Tony Roma opened his first rib joint in 1972, a venture that became wildly successful after Dallas Cowboys owner Clint Murchison, Jr. tasted the ribs and slaw and declared them the best he'd ever had. With his financial know-how and weighty pocket book, he helped Tony Roma's grow into the international brand it is today. Franchises have spread across the States like a wave of barbecue sauce, seeping over borders and staining the shirtfronts of thousands of satisfied diners.
Today, chefs still diligently emulate Tony's original ribs recipes, grilling up signature steaks and fresh-caught seafood combos enhanced with sides and garnishes of seasonal ingredients. In addition to the restaurant's signature meaty entrees, the staff whips up oven-baked desserts such as the golden-apple tarts and redskin potatoes hand- mashed by distinguished martial artists.
Jolly Bob’s serves an array of tongue-tickling and flavor-packed Jamaican and Caribbean dishes. BBQ jerk pork, known for its sweet, slow-roasted personality and rudely inaccurate name, supplements its sweet demeanor with banana-guava ketchup ($14.50). Diners with a flair for romance can play matchmaker by picking a pairing for the fresh-fried tortillas—either the guacamole ($6), salsa cruda ($4), or grilled-pineapple salsa ($5). Savory conch fritters arrive unshelled and flanked by a bodyguard duo of key-lime mustard and Bob’s own scotch-bonnet remoulade ($8.50). For those who prefer to dine on greener pastures, the veggie curry provides a bedding of jasmine rice to display the coordinated sheet set of rich and spicy stew ($14.50).
Jose's Authentic Mexican Restaurant is a dream come true for the owner, Jose Luis Parra Vera, who wanted to put to use his own recipes for Mexican cuisine. The gregarious wait staff presents the dishes with appropriate panache, daubing celebrants' noses with whipped cream from birthday desserts and carrying five plates at a time. Bright-colored walls frame murals depicting beach scenes with brilliant-blue water and green palm trees bowing over multicolored hammocks recalling the beaches of Mexico. Beneath the paintings, corn or flour tortillas enfold morsels carnitas, a dish of shredded-pork tips traditionally slow cooked with green chilies and cumin. The chatter of silverware fills the outdoor patio when the weather is warm, and there aren’t carolers singing about the dangers of holiday lights outside.
The cooks at Jansen's Bar and Restaurant toil over grills and fryers to fill a menu strewn with seared treats and golden-battered fare in a cheery barroom setting. Servers sling appetizers such as cheese curds ($4.99) to guests, and homespun meals of fried haddock and chips accouter themselves elegantly with toast, tartar sauce, and sliced doilies ($7.99). The juicy steak-tenderloin sandwich ($10.99) leads a brigade of burgers and sandwiches, cheered on by the grill's waves of aromatic fanfare. The weekly Friday fish fry wraps baby pike in crisp cloaks ($7.99–$11.99) and keeps guests forging their way back to the dining room. Bartenders ferry brews to cheery patrons against a backdrop of wood paneling bedecked with neon beers signs, stuffed trophy fish, and autographed headshots of famous burgers.
Blue Agave boasts a menu chock-full of Western-inspired grill fare. Commence a zesty supper with mini tortitas, a twist on burger sliders dolloped with cool guacamole ($8.99). An entree of buffalo-chicken fajitas drizzled in mango habanera and donned with crunchy jalapeno rings ($13.99) or a pecan-crusted Maryland-crab-cake sandwich coated in chipotle ranch and salsa ($8.99) top off empty stomach space otherwise occupied by freeloading ramen noodles, accompanied by an arsenal of comforting south-of-the-border sides and meal garnishes, such as seasoned fries, pico de gallo, and John Wayne's salty yet ever so manly tears. Satisfied guests can lean back and sip a tequila sunrise ($3.99), domestic and imported beer ($3–$5), or a chalice of vino ($5.50) poured from Blue Agave's loaded cache of libations.
Before opening Habaneros Mexican Grill, Marco Bravo worked at several Mexican restaurants scattered around Southern California, placating the population’s notoriously discerning tastes for authentic burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. He’s imparted the skills he learned on the West Coast to his team of chefs, and together they’ve experimented with the fervor of a fourth-grade science fair finalist to create a menu of inventive Mexican dishes. For the Fry Hawaiian quesadillas, the staff stuffs tortillas with the standard helpings of cheese in addition to bacon, ham, pineapple, and turkey. They marinate steak in lime juice, and smother meaty burritos in Caribbean salsa and queso fresco, along with plating fusion specialties such as the Wisco burrito, packed with franks, sausage, and bacon. To visually complement the in-mouth festivities, giant jalapeño pepper cutouts adorn the eatery’s burnt-orange walls, and Hawaiian grass fringes dining alcoves.