If you don't know where you are in the U.S., buying a local hot dog might help you find out. Cities from Chicago to New York each put their own stamp on the uniquely American food. Fortunately, you don’t need to get lost on a hitchhiking tour of the country to experience them all. For their menu of signature dogs, the grill masters at Mad Dogs Hot Dogs assembled more than 20 of their favorites from across the nation. They add an extra kick to the Seattle Splitter with jalapenos and BBQ sauce, while crowning the Arkansas Turkey Dog with mozzarella and balsamic dressing.
Of course, they also customize their franks for those not bound to geographical formulas. To create their own meal, customers begin by selecting a dog from 13 options, including bacon-wrapped dogs and the foot-long, half-pound "Monster." Then, they choose from 20 complementary toppings, such as spicy mustard and neon relish, before getting really adventurous with 21 additional toppings that include roast beef and cream cheese.
The eclectic dishes of Venice's downtown restaurant scene await taste buds on The Taste of Venice, a three-hour tour celebrating the town's considerable gastronomic, musical, and artistic resources. Though billed as a tour, the event takes place in a three-block stretch of downtown Venice, so attendees can maintain a leisurely pace as they sample the epicurean offerings of the area's finest gourmands. Each locally owned venue offers two portions of their menu, and chefs make themselves available to share their cooking methods so guests don't waste time tearing apart ravioli in search of hidden secrets. As they treat their palates, spectators also take in music, art, and the area's Italian Renaissance-style architecture.
In Miguel's Restaurant's bustling kitchen, chef Gabe prepares delectable French and continental recipes. Cool vichyssoise soup primes appetites for USDA prime filet mignon with béarnaise sauce or a roasted duck with raspberry sauce. Ornamented with toile vases and copper kettles, a stone fireplace fills a corner of the dining room, while vivid, cobalt-blue tablecloths stand in stark contrast with runaway sprigs of parsley.
On any given day, you might see Big Water Fish Market's seafood specialists on the docks dotting Little Sarasota Bay and the Gulf Coast, buying catches straight from the boat. They haul these bounties back to their chilled display cases, then scrawl the day's selection across the store's blackboard. Big Water's staffers concentrate on local fresh fish and shellfish, taking a special interest in grouper, snapper, and mahi-mahi. Besides these catches, they keep freezers full of imported shipments, from sushi-grade yellowfin tuna to snow crab that, ironically, has never actually seen snow. For those who don’t want to wait until they get home for a tasty seafood meal, the shop’s deli fries, grills, and blackens various fish.
Nina Lakatos and Lynn Morris, two actual girls, wanted to live healthier lifestyles. They tried combining juices and raw, plant-based vegan foods and discovered that they "made them feel fantastic." Their friends took notice of the duo's improved health and energy and became curious about how to live such a lifestyle. Being a professional chef and professional photographer, the two knew how to make good food and how to make their good food look good, too. So, they started Two Girls Food, making fresh juices and vegan entrees each morning from scratch and delivering them to customers around town. They also offer pickup service in the morning at two locations.
Eating at Bimini Bar & Grill is an immersive experience. The waterfront restaurant overlooks Casey Key, and guests sitting in the restaurant's second level—The Overlook Grill—are well equipped to view it. The water serves as obvious inspiration for the restaurant's menu, which features locally-sourced, seasonal seafood. Starters of hot crab dip or New England clam chowder lead to pan-seared ahi tuna, its halves encrusted in wasabi and garlic ginger. Fish tacos champion filets of grilled fish and fresh cabbage slaw, while friend shrimp rest atop a 10" hoagie roll for a po-boy.
Downstairs, a casual, nautically-themed space called Bimini Bar pours libations. Draft beers accompany bites sourced from the full menu, available in regular and small-plate portions. The bar hosts live music several nights a week, and on other nights revelers might find karaoke, televised sports, or a paper-airplane relay.