After turning in their helmets and shoulder pads, former NFL Cardinal players Dan Dierdorf and Jim Hart opened Dierdorf & Hart's Steakhouse together. Established in 1983, the restaurant pays homage to the football stars' fondness for high-quality steaks with an enduring menu of premium cuts. Executive chef Ryan Boulware ages beef for more than 21 days before directing a kitchen crew to broil the meats under intense heat for optimal flavor and tenderness. The chefs supplement their time-honored menu of tenderloins, filets, and rib eyes with hearty burgers, stacked sandwiches, and fine seafood dishes.
Diners linger over bites within the spacious leather booths of the upscale dining room, where sunlight pours onto soft-green walls and handsome wood trim. From behind an elegant center bar, bartenders dole out draft beer, fine wine, and specialty cocktails. Outside, umbrellas and tables cover an outdoor patio, where a stone fountain flows with crystal-blue water on summer days and green beer on bank holidays.
"A computer can't understand a handshake," says Jack Schwindler, explaining why he retired after 32 years as a food broker. He missed the face-to-face aspect of the business, which diminished as technology swiftly advanced. So when he and his wife found a defunct marina on Lake Lotawana, where Jack spent his childhood, he found his calling. In 1993, Jack and his wife opened Marina Grog & Galley, and now, Jack says, "I'm shaking hands again."
Marina Grog and Galley is run by a tight-knit crew of longtime employees, including servers who have worked there since 1996. Their menu boasts dry-aged steaks from a local purveyor and fresh fish flown in from Hawaii three times a week. The smell of steaks searing over mesquite charcoal drifts out to the front driveway, creating an aroma that attracts passersby and envious traveling steak peddlers. Other specialties include baby-back ribs crafted from a recipe Jack penned when he was 21 years old, and a range of fried, boiled, and stuffed shrimp.
Every night, Jack visits with guests at the tables arranged around the dining room, which look out at the lake or a 1,500-gallon saltwater tank that houses a 48-foot living reef. Leather seats in cobalt blue comfort backs, and stone fireplaces warm the stone walls and light wood around the restaurant. Outdoor tables along the water seat up to 150 people, and on-deck fireplaces keep diners comfortable. "Something happens every night in the restaurant business," says Jack, and he doesn't want to miss a minute of it.
Old photos, canoes, and sailing trophies adorn the walls of Canoe Club Restaurant’s lake-house-themed dining room, where diners sit down to lobster bisque or tacos with grilled tilapia. Around them, rough-cut timbers, knotted-pine paneling, and a natural stone fireplace create a nostalgic air, which live musicians enhance with the sounds of bluegrass, folk, blues, and jazz every Friday and Saturday.
In the kitchens, chefs whip up homemade salsa to serve with corn chips and wrap eight-ounce filet mignons in bacon before sending them out to the dining room or an outdoor cedar deck. To help wash down feasts, Canoe Club bartenders craft specialty cocktails, pour craft beers, and supply domestic and imported red and white wines by the glass, bottle, or crystal bathtub.
For more than four decades, Eddy, T-Bones Deli & Meat Market's head butcher, has cleaved and trimmed meats into hearty cuts and chops. Steaks, pork chops, grade-A turkeys, European sausages, and other meats line up in the shop's glass display cases, divided into tidy rows by lanes of Astroturf. T-Bones also serves brisket sliders, snow-crab legs, pastas, and other meals indoors or beneath umbrellas on the outdoor-patio bar. An array of wines, sauces and marinades, chips, and other grocery items round out T-Bones' inventory.
Fun House Pizza’s cooks have been tossing craving-satisfying pizzas since 1964, catering to families with their shareable fare and friendly staff. Gooey pizzas arrive topped with Fun House Pizza’s secret sauce recipe, sprinkled with toppings that include kraut, mushrooms, and Italian or Polish sausage. The kitchen crew gets creative with their specialty pizzas, which play dress up to create pies of the taco, bacon cheeseburger, and mexican variety. The restaurants cater to kids with a slew of entertainment options, from Thomas the Tank Engine rides to game rooms with air hockey and video games to the cheerful servers who are ready and willing to eat homework assignments.
With display cases brimming with a dozen or more cupcake varieties, the dessert chefs at The Sweet Tooth have deemed their shop a cupcakery. Made from scratch with fresh ingredients, regular flavors include a red velvet concoction called rouge, choc-o-mint, and vanilla vanilla, which comes crowned with a juicy maraschino cherry. Cookies harmoniously complement the cupcake selection, boasting seven varieties and barbershop-quartet-quality chops. The Sweet Tooth's blog keeps customers updated about seasonal flavors and the cupcake of the week, and the bakery also brings a touch of sweetness to the community by catering area events and partnering with local charities.
The bakery has joined up with mobile cupcake company, 3 Girls Cupcakes, whose cupcakes will be available at The Sweet Tooth's store location for an even larger assortment of flavors. Their mobile Cupcake Cruiser, meanwhile, delivers delectable eats around town.