The cherry-red Diners, Drive-ins and Dives convertible idles beside a giant rooster statue in the Gizzard City parking lot. Inside the diner, Food Network's Guy Fieri stands over a deep fryer, a full burger battered in his gloved hand. With a sizzle and a grin, Guy drops the entire creation into scalding oil, yielding Joe's Gizzard City's newest creation, the Triple D burger. After spending years battering chicken in his grandmother's secret blend of ingredients, co-owner Joe Bristol Jr. decided to experiment with the hot oil, and now deep fries hot dogs, Oreos, and even whole burgers. But the eatery isn’t called Gizzard City for nothing. Pressure cooked in garlic and celery powder until tender, Joe's namesake chicken gizzards arrive to tables cloaked in Cajun spices or crowded into the cheese-filled confines of an omelet.
Hesitant diners begin to sample gizzards, cautiously at first, but then letting forth happy sighs that reverberate off neon beer signs, a projection TV, and a weathered wooden bar. The staff operates on the same irreverent attitude that led them to deep-fry a Twinkie, joking with one another and playfully asking guests to help with the dishes. Booths the deep red hue of a lobster with lost cue cards cradle lingering patrons who chat with Joe Jr. about his numerous Tennessee Country Music Association awards.
The menu at Westgate Tavern launches armadas of scents from individually sculpted burger patties and hand-tossed pizzas. Flat-screen televisions glow overhead as diners start their engines with Wisconsin mozzarella melting over handmade deep-dish breadsticks ($6.99) before tearing around the golden-baked corners of a barbecue-chicken pie loaded with pineapple ($9.99+). Bleu cheese and bacon tango atop a burger escorted by fries curlier than Shirley Temple’s handwriting ($7.99). Billiards balls clink on an expanse of green felt as players fuel their aim with a deluxe Italian sub’s folds of ham, salami, capicola, and provolone ($7.99). A cheeseburger pizza ($8.99+), meanwhile, draws on hybrid flavor like a centaur's recipe for sweet and sour sauce.
The glorious sight of 25—more specifically 26, but that’s a mere technicality—beer taps reflect in the mirror that hangs on the exposed-brick wall behind the bar. At Taps 25, beer comes first, whether it’s in the form of an import such as Guinness, a crisp Leinenkugel domestic, or craft brews from Bell’s, Founders, or Dogfish Head. There’s even beer to be found in the pub snacks, such as the cheese dip made with Keweenaw Pick Axe beer. Other munchies, from buffalo chicken dip to pulled-pork nachos, pair well with the hoppy libations and other drinks from the full bar, such as the Angry Irishman—one of many Orchard Bomb shots that make up the bar’s colorful array of 5-ounce concoctions.
Landmarks of standup for decades, Connxtions Comedy Clubs remain mainstays for up-and-coming comics and national stars, with a roster of past performers that includes Sinbad, Drew Carey, Tim Allen, D. L. Hughley, and Rob Schneider. Headlining comedians, many seen on national television, keep the venues teetering Thursday–Saturday nights, whereas Wednesday nights host improv spectacles and open mics where rookies can begin their ascent into stardom or descent into miming. While refueling chuckle tanks, duos and groups can split a savory appetizer, such as cheese bread or chicken wings, or enjoy a potent cocktail at the bar.
Wild Beaver Saloon's energetic staff dish out classic bar eats, selections from a full bar, and the occasional choreographed bar-top dance. Fun-filled evenings kick off with a slate of thin crust pizza such as pepperoni ($8.99) or three types of cheese ($7.99), while domestic beers ($3.25) sooth heated palates and gasping beer fish. Imported suds ($4.25) present varying tastes of foreign degree, pairing well with home favorites such as a signature chicken quesadilla, a triumvirate of chicken, melted cheese, and red onions ($7.99). Pairs of chili dogs ($5.99) and full racks of smoked ribs ($18.99) challenge hands to stay free of slippery sauces in preparation for games of pool or longest handshake contests.