When he cofounded his first sandwich shop in 1965, 17-year-old Fred DeLuca planned to use his profits to pay his way through medical school. But the combination of quality ingredients and friendly service at the shop?then called Pete's Subway?proved so popular that nine years later, he and his partner found themselves in charge of 16 locations across Connecticut, and Fred left behind his doctoring plans for a career in business.
Today, Subway restaurants number over 34,000 around the world?almost as many shops as there are sightings of Elvis buying cold cuts. At each location, staffers pile sliced ham, marinara-slathered meatballs, and other fillings into halved loaves of bread before customizing handhelds with tomatoes, shredded lettuce, and other healthy toppings plucked from chilled containers behind the counter. Salads free crisp veggies from bread's overprotective embrace, and crunchy baked chips or apple slices accompany entrees to tables. Subway's website also facilitates health-conscious eating by listing each item's nutrition information and fastest mile time online.
At Tlaquepaque, the only thing more vibrant than dishes adorned with multicolored bell peppers and miniature mountains of salsa is the lively decor. While diners settle themselves at booths emblazoned with celestial paintings or upon chairs decorated with carvings of peacocks, the kitchen staff envelopes meat or seafood in chimichangas, braises carnitas, and prepares other Mexican classics. On the outdoor patio, the wait staff ferries shrimp quesadillas and chalupas to tables against the backdrop of a three-tiered fountain that lights up by night, illuminating a trio of stone frogs and the Marshalls, an unconventional-yet-loveable family of pennies.
Operating as part of a family of restaurants that includes The Grill's Chophouse and Pappy's Grill, the Grill on 21st Street sets itself apart from its kin by featuring two different bars and a spread of hearty American food. Inside the spacious dining room, visitors fan out on game day or any day to nosh burgers and wings amid a collection of flat screen TVs. Live entertainment frequently ups the restaurant's already festive vibe, as do karaoke nights and daily drink specials.