When they craft their seasonal menu, the cooks at AVA Restaurant and Wine Bar aren't looking to impress diners with unfamiliar dishes. Instead, they wow taste buds with rich, robust flavors, roasted duck breast to meatloaf kicked up a notch by chipotle cream sauce. For vegan and vegetarian visitors, AVA's culinary team draws on organic and local fruits, veggies, and grains to create meals such as vegan chicken and waffles. Meatless or not, each feast can be accompanied by pours from an award-winning wine list curated by the eatery's onsite sommelier. Bartenders also serve plenty of beer, as well as custom, exotic tea blends.
Timberwood Grill's attentive staff outfit grins with a menu of hand-sculpted meats, made-from-scratch soups, and other fresh American eats served in a casual dining room and an airy patio. The Chuck Norris burger conquers appetites and any saltshaker that crosses it with a one-two punch of barbecue sauce and swiss cheese tucked under coleslaw and a jumble of fixings ($8.95). A brie-sherry cream sauce seeps into the flank steak au poivre's sizzling layers, stacked atop a foundation of mashed potatoes, mushrooms, and onions ($16.95). Patrons can customize a bowl of drunken noodles with szechuan pork, chicken, or tofu infused with mild, medium, or hot spice levels ($13.95), and broiled tilapia looms over house-made crab cakes like a disappointed parent scolding a child for not being born with a side of tartar sauce ($16.50).
Since 1951, The Nook has been serving up classic and creative diner fare in a historic building from the 1880s—adorned with mahogany booths, welcoming outdoor seating, and vintage charm inside and out. The pages of Nook's breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu are lush with tempting selections, such as thick apple-wood-bacon-covered burgers ($6.95), homemade twice-baked meatloaf ($9.95), chili-cheese-drenched fries ($5.95), turkey-stacked club sandwiches ($7.95), syrup-slathered pancakes ($4.95), and other meat-melded comfort fare. If an item can be made by hand, it is, and if a guest's tongue appears parched, the staff quickly whips up a sip—such as freshly squeezed juice, a thick and quick shake, or one of many artistic cocktails.
The Downtown Hot Dog Company sates meaty appetites with a menu of unexpected gourmet delectables. Wielding an arsenal of 100% Vienna-beef dogs in a variety of incarnations, including the bacony Downtown BLT and the tropical hawaiian, where passion fruit mustard relaxes with pineapple relish ($4.50 each), expert chefs uncover unknown taste sensations, such as Umami and pickle. Those with artistic inclinations can customize their own bun-embraced choice of polish sausage ($4.25), quarter-pound dog ($4.25), or Yves veggie dog ($4.50). Combine free helpings of pickle relish and A1 steak sauce with sophisticated additions such as wasabi, banana peppers, and encyclopedia pages to concoct a tailored masterpiece ($0.25 each).
Rapture's gourmet variations on soul-food themes put the spotlight on organic and locally sourced ingredients. The lunch menu's specialty sandwiches elevate noontime dining to an edible art, with combinations such as country ham and gruyere cheese with apples ($8) and the portobello and choice of cheese in the quasi-burger ($8). The dinner menu embellishes classics with creative flashes of gustatory genius, such as the shrimp and grits gussied up with goat cheese and thyme ($11) and a hearty, bourbon-marinated pork loin garnished with frosty sugared blackberries and andouille-sweet-potato hash ($15). Brunch your way into the weekend with classic eggs benedict, served over a buttermilk biscuit or english muffin alongside fresh fruit and choice of grits or homefries ($8).