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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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.
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.
A minimalist space distinguished by its tables swathed in white linens, Marco's Restaurant joins Italian comfort food with a cozy neighborhood vibe. Marco's gourmet pizzas include chicken-pesto, buffalo-chicken, and Mediterranean pies; the Mediterranean comes loaded with kalamata olives, capers, and imported feta cheese. Plates overflowing with classic pastas?such as spaghetti marinara, fettuccine primavera, and baked lasagna?steam throughout the dining room, followed by desserts of new york cheesecake, lemon cake, or chocolate mousse.
Eight widescreen TVs. Five pool tables. A stage for local musicians and comedians. Guests at The Old Well Tavern never lack entertainment to go along with their meals. Chefs whip up a full menu of American favorites, such as wings, ribs, and half-pound Angus burgers. They also shuttle their food to events off-site, or cater directly to their onsite banquet room, which can hold up to 60 guests or the front half of a blue whale.