Ten years ago Brenda and John Nicholas bought a run-down gas station and beer joint outside Fredericksburg and started cooking on a hot plate. Today fans drive scores of miles to enjoy the Hill Top Cafe’s sophisticated fare and quirky decor. Greek and cajun flavors predominate, with eclectic touches added by new chef David James, formerly of Zinfandeli’s in San Antonio. A collaborative effort—peppered pork with a Greek-style pico de gallo, a punchy cranberry-horseradish sauce, and green orzo—proves that three cooks don’t necessarily spoil the broth. On Friday nights, John plays blues piano (eleven miles northwest of Fredericksburg on U.S. 87; reservations advised; 512-997-8922).

Try this recipe for Peppered Pork from The Hill Top Cafe.