Drive-in movies. Car hops. Rock 'n' roll. Though human nature compels us to view the past in varying shades of gold, the 1950s almost transcends nostalgia. For those who were there, the smallest of triggers can set off waves of fond memories: a ringing bell leads the mind’s eye back to the polished counter of a soda fountain, and an oldies radio station evokes weekends spent passing quarters through the jukebox slot.
On September 11, 2001, in the midst of tragedy and after 19 years as a flight attendant, Brenda Stranberg decided that she was tired of playing back memories of America’s greatest decade in her head. Looking around her at a cultural landscape that her childhood self would hardly recognize, she teamed up with old friend Naif Makol Jr. and founded Skooter’s, an old-fashioned diner and coffee shop inspired by the simple pleasures of life more than half a century ago. Though somewhat of an anachronism, the diner’s open kitchen has proven wildly popular among the various generations that frequent the sit-down counter to sample thick milk shakes, loaded hot dogs, and burgers topped with fried onions. Between bites, guests can toss coins into the antique jukebox or admonish the diner’s soda jerks for callously dousing their friends with fountain drinks.
At Good Life Grill, upscale pasta and fresh seafood entrees share a menu with classic burgers, steaks, and pub appetizers. Twelve beers on tap, including Blue Moon and Sam Adams, accompany 12-ounce grilled steaks and lobster ravioli in a cream sauce with caramelized-onion. Swaths of wood paneling lead up to stone walls, flat-screen TVs broadcast sports, and live music on Thursdays inspires patrons to dance or do back handsprings.
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To unpack everything 226 Jazz Art Java has to offer, it's easiest to work backwards through the name, starting with java. At 7 a.m. each day, baristas begin crafting organic, free-trade coffees into classic beverages such as cappuccinos and espressos. Gluten-free goodies like muffins, bagels, and cookies complement cups of joe in the morning, while entrees of salads and wraps appear around lunchtime. By day, patrons can enjoy these meals while taking in 226's surrounding art shows?panoplies of local paintings, photography, and mixed media that rotate monthly. The final part of the equation is live jazz, which transforms the space on two Saturday nights each month.
The building that now houses The Cracker Barrel Pub has had many incarnations since it was constructed in 1870: post office, cigar factory, lodging house, and gas station, among others. But ever since a bar was added in the early 1930s, the facility has continued to accommodate drink and merriment. These days, bartenders serve up an all-star list of beers, wines, and cocktails such as blueberry cosmopolitans and irish coffees. Those libations complement a menu of traditional and refined pub food ranging from burgers coated in smoked black pepper and barbecue sauce to mac and cheese topped with cheddar-ale sauce.
Chris' Home Sweet Home Bakery delivers home-baked goods directly to the doorsteps of its customers. Experienced bakers whirl up batches of cookies, custom cakes, pies, fudge, and whoopee pies and strive to offer gluten-free varieties as well. Cupcakes can be filled or decorated with buttercream frostings in flavors such as Nutella, carrot, or orange. The bakery also encourages special orders for other baked goods not seen on the menu.
Izumi Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar's cast of sushi and hibachi chefs infuse their culinary influences into a distinctly Japanese menu. They craft more than 30 different maki and hand rolls and deftly slice more than 20 types of à la carte sushi and sashimi. Teriyaki sauce slathers high-end meats and seafood, such as Chilean sea bass and tuna steak, and top-notch proteins also don crispy coatings of tempura or sizzle on hibachi grills. From behind a full bar accented with LCD televisions and high-def umlauts, bartenders pour a wide selection of sakes and craft exotic cocktails.