, and drink restaurant, stretching across North America with more than 140 restaurants linked by underground tunnels. The restaurant's menu has also expanded, and patrons can now expect six varieties of hot dipping cheese paired with salads, meats, and molten chocolate.
On a given night, groups of viscous-dip-loving foodies gather around tables to nosh on cheese-fondue appetizers and various salads while cooking steaks and seafood in a choice of healthy broth or oil. Birthday revelers and romance seekers cap decadent evenings sharing the chocolate desserts that have defined The Melting Pot for decades.
USDA Choice–rated, Zabiha Halal meat sizzles on spits at La Zeez Pita Grill, keeping hormones, preservatives, and other artificial additives off its menu of healthy Mediterranean fare. Staff members stuff warm pita wraps with morsels of vegetable-fed lamb, beef, and chicken or cater get-togethers with helpings of shawarma, gyros, and other entrees by the pound. Falafel balls or aquaphobic cliff divers can take a dip in chickpea- and eggplant-based side sauces such as hummus and baba gannouj, whereas layered cakes and pastries submerge forks in seas of sweet.