The Carolina Kitchen is the most amazing and popular southern cuisine restaurant chain in the nation. It was created to offer its guest taste buds an amazing journey through the South. From the moment One enters, they are transported to another world; designed to stimulate the soul and indulge the senses.
Chef Timothy Dean, a former contestant on Bravo's Top Chef Season 7, builds gourmet burgers with certified grass-fed Angus beef free from hormones and antibiotics. Even though Dean honed his culinary skills under chef Jean-Louis Palladin at the Watergate Hotel and later at Paladin in New York City, he chose to focus on more casual cuisine for his own restaurant. According to a 2012 article in the Washington Post, Dean says, "I've always been in fine dining but I realized that people are just not spending that kind of money anymore." So he decided to pair his gourmet finesse with food that is accessible to everyone.
That decision paid off because his burgers earned him a rave review in the Baltimore Sun, which proclaimed, "The vibe is fast food, but the food – burgers, fries and gourmet pizzas – is worthy of white tablecloths." His burgers come crowned with classic toppings such as american cheese, vine ripe tomatoes, and bibb lettuce as well as inventive combinations such as The Baker burger with housemade jalapeño aioli and fried onions.
Along with signature burgers, Dean also features hand-tossed pizzas topped with jerk chicken and thai basil and sides of sweet potato fries with honey. For dessert, patrons may sip thick, handcrafted milk shakes in flavors including dark chocolate, vanilla bean, or strawberry. Sweets include red velvet cupcakes, Belgium chocolate-chip cookies, and Kahlua chocolate-chip brownies.
From behind a frozen granite slab, the staff of Cold Stone Creamery uses twin spatulas to blend custom servings of ice cream and creative mix-ins to fit customers’ exact specifications. Founded by Donald and Susan Sutherland in 1988, Cold Stone began under the hot Arizona sun, eventually spreading its frosty fingers to encompass more than 1,400 locations worldwide. Despite the size of the company, each location’s staff keeps up the handcrafted quality, making ice cream onsite every day and using those signature spatulas to create delicious pointillist art against the freezer wall.
At Chrissy's Cocktail Cupcakes, the humble treat contains the usual ingredients—eggs, flour, etc.—plus a little bit extra. The bakers bring alcohol into the mix, with spirits such as Cîroc, Malibu Red, Patron, and Grey Goose finding their ways into the various flavors, and ensure the cupcakes will never be allowed to drive. After the alcohol-infused cupcakes are baked and packed, they're delivered or shipped to clients' homes.
To say Capital Teas’ founders, Manelle and Peter Martino, know tea might be a bit of an understatement. Fifth-generation tea merchant Manelle’s great-great-grandfather, Francis Van Reyk, was a Dutch tea planter who immigrated in the 1870s to present-day Sri Lanka, where he planted and managed the Diyagama Tea Estate, from which the Martinos now source their Great Grandfather’s tea. Manelle’s family has been in the tea trade ever since, a tradition she has carried to her own specialty tea business, which has boutique locations throughout the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland area. Additionally, Peter has become a popular speaker at World Tea Expos, where he frequently educates and inspires the tea world.
In addition to tea from Sri Lanka, Capital Teas carries more than 200 loose teas and herbal infusions from 18 countries including India, China, Japan, Malawi, and Kenya. A sniffing wall dispenses wafts of black, oolong, and green teas, and knowledgeable employees drift around the store’s tasting stations to explain each flavor’s nuances.
Capital Teas also pairs customers with accompaniments such as teapots, infusers, treats, and artisanal honey. In-store patrons may sample free tea samples—which are brewed fresh daily—while online purchasers receive a free sample with every order.