A waiter, hands full of fresh avocado, peppers, and tomatoes, approaches the table. He expertly slices and stirs the ingredients in a lava-stone bowl with the nimble precision of a seasoned chef. Along with whipping up fresh guacamole prepared tableside, Santo Coyote cooks also grill sizzling fajitas, bake spicy seafood specialties, and roll freshly made tortillas that have been lauded by the Arkansas Times at two locations, with one recently opened on Pleasant Ridge Road. Meanwhile, bartenders blend their staggering selection of more than 100 tequilas into specialty margaritas beneath the metal sun sculptures that adorn the walls.
The cooks at Krome Billiards Sports Bar & Grill fry and flip a menu of burgers, sandwiches, and appetizers served amid a welcoming sea of pool and poker tables. A half-dozen spicy hot wings ($5.25) ignites taste bud forest fires easily quenched with cold cups of sweet tea or strawberry limeade, and the cheeseburger basket quickly extinguishes any lingering evidence of hunger with a 1/3-pound beef patty served with french fries or chips ($6). Texas toast embraces ground beef, grilled onions, cheese, and mayo in the comfort of the Krome Melt basket ($6.25) and chili-cheese dogs ($2.75) arrive fully loaded with favorite frank fixins and a standard AM/FM radio. Eight 7-foot Diamond billiards tables and a pair of 9-foot tables proffer hours of felted fun for practicing pool sharks, and a free texas hold 'em poker league allows competitive card shufflers to hone their craft seven days a week.
At Lava Lounge, parties settle into cushioned black chairs to share drags from single-, double-, or triple-hose hookahs. Thirty flavors of Starbuzz tobacco enchant palates with pomegranate and lemon-mint taste waves, while 15 hydro flavors replicate the relaxing experience sans tobacco. Patrons can sip turkish coffee or hot minty tea in between inhales or snack on simple Mediterranean fare such as kebabs, gyros, and rich hummus plates surrounded by petals of pita bread. Deep-crimson walls and petite red and white lights set an intimate mood as wispy threads of smoke waft through the air and puffing patrons practice blowing smoke inner tubes around one another.
Bar Louie's casual atmosphere, marked by indoor and outdoor seating sprinkled with flat-screen TVs and artistic photography, surrounds a menu full of classic American cuisine. Kick-start lunch, available Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the Italian Stallion pizza, where double sausage and pepperoni bathe in a marinara lake ($9.99). Turn midday munchies into an excuse to stamp flavor passports with the Four Tacos Plato served with black beans and rice ($12.49) or an exotic burger, such as the Southsider, topped with crumbled fried potatoes, sharp cheddar, Guinness mustard sauce, grilled onions, and bacon ($10.49). Bar Louie's brunch offerings, available Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., include the Hangover Helper, a smattering of tater tots, chorizo, bacon, and queso sauce mixed and served with two eggs ($8.99), as well as elusive pancakes ($7.99) that are only available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or during simultaneous solar and lunar eclipses.
The taste-bud ticklers at La Valentina prepare gourmet Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine from scratch, using fresh ingredients united by rave-worthy recipes. The menu edifies traditional dishes with tenets of contemporary gastronomy, resulting in enlightened edibles such as fish tacos—corn tortillas topped with grilled tilapia, spinach, and pineapple-avocado pico de gallo ($10.99)—and smoked chicken enchiladas with zesty roasted tomato sauce ($8.99). Avocado artists chop, mix, and serve guacamole ($7.99) tableside, and the back-kitchen preps heartier plates such as the 12-ounce adobo marinated rib eye ($14.99). After the last plate clears, dessert devotees can pay their respects to the sugar gods with Mexican ambrosia such as the volcano—a gooey chocolate mound with a warm fudge center, topped with vanilla ice cream and caramel ($6.49)—and flan ($3.29).