The Cajun-Creole-influenced restaurant Bourbon mixes a hearty dose of “N’awlins” sass into the bananas foster. Sous chef Blythe Kelly takes her homemade vanilla pudding – made from fresh vanilla beans soaked in vanilla extract – and adds caramelized bananas, brown sugar, a touch of cinnamon and, of course, Maker’s Mark. Kelly is more influenced by the bourbon-centric theme of the restaurant than the Cajun-Creole theme, “Like my mom says: if you want Southern people to eat it, either deep fry it or put booze in it,” she said.
Get a taste of the World Cup at Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse, where the TVs are always on and the skewered meats are always on the way. The all-you-can-eat steakhouse serves its customers in classic Brazilian “rodizio” style, which roughly translates to “waiters stuff your face full of food until you tell them to stop.” The beef in particular stays a cut above the rest. “We only use the highest grades of beef,” says general manager Marie Rich. “Our House Picanha (house special) is taken from a top calf of a sirloin portion, cooked on rotisserie and sliced into thin slices.” Score.
The fresh basil rolls at Basil Thai deliver what the restaurant calls a “refined Thai experience.” Shrimp, noodle, lettuce, bean sprouts and basil are tucked in a bite-size rice wrap and given an added kick with chef Suntorn’s house sauce, which is made up of three components: a sweet and sour sauce foundation, thick and sugary hoisin glaze and spicy garlic chili. “It has a wonderful flavor with the garlic and the chili,” says owner Chai Eang. “The thing that makes the house sauce so special is the combination of the three flavors.”
Fast casual fare
The Good Life Cafe is a rare breed in the Columbia-area food scene: all vegan, all raw, all the time. The tacos are loaded with cashew nacho cheese, salsa, cashew sour cream, lettuce and, instead of beef or chicken – nut meat – a substitute that head chef Christina Brockington says would please even the most devout of carnivores. “We get people in with familiar textures and flavors,” she said. “We have a lot of non-vegetarian-vegans come in, and 10 out of 10 times they’re satisfied.”