When discussing his innovative Mexican dishes with a reporter from Northwest Military, Chef Michael Beierle explained, "I want to open people's eyes to what food can be." Seeking to shatter perceptions of Mexican cuisine as lackluster combinations of rice and beans or Chinese takeout furtively stuffed into a tortilla, the skilled chef folds fresh ingredients into a variety of authentic tacos, enchiladas, and tortas. He douses overstuffed burritos in zesty red and chili colorado sauces before sprinkling on fresh cheese and pico de gallo. To craft his specialty camarones al mojo de ajo, he sautés plump gulf prawns with mushrooms, garlic, and white wine. For dessert, Michael drizzles creamy avocado cheesecake in strawberry-tequila sauce with a hint of roasted jalapeño.
Diners can enjoy their meals at high-top tables in the elegant dining room, their faces illuminated by the flicker of candles. Others can choose to curl up in cushy booths beneath the hushed glow of overhanging lights and fireflies working double shifts. Behind the handsome wood bar, bartenders fold top-shelf liquors into a variety of imaginative cocktails, including a margarita with real jalapeño and sangria with fresh fruit.
The glowing red sign that adorns the entrance to Fire Creek Grill and Ale House, which depicts the pub's name surrounded by a raging fire, hints at the warmth inside. The sounds of clinking glasses and shuffling plates echo throughout the welcoming space, where touches such as rough stone walls lend the bar and grill traces of a rustic campground vibe. Outside, patrons can sit on a new patio complete with a gas fire pit for comfortable, cool-day lounging. The food, however, is anything but campground fare—cooks prepare a wide range of grill fare, including sizzling tacos and dungeness crab. Fire Creek offers more than just food and drink to entertain its customers, though: special events, such as Saturday-night karaoke andWednesday-night Texas Hold Em keep fun levels high throughout the week. Fire Creek Grill and Ale House also serves a weekend breakfast menu.
There are certain things some people absolutely need when they wake up, such as a hot cup of coffee. The Shipwreck Cafe complements these basics with more unusual breakfast finds, including eggs paired with pan-fried oysters from the nearby Taylor Town Oyster Farm. Accompanying these delicacies on the menu are buttermilk biscuits smothered with sausage gravy and omelets filled with housemade chili.
Both chili and oysters reappear on the dinner menu, the former as a topping on beef burgers and the latter on its own platter. As the name suggests, seafood is a specialty of Shipwreck Cafe, which spotlights everything from grilled wild sockeye salmon to clams steamed with a butter-garlic sauce. Rounding out these housemade feasts are fresh-brewed iced tea or milkshakes made the old-fashioned way: by leaving ice cream beside the fireplace.
The dough wizards at Papa John's hand toss circular masterpieces with original and thin crusts made from high-protein flour to support warm bouquets of toppings. Hand-cut produce crowns all of Papa John's pizzas, mingling with the sun-soaked sweetness of sauce made from fresh, California-grown tomatoes. By adhering to its brand promise of "better ingredients, better pizza," Papa John's grew from a back-tavern pizzeria into more than 4,300 restaurants locally owned and operated within three decades' time, or the amount of time it takes to grow a single pizzeria from a small seed.
The oven at Pizzeria La Gitana burns apple, cherry, and pear woods, which impart the pies with a delicate smoky flavor. That's just one reason why these pizzas go far beyond the two-for-one offerings from chain restaurants. The crusts are made with flour that's imported straight from Italy after taking a year off to find itself, and they're topped with organically grown produce and fine cheese and cold cuts.
Oly Burger's grill gurus unite Angus beef and bun to create a menu of traditional and specialty sandwiches. Starting with a chopped-steak patty, the Oly Deluxe bacon cheeseburger comes piled with peppered bacon, choice of cheese, and Oly sauce ($5.49), and the Oly Heads to the Ranch burger lassoes a fried egg and rounds up American cheese, all while wearing a bacon bolo tie ($5.99). White-meat co-stars include the Oly Gets Peppered grilled-chicken sandwich ($5.99) or a trio of Alaskan Amber–cod morsels accompanied by Francophone fries ($7.99). Sides such as onion straws ($2.49+), sweet-potato waffle fries ($2.49+), and tater toddlers ($1.49+) complement Oly's roster of hand-held eats, and more than 10 flavors of ice cream shakes tremble in excitement at the prospect of meeting an A-list celebrity straw ($3.99).