Tiny hanging tea lights cast orange orbs onto the lavender-hued walls. Thatched wicker chairs gather around tables, round and tapered like the heels of giant boots. Though these decorative embellishments may seem bold, the Martinez family wants them to be fixtures of a much greater statement—a culinary statement, one that won Los Equipales the title of 2011's Best Mexican restaurant according to Weekly Alibi.
The Martinez family changes the menu every three weeks to focus on the specialties of a different state of their native Mexico. Homemade sauces such as sweet mole and spiced tequila cream marinate fresh fillets of red snapper, salmon, and spice-infused chicken. While waiting on sizzling plates of fajitas to cool, patrons can also ask servers about their private rooms, which accommodate up to 110 guests or 500 tapped telephones.
Inspired by the seafood of the American Northwest, the culinary team at Desert Fish prepare exclusively wild-caught catches using fresh, contemporary seasonings. The cucumber-melon finish of their Shigoku oysters from Washington State’s Willapa Bay prime palates for kona coffee-crusted Hawaiian snapper or house-made gnocchi with littleneck clams and pan-roasted brussel sprouts in brown butter sauce. Behind the bar, bartenders compliment the dishes with wines and specialty cocktails mixed with fresh fruit juices and herbs, such as the Mint Mirage martini, whose basil Hayden Bourbon and fresh mint magically disappear before diners’ eyes over the course of about 20 minutes. The restaurant also serves weekend brunches, offering a diverse selection that spans from fried oysters with biscuits and gravy to crab cake Benedict.
The aromas of sizzling fajitas and marinated shrimp mingle in Mariscos Altamar?s dining room while hosts welcome diners with charming Spanish greetings. Along with the Aztec paintings, Owner Hector Hernandez?s menu, with seafood as the primary focus, hearkens back to northern Mexico where he grew up. Along with grilling steaks and spooning ranchero sauce over chiles rellenos, chefs also stuff saut?ed crabmeat into enchiladas and fry platefuls of breaded shrimp.
The dining room maintains an airy ambiance with its light wooden tones and neutral-colored walls, and an aquarium full of small fish and adorable baby Poseidons catch diners' eyes at the entrance. On Thursday and Saturday evenings and Friday afternoons, the restaurant regales guests with the lilting melodies of live musicians.
Florent and Hervé Lescombes carry on winemaking traditions created by six generations of vintners in the Lescombes family. The winery’s 120 acres of vineyards stretch across the high desert, where the temperate climate and fertile soil help produce 7–10 tons of grapes per acre. After maturing, the grapes travel back to the winery, where state-of-the-art equipment transforms them into more than 70 different wines, including Blue Teal and DH Lescombes. On weekends, live jazz acts play at St. Clair’s four local bistros, which serve French country dishes and gourmet fare. St. Clair's wine festivals invite patrons to crush grapes between their toes and try to catch falling sparks on their tongues at fireworks shows.
Sushi making is both a martial art and a romantic venture to the chefs at Samurai Grill & Sushi Bar. In the kitchen, they build more than 80 types of sushi using deft knifework and fresh seafare such as squid, salmon eggs, and albacore tuna. To hint at interiors made of posh caviar and cream cheese, the chefs bestow several specialty rolls with racy names such as Playboy and Love Triangle. In addition to rousing taste buds with a spicy sauce, a chirashi of sashimi, veggies, and rice wows eyes with color and precision, like a breakdancing rainbow. Traditional fare such as chicken teriyaki and hot udon soup brims with comforting flavors that pair nicely with a bottle of beer or sake.:m]]
Pacific Paradise merges the flavors of the Far East and the Pacific Islands into an extensive and far-reaching lunch and dinner menu. Placate palates with the spicy Thai eggplant ($6.95 for lunch, $8.50 for dinner), tenderly sliced Mongolian beef ($8.50 for lunch, $11.95 for dinner), vegetable tempura ($7.95 for lunch, $9.95 for dinner), or Pacific Paradise's signature seafood-rice pizza ($15.50), a smattering of the sea stir-fried with jasmine rice, egg, and pineapple, all baked and served with soup and a salad. The Malaysian sautéed scallops ($8.95 for lunch, $13.95 for dinner), finished off with mushrooms and coated in a curry coconut sauce, will have taste buds rising up and high-fiving each other in victory, while the Hawaiian golden crisp chicken ($8.50 for lunch, $10.95 for dinner) evokes nostalgic memories of the decade you spent whittling wooden teddy bears on a desert island. Spicy options also abound at Pacific Paradise, with heat-bringing dishes such as the marinated Tibetan lamb kabob ($12.95), the Mongolian beef roll with asparagus ($12.95), and the kung pao tofu ($10.50), which consists of crispy, deep-fried tofu in a spice-laden kung pao sauce. A full sushi menu is available, as is a monsoon’s worth of wine and beer options.