At K & J's Ice Cream Shop, you can eat pumpkin pie without a fork. That's because the shop's 40-some flavors include several varieties inspired by time-honored desserts. In addition to pumpkin pie, there's Twinkie, Almond Joy, and raspberry cheesecake. The creamy selections are supplemented by 25 fruit-flavored italian ices, which cool off tongues faster than a french kiss from a snowman.
For Darrin Miles, co-owner of Buffalo's Chicken Shack, barbecuing began as a hobby. Using seasonings, sauces, and rubs learned from his mother, he grilled, smoked, and deep-fried meats for his coworkers and friends during cookouts. But his occasional culinary endeavors soon became a passion. First, he built a brick and mortar smoker in his backyard. When his dreams grew beyond his fence and swimming pool of Sweet Baby Ray’s, Darrin opened Buffalo's Chicken Shack with his wife, Tiffany.
The restaurant now serves up a full menu of southern-inspired dishes, all of which earned the approval of Darrin's assembled focus group of friends and local foodies. Popular items include jumbo buffalo wings, slabs of ribs, and fried chicken, which pairs well with warm buttermilk waffles and home-style sides such as cornbread, sweet potato fries, and macaroni and cheese. Buffalo’s Chicken Shack challenges diners’ appetites for these comfort dishes during annual eating contests: in 2012, Jamie “The Bear” McDonald became the newest Buffalo King after consuming 53 spicy wings in seven minutes without belching cartoon flames.
Red Hen Bistro's made-from-scratch menu revolves around the fresh, seasonal meats, fish, and produce in French and Californian cuisine. Francophiles will feel conflicted in trying to select only one dish, be it the croque madame, an upscale ham-and-cheese sandwich topped with a sunny-side-up egg ($10.95), or the salad nicoise, a hearty helping of organic greens crowned with roasted potatoes and hard-boiled eggs ($8.95). California dreamers can sample West Coast–inspired temptations such as tamales with braised pork ($8.95) and fish tacos served in crisp tortillas ($9.95). Simplicity seekers can opt for the tomato soup and grilled cheese ($9.95) while enjoying the restaurant’s attention to detail—evident in both the food and front-of-house service. With rich-red walls, large windows boasting street views, and touches of French country charm, Red Hen Bistro exudes an air of casual intimacy, though lacy nightclothes are discouraged.
Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milk Shake, and Best Drive-Thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through their program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
San Juan Express aims to take taste buds on a tour of Puerto Rico's diverse flavorscape. The menu delivers authentic cuisine from around the famous island—from its well-trod beaches to its rural tropical jungles. Servers bustle about behind the counter, ladling out portions of oxtail stew, juicy slices of beefsteak, slow-roasted garlic pork, and crispy fried shrimp from a row of freshly made dishes. They also whip up a variety of traditional mofongos, topping mashed plantains with shrimp and pork. For dessert, the staffers dole out custard flan and moist tres leches cake.