John and Herb McEwen initially named their eatery McEwen's Fried Chicken when they opened in 1949, but the name didn't stick. According to the San Antonio Express-News, they wanted people to know their soda shop sold food, everyone in the neighborhood still called the spot "the malt house." Voted best neighborhood restaurant by Express-News readers, the restaurant continues to serve the creamy malts that became its namesake. The menu abounds with all-American favorites such as burgers, juicy fried chicken, and fried fish served with coffee cups of tartar sauce for dipping or for playing a prank on unwitting coworkers. Chefs prepare flour tortillas in-house to add a more authentic flavor to Mexican dishes such as the Machacado plate, a medley of sun-dried meat, serrano peppers, onions, and tomato.
The first IHOP—the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin—opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the International House of Pancakes. Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.
Jonathan and Crystal Bedford honor their daughter at Sweet Marley's Frozen Yogurt and Sandwich Bar, lending her name to their sanctuary of healthful treats and youth play space. Behind a green awning, cooks stuff fillings such as black forest ham, bosc pears, and dill havarti into six types of bread and flour tortillas, which they spice with inventive condiments such as cranberry or pesto mayo. The lunch menu is fresh and flexible, as all 13 sandwiches may be tossed into their three salads drizzled with homemade dressing or sliced in half and paired with the daily soup.
In the afternoon, a self-serve bar of more than 100 frozen-yogurt toppings such as chocolate and nuts spreads out to add sweet finales to meals. Sweet Marley's has partnered with Dublin Bottling Works to offer soda-flavored yogurt including Triple XXX Rootbeer and Orange Cream, as well as Ranch Road Roasters to offer mocha and Mexican vanilla latte flavored yogurts. They also have a mobile yogurt trailer that appears at various events in Texas, including Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg.
Above Sweet Marley's white bungalow, the leaves of tall pecan trees block the sun's rays and penchant for taking satisfaction surveys from the yard's sandbox and nearby alfresco tables. The Bedfords created their eatery as a haven for happy toddlers, and also donate a percentage of their catering and café revenue to Rhizo Kids International, which conducts research for their daughter's rare genetic condition. The second-annual Miles for Marley 5k is scheduled for April 20.