Pisco Sour Restaurant & Lounge's chefs dish out Peruvian cuisine that fuses traditional seafood, vegetarian, and meat dishes with contemporary American ingredients and authentic spices. To warm up taste buds for two varieties of ceviche that each build on foundations of fresh sea bass, chefs prep creative apps such as the papa rellena, which features potatoes scrubbed free of their tiny plastic lips and stuffed with seasoned beef, tomatoes, and raisins, all drenched in a spicy sauce.
They keep the stovetop warm during breakfast, lunch, and evening cocktail hours, when the bar pours out the eatery's namesake beverage—the pisco sour, a complex Peruvian blend of grape brandy, egg whites, and citrus. The buzzing dining room frequently welcomes a rotating variety of live entertainment, such as hip-hop, techno, and merengue music.
Small, white bowls of Banchan—Korean side dishes such as fermented spicy radish or chive onion pancakes—surround the circular stoves at the center of each of Shin Sa Dong Korean BBQ's tables. Diners cook beef bulgogi, marinated ribs, and other meats to their liking on those stoves, or opt for dishes such as bibimbap with black rice, fresh mango, and ginger-marinated tofu. There's one dish, naeng myun cold noodles, that can only be eaten within the restaurant's walls, according to an Aurora Sentinel writer: “no take-out or leftovers, to keep it from being copied elsewhere.”
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs grill every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Angus beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. The chefs then sandwich each slab in an artisan bun and turn it into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market. This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the chefs do, from blending handspun Häagen-Dazs shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded to 160 restaurants in five years, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Flavor and texture are integral to more than just the entrees at Axum Restaurant. Entire tables' orders emerge on communal serving platters, blending the aromas of collard greens with those of housemade cottage cheese, sautéed beef with rosemary and herb butter, and lamb shanks in fiery berbere sauce. Diners sop up the spicy, savory fare using scraps of injera, a spongy flatbread, in place of silverware or food-filled Super Soakers.
The cuisine is offset by the dining room’s relatively austere ambiance, where fuchsia tablecloths add a vibrant pop of color to the space's soothing neutral tones. Pendant lamps hang directly above the bar area, illuminating the bartenders as they pour Ethiopian beers and uncork bottles of honey wine, which is made in-house by drilling into the subterranean honey reservoirs.
Eating without a knife and fork is frowned upon in many restaurants, but not Africana Cafe. Here, eating with your hands is one of the many elements that create an authentic Ethiopian dining experience. The main element is the cuisine, which features meat- and vegetable-centered plates such as cubed beef mixed with housemade awaze sauce, lamb fried with rosemary and jalapeño peppers, and sliced tomato and green pepper tossed in special african spices.
To complement these Ethiopian edibles, bartenders offer pours of imported Ethiopian beer and housemade honey wine. Customers in need of caffeine can order cups of joe served during a traditional coffee ceremony, a far more elegant proceeding than a barista performing an interpretative dance around a french press.